April 2004 Truck Series News Archive


  • Mansfield News and Notes:
    All tickets sold for Mansfield inaugural race … The May 16 UAW/GM Ohio 250 is a complete sell-out, according to Mansfield Motorsports Speedway officials who made the announcement during an April 23 news conference. The facility has been expanded to 20,000 seats in anticipation of Ohio’s first NASCAR national touring event since 1954. “I really thought when we announced the race we would be selling some tickets on race morning but as soon as we started selling tickets, we knew that wasn’t going to be the case,” said Jerry Smith, track president and general manager.
    Union local, dealers partner to sponsor Ohio 250 … United Auto Workers Local 549 and four General Motors dealerships have entered into a multi-year partnership as sponsors of the UAW/GM Ohio 250. General Motors operates an assembly plant in Ontario, Ohio, not far from the Mansfield Motorsports Speedway.
    Etc. … Jerry Cook, crew chief for the No. 88 Menards Chevrolet of Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender Tracy Hines, won last weekend’s late model event at Toledo Speedway. Hines, a two-time U.S. Auto Club champion, is no stranger to the Ohio motorsports scene, having won seven midget and sprint car events at three different Buckeye tracks. Hines won USAC’s national midget event last August at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway. … The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Drivers Association will make a $1,200 food and cash donation to Harmony House, a Mansfield charity, during a driver autograph session May 13 at the Sears store in Westfield Shoppingtown Richland. A hauler parade to the speedway follows. …With the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in a post-Martinsville break, Shane Hmiel (No. 15 Earl Small’s Harley-Davidson Chevrolet) will compete in Saturday’s NASCAR Busch Series Stater Bros. 300 presented by Gatorade at California Speedway. Hmiel finished eighth in last year’s event. … Raybestos Rookie of the Year leader David Reutimann (No. 17 NTN Bearings Toyota) also is slated for NASCAR Busch Series duty in California, as is David Starr (No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet). Reutimann is set to throw out the first pitch at Knights Stadium before Monday’s Charlotte Knights vs. Louisville Bats baseball game. The Knights are the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.
    Fast Facts
    What: UAW/GM 250 (Race No. 4 of 25).
    Where: Mansfield (Ohio) Motorsports Speedway.
    When: 2 p.m. ET, Sunday, May 16.
    Track layout: 0.5 -mile paved oval.
    Race length: 250 laps/125 miles.
    Posted awards: $440,784.
    TV: SPEED Channel, 2 p.m. ET.
    Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
    2003 winner: New event.
    2003 polesitter: New event.
    Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday – Optional Practice, 9 a.m. – Noon and 1 – 4:00 p.m. Saturday – Practice 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Qualifying 4:00 p.m.(NASCAR PR)(4-30-2004)
  • Three CTS back top their roots: Craftsman Motorsports and The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company will bring three NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers back to their old stomping grounds at Hickory Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 8. Former Hickory track champions and current NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers Andy Houston, Robert Huffman and Dennis Setzer will compete for bragging rights in a 10-lap Late Model shootout at the track where they cut their teeth. Marty Houston, a crew member on the #46 Chevrolet Silverado, part-time driver in the Series and Andy’s brother, also will race in the Craftsman Challenge: Hometown Bragging Rights Race presented by Goodyear. Fans will have the opportunity to get autographs from each driver from 6-7 p.m. Each driver has taken the checkered flag on multiple occasions at Hickory, and all four have been crowned the track champion: Setzer (1983 and 1993), Huffman (1988 and 1989), Andy Houston (1994) and Marty Houston (1997). But none may be more important than this 10-lap match race that will give one driver bragging rights in his hometown for the entire year. The shootout is scheduled to follow the Late Model feature and will begin at approximately 9 p.m. The drivers will be piloting Late Models borrowed from current Hickory competitors. Goodyear will provide tires for the race. Admission to Hickory Motor Speedway is $10 for adults, $6 for teens and seniors, $3 for seven-12 and free for six and under; or a family pass can be purchased for $25. Admission to the pits is also $25. Gates open at 5 p.m., and the autograph session will begin at 6 p.m. For more information, call 828-464-3655 or visit www.hickorymotorspeedway.com.(4-30-2004)
  • Roush drivers testing:Since the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series does not race for two more weeks, Roush Racing’s Jon Wood and Carl Edwards are going to spend next week preparing for the upcoming races. Wood and Edwards will be testing at the Milwaukee Mile on Monday and Tuesday, and then Chicagoland Speedway on Wednesday and Thursday.(Roush Racing PR)(4-30-2004)
  • Green/White/Checker in Cup? doesn’t look like it, plus Trucks may lose it UPDATE:….Rules in NASCAR’s truck series do allow for a green-white-checkered flag finish, meaning a two-lap dash where a race can be extended so it will not end under caution. “At the Nextel Cup level, that rule would be a recipe for disaster,” NASCAR Vice President Jim Hunter said. “That would be like dangling a piece of raw meat in front of a hungry lion.” In fact, Hunter said that rule may now be re-evaluated for the truck series. “We’ll probably wind up looking at doing away with that rule for the trucks,” he said.(Alabama Live)(4-27-2004)
    UPDATE: On Wednesday, NASCAR vice president of corporate communications Jim Hunter defused a misunderstanding that appeared in print following events last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, specifically investigating the use of green-flag finishes in the Craftsman Truck Series with the possibility of their deletion. “There is no effort going on right now to do away with having green-white-checker finishes in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series,” Hunter said. “What the reporter failed to say was that when we instituted that in the Truck Series, most of its races were on short tracks. And I said that we would have to look at that at some time in the future.”(NASCAR.com)(4-29-2004)
  • Truck Race Sold Out: Mansfield Motorsports Speedway says all 20,000 grandstand seats have been sold for the May 16 UAW/GM Ohio 250 Craftsman Truck Series race. The track says the numbers will make it the largest stand-alone short track event in series history. “The response has been overwhelming, and we are so pleased to announce that we have indeed sold all of the available tickets for this event,” said Jerry Smith, the track’s president and general manager.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(4-26-2004)
  • ppc Racing Makes Change To Truck Program: ppc Racing’s co-owner and general manager, Keith Barnwell issued the below statement today: “Effective immediately, ppc Racing and Fred Wanke have parted ways due to philosophical reasons pertaining to the race team,” said Barnwell. “We appreciate the effort Fred has given. We were highly successful in Daytona, winning the pole and finishing in the top-five. Since then, we have struggled in testing, race preparation and in the races at Atlanta and Martinsville. We owe it to our sponsor, Power Stroke Diesel and International Truck and Engine Corporation, our driver, Terry Cook, our manufacturer, Ford Motor Company and to all employees at ppc Racing to put together an operation that is going to compete for race wins and championships. We wish Fred the best and will move forward, naming a new crew chief in the near future. We are developing a short list of candidates and will begin interviewing immediately.”(ppc Racing PR), Dave Fuge Jr.? see PR below dates 4-15.(4-19-2004)
  • Motorsports center unveiled: Plans were unveiled Saturday for a new Virginia Motorsports Technology Center in Henry County [VA]. The $1.2 million facility also has signed its first tenant, North Carolina-based racing team HT Motorsports #59 Truck Team]. The racing package, which came through Gov. Mark Warner’s drive to recruit the motorsports industry to Southside, was announced by State Commerce Secretary Michael Schewel during Saturday’s time trials at the Martinsville Speedway. The 50,000-square-foot facility and HT Motorsports will work in conjunction with Arrington Manufacturing [Engines] and Patrick Henry Community College’s (PHCC) advanced motorsports curriculum, scheduled to be offered beginning in January 2005. Under the deal, HT Motorsports and its Craftsman Truck racing team will employ 75 people over the first 30 months, paying an average salary of $16 per hour. The team, owned by Lynchburg resident Jim Harris and currently based in Harrisburg, N.C., will move to the area by late summer. Upon moving to the area, the team initially will operate within Arrington Manufacturing before becoming a tenant of the Virginia Motorsports Technology Center. The announcement is a major development for PHCC’s motorsports program, which will be able to offer students personal involvement in all facets of a successful NASCAR team. Warner’s Virginia Motorsports Initiative was unveiled last August at Martinsville Speedway with the goal of luring the motorsports industry into Southside Virginia, using statewide incentives ranging from tobacco funds to NASA engineering support to local-level grants. HT motorsports will recieve a $50,000 grant from the Tobacco Regional Opportunity Fund, a $50,000 grant from Henry County, to be paid after the first 20 new jobs are created, and a $100,000 contribution from the Chamber’s Partner in Economic Growth (C-PEG). HT Motorsports trucks currently are driven by rookie Mark McFarland. Both McFarland and crew chief Greg Conner are Virginia residents, as is Harris. HT Motorsports’ arrival will make it the only full-time team from NASCAR’s three most prominent series to be housed in Martinsville, Henry County or Patrick County.(Martinsville Bulletin)(4-19-2004)
  • Crawford wins at Martinsville: #14-Rick Crawford, still nursing broken bones in his left foot from an accident in the March 13 race at Atlanta, withstood a fierce challenge from short-track ace #46-Dennis Setzer in a two-lap shootout to win Saturday’s Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway. Under series rules the race must end under green, so a caution on Lap 247 of 250 caused the race to be extended to Lap 254. Crawford got a jump on Setzer on the restart and held him off by 0.365 seconds at the finish. Saturday’s is the third NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win of Crawford’s career. His previous two wins came at Homestead (1998), and Daytona Beach (2003). “I just steered it and did my job. I didn’t have much brake because the foot was giving me trouble but the Roush engine kept me going fast down the straightaway,” Crawford said. “I’ve been racing a long time, but today we were on a mission.” Crawford pit his second and final time on Lap 147, one of eight drivers to try a strategy to pit as early as possible when they could make the distance on fuel. The rest of the leaders pit on Lap 164, moving the eight who pitted early to the front of the pack. Crawford passed then-leader #42-Mike Skinner for the lead on Lap 202 and led the final 53 laps. “When you see the leaders not pit, that bothers you as a driver,” Crawford said. “Knowing the guys up front running the way they were, I knew they had to pit.” Setzer, who had won the past two spring Martinsville races, moved into second on Lap 223 and trailed Crawford by 1.308 seconds. But he couldn’t make up significant ground. “We finally got in position on that long run,” Setzer said. “I had one last shot at him on that green-white-checkered, but we got a little tight up off Turn 2.” Pole-winner #16-Jack Sprague finished third, #50-Jon Wood fourth and #42-Mike Skinner completed the top five. #99-Carl Edwards leads the points, 22 over #24-Travis Kvapil.(ThatsRacin.com)
    AND DW? “The green-white-checkered kind of did me in. Andy Houston got into somebody off of Turn 2, and they got hung together. I got a run on Houston for 11th place and then we got down there in Turn 3. Other drivers had gone three-wide a couple of times, but it wasn’t going to work that time. Houston and I got together, and I spun all the way around. I finished 24th, the last car on the lead lap. That’s Martinsville. That’s Bristol. When you go to these bullrings, you’ve got to play like a bull.”(see full story at FoxSports)
    See results at:
  • Spotter Stand Blamed for AMS Wreck: Craftsman Truck Series driver Rick Crawford, back in his #14 Ford for the first time since a brutal crash at Atlanta Motor Speedway, said he hopes NASCAR will consider moving the spotter’s stand at AMS to a place where spotters will have an unobstructed view of the back- stretch. Crawford said buildings inside the backstretch of the track kept his spotter from being able to see the spinning truck of Tina Gordon, which Crawford hit, sending both drivers to the hospital with broken bones. “My spotter has been spotting for 10 years, and he’s very good at what he does, but at Atlanta he just couldn’t see,” Crawford said. “I think NASCAR needs to move the spotters to get a better angle down the back straightaway because we’re running too fast in the area they can’t see.” NASCAR spokesman Herb Branham said officials have discussed the situation with Crawford, but there are no plans to move the spotter’s stand from its current location atop the suites on the Turn 1 side of the front- stretch.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(4-17-2004)
  • Sprague on the pole at Martinsville: #16-Jack Sprague’s lap at 92.375mph on Friday earned the pole for Saturday’s Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway. Although he has three series championships (1997, 1999 and 2001) and now 21 career poles, Sprague’s pole Friday is his first at the .526-mile short track. His previous best start at the track was fourth in 2000. His best finish was third on three occasions. His most recent pole was October 2001 at Las Vegas. Sprague went out late in the qualifying session and knocked #18-Chad Chaffin from the top spot. Chaffin will line up second and #14-Rick Crawford, still nursing broken bones in his left foot from an accident in Atlanta, was third fastest. #99-Carl Edwards was fourth fastest and #4-Bobby Hamilton completed the top five. Series points leader #24-Travis Kvapil will line up sixth. #11-Darrell Waltrip will starts 21st.(ThatsRacin.com)
    For qualifying results/starting lineups see:
    Missing the race included: #63-Chris Wimmer, #43-Johnny Sauter, #03-Geoffrey Bodine, #57-David Froehlich Jr., #19-Richard Hampton, #48-Wayne Edwards, #02-Kelly Sutton, #73-Craig Wood and #93-Ricky Gonzalez.(4-16-2004)
  • Edge Performance Group #43 Curb Records Chevy debuts at Martinsville: Debuting this weekend at the Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia is a new NASCAR Craftsman Truck team fielded by NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch Series pilot Johnny Sauter, legendary motorsports figure Cary Agajanian and renowned music and racing mogul Mike Curb. Called the Edge Performance Group, the team will field the #43 Curb Records Chevy. This new team marks the rejoining of Sauter, Curb, Agajanian, and crew chief Joe Shear who had plenty of success in the 2003 NASCAR Busch Series with a victory at the Funai 250 at Richmond International Raceway. “I’m thrilled to be joining the NASCAR Craftsman Truck series this season,” said Sauter. “I had been looking for an opportunity to work with Joe Shear, Cary Agajanian and Mike Curb, knowing the four of us made a great combination. The truck team will help me hone my driving skills and also provide great information to use in my Nextel Cup and Busch Series efforts. Thanks to Chevrolet, Curb Records and Motorsports Management International for helping make this happen!” Edge Performance Group principal and longtime racing sponsor and team owner Mike Curb is also glad to be a part of this new team. “Since our experience last year in the Busch Series, I knew that I wanted to partner with Johnny again,” he said. “This NASCAR Craftsman Truck team has the right ingredients for success in a very challenging racing environment. Right now the Edge Performance Group is prepared to run four or five races, but if more sponsorship is found, we could do a lot more.”
    Cary Agajanian, Edge Performance Group co-owner, is also the managing director of Motorsports Management International (MMI), which represents many of NASCAR’s most successful drivers and brightest stars. “We have been working with Johnny for many years and we think that Craftsman Truck is a perfect way to continue to display Johnny’s exceptional driving prowess,” he said. “I look forward to seeing his performance this weekend at Martinsville.”(Edge Performance Group PR)(4-16-2004)
  • Dave Fuge Jr. Joins ppc Racing Truck Program: ppc Racing assembled its final piece of the puzzle Thursday with the hiring of Dave Fuge Jr. as its truck chief for the #10 Power StrokeR Diesel Ford. Fuge Jr., who was crew chief for the 2002 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship team, will work alongside veterans Terry Cook (driver) and Fred Wanke (crew chief) in their chase for the championship title. “ppc Racing is one of the top organizations in all of NASCAR,” said Fuge Jr. “This is a championship organization, something you cannot take away from any team. I got a call from the owners at ppc Racing and asked if I’d be interested in the truck chief position with Terry Cook and Fred Wanke. I thought about the position and began talking to Greg (Pollex, Co-Owner) and then to Fred. The next day I was working with the rest of the guys at the shop.”(ppc Racing PR)(4-15-2004)
  • DW-Darrell Waltrip tests at Lanier in prep for Martinsville: Darrell Waltrip and the Toyota Tundra Test Crew were at Lanier National Speedway Tuesday with the Toyota Tundra Craftsman Truck Waltrip plans to race at Martinsville this week. Waltrip was looking for a dry place and made arrangements late Monday evening with Stan Narrison track General Manager to come down from High Point, NC to do some testing. “Things are pretty wet up in these parts of the country and you are the closest place that looks dry”, said Waltrip. Unfortunately it did not stay dry for very long and Waltrip and the Toyota Testing Team had to close up shop early.(LNS Site)(4-15-2004)
  • Jerry Cook back to the #88 as crew chief: Tracy Hines has added confidence coming into Martinsville Speedway because Jerry Cook returns to the #88 Menards team as crew chief, moving over from ThorSport’s #13 team [Tina Gordon]. “I am really happy to have Jerry on board,” Hines said. “He has been around the series for a long time, and he really has the hunger to win one of these things. After working with him for that two-day test at Sandusky, I just can’t wait to get to Martinsville and get after it.”(ThorSport PR)(4-15-2004)
  • Bang Racing adds sponsorhip for Truck and Cup programs: Bang Racing says Limelight Media Group Inc. of Memphis, Tenn., has signed on as an associate sponsor of its #42 Toyota for Mike Skinner and #24 Toyota of Travis Kvapil in the Craftsman Truck Series. The team says the agreement also includes Limelight’s sponsorship of Bang Racing in the Nextel Cup Series during the second half of 2004. Limelight Media creates and manages what it describes as “out-of-home digital advertising and promotional networks.” Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(4-15-2004)
  • ppc Racing gets an assoc sponsor: Sof ComfortR Insoles, a leading brand of insoles from footcare expert Implus Footcare LLC, announced today its association with ppc Racing and the #10 Power StrokeR Diesel Ford driven by Terry Cook. Sof Comfort will be an associate sponsor for the 2004 season and join sister Implus Footcare brand, Airplus, an associate sponsor on ppc Racing’s #22 Miller High Life Ford Taurus driven by Jason Keller [in the Busch Series]. Based in Research Triangle Park, NC, Implus Footcare, LLC is a leading supplier of Insoles, Technical Socks, Shoecare Products and Laces. Implus brands include Sof SoleR, the Leader in the Sports Specialty channel, AirplusR and Sof ComfortR, both mass-market brands and Thom McAn Shoecare, a licensed property from Footstar (NYSE: FTST). For more information, please visit www.implusfootcare.com.(ppc Racing PR)(4-15-2004)
  • Hooper to crew chief for Gordon? UPDATE Gordon to race at Martinsville: hearing that former Winston West and Truck Series driver, Lance Hooper, has taken a job as the new crew chief for the #13 Truck Series team with driver Tina Gordon. And of Gordon is not able to drive due to her injuries at Atlanta, Hooper would step in as a sub.(4-6-2004)
    UPDATE Gordon to race, Hooper as crew cheif: Tina Gordon is ready to return to NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competition five weeks after suffering a broken right leg in a hard crash at the Atlanta Motor Speedway March 13. Gordon received the appropriate medical clearances recently and immediately got back into a truck in a private test session at Sandusky Speedway. “We made 86 laps at Sandusky last week,” Gordon said. “Tracy (Hines) had spent the previous two days there working on setups for Martinsville, so I really didn’t need to concentrate on that. Those guys did a great job and learned a lot that will help us both at Martinsville.  My main focus was to get back in the truck, get comfortable, and figure out how some of my aches and pains would react once I had some track time.” Gordon will wear a brace on her injured right leg, but only to prevent banging it up again should another incident happen. “We have a brace for my leg, and that is what we spent a lot of time working on at Sandusky,” Gordon continued. “It’s there for support and to make sure if something else happens it doesn’t aggravate the injury any more.  We worked on getting that as comfortable for me as we could.” Gordon heads to Martinsville win a new crew chief on the #13 ThorSport Racing Chevrolet. Lance Hooper, a championship-winning driver himself, joined the team recently. “I loved working with Jerry Cook because he has a lot of knowledge and is very easy to get along with,” Gordon said. “But having Lance come on board is going to be really good for me because he has raced at most of the tracks we are going to.  He knows these trucks inside and out, and has raced them.  Having him on board is going to strengthened our team and the entire ThorSport operation as a whole.(ThorSport PR)(4-15-2004)
  • #40 Team Closing up? UPDATE 2 an assoc sponsors: hearing the #40 Key Motorsports team and driver Joey Clanton has parted way and the team may be suspending operations? The will not be at Martinsville, after that…..??(4-12-2004)
    UPDATE: the Key Motorsports, Craftsman Truck Series team, is restructuring its team in hopes of gaining the winning edge in the series. Contrary to recent rumors, the team has no plans in shutting its doors. In fact, the team has added two new marketing representatives, Bill Adams and Marie Lupia, to help secure sponsorship. The management is reassessing everyone’s position with the team. “We want Key Motorsports to be successful in its racing endeavors,” stated Curtis Key, owner of the #40 team. “We are still in the process of getting the funds needed to race every week. The sponsor we were told that would do just that has failed to fulfill their end of the deal.” The team has decided not to release any information regarding the employment status of its current or future employees at this time. The team is still actively seeking marketing partners. Interested parties can contact the marketing department at: 757-547-4411 or www.ckeymotorsports.com.(4-14-2004)
    UPDATE 2: Key Motorsports, announcing earlier this week that it was “restructuring” its team announces today that it has secured two minor associate sponsors for the 2004 racing season. The Race Depot and Woodmasters Inc. have joined Key Motorsports to aid in the teams efforts in gaining a winning edge. The Race Depot, which Internet shoppers know as “race-depot.com”, is a NASCAR collectibles racing company based in Ft. Eustis, VA. The Race Depot offers quality product, quality service, and FAST shipping. Woodmasters Inc., a subsidiary of Raymond Key and Sons, is a full service general contracting firm, located in Virginia Beach, VA. Over the past two decades, Woodmasters has performed a wide range of residential and commercial work including, interior and exterior projects and renovations, additions and new construction. Terms of both deals were not disclosed. “I welcome both of these companies with the utmost gratitude,” stated Curtis Key, owner of Key Motorsports. Key added, “Our marketing staff has been working hard all year to get Virginia based companies to sponsor our Virginia based team, we hope the rewards will be great for all three of us”.(Key Motorsports PR)(4-15-2004)
  • Gonzalez to drive at Martinsville UPDATE: Ricky Gonzalez, the New Jersey Hispanic driver has just inked a deal to run The Kroger 250 Craftsman Truck event on April 17 at Martinsville. Gonzalez and his marketing agent, Maureen Rafferty, have been hard at work traveling across country to California to lock down sponsorship. And while the official announcement and the details about the sponsorship will be forth coming soon, Gonzalez did reveal the CTS race in April will be with Ware Racing.(CatchFence.com)(3-18-2004)
    UPDATE: Ricky ‘Speedy’ Gonzalez will be running the #93 Craftsman Truck with Lonnie Troxell at Martinsville. For more on Gonzalez, see his website: rickygonzalez.com(4-14-2004)
  • Ragan testing for #67 team? Marlin out? UPDATE 2: hearing that David Ragan, son if former Cup driver Ken Ragan, is testing Fiddleback Racing’s Ford-150 Craftsman Truck at Texas Motor Speedway this week, starting Tuesday 4/6/04. This is the truck that Steadman Marlin has been driving, but he and the team parted ways after Atlanta.(4-6-2004)
    UPDATE: not sure what to believe here, have three different stories flying at me; Ragan in the truck, Marlin staying ; and Kevin Love driving at Martinsville and Mansfield [OH].(4-8-2004)
    UPDATE 2: A big announcement about David Ragan and Fiddle Back Racing will be coming in the very near future. Kevin Love will be driving the #67 for Martinsville and Manfield for sure. Other races for Love are in the works. Steadman Marlin will be involved with Fiddle Back in other ways which will be disclosed in the near future.(Fiddle Back Racing PR)(4-10-2004)
  • McFarland in the #59 Dodge? UPDATE: hearing that 2003 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series champion Mark McFarland announced at the MARFR banquet that he has a full truck ride [except at Daytona and Atlanta, supposedly Steve Grissom will drive those] with Harris Trucking and will be relocating to NC.(1-28-2004)
    UPDATE: Mark McFarland, the reigning NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series champion, will make his 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut April 17 at Martinsville Speedway. It’s not the first time this Winchester, Va. native has raced in the series – he made three starts in 2003 – but there’s a difference this time around. McFarland is now the regular driver of the #59 Harris Trucking Dodge, a front-running team that has been a part of the Craftsman Truck Series full-time since 2003. While Randy LaJoie piloted the #59 Dodge for the first two events, McFarland has spent the past two months working in the team’s race shop, preparing trucks for competition and assisting with odd jobs wherever needed. It’s an approach that has impressed team members and one that may ultimately pay off once he takes the wheel. LaJoie is scheduled to serve as McFarland’s spotter at Martinsville. McFarland has ample experience with Martinsville’s 0.526-mile oval. One of his three previous NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series starts came at Martinsville in October 2003, when he finished a respectable 15th. In addition, McFarland has competed in the track’s Bailey’s 300, the biggest NASCAR Late Model race of the year, on two previous occasions, including a fourth-place run in 2003. After Martinsville, the team plans to run a minimum of 10 races with McFarland as the driver, but could extend that to a full season, according to crew chief Greg Conner – himself a veteran of the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series at Virginia’s Langley Speedway. Along with his Craftsman Truck Series schedule with the Harris Trucking team, McFarland will also appear in three NASCAR Busch Series races – at Richmond (May 14), Lowe’s Motor Speedway (May 29) and Dover International Speedway (June 5) – as part of Unilever Bestfoods’ and Tommy Baldwin Racing’s “Hungry Drivers” program.(NASCAR PR)(4-8-2004)
  • New driver for the #28: hearing that Buddy Davis will make his Truck Series debut in the #28 at Mansfield, OH [not artinsville], replacing L.W. Miller. Davis is the marketing director for Anderson Speedway in Anderson, IN. Davis is now listed as the driver on the fdnyracing.com site.(4-8-2004)
  • Exide to support teams in Cup, Busch and Trucks: Exide Technologies, a global leader in stored electrical energy solutions, will expand its partnership with four teams among NASCAR’s top three divisions. The teams include: the #0 Hass/CNC Racing Chevrolet driven by Ward Burton in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series; the #17 Reiser Enterprises Ford driven by Matt Kenseth in the NASCAR Busch Series; the #6 Tommy Baldwin Racing Dodge driven by multiple drivers in the NASCAR Busch Series; and the #21 Innovative Motorsports Toyota driven by Hank Parker, Jr. in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. In 2004, Exide will adorn the racing vehicles and transporters of Reiser Enterprises (as well as Kenseth’s uniform), Tommy Baldwin Racing and Innovative Motorsports. In addition, there will be advertising and promotional opportunities with all four teams, which includes Haas/CNC Racing. This season marks the third consecutive year Exide and Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) have had an association.(Pro Sports Marketing PR)(4-8-2004)
  • Turning the Corner: Truck Series Driver Shane Hmiel Racing to make a Difference: In an effort to revamp, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program has been stepping up its prevention and teaching techniques to help educators cope with the issues now facing our schools such as violence in schools and terrorism in addition to their drug resistance programs. “Gone is the old-style approach to prevention in which officers stand behind podiums and lecture students in straight rows. New D.A.R.E. officers are trained as “coaches” to support kids.” As part of this effort to relate to the children as role models and mentors Iredell County, NC D.A.R.E. and Community Resource Officers have been working with NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Driver Shane Hmiel. “Our goal is for me to go to the schools and talk about the choices I made and the consequences I suffered.” Shane Hmiel is the former NASCAR Busch Series rising star that tested positive to an illegal substance September 5th after a race in Richmond, shocking the NASCAR community. “I made the wrong choices and I got caught.” Hmiel said that most difficult part of all of this is how it affected his family. “They were heartbroken, and more embarrassed than anything. My dad has been in this sport for a long time. It hurt everybody around me.” Shane’s father Steve Hmiel is technical director at DEI, Inc. “actually, it was embarrassing for me, but I don’t think it’s as embarrassing for me as it is for them. They were so excited when I made it to Busch, because they knew how hard I’d worked. Then to throw it away like that was so stupid.” During Hmiel’s suspension from NASCAR, he underwent the substance abuse rehabilitation program mandated by NASCAR. He undergoes random drug testing and when NASCAR calls, he has one hour to be at an approved facility to have the test taken. “I don’t mind it at all. I think it’s been a good deal. NASCAR’s handled it really well and I am doing everything they ask me to do. I met with several doctors and counselors and having that time off I got my priorities straight and set my mind to being reinstated.” Hmiel’s reinstatement came in January just prior to NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event. “I am so thankful that NASCAR gave me this second chance.” Hmiel not knowing when his suspension would be lifted had been talking to Billy Ballew Motorsports about driving the #15 Chevy Silverado but knew everything hinged on his reinstatement. “I am so thankful that people believed in me. Billy Ballew gave me his truck when most people didn’t want to take on the risk. I know I was wrong and made a mistake. Now it’s time for me to help others learn from my past mistakes.” Hmiel went on to say “I’m honored that the people at D.A.R.E. are giving me this opportunity to share my experience and I hope I can make a difference.”
    D.A.R.E. started a new elementary and middle school program this year and Hmiel will be speaking to 5th graders at their D.A.R.E. graduation ceremony Tuesday, April 6th at Mount Mourne Elementary School in Mooresville, NC.
    “New D.A.R.E. is setting the gold standard for the future,” says Charlie Parsons, Executive Director of D.A.R.E. America, “Prevention inside the 21st century school house will need to be diverse, accountable, and mean more things to more people, particularly with the safety issues that have emerged since Columbine and terrorist alerts. That’s one reason why every New D.A.R.E. officer is also being trained as a certified School Resource Officer (SRO).” More info at www.DARE.com.(PR)(4-6-2004)
  • Chris Wimmer to Team with Race Fans for a Cure at Martinsville: Breast cancer is a disease affecting not only the lives of the afflicted, but that of their families and friends as well. The personnel at MB Motorsports know this only too well, as Beverly Mittler, wife of team owner/crew chief, Mike Mittler, is a breast cancer survivor. With this in mind, it is with great pride MB Motorsports announces its driver, NCTS Rookie of the Year candidate, Chris Wimmer, will carry the logo of Race fans for A Cure (RFFAC – www.racefansforacure.com) as the primary sponsor of the #63 Ford during the Kroger 250 Craftsman Truck Series race in Martinsville, VA, April 17th. “I’m very honored to have Race Fans for a Cure® as our primary sponsor for my race in Martinsville,” said Wimmer. “This will be my first race in NASCAR and to have an organization onboard like this who has done so much to help so many makes this race all the more special.”
    “Having lived through the nightmare of cancer with Bev,” said Mike Mittler, “I know the good that the Komen Foundation has done for its victims and their families. For Race Fans for a Cure to come onboard with us for this important race for MB Motorsports and Chris Wimmer, it’s very special. I just hope we can do our part to promote this organization that has done so much to help so many.”(MB Motorsports PR)(4-6-2004)
  • Martinsville Notes II:
    Jack Sprague’s (No. 16 Chevy Trucks Chevrolet) NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series record at Martinsville Speedway mirrors the previous Augusta National stats of golf professional Phil Mickelson, who broke his Masters drought last Sunday. Sprague, on three occasions, has finished third at the .526-mile venue, site of Saturday’s Kroger 250 – just as Mickelson did in his past three starts at Augusta before snapping an 0-for-47 winless run in professional golf’s four major tournaments. And like “Lefty,” who’d previously won 22 PGA Tour events, there’s no question about Sprague’s credentials. The three-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion has fashioned 23 victories in 174 series starts. Breaking through at Martinsville – arguably one of the series’ most difficult short tracks – would be a two-fold accomplishment for the 39-year-old Spring Lake, Mich., veteran. It would fill a big blank on Sprague’s resume and – after a pair of lackluster efforts – would kick-start IWX Racing back into the championship form it enjoyed in 2002-03. Sprague is the first to admit that Martinsville hasn’t always suited his game, explaining perhaps why he and Ron Hornaday Jr. – numbers one and two in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victories with 49 – haven’t won there. Both are hard-chargers and a Martinsville win doesn’t always go to the swiftest. “Keeping a cool head is what you have to do to get to Victory Lane,” Sprague said. That explains why Martinsville’s victory list is peppered with names of those who’ve called on a veteran’s savvy to take the checkered flag. Among them are Dennis Setzer (No. 46 Chevrolet Silverado Chevrolet), Bobby Hamilton (No. 4 Square D Dodge) and Mike Skinner (No. 42 Toyota Tundra Toyota). Saturday’s 250-lap race will be Sprague’s first at Martinsville for the Steve Coulter-owned team. In 2002, Mike Bliss drove the team’s Chevrolet to a second-place finish en route to the series championship. Sprague believes he can build on that performance. “I feel like our short track program is right where it needs to be,” said Sprague, who has tested on several non-series tracks since last month’s Atlanta race.
    Uncharacteristically, both driver and team are far down in the points standings after an accident at Daytona International Speedway and a variety of problems in Atlanta. Sprague is 25th, 161 points behind leader Travis Kvapil (No. 24 LINE-X Toyota). Still, Bliss faced a 121-point deficit after the first two races of 2002. “We haven’t had the results we had hoped for so far but there are 23 races left in the run for the championship,” he said. “We are well-prepared for Martinsville and the guys are pumped up. It is a team effort and we are all working toward the same goal.” Sprague realizes that preparation and desire are no guarantees of success at any short track. “I think we have everything in place to get a win (but) we just need luck to ride with us as well,” said Sprague, who has yet to lead a lap at Martinsville in seven previous starts. He finished 29th on the track in last spring’s Virginia 500 in NASCAR’s premier series. “You have to put yourself in the right place at the right time to take advantage of a situation. To do that, you have to qualify well so at the start of the race you can run toward the front, get your truck sorted out and let everyone get settled down. Martinsville is definitely a place where you have to be well-prepared and get some luck to fall your way.”
    * Martinsville opens 2004 short track season … Seven of this season’s 25 events will be held on tracks measuring less than one mile. The Kroger 250 opens a stretch in which three of the next six races are contested on short tracks. Following is the May 16 inaugural Ohio 250 at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway. The series returns to Memphis Motorsports Park for the O’Reilly 250 on June 15.
    * Etc. … Kvapil’s crew will welcome a distinguished visitor at Martinsville, 1st Sgt. Clinton Reiss, an 18-year U.S. Army veteran and Desert Storm Bronze Star winner. Reiss, a member of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment stationed at Fort Carson, Colo., is recently returned from duty along the Iraq/Syria border. He is the brother of the No. 24 team’s rear tire carrier, Herman Reiss. … Both 2003 races at Martinsville saw 17 lead-lap finishers, most of any series race. The fall event produced a Martinsville-low number of laps run under caution – 32 of 200. … No driver has competed in all 10 Martinsville races. Hamilton, Setzer and Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Motel & RV Park Ford) have started eight times. Setzer has completed the most miles of any driver, 916.292, while Hamilton has led the greatest number of miles, 265.104. ON THE RIGHT TRACK
    * Musgrave eyes record Bud Pole qualifying attempt … Ted Musgrave (No. 1 Mopar Dodge) has won the pole for each of the past two Kroger 250 races. A third consecutive pole run would match the series record for consecutive poles in the same event. Ron Fellows holds the mark, set at Watkins Glen International from 1997-99. Musgrave finished second in last year’s event. The Bud Pole winner has captured just one of nine races at the .526-mile venue. Rich Bickle won both the pole and the Kroger 250 in 1997.
    * Setzer also streaks at Martinsville … The only double series winner at Martinsville, Setzer can run his Kroger 250 victory streak to three. He won from 33rd in 2002 – the deepest in the field by any series competitor – and repeated a year ago. Musgrave remains the only series driver to win the same event three straight times. His continuing California Speedway streak began in 2001.
    * Most former winners in Martinsville race … The Kroger 250 marks the first time that four former winners have entered the same series race at Martinsville Speedway. Three former winners have started an event at the track – most recently in October 2003. The four are Skinner, 1996; Hamilton, 2000; Setzer, 2002-03 and Jon Wood (No.50 Roush Racing Ford), 2003.
    * Two of 10 series winners at Martinsville Speedway have hailed from the Commonwealth of Virginia, a state that’s hosted the most races – 22 – in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series history. They are Jimmy Hensley of Ridgeway (1999) and Jon Wood of Stuart (fall race of 2003).
    Fast Facts
    What: Kroger 250 (Race No. 3 of 25).
    Where: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
    When: 1 p.m. ET, Saturday, April 17.
    Track layout: .526-mile paved oval.
    Race length: 250 laps/131.5 miles.
    Posted awards: $444,480.
    TV: SPEED Channel, 1 p.m. ET.
    Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
    2003 winner: Dennis Setzer.
    2003 polesitter: Ted Musgrave.
    Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday – Practice, 9 – 11:15 a.m. Qualifying, 1:30 p.m. Final practice following NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series practice, time permitting.(NASCAR PR)(4-3-2004)
  • Martinsville Notes: K Automotive Racing, a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series fixture since the inaugural race in 1995, will return the Keselowski name to competition at Martinsville Speedway after an absence of more than four seasons. Bob Keselowski competed in 86 series races, winning at Richmond International Raceway, before leaving the driver’s seat after the 1999 season for a crew chief’s role with the team owned by his wife, Kay. Now another Keselowski – 20-year-old Brad, who literally grew up in his parents’ suburban Detroit race shop – gets his turn behind the wheel of the team’s No. 29 Ford. He’s set to make his NASCAR national touring series debut in the Kroger 250 on April 17. Brad Keselowski is just the latest “next generation” competitor to hit the track in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Among series regulars with notable racing fathers are Joey Clanton (No. 40 Key Motorsports Chevrolet), Matt Crafton (No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet), Carl Edwards (No. 99 Superchips Inc. Ford), Andy Houston (No. 2 Team ASE/Carquest Dodge), Steadman Marlin (No. 67 Forced Ignition Ford), Ted Musgrave (No. 1 Mopar Dodge), Steve Park (No. 62 Orleans Hotel Dodge) and David Reutimann (No. 17 NTN Bearings Toyota). The younger Keselowski, a veteran of nearly a decade with his parents’ team in a variety of roles including parts manager and engineer, has raced for six years, winning 28 features and one championship in five different types of race cars – most recently late model stock cars in Ohio and Michigan.
    His debut truly will be a family affair, with father Bob on the pit box, mother Kay in the spotter’s stand and uncle Ron – a Daytona 500 veteran – a part of the over-the-wall pit crew. The team is among the series’ most successful, winning 10 times with five straight top-10 championship finishes. “Brad has been focused solely on this since December of last year,” Bob Keselowski said. “He is very focused and goal-oriented to start with but he knows what an opportunity this is and he is mentally prepared for the challenge. I think people will be surprised by his ability, but he was born into racing and he has been around the track his entire life. He knows the struggles and what it takes to be successful both at the track and in the shop.”
    Indeed, Brad Keselowski has set high goals for Martinsville Speedway, a track on which he’s yet to compete. They include qualifying among the top five, racing in the top 10 “and not hitting anything that’s my fault,” he said. “I feel like if I can meet my own expectations or even get close to the goals that I have laid out for myself then I have out-done what others expected of me.” K Automotive has three top-five finishes at Martinsville, the best a third by Terry Cook (No. 10 Power Stroke Diesel Ford) in 2001.
    Keselowski watched from pit road during the season’s opening two races at Daytona and Atlanta. The team is 17th in the owner points standings entering the Kroger 250 on the strength of veteran Frank Kimmel’s eighth-place finish at Daytona. Keselowski believes his ongoing behind-the-scenes experience should be helpful as he battles his rivals for the 2004 Raybestos Rookie of the Year award.
    “I feel like I will still have a large say in how the truck is set up; I just may not have the chance to be as hands-on in the operation when I’m behind the wheel,” Keselowski said. “The truck needs to please the driver and the driver’s style. We will all still sit down and discuss the changes we need to make; I will just be looking at the changes from a different perspective.”
    Kay Keselowski, one of the most veteran spotters on the series, will have the best vantage spot to observe her son’s series debut. She’s not worried – at least no more so than when her husband was at the other end of the radio. What advice does she have for her son? “You have nothing to prove out there,” she said. “Just be safe, run a clean race and do your best.”
    * Martinsville a place for new faces … Keselowski is just the latest “son of” to make his initial NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series appearance at the .526-mile Martinsville Speedway. First was Barry Bodine, son of Geoffrey Bodine (No. 03 Team EJP Chevrolet), who joined his father in the inaugural event’s lineup on Sept. 25, 1995. In order to compete, the younger Bodine skipped high school classes after inclement weather postponed the race until Monday. The father-son duo finished 17th and 30th.
    * Injured Atlanta drivers progress … Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Motel & RV Ford), Tina Gordon (No. 13 Vassarette/Microtel Chevrolet) and Hank Parker Jr. (No. 21 Innovative Motorsports Toyota), injured in an incident March 13 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, continue their recoveries under care of their personal physicians. Each anticipates a return to competition at Martinsville.
    * Etc. … Fritz Kroyer, who has more than 36 years experience in various forms of motorsports, has been named general manager of the No. 62 Orleans Racing team that fields Dodges for Steve Park. The father of engine builder Kevin Kroyer, he is a native of Denmark, winning off-road racer and former freelance film stunt person who once jumped a Porsche over the Berlin Wall. … Mark McFarland, the 2003 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series champion, will drive the No. 59 Harris Trucking Dodge in the Kroger 250. McFarland finished 15th in last October’s Kroger 200. … Reigning NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Travis Kvapil (No. 24 Line-X Toyota) returns to International Race of Champions (IROC) action on Friday at Texas Motor Speedway.(NASCAR PR)(4-3-2004)
  • Sauter to run Truck race at Martinsville: Cup rookie Johnny Sauter said he’ll also compete in the truck race at Martinsville in two weeks for his own team. Sauter said he’ll use the race as an additional test for the Cup event.(Roanoke Times)(4-3-2004)
  • Jon Wood Visits American Idol: During a long break in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule many of the drivers are spending their time off doing some fun activities. Jon Wood did just that when he had the opportunity to attend Fox’s “American Idol” on Tuesday night. Wood, along with his girlfriend and his sister, boarded a plane for California on Monday afternoon, attended the show on Tuesday night and returned to Charlotte, N.C., on a red-eye flight after the show. “I don’t get intrigued very often by anything on television, and I don’t really get into concerts and stuff like that, but there is so much hype around this that I have just been fascinated by it,” Wood said. “I have to thank Ford for helping me get tickets since it is a hard ticket to come by. “Tuesday night everybody sang and nobody got kicked off the show. I am rooting for George Huff, he’s my favorite. It is cool that they are making celebrities out of everyday people. I really enjoyed seeing Simon, Paula, Randy and everyone in person. I’m around famous racing people all the time and it is no big deal, but this was a different experience for me. It made me understand a race fan’s perspective when they see drivers in person when they are used to seeing them on tv every weekend. “It was a great trip and since I missed Valentine’s Day because I was in Daytona this really made up for it.”(Roush Racing PR)(4-1-2004)
  • Park tests for Martinsville at LVMS Bullring: Steve Park completed 296 laps while testing his #62 Orleans Dodge at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway March 30. The team tested the same truck that will compete in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway April 17. “Steve wasn’t using the same line you would normally drive at the Bullring,” said Johnny Allen, the team’s crew chief. “He drove the track the shape of Martinsville. They aren’t the same size, but you are still able to learn a lot about the characteristics of the truck. We played with a lot of different scenarios to prepare for the next race. In all, it was a productive test. It is convenient to have the Bullring in our backyard. It cuts down on our travel time, which is our biggest disadvantage about being a Las Vegas-based team.” The Bullring is a 3/8-mile oval, while Martinsville Speedway is a half-mile oval. “I have extensive experience at Martinsville, so I was able to adjust my line to fit the configuration,” Park said. “They are both bullrings, but the Las Vegas Bullring doesn’t drive anything like Martinsville. Using the Martinsville line makes our test more valid. We specifically tried to simulate how we would be off the corner.” Park has completed 5,178 laps of competition in 11 starts at Martinsville Speedway in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. He has not competed in a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at Martinsville. In addition to the test, Park, who lives in Daytona, Florida, spent an extra day in Las Vegas to work with the team in the Orleans Racing shop. “Having Steve in the shop is a moral boost for the guys, especially right now when we are only racing once a month,” Allen said. “When he comes to town, he joins the guys for everything they do. He worked out with team this morning and attended our morning meeting. He does a good job of motivating them to work hard for the next race.” Park said: “It benefits me as much as it does the crew. I enjoy being in Las Vegas. I enjoy working on the truck. I enjoy spending time with the guys. I want to be a part of this team. That is what a team is. I’m not just the driver; I am a team member. I was at the gym with the guys at 6 o’clock this morning. I think it goes a long way. It shows them how committed I am to being a part of a good organization.” The next race of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is the Kroger 250 April 17 at Martinsville Speedway.(Orleans Racing PR)(4-1-2004)
  • #15 Looking for Fabricators: Professional experienced Fabricators needed for Billy Ballew Motorsports, owner of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series #15 Chevrolet Silverado. Please contact Richie Wauters at (704) 664-7015 for more information.(4-1-2004)