April 2005 Truck Series News Archive
- Musgrave wins at Gateway: Ted Musgrave led 158 of 160 laps to win the Dodge Ram Tough 200 at Gateway International Raceway. Musgrave won from the pole and collected the $10,000 award for doing so, Musgrave also takes over the points lead. #46-Dennis Setzer was 2nd, followed by #2-Jimmy Spencer, #5-Mike Skinner and #14-Rick Crawford.
For race results, see:
- Musgrave wins pole at Gateway: #1-Ted Musgrave won the pole with a speed of 135.159mph, rounding out the top-5 were #16-Jack Sprague, #6-Ron Hornaday Jr. #22-Bill Lester and #75-David Starr. Missing the race were: #21-Shane Wallace, #24-Brandon Bendele, #63-Justin Allgaier, #48-Eric Norris, #91-J.C. Stout.
See qualifying results/starting lineup at:
- Bickle to the truck series UPDATEs: Speed Channel’s NASCAR Nation reports that Rich Bickle will drive a #5 Chevy [well…unless Skinner and Bill Davis give up the number, I would assume it’ll be a different number or the #05], owned by Ed Conz and sponsor by the VFW. First race planned is at Milwaukee in June.
NOTE: back in October, the team had a website, which is now not up, and announced that they would run in Cup late in 2004 and full-time in 2005 in the #05 car with Bickle, but not much info was there at the time and the site is offline.(3-11-2005)
UPDATE: Rich Bickle has a three-race Craftsman Truck Series deal with backing from the VFW, which is promoting its Hidden Heroes Fund, a campaign to raise $5 million to aid families of active duty American servicemen. Bickle is to race Saturday in Madison, Ill., May 15 in Mansfield, Ohio, and May 20 in Concord, N.C.(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
AND hearing Bickle will drive for Bobby Dotter in either the #08 or #05 Chevy.(4-29-2005)
- Hornaday has appendix out, Raines to stand by: Craftsman Truck Series driver Ron Hornaday, Jr. was home Tuesday when he felt a ‘pop’ in his stomach. Turns out his appendix burst and he underwent emergency surgery. Despite that, Hornaday plans on running Saturday’s race at Gateway International with Tony Raines standing by to drive Kevin Harvick’s #6 truck in case he’s needed.(PRN’s Garage Pass Radio Show)(4-29-2005)
- Benson gets a sponsor for Gateway: Bill Davis Racing is proud to announce that Newbold Toyota will serve as the primary sponsor of #23 Toyota Tundra driven by Johnny Benson during the race weekend at Gateway International Raceway.(BDR)(4-29-2005)
- Missouri/Illinois Dodge Dealers To Sponsor Hamilton at Gateway, #04 stays: Gateway International Raceway announced that the Missouri/Illinois Dodge Dealers will sponsor a special paint scheme on Bobby Hamilton’s #04 Truck for the Ram Tough 200 on April 30. The Missouri/Illinois Dodge Dealers will sponsor this race for the eighth consecutive year. Last year’s race was the most exciting finish in series’ history with four green-white-checker restarts. Gateway season and individual race tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 1-866-35-SPEED, or online at www.gatewayraceway.com.(GIR PR)
AND #04 Stays: Hamilton will be running the #04 Dodge for the remainder of the 2005 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season. Originally he had planned to change his number back after the first four races, but since there will be a tremendous difference at the end of the season in owner’s points, Hamilton decided that he would stay in the #04 Dodge.(BHR PR)(4-28-2005)
- Gateway News and Notes:
No racetrack on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule is simple. Gateway International Raceway, an egg-shaped, 1.25-mile layout hosting Saturday’s Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers Ram Tough 200, is more difficult than most. Considerably more difficult. Since joining the series in 1998, Gateway has produced seven different winners – each among the most seasoned of NASCAR Craftsman Truck veterans. This week’s race figures to have the same characteristics to it as defending champion Bobby Hamilton (#04 Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers Dodge), two-time series titlist Ron Hornaday Jr. (#6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet), Ricky Craven (#99 Super Chips Ford) and Jimmy Spencer (#2 Team ASE Dodge) are among those hoping to join the victor’s list. Gateway’s degree of difficulty suits Hornaday just fine; even to the point of giving him extra motivation. Hornaday, a second-place finisher at Gateway in both NASCAR Craftsman trucks and the NASCAR Busch Series, counts victories at other tough tracks such as the now-closed Flemington, Nazareth and Louisville speedways.
“These were some of my favorite tracks,” said Hornaday, winner last month at Atlanta Motor Speedway. “At Gateway, I’ll be even more motivated because I have come so close but have not yet gotten to victory lane.” The Gateway layout – and others like it – trims the list of those with a realistic chance to win, according to Hornaday. “These tracks are different than what a lot of people are used to so it takes attention to detail to learn the track,” said Hornaday,. “You have to have a strategy and you have to understand the racetrack. “You will see drivers who aren’t used to it overdrive the corner on the frontstretch and lock up the brakes. This will cause them to hit the outside wall. Hitting your marks is essential.” Fellow champion Jack Sprague (#16 Chevy Trucks Chevrolet) agrees. Sprague won the race in 2000. “It is not so much that the track will reach up and bite you as it is the driver having to remember his truck is only going to work very well on one end or the other and having to finesse it through the other end,” said Sprague. Brendan Gaughan (#77 Jasper Engines and Transmissions Dodge) won the last time he competed at Gateway in 2003. Gaughan edged Jason Leffler by .222 of a second in Gateway’s closest series decision. “One thing that made us good was we had a really good suspension package … a really good front end setup that made it stick through the really tight turns one and two but not get real loose over in turns three and four,” said Gaughan. “We found the medium ground really well and we were just a rocket ship.” Whether Gaughan can duplicate that feat remains to be seen – especially with this year’s gear rule that effectively does away with road course-style downshifting to assist braking and maintaining engine rpms. ”We were never really nervous about blowing an engine there so we could run a lot of horsepower, turn at all those low rpms and get it on the horsepower band,” he said, doubting that one gear will fit both sets of corners. It’s just going to be wait-and-see this year.”
NEWS & NOTES, PART II
Bringing it back up to speed … The blossoming of spring weather also adds growth to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck schedule. Series competitors, who’ve raced just three times since the Feb. 18 opener at Daytona International Speedway, will be in action over 12 of the next 15 weeks. Hamilton holds a slim championship lead of 19 points over Craven with 53 points covering the top-five positions. Musgrave closes on money mark … Ted Musgrave (#1 Mopar Dodge) can become just the sixth competitor in series history to win $3 million with a victory in this week’s race. Musgrave enters the Gateway event with $2,959,431 and needs $40,569 to join a select group that includes Hornaday, Sprague, Dennis Setzer (#46 Chevrolet Silverado Chevrolet), Joe Ruttman and Rick Crawford (#14 Circle Bar Truck Corral Ford). Musgrave won the Dodge Ram Tough 200 in 2001.
2005 owner points set the field at Gateway … Current owner championship points will determine the eligible 30 teams guaranteed a starting position in Gateway International Raceway’s 36-truck field. All three past champions drive trucks among the 30 eligible entered owners, leaving six spots up for grabs. Among those non-exempt drivers is 2003 Gateway winner Gaughan and Indianapolis 500 veterans Shige Hattori (#9 AISIN/AISIN AW Toyota) and Jimmy Kite (#06 MRD Racing Chevrolet). Forty-one teams have entered this week’s race, the most at the St. Louis-area facility since 2000.
Truck figures enter hall of fame … Two figures with early NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series ties will be inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame on July 22. Marion Collins, owner-operator of Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif., was among the first to host a series race in 1995. His son, Gary Collins, built the prototype pickup truck. Daytona 500 winner Ernie Irvan, co-owner of Irvan-Simo Racing, also enters the hall. Irvan’s driver, Joe Ruttman, scored Ford’s first series victory at Bristol Motor Speedway in 1995 and finished second in the championship standings.
ETC. … Sprague is the most dominant winner at Gateway leading 145 of 160 laps in 2000. A year ago, David Starr (#75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet) headed only the last lap en route to his second NASCAR Craftsman Truck victory. … The 2004 race produced the most leaders (nine) and lead changes (15) in the event’s history. … Gateway’s widest victory margin of 10.428 seconds – Musgrave over then Ultra Motorsports teammate Scott Riggs – remains fifth-greatest in series history. There have been only five double-digit margins of victory in 246 series races. … St. Louis Rams center Andy McCollum will be an honorary pit crew member for Starr. The team’s long snapper, Chris Massey, will be in Gaughan’s pit with former Ram Chris Perez joining Crawford. … The May 20 event at Lowe’s Motor Speedway will be sponsored by Quaker Steak & Lube, a regional restaurant chain. The race accompanies the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge taking place the following evening.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Five dominate stats at Gateway … Crawford, Setzer and Terry Cook (#10 Power Stroke Diesel by International Ford) have competed in all seven Dodge Ram Tough 200 races at Gateway. Cook won in 2002. Crawford and Sprague have posted the most top-five finishes – three – while Crawford and Setzer have finished in the top 10 on five of seven occasions.
10 YEARS TOUGH
April 25, 1998 marked the end of national touring series competition at the old Portland (Ore.) Speedway which the following season became a dirt track and later was closed when its lease expired. Mike Skinner (#5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) won the series first race at the half-mile oval and Stacy Compton the last. The one-time combination racetrack and drive-in movie theater reputedly hosted the first race held at the conclusion of World War II in September 1945. NASCAR Craftsman trucks appeared two more times in the Rose City, in 1999 and 2000 at Portland International Raceway, a 1.95-mile road course.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Three NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champions led 1998’s inaugural race at Gateway but it was Rick Carelli who collected the victory. Carelli, now general manager of Kevin Harvick Inc.’s truck teams, passed Ron Hornaday and Jay Sauter on the final lap to score a .441-second victory. Jack Sprague and Biffle also led with Biffle – the 2000 series champion – winning the Bud Pole at 131.218 mph.
Next Event: Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers Ram Tough 200 (Race 5 of 25).
Where: Gateway International Raceway.
When: 8:15 p.m. ET, Saturday, April 30.
Track layout: 1.25 -mile paved speedway.
Race length: 200 miles/160 laps.
Posted awards: $572,830.
TV: SPEED Channel, 8:15 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
2004 winner: David Starr.
2004 polesitter: Jack Sprague.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Saturday – Practice 9:15 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. – 12 noon. Qualifying 3:30 p.m. Trucks impounded after qualifying.(NASCAR PR)(4-28-2005)
- Spencer Faster than Track Record, Surface Draws Rave Reviews at LMS:
#2-Jimmy Spencer was literally “truckin'” around Lowe’s Motor Speedway Tuesday evening as 26 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teams made final preparations for the Quaker Steak & Lube 200 presented by Click It or Ticket on Friday night, May 20. Not only did Spencer lead the speed parade with an unofficial lap at 178.879 mph around the 1.5-mile superspeedway, he also led the chorus of praise for the track’s renovated racing surface. “They did a good job grinding the track,” Spencer said. “I like it now that there are two distinct grooves that will be there all night long. Before, people would stay on the bottom. Now I think you can race high or low. It’s going to be a lot better racing in one and two and now that they have taken the bumps out of three and four there will be better racing through there also.” Spencer’s quickest lap in the Team ASE Dodge was more than three miles per hour faster than the truck series track record of 175.593mph set by Bill Lester during the inaugural event in 2003. Jack Sprague was second fastest on the unofficial stopwatches with a lap at 178.554 mph in the #16 Chevrolet Silverado. David Starr, the pole winner for last year’s truck race, was third fastest at 178.118 mph in the Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet. Lester was fastest among the Toyotas, clocking the fourth quickest lap at 177.521 mph while Bobby Labonte, subbing for Tony Stewart, was fifth fastest in the #47 Chevrolet All Star truck.
Veteran open-wheel racer and 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier was among those on hand for the testing session. Lazier, who won the 1997 Indy Racing League event at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, is looking to break into the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. He tested one of Billy Ballew’s two #15 Chevrolets while Johnny Sauter wheeled the other. There were no incidents during the session which was interrupted by rain in the late afternoon and then cut short by nearly three hours when rain began to fall again around 7 p.m.
The top-10 unofficial speeds:
Showing driver, truck number and speed:
1. Jimmy Spencer, 2, 178.879; 2. Jack Sprague, 16, 178.554; 3. David Starr, 75, 178.118; 4. Bill Lester, 22, 177.521; 5. Bobby Labonte, 47, 176.678; 6. Ted Musgrave, 1, 176.401; 7. Ron Hornaday, 6, 175.798; 8. Johnny Sauter, 15, 175.467; 9. Steve Park, 175.268; 10. Chase Montgomery, 18, 174.199.(LMS PR)(4-27-2005)
- Indy 500 Champ, Buddy Lazier, to test #15 Truck at Lowe’s: Former Indianapolis 500 and Indy Racing League champion Buddy Lazier will try the NASCAR waters this week as he prepares to test the #15 Billy Ballew Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado in Tuesday evening’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series open test at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Lazier has a winning track record at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, he captured the checkered flag there in an IRL race in 1997, besting Billy Boat by 3.301 seconds in a Hemelgarn Racing entry This foray into stock cars is not Lazier’s first stab at the bigger, heavier and boxier chassis. He showed great promise in the International Race of Champions [IROC] series during his two year stint in that prestigious “invitation only” series. Lazier was the runaway winner in the 2002 Chicagoland IROC event leading all 67 laps of competition. Lazier finished second in the IROC championship that year, narrowly losing to the eventual champion Kevin Harvick. “We are excited about a potential opportunity with Buddy Lazier,” Team owner Billy Ballew said. “Buddy is an accomplished, hard charging driver. He has exhibited extreme physical and mental toughness throughout his career. He is a driver that anyone would be proud to work with. Shane Hmiel will continue to drive the #15 when possible but it is good to have alternatives when the NASCAR schedule will not allow us to have Shane as a full time driver.” Lazier’s most impressive Motorsports accomplishment came in 1996 when he won the Indianapolis 500 in a Hemelgarn Racing entry, edging Davy Jones by .695 of a second. Lazier’s heroic underdog win came only two months after suffering significant back and pelvis injuries at Phoenix in an IRL car. Lazier was the IRL champion in 2000.(Billy Ballew Motorsports)(4-25-2005)
- Truck Series Testing Tuesday at Lowe’s Motor Speedway: More than 20 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teams will be testing at Lowe’s Motor Speedway Tuesday evening in preparation for the Quaker Steak & Lube 200 presented by Click It or Ticket on Friday night, May 20. The trucks will be on the track from 3:00 – 6:00pm/et and 7:00 – 10:00pm/et. Drivers scheduled to test: #04-Bobby Hamilton, #1-Ted Musgrave, #2-Jimmy Spencer, #4-Timothy Peters, #6-Ron Hornaday, #8-Deborah Renshaw, #9-Shige Hattori, #10-Terry Cook, #17-David Reutimann, #18-Chase Montgomery, #22-Bill Lester, #47-Bobby Labonte, #52-Ken Schrader, #59-Robert Pressley, #75-David Starr, #88-Matt Crafton, #06-Jimmy Kite and #?-Scott Glynn.(LMS PR)(4-25-2005)
- Callsource to sponsor Renshaw: Deborah Renshaw and her BHR2 team announced the addition of CallSource as a sponsor for the remainder of the 2005 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season. The program will feature CallSource as an associate sponsor on the #8 DODGE of Renshaw for the rest of the season as well as the company being featured as a primary sponsor for one race during the season. In addition to being an associate sponsor on the #8 DODGE the rest of the season, CallSource will be the primary sponsor for Renshaw and the BHR2 team at the May 20th event at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Renshaw will also help the company with special appearances at some of their key trade shows throughout the year.(Integrity Sports Marketing)(4-21-2005)
- 2005 ‘Gong Show’ on Speed? Roush Racing is negotiating with Speed Channel to turn its Gong Show — the name given to Roush’s tryout competition for a ride in the truck series — into reality TV. The program would appear at the end of May.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(4-13-2005)
- #19 Scales back to part-time sched: Xpress Motorsports team owner Dave Fuge announced last week that the #19 Silverado driven by Regan Smith will run a limited schedule the remainder of the 2005 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season. The decision to reduce the number of events is due to unfulfilled sponsorship commitments. “This is a tough decision to make,” said Fuge. “Regan has proved himself as a driver and is certainly deserving of an opportunity to compete at the level of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. We were able to bring exceptional crew people on board and felt like we were going to be serious contenders for the Rookie of the Year title with Regan. Unfortunately, sponsorship commitments promised by the original owner of the team did not materialize as promised. This late in the year, it is very difficult to find companies who have uncommitted budget to put together a program for the remainder of this season. We are by no means going to give up our efforts to put together a full-time program but for the time being, we will go on a race-by-race basis.” The team did not make an attempt to qualify for the Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway. Xpress Motorsports also fields the #16 Chevy Trucks Silverado driven by three-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion, Jack Sprague.(Xpress Motorsports/GM Racing)(4-11-2005)
- Bobby Labonte wins at Martinsville: #47-Bobby Labonte won the Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway, becoming the 12th driver to win at least one race in the three National Series [Cup, Busch, Trucks]. Not only has Labonte won a race in all three series but he did it at the same track: Labonte has won a Cup, Busch and Truck Series at Martinsville [which has to be rare since the Busch Series hasn’t raced at Martinsville since 1994]. The rest of the top 10 were: #99-CRaven, #6-Hornaday, #66-Bodine, #30-Chaffin, #1-Musgrave, #15-Hmiel, #2-Spencer, #5-Skinner and #10-Cook. Pole sitter and Point Leader, #04-Bobby Hamilton wrecked towards the end of the race and ended up 20th, but still leads the points.
For race results, see:
- More on Labonte: Labonte became the 50th different driver to win the truck series and, he and brother, Terry, became the first set of brothers to win in the series. Terry Labonte won at Richmond in Sept. 1995. The Labonte brothers have a combined eight starts in the Craftsman Truck Series (Bobby with five and Terry with three, all in 1995) and have two victories and six top-three victories.(JGR PR)(4-9-2005)
- Harvick goes for Hat Trick: If Kevin Harvick wins the Kroger 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race Saturday at Martinsville, he will become the first driver to win in all three of NASCAR’s top series in consecutive starts. Harvick won the Nextel Cup race Sunday at Bristol and followed with a win in the postponed Busch race on Monday. Mark Martin came closest to reaching the NASCAR triple in 1996 – winning a truck race at North Wilkesboro and a Busch event one week later at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, then finishing second in the Cup race the next day.(Dallas Morning News), Eleven drivers have won at least one race in each if the three Nationals Series [Cup, Busch, Trucks], see PAGE 2 of the News for the list and how many wins in each series.
Only two driver have won a race in all three series in the same season, Kevin Harvick in 2003 and Terry Labonte in 1995.(4-8-2005)
- Truck Series National Anthem by Trick Pony, Actor the Grand Marshal: Trick Pony will perform the National Anthem prior to the Kroger 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway on April 9. During the race, their likeness will emblazon the hood of Bobby Labonte’s #47 All-Star Chevrolet Silverado. Labonte. It will be the first of two trips to Martinsville Speedway for Trick Pony in 2005. They will be the featured act for Celebration 2005, the annual free concert at the speedway, set for July 1. The trio – Heidi Newfield, Ira Dean and Keith Burns – will perform their stirring acappella version of the Nation Anthem, the version that garnered national acclaim after they performed it before an Atlanta Falcons’ NFL playoff game last winter.
Anthony Edwards is best known for his roles as Dr. Mark Greene on “ER” and Goose Bradshaw in “Top Gun.” His favorite role, though, isn’t on either the big or small screen; it’s the support he gives the Cure Autism Now Foundation (CAN). And it is in that role – as an ambassador for the Cure Autism Now Foundation – that Edwards will serve as honorary grand marshal for Saturday’s Kroger 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at Martinsville Speedway. Edwards will be a guest of truck series Brandon Whitt and the #38 Clean Line Motorsports team, which will carry a special Cure Autism Now paint scheme for the Kroger 250.
Tickets for both the Advance Auto Parts 500 on Sunday, April 10, and the Kroger 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, on Saturday, April 9, may be purchased by calling 1.877.RACE.TIX from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.(Martinsville Speedway)(4-8-2005)
- Hamilton wins pole at Martinsville: #04-Bobby Hamilton won the pole for the Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway with a lap of 95.098mph, a new track record, beating out #66-Todd Bodine who will start 2nd. The rest of the top-10 are: #16-Jack Sprague, #99-Ricky Craven, #47-Bobby Labonte, followed by #38-Brandon Whitt [career best], #5-Mike Skinner, #12-Robert Huffman, #46-Dennis Setzer and #15-Shane Hmiel. The race was the last using 2004 Owners Points for the top 30. #11-Darrell Waltrip, who was planning to make this his final race un, was 24th fastest, but failed to make the race, others missing the race were #77-Brendan Gaughan [24th fastest and spun on his 2nd lap], #9-Shige Hattori, #00-Eric King, #31-Nick Tucker, #63-Justin Allgaier, #48-Joey McCarthy and #32-Bill Manfull.
See qualifying results/starting lineup at:
- Grand Marshal Named for Truck Race: Martinsville Speedway says actor Anthony Edwards, best known for his roles as Dr. Mark Greene on “ER” and Goose Bradshaw in “Top Gun,” will be the honorary grand marshal for Saturday’s Kroger 250 Craftsman Truck Series race. Edwards will appear in his role as ambassador for the Cure Autism Now Foundation. The track says Clean Line Motorsports’ entry for Brandon Whitt will carry a Cure Autism Now paint scheme in the race.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(4-6-2005)
- Driver set to debut: Casey Kingsland, a 20-year-old Las Vegas native, will take his third shot at making his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut Saturday night at Martinsville Speedway. Each of the past two seasons, Kingsland attempted the Truck Series race at Indianapolis Raceway Park. In 2003, he just missed making the field despite receiving only limited practice time. Last year, Kingsland was unable to make a qualifying run because of mechanical problems. This time, Kingsland virtually is guaranteed to make the starting field for the Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway because the truck he will be driving is 30th in owner points and is guaranteed a spot in the 36-truck field [actually stil using 2005 owners points, the truck is listed with Alex Meshkin as the owner, even thou he is out of the sport]. “We’ve been in that situation a couple of times but this time they say (we’re guaranteed to start the race),” Kingsland said Monday. “We haven’t done too much preparation — we haven’t practiced any.”
Kingsland will drive the #24 Speed Zone Energy Drink Dodge Ram, which is being fielded by TommyRaz Motorsports in partnership with Mighty Motorsports. Wayne Edwards piloted the truck in the first three races of the season and finished ninth in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway. “I went to the Atlanta race and I watched them race and I watched how they worked together, so I’ve kind of got a head start there,” Kingsland said. “I won’t be meeting them for the first time when I get to Martinsville. I’ve been real worried about having no practice … but they told me if I pass one guy, they’ll be happy so I can’t ask too much more than that. They just told me to go out there and get some exposure and some seat time.” Tom Ramirez, who formed TommyRaz Motorsports with Kingsland’s father, Roger, said he would give Kingsland time in the truck to develop as a driver. Roger Kingsland said the plan is for Casey to compete in the truck races at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis on April 30 and Mansfield Motorsports Speedway in Ohio on May 15 following this weekend’s race. Kingsland also will attempt to make his NASCAR Busch Series debut April 22 at Phoenix International Raceway [no team mentioned](Las Vegas Sun)(4-6-2005)
- DW’s last Truck Race at Martinsville: Preparing for his last race in the #11 Toyota Tundra at Martinsville Speedway, Darrell Waltrip reflects his most memorable moments at the famed oval where he’s won 11 times. In 16 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series starts, Waltrip’s best career finish is fifth at Martinsville (09/21/96). Waltrip may not race again, but the three-time Nextel Cup champion professes he’s not out of the game. “I’m not going to race competitively again,” said Waltrip, who finished 24th at the .526-mile oval last spring. “People need to realize something, I retired in 2000. Ever since then, everything I’ve done is for fun. It would be no different if you were a professional baseball player or a golfer and you still like to play the game. I still like to the play game. It’s like going to Martinsville a few weeks ago and testing with David and Robert. I still want to do that. It’s not that I’m not never going to get in a car or truck again. Until I don’t think I’m physically capable of driving a car or truck around the racetrack, I’ll probably hop in there every now and then just for fun.” Dabbling in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series since 1995, Waltrip has collected one top-five and eight top-10 finishes. Continuing his racing career, Waltrip’s primary focus is his commitment to Toyota. “This is the best thing I’ve ever done,” said Waltrip. “When I talk about desire, commitment and purpose, Toyota has the same goals I have. That’s why I love working with them. I want to do whatever Toyota wants me to do, whether it’s being a truck owner for the rest of my racing career or expanding into Busch or Cup.”(DW Motorsports PR), click here to see am image of DW’s ride for Martinsville, and yep, it has flames.(4-5-2005)
- Martinsville News and Notes: Johnny Benson (#23 Toyota Tundra Toyota) owns a niche in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series history he’d just as soon relinquish. Benson is the only active competitor to participate in the series’ Feb. 5, 1995 inaugural event who has yet to win a race. Not that the 41-year-old Michigan native hasn’t come close. The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series veteran and television analyst has finished second three times, most recently last October at Texas Motor Speedway. And several factors suggest this week’s Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway could be Benson’s personal drought breaker.
Three competitors – 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion and current point leader Bobby Hamilton (#04 Bailey’s Dodge), Jamie McMurray and Scott Riggs – posted their first career victories at the .526-mile track, and recent short-track racing has produced a flurry of different winners – 11 in a row since August 2003.
Finally, Benson has thousands of laps of experience at Martinsville in all three of NASCAR’s national series. His best performance came in 2002 when he finished second to Kurt Busch in the track’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Old Dominion 500.
Benson was 11th in last fall’s Kroger 200. He finished third when the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series made its debut at the southern Virginia track in 1995.
“We are moving ahead with the program,” said Benson, who joined Bill Davis Racing last July as teammate to Mike Skinner (#5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) and Bill Lester (#22 Toyota Tundra Toyota). “We are real close. Maybe in Martinsville – but you will have to wait and see.” A Toyota truck has yet to win a short-track race, but Benson believes it’s only a matter of time.
“We have been on the right track and have had some great runs,” he said, adding that winning a series short-track race regardless of manufacturer requires a near perfect meld of driving talent, strategy and team preparation. “With the more competitive teams get it gets harder and harder to pass. It is really hard to get from the back to the front which means you can’t make any mistakes.”
For Darrell Waltrip (#11 Toyota Tundra Toyota), life without time behind the wheel of a race vehicle would be no life at all.
So even though Waltrip’s making his final race appearance in Saturday’s Kroger 250, he’ll continue to be involved in his two NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teams – meaning his two drivers will be getting hands-on advice from their owner.
“I’m not going to race competitively again,” said Waltrip. “It’s like going to Martinsville a few weeks ago and testing with David (Reutimann, #17 NTN Bearings Toyota) and Robert (Huffman, #12 Toyota Tundra Toyota) and my truck. I still want to do that. It’s not that I’m not ever going to get in a car or truck again. I’ll probably hop in there every now and then just for fun.”
Fun is the word Waltrip has used to describe his occasional appearances in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series since retiring from the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series in 2000.
“Ever since then, everything I’ve done is for fun,” he said. “It would be no different if you were a professional baseball player or a golfer and you still like to play the game. I still like to play the game.”
Waltrip is the winner of 84 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races including 11 at Martinsville Speedway. He has two seventh-place truck finishes at Martinsville since moving to the NASCAR on FOX television booth. Rich Bickle won the 1997 Kroger 250 in a Darrell Waltrip Motorsports-owned truck.
NEWS & NOTES, PART II
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup presence in Kroger 250 … Kevin Harvick (#92 Yardman Chevrolet) eyes an unprecedented consecutive race sweep of NASCAR’s three national series in Saturday’s Kroger 250. Harvick, who’ll team with Atlanta winner Ron Hornaday Jr. (#6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet), won the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Food City 500 and NASCAR Busch Series Sharpie Professional 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Harvick’s best series finish at Martinsville is third in April 2003. Bobby Labonte (#47 Rodeway Inn/Econo Lodge/Trick Pony Chevrolet) and Ken Schrader (#52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet) also have entered this week’s race.
ETC. … Hamilton has held a top 10 spot in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship standings for a record 53 races, eclipsing the record held by Hornaday and Jack Sprague (#16 Chevy Truck Chevrolet) in February at California Speedway. Mike Bliss’ 1999 qualifying record of 94.275 mph could be in jeopardy this week due to a softer compound Goodyear Wrangler tire. Bliss clocked 20.086 seconds to get within an eyelash of a 19-second lap. … Last year’s Kroger 250 saw the most finishers in series history as 34 of 36 starters took the checkered flag. The 24 lead lap finishers matched Richmond’s record set in 1998. … The Kroger 250 will be the fourth and final race in which 2004 owner championship points will be used to set the starting field.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Setzer closes on Martinsville money mark … Dennis Setzer (#46 Chevrolet Silverado Chevrolet), the only series driver to win twice at Martinsville Speedway, will surpass the $200,000 mark in track winnings by starting the Kroger 250. Setzer has won $195,990 in 10 appearances. His five top-five and seven top-10 finishes rank #1 at the .526-mile track.
10 YEARS TOUGH
With 25 races run over the first 10 years, Virginia arguably is the cradle of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series – especially when it comes to short-track racing. Three tracks, Martinsville, Richmond International Raceway and South Boston Speedway, have produced 18 different winners, including series champions Greg Biffle, Mike Bliss, Bobby Hamilton, Mike Skinner and Jack Sprague.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Until Bobby Hamilton captured February’s Florida Dodge Dealers 250 from the 36th and final starting position, Dennis Setzer owned the record for most positions gained by a series winner. Setzer, whose qualifying speed at Martinsville was disallowed due to a technical infraction in 2002, lined up 33rd but still won the race. Only three drivers – Hamilton, Setzer and Jimmy Hensley – have won from a starting position of 30th or worse.
What: Kroger 250 (Race 4 of 25).
Where: Martinsville Speedway.
When: 1:15 p.m. ET, Saturday, April 9.
Track layout: .526-mile paved oval.
Race length: 250 laps/131.5 miles.
Posted awards: $465,155.
TV: SPEED Channel, 1 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
2004 winner: Rick Crawford.
2004 polesitter: Jack Sprague.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday – Practice 9:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Qualifying 4:45 p.m. Trucks impounded after qualifying.(NASCAR PR)(4-5-2005)