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July 2004 Truck Series News Archive


 

  • Kvapil wins at Michigan; Toyota gets first Truck Series win: #24-Travis Kvapil moved into the lead with 17 laps remaining and held on for his first victory of the season at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday. Kvapil finished ahead of #1-Ted Musgrave in the Line-X Spray-On Truck Bedliners 200, surging into the lead coming off a caution in the 100-lap race and holding off several challengers. Trucks stacked up three and four wide on the two-mile oval as drivers fought for position. The race ended under caution after an accident occurred behind Kvapil as he began his final lap. The victory capped a wild weekend for Kvapil, who started 30th in the 34-car field because he was forced to change the engine on his Toyota after a late Friday practice. “We really had to work on the truck to get it there,” said Kvapil, who gave Toyota its first NASCAR truck series win. “The last 20 laps of the race were the fastest the truck had been all weekend. We made some great adjustments.” Kvapil was the ninth different winner in 13 races this year on the NASCAR truck circuit, the victory was the fourth of his career. #42-Mike Skinner [Toyota] finished third. #23-Johnny Benson [Toyota] fourth, and #4-Bobby Hamilton [Dodge] fifth. There were seven cautions for a total of 22 laps, dropping Kvapil’s average speed to 125.479mph. Seven different drivers led the race. There were 18 lead changes, with Hamilton leading eight times for 50 laps. #46-Dennis Setzer, who started on the pole because he is the NASCAR truck season points leader, finished 10th. He leads Hamilton by 33 points in the standings.(ThatsRacin.com/AP)
    For results see:
    ThatsRacin.com
    Motorsports One
    Truckseries.com
    NASCAR.com.(7-31-2004)
  • Ren and BANG part ways? UPDATE: hearing that Rick Ren, crew chief for the #42-Mike Skinner [oops not Kvapil, I forgot they switched back] has parted ways with Bang Racing and that former #50 Roush Racing crew chief, John Monsam will be the new crew chief.(7-28-2004)
    UPDATE: Bang Racing announced today that John Monsam has been named crew chief of inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Champion Mike Skinner and the #42 Toyota Tundra team. Former crew chief and team manager Rick Ren remains with Bang Racing. “We had a lot of hopes going into this year and continue to have expectations for performance, and we just haven’t met a lot of those expectations,” Alex Meshkin, CEO and owner of Bang Racing, said. “We decided to make a change and hired John Monsam to take over crew chief responsibilities beginning this weekend at Michigan International Speedway’s Line-X Spray-On Truck Bedliners 200. Rick Ren is still with our organization, and next week, we will decide what his future role will be with our race team.”
    Monsam, former crew chief for Jon Wood and the #50 Roush Racing team, brings more than 19 years of industry experience to the first-year Craftsman Truck Series team and has been a fixture in the truck series since 1997. “We felt that John was a perfect fit with how our organization works and are excited to have him on board,” Meshkin said. “We have a lot of former Roush employees at Bang Racing so there was already a comfort level with many 42 team members. He’s one of the crew chiefs that we had a relationship with and interviewed last year and feel like he will be able to continue to bring our two teams together into a cohesive unit. The chemistry that we’ve already seen between Mike and John is promising, and I firmly believe that that chemistry will transfer into success on the track.”
    “I am extremely happy to have been given the opportunity to head what I consider to be the flag-ship Toyota team,” said Monsam. “The opportunity to work with Mike, a former champion and a man who undoubtedly is going to push the pedal, as well as with many of the same crew members whom I’ve worked with before is truly exciting.” For 11 years, Monsam has been calling the shots atop the pit box and securing numerous wins for many notable drivers including Todd Bodine, Joe Bessey, Ricky Craven, Ron Hornaday, Hermie Sadler and Lance Norick. He recently led Wood to six top-10’s in this year’s truck series competition and a fifth place finish in the 2003 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship and looks to recapture former glory with Skinner and continue Toyota’s championship legacy. “It’s my goal to bring Toyota’s first win whether it’s the 24 team or the 42 team,” Monsam said. “It’s extremely important for all of us to work together as a team and to benefit from each other being there. I’m already impressed with the Toyota engineers’ approach, ideas and commitment to their teams and this series.”
    “John’s way of thinking and his sincere desire to do the job really impressed me,” Skinner said. “If first impressions mean anything, it was great. He’s made himself very flexible and has taken a lot of time to talk to the crew and spend every minute with them before working together at the track. And he’s worked with a couple of them before, so it’s not completely new. I think it’s going to be positive. In general, we’ve talked about our procedures and how we’re going to do things, and I’m impressed with his organized approach. We both talked with Toyota engineers this morning and already changed some things on the truck based upon the information that they’ve given us. We’re going to try to stay pretty basic for a while and see what happens – take it one day at a time and start to build a relationship.”(Bang Racing PR)(7-30-2004)
  • Qualifying rained out at MIS: #46-Dennis Setzer will start from the pole position at Saturday’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Michigan International Speedway. Rain canceled qualifying Friday for the Line-X Spray-On Truck Bedliners 200. The starting field was set by a formula relying on the owner season point standings. That leaves Setzer, leading the series with 1,837 points, starting from the pole. Drivers were able to practice at the two-mile oval before Friday’s rain. Bobby Hamilton will start second and Carl Edwards will begin third in the 34-truck field. It’s the fourth time this season the NASCAR truck series starting field has been set by the rule book formula instead of an on-the-track qualifying session. Edwards had the fastest practice time Friday at 179.136 mph. Mike Skinner was second at 179.1, and Setzer third at 178.98.(ThatsRacin.com)
    For starting lineups, see:
    Thatsracin.com
    Truckseries.com
    NASCAR.com.(7-30-2004)
  • Las Vegas Native to Attempt race at IRP: Nineteen year old Casey Kingsland will once again attempt to make his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut at the Power Stroke Diesel 200 on Friday night August 6th at Indianapolis Raceway Park with primary sponsorship from the Langer Juice Company. Last year, Kingsland was set to debut in this same race with another team, however after only logging eighteen laps of practice and attempting to overcome a host of other problems with the truck, young Casey struck out and failed to qualify for the race. Opportunities to qualify for other races later in the 2003 season dried up when the team closed up shop two weeks after making the trip to Indianapolis Raceway Park. Prospects look brighter this season as Kingsland has joined forces with DCCS Motorsports to pilot the #55 Langer Juices Dodge Ram. DCCS Motorpsorts is a brand new team being built from the ground up with the young Las Vegas native as the centerpiece of the team. Based in Jacksonville, Florida, the new team is a partnership between first time owner David Cushner and former Craftsman Truck Series driver Tommy Powers. Cushner, a first time owner in the NCTS has spent the previous ten years in sponsorship acquisition for other NASCAR and Indy Racing League series teams. Also on board will be Tommy Powers “JR” who will be the crew chief for the #55 Dodge Ram. DCCS Motorsports plans to enter ten of the last twelve races of the 2004 NCTS series schedule. Six of the races will feature Kingsland as he seeks to gain NASCAR approval to run Daytona and the entire 2005 season to vie for Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors. The balance of the season will see a variety of veteran drivers from all different motor sports series take the helm of the #55 Dodge. The primary sponsor for DCCS Motorsports is the Langer Juice Company which is located in Southern California. Langer is a producer of beverages in many high volume categories including apple, cranberry, grape, citrus and tropical blends. Associate sponsors include Gozing.com (a cell phone provider), CLD Enterprises and more to be announced soon.(PR)(7-30-2004)
  • Terry and Amy East Cook To Have A Family Addition: Terry and Amy East Cook announced there will be an addition to the Cook family.  East Cook is expected to give birth to a boy in early December.  The Cooks have yet to decide on a name for their first child, however, are readily preparing their North Carolina home for their new addition. Cook is a successful and well-noted driver of the No. 10 Ford Power Stroke Diesel by International race truck.  He is employed at ppc Racing based in Mooresville, N.C., competing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.  Cook has been married to Amy East for three years and met her early during the 1999 racing season.  East Cook is expected to give birth on December 14th, just eight days after the young couple’s anniversary. “After two years of trying to start a family, our wish has come true,” said East Cook.  “It only seems natural that our little boy will be raised at a race track just like Terry and I were.” East Cook currently works as a broadcaster for ESPN covering various motorsports series.  She was employed as a pit reporter from 1999 thru 2002 with ESPN in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series while Cook competed as a race car driver.  The two began dating after meeting at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway; Cook later proposed the following year.  They wedded in December 6, 2000 and recently relocated to the Charlotte, N.C. area in 2004.(ppc Racing PR)(7-30-2004)
  • Renshaw in the #29 for rest of season: Deborah Renshaw will drive the No. 29 K Automotive Ford in the final 13 races of the 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Her first start comes in this weekend’s Truck Series event at Michigan International Speedway.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter), actually her first start in the truck was at Kentucky a few weeks ago.(7-28-2004)
  • Yeley to run Truck race at MIS: J.J. Yeley will make his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut in the Line-X Spray-On Truck Bedliners 200 at Michigan International Speedway this weekend. The budding NASCAR star will pilot the #47 Acxiom Silverado fielded by Morgan Dollar Motorsports. Veteran Randy Goss will serve as crew chief for Yeley’s inaugural NCTS event. As previously announced, Yeley will also make his NEXTEL Cup Series debut in the August 22 GFS Marketplace 400 at MIS. The Line-X Spray-on Truck Bedliners 200 will mark J.J. Yeley’s first ever race at Michigan International Speedway, but it will not be the first time Yeley has been on the racing surface in the Irish Hills of Michigan. Yeley completed a two-day test session for Joe Gibbs Racing at Michigan on July 21 and 22 in preparation for his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series debut. Yeley’s first NEXTEL Cup Series race will be in the GFS Marketplace 400 at Michigan on Sunday, August 22. Yeley will pilot the #11 Vigoro/Home Depot Chevrolet Monte Carlo for Joe Gibbs Racing. In preparation for the Line-X Spray-On Truck Bedliners 200 at MIS, Yeley also tested in the #47 Acxiom Silverado at Chicagoland Speedway with Morgan Dollar Motorsports teammate Dennis Setzer. Setzer, who drives the #46 Chevrolet Silverado, has already scored two wins in 2004 and sits atop the NCTS point standings. For tickets and information on the IRL IndyCar Series/Menards Infiniti Pro Series/NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series weekend at MIS, log on to www.MISpeedway.com, or call the MIS ticket hotline at 1-800-354-1010. Children 12 and under are free the whole weekend and all seats for Sunday’s Michigan Indy 400 and Paramount Health Insurance 100 are just $40. All seats for the July 31 Line-X Spray-On Truck Bedliners 200 are just $30 and a combination ticket for both days, which includes three races, are just $50.(MIS PR)(7-26-2004)
  • Howard out? Benson in the #23 truck? UPDATE 4 Benson at MIS: hearing that Shelby Howard, driver of the #23 Bill Davis Racing Toyota, has parted ways with the team and thay Johnny Benson will take over the ride after the team takes a few weeks off.(6-28-2004)
    UPDATE: been told that Benson will NOT race the #23 Toyota Truck. However the truck has been removed from NASCAR.com’s entry list at Kansas. No mention of the situation at either shelbyhoward.com or billdavisracing.com.(7-1-2004)
    UPDATE 2: Shelby Howard has been released from the Bill Davis Racing truck team.(WInston Cup Scene Print Edition)
    UPDATE 3: Johnny Benson mentioned on Speed Channel’s Inside Nextel Cup that he would be testing a Bill Davis Racing truck at Nashville Superspeedway on July 20th and 21st.(7-20-2004)
    UPDATE 4: Johnny returns to NASCAR competition on Saturday, July 31st at Michigan International Speedway. He will be driving for Bill Davis Racing in the #23 Toyota in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.(Johnny Benson Site)(7-23-2004)
  • Toyota to Back Safety Program: Toyota Motorsports announced today that it will join NASCAR and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to promote seat belt use. Toyota will work with NASCAR’s Crafstman Truck Series to promote the U.S. Department of Transportation’s efforts to encourage race fans to use their safety belts every time they’re in their cars or trucks. As part of the program, all of the Toyotas in the Craftsman Truck Series will carry a decal urging motorists to “Buckle Up.”(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(7-22-2004)
  • New crew chief for Jon Wood: Roush Racing announced today that Tony Price has been named crew chief of the #50 Roush Racing Ford F-150 driven by Jon Wood in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for the remainder of the 2004 season. Price has been with Roush Racing since the 2002 season. He worked on Jeff Burton’s Busch Series team, which had five wins and two poles in 2002. He worked closely with the truck teams in 2003, and most recently Price had been working with the #60 Charter team and Greg Biffle in the Busch Series. Price also worked for Roush in 1986 and won several races as part of the road racing team based in Livonia, Mich. “I look forward to getting Jon Wood back to Victory Lane,” Price said. “I’ve worked at Roush Racing for many years and am very familiar with the trucks. We’ve got a great team here with a lot of potential.”(Roush Racing PR)(7-22-2004)
  • Mikey to run for Petree in CTS at IRP: Michael Waltrip will wheel Andy Petree’s Monaco Coach Corporation Chevrolet at Indianapolis Raceway Park for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race there, Friday, Aug. 6.. Waltrip’s name joins that of Tony Stewart and hot rookie Clint Bowyer as another in the talent driving Andy Petree Racing equipment. “We are really excited to have Michael joining us and helping give Monaco Coach Corporation a great ride at IRP,” said Petree. “We’ve had some great runs with our Truck, and haven’t done too badly at Indianapolis the past few years. We’re working hard to give Michael a solid piece and we know he’ll be working hard to get this Monaco Coach Corporation team back to Victory Lane.” Waltrip has some NASCAR Truck Series experience, finishing fifth after qualifying 13th at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in May of this year with another team. The past two years at IRP, Petree has driven the truck, finishing 20th last season and 12th the year before. A few weeks ago, Petree saw his sponsor surprisingly bolt to another team with strong Nextel Cup ties, leaving his in a lurch financially. Still, Petree said, the team is looking to not only run well at IRP but to maintain its position in the NASCAR world.(Williams Company PR)(7-22-2004)
  • MICHIGAN – NEWS & NOTES
    LaJoie rates another “10” … Randy LaJoie (No. 59 Harris Trucking Dodge) scored his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series top-10 finish at Gateway on July 17 with an eighth-place finish, giving him at least one top 10 in each of NASCAR’s three national series. LaJoie, a two-time NASCAR Busch Series champion, has made five starts in his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career. His previous best was 13th at Las Vegas in 2003. He has also participated in 38 premier series races, with two top-10 finishes during the 1998 season.
    Bill Lester and Toyota celebrate diversity in auto racing … Bill Lester (No. 22 Toyota Tundra Toyota) will be a special guest of Toyota during the National Urban League (NUL) Conference this week in Detroit, Mich. Lester will meet and greet NUL attendees at the Toyota exhibit on Thursday from 4 – 5 p.m. and on Friday from 2 – 4 p.m.
    Etc. … Jon Wood (No. 50 Roush Racing Ford) made his 75th career series start at Gateway. He has two wins, two poles and six top 10s this season. … David Starr scored his second series career win at Gateway. Starr’s first victory came at Las Vegas in 2002, where he also recorded the first pole of his career. … Until Starr’s victory, no driver had won a race at Gateway starting outside the top eight; Starr started 14th. … David Reutimann (No. 17 NTN Bearings Toyota) has been the highest-finishing Raybestos rookie in six races this season. … Dennis Setzer (No. 46 Chevrolet Silverado Chevrolet), who leads the championship standings by 64 points over Bobby Hamilton (No. 4 Square D Dodge), also leads the series in top-five finishes this season with six. … Matt Crafton (No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet) leads the series with nine top 10s. … The off-week provides a bit of respite from the tight points race where just one point separates fourth-place Crafton from fifth-place Chad Chaffin (No. 18 Dickies Dodge) in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series standings, while only seven points separate sixth-place Ted Musgrave (No. 1 Mopar Dodge) from seventh-place Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Motel & RV Ford) heading into the next event, July 31 at Michigan.
    Fast Facts
    Next Race: Line-X Spray-On Truck Bedliners 200.
    Where: Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, Mich.
    When: 1 p.m. ET, Saturday, July 31.
    Track layout: 2-mile banked asphalt.
    Race length: 200miles/100 laps.
    Posted awards: $557,694.
    TV: SPEED Channel, 1 p.m. ET.
    Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
    2003 winner: Brendan Gaughan.
    2003 polesitter: Jason Leffler.
    Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday – Practice 10:35 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Qualifying 3:10 p.m. Final practice 5:15 – 6:15 p.m., time permitting.(NASCAR PR)(7-23-2004)
  • Lester to appear at Urban League Event: #22 Truck Series driver Bill Lester will be a special guest at the Toyota Exhibit during the National Urban League Conference this week at the COBO Center in Detroit. Lester is scheduled to appear from 4 to 5 p.m. Thursday, July 22nd and 2 to 4 p.m. Friday, July 23rd. (NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(7-20-2004)
  • Nashville Toyota Testing: Nashville Superspeedway and Toyota Motorsports will present Toyota Tundra NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series testing on Tuesday, July 20. Testing will be run all day. Drivers testing: #12-Robert Huffman, #24-Travis Kvapil, #22-Bill Lester, #21-Hank Parker Jr., #17-David Reutimann, #42-Mike Skinner.(Nashville Superspeedway PR)(7-18-2004)
  • David Starr wins at Gateway: #75-David Starr became only the second driver in Truck Series history to win by leading only the final lap, bumping his way to victory Saturday night in the Dodge Ram Tough 200. Starr nudged his way past #18-Chad Chaffin in Gateway International Raceway’s first turn and beat #46-Dennis Setzer to the checkered flag by 0.444 seconds – about two truck lengths. The race was scheduled for 160 laps, but was extended by caution a record four times for 14 laps. Starr, who averaged 93.694mph, won $54,210 for his first victory since October 2002 in Las Vegas. #1-Ted Musgrave was third, followed by #18-Chaffin and #6-Matt Crafton. Setzer, who entered the race with a six-point championship lead over #4-Bobby Hamilton, extended his advantage to 64. Nine drivers exchanged the lead a Gateway-record 15 times. A tense battle between #15-Shane Hmiel and pole starter #16-Jack Sprague ended on the 155th lap when Sprague cut a tire and hit the wall. The ensuing caution at lap 157 allowed Hamilton to move up from third to the rear bumper of Hmiel’s Chevrolet for what, under series rules, was supposed to be a two-lap run to the finish. Accidents, however, caused the race to be restarted a total of four times. A three-truck accident brought out the yellow at 162. Hmiel lost control at the head of the backstretch on lap 167, sending both his Chevy and Hamilton’s Dodge into the wall and out of contention. That put Chaffin, Hamilton’s teammate, into the lead. #2-Andy Houston and #14-Rick Crawford then wrecked on lap 170, producing an eight-minute red flag to clear the track of debris from Crawford’s Ford, which slid several hundred yards on its side. Crawford was uninjured.(ThatsRacin.com/AP)
    For race results see:
    ThatsRacin.com
    Motorsports One
    Truckseries.com
    NASCAR.com.(7-17-2004)
  • 5 Off 5 On to help #62 team: Orleans Racing has hired a pit crew from 5 Off 5 On, a professional pit-crew training program in North Carolina, to assist with Steve Park’s #62 Orleans Dodge in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Gateway International Raceway July 17. The jackman, tire changers and tire carriers will be supplied by 5 Off 5 On, while the gasman and catch can will remain Orleans Racing team members. Each crew member from 5 Off 5 On is a graduate of the program who has worked in one of NASCAR’s top three divisions. “We are bringing a freelance group to St. Louis to give our guys the time they need to focus on being the championship-level team they have proven they can be,” General Manager Fritz Kroyer said. “Our team has dealt with a lot of personnel changes in the past few months. As a result, the guys have had to work more overtime than normal in the shop to get caught up. They have put so much emphasis on building trucks that they haven’t been able to focus on their training. Every one of the guys on this team are capable of performing flawlessly, but they are exhausted mentally and physically.” The crew members also have created a team captain position. They elected front-tire changer Harley Rauch, who has been with the team since it opened in 2000, for the job. “Harley has been with this team since Day 1, and he never gives up,” Kroyer said. “He was chosen by his peers for the team captain position, and he will do a great job motivating the team.”
    #62 Crew List for Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 200
    Front-tire Changer, Eric Sainer, 5 Off 5 On
    Front-tire Carrier, Jon Dame, 5 Off 5 On
    Rear-tire Changer, Daniel Smith, 5 Off 5 On
    Rear-tire Carrier, Frank Brasfield, 5 Off 5 On
    Jackman, Jason Riggs, 5 Off 5 On
    Gasman, Bill “Wingnut” Caldwell, Orleans Racing
    Catch Can, Craig Nemes, Orleans Racing.(Orleans Racing PR)(7-17-2004)
  • Sprague wins pole at Gateway: #16-Jack Sprague broke the Gateway International Raceway qualifying record Friday and took the pole position for Saturday’s NASCAR truck series race. Sprague took the polr with a speed of 133.227mph, the old mark of 133.093 mph was set by Stacy Compton in 1999. Sprague has won 23 career poles, five more than any other driver in the Craftsman series. #4-Bobby Hamilton, who moved to second in the series standings race with last week’s victory at Kentucky Speedway, qualified second in a Dodge at 132.544. The rest of the top five were #14-Rick Crawford, #62-Steve Park and #24-Travis Kvapil. Another short field of trucks, 34 made the race [36 is a full field]. Points leader Dennis Setzer qualified 11th.(ThatsRacin.com)
    ThatsRacin.com
    Truckseries.com
    NASCAR.com.(7-16-2004)
  • Gateway News and Notes:
    Bobby Hamilton Racing on a roll since Dover … The past six races, beginning with Chad Chaffin’s (No. 18 Dickies Dodge) June 1 victory at Dover International Speedway, have seen Bobby Hamilton Racing become the series’ strongest two-truck team. Hamilton (No. 4 Square D Dodge) won last weekend’s Built Ford Tough 225 at Kentucky Speedway to become the season’s first triple winner. BHR drivers have won three times and posted six top five and 11 top-10 finishes over the six-race span. Points-wise, Hamilton has moved from fifth to second – his best ranking since June 28, 2003 – and Chaffin from 13th to sixth, a career high. Hamilton led 133 of 153 laps at Kentucky, most laps led by any winner of 40 series races held on a 1.5-mile track.

    Etc. … Dennis Setzer’s (No. 46 Chevrolet Silverado Chevrolet) 34-point lead over Carl Edwards (No. 99 Superchips Ford) entering the Kentucky race, slipped to six over Hamilton following the event. Setzer has been atop the standings for eight consecutive races beginning May 16 at Mansfield, Ohio. … There have been six different series winners at Gateway International Raceway. Three – Terry Cook (No. 10 Power Stroke Diesel by International Ford), Ted Musgrave (No. 1 Mopar Dodge) and Jack Sprague (No. 16 Chevy Trucks Chevrolet) – are entered in this week’s race. Steve Park (No. 62 Orleans Racing Dodge), drives last year’s winning truck of Brendan Gaughan. … Ultra Motorsports counts four top-two finishes at Gateway, most by any team. The team’s No. 2 Team ASE/Carquest Dodge, driven this season by Andy Houston, has been the runner-up in three consecutive years with Jason Leffler (twice) and Scott Riggs. Musgrave and Riggs finished one-two in 2001. … St. Louis Rams guard Andy McCollum will be the honorary starter at Gateway International Raceway. … The Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers Ram Tough 200 caps a run of seven consecutive weeks. After a week off the series moves to Michigan International Speedway where the July 31 Line-X Spray-On Truck Bedliners 200 marks the mid-point of the 2004 schedule of 25 races.

    ON THE RIGHT TRACK
    Musgrave, Sprague know their way around Gateway … Jack Sprague and Ted Musgrave have led every race in which they’ve competed at Gateway – four and three respectively. Sprague has led the most laps/miles – 252 and 315 – while the pair’s combined total miles led of 560 is 46.7% of 1,200 miles run.
    Cook isn’t one to overlook … The 2002 winner, Terry Cook also has a third-place finish at Gateway. He is the track’s leading money winner with $124,945. Cook, whose last victory came in August at Indianapolis Raceway Park, would like to end the series’ current second longest non-winning streak of 44 races. Cook’s ppc Racing team won last year’s NASCAR Busch Series Charter Pipeline 250 with Riggs behind the wheel.

    FROM THE ARCHIVES
    In 14 combined NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events at Gateway International Raceway, only a single driver and owner have scored a victory in both divisions. Greg Biffle and Jack Roush won in NASCAR Craftsman Trucks in 1999 and on the NASCAR Busch Series in 2002. Among this week’s entered drivers, only Jack Sprague has finished among the top five at the track in each tour.

    Fast Facts
    What: Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers Ram Tough 200 (Race No. 12 of 25).
    Where: Gateway International Raceway, Madison, Ill.
    When: 8 p.m. ET, Saturday, July 17.
    Track layout: 1.25-mile paved speedway.
    Race length: 200miles/160 laps.
    Posted awards: $558,714.
    TV: SPEED Channel, 8 p.m. ET.
    Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
    2003 winner: Brendan Gaughan.
    2003 polesitter: Not held.
    Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday – Practice 11:20 a.m. – 1:20 p.m. Qualifying 3:30 p.m. Final practice 6:30 – 7:30 p.m., time permitting.(NASCAR PR)(7-15-2004)

  • Crew Chief Fined for Violation in Kentucky: Gene Nead, crew chief for the # Dodge driven by Ted Musgrave in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, has been fined $500 by NASCAR for a rule infraction that occurred this past weekend at Kentucky Speedway. Nead was found in violation of Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and Section 12-4-Q (truck, truck parts, components and/or equipment used in the event that do not conform to NASCAR rules) of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Rule Book, because of an unapproved spring-loaded air dam. The violation was found during the event’s initial inspection process last Friday (July 9).(NASCAR PR)(7-13-2004)
  • Hamilton wins at Kentucky: #4-Bobby Hamilton became the first three-time winner this season on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series circuit, rallying to win the rain-delayed Built Ford Tough 225 on Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway. The 47-year-old Hamilton dominated most of the race, but still needed a dramatic rally on a restart following a caution with two laps to go. Hamilton dipped his Dodge inside of #16-Jack Sprague’s Chevrolet and held off Sprague to win by 0.179 seconds. Sprague took the lead on a restart on lap 146 of the scheduled 150-lap race, but the race went back to caution on lap 149 when #14-Rick Crawford’s truck spun into the infield. Truck series rules dictate that a race must finish with two green-flag laps, so the field ran under caution for three laps before green-flag racing resumed. Hamilton lapped all but 16 of the 35 other drivers who started the race. Hamilton led for 133 of the race’s 153 laps and moved up a spot to second in the series point standings, six points behind #46-Dennis Setzer. Hamilton won in 1:52.20, averaging 122.587 mph. #75-David Starr, who also briefly passed Hamilton on the lap 146 restart, finished third, with #6-Matt Crafton and #18-Chad Chaffin (who survived an early spinout) rounding out the top five. The race started 55 minutes late because of rain that soaked the track less than three hours before the scheduled start time. The race’s first 11 laps were run under caution, as the trucks helped dry the track.(ThatsRacin.com/AP)
    For race results see:
    ThatsRacin.com
    Motorsports One
    Truckseries.com
    NASCAR.com.(7-10-2004)
  • #24 Sponsor at Kentucky: NUTZZ.COM will be the primary sponsor Travis Kvapil’s #24 Tundra team for tonight’s Built Ford Tough 225 race at Kentucky Speedway. Line-X Spray-On Truck Bedliners will be back on board as primary sponsor for the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers Ram Tough 200 at St. Louis on July 17. NUTZZ.COM is the first interactive, online business model specifically designed to provide motorsports sponsors targeted interactions between consumers and brands. The Nutzz.com Auction will be launched later this season. Fans that join now can begin earning Nutzz in advance of the Nutzz Auction launch.(BANG Racing PR)(7-10-2004)
  • Qualifying rained out at Kentucky: Rain washed out qualifying Friday for the Truck Series Built Ford Tough 225 at Kentucky Speedway. The lineup for Saturday’s race will be set according to the series points standings, meaning #46-Dennis Setzer will be on the pole. Defending race champion #99-Carl Edwards, who won last week’s series race at Kansas Speedway, will be on the outside of the first row.(ThatsRacin.com)
    ThatsRacin.com
    Motorsports One
    Truckseries.com
    NASCAR.com.(7-9-2004)
  • Joe Gibbs Racing Aligns with EJP: #03-Team EJP Racing will return to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for the running of the Kroger 200 at Indianapolis Raceway Park. The team has formed an alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing that will put Denny Hamlin in the seat for the IRP event and the event at Richmond International Raceway in September as well. Hamlin currently second in points in the late model division at South Boston Speedway, where he has won 8 out of 11 races. “I am excited to be on board with Team EJP Racing in partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing,” Hamlin said. “The Prescotts have a very strong background in the northeast, winning races and championships everywhere they have been. And Joe Gibbs Racing is one of the top teams in all of NASCAR. I really look forward to IRP because with these two organizations behind me, I think we’ll be pretty competitive right out of the box.”
    “We are going to Thompson Speedway in Connecticut to test July 12-14,” Hamlin said. “That will be my first time testing a truck. Along with assistance from EJP Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing has assigned personnel to assist in my transition to the NASCAR truck series, and of course both J.D. and Coy (Gibbs) have driven them before too, and they are just a phone call away.” J.D Gibbs, president of Joe Gibbs Racing, welcomes the partnership with Team EJP Racing, and believes the combination of Hamlin and Team EJP could pay dividends in very short order. “We feel like Denny has a gift for getting race cars into Victory Lane and he has a great attitude about the sport,” Gibbs said. “I’ve spent a lot of time around Team EJP Racing when I was running the Busch North series and I know Steve Prescott and his guys have always had a first class organization that runs competitively. We look forward to giving Denny the support he needs to put the Team EJP Chevrolet Silverado up front. The two races at IRP and RIR are the only events scheduled with Hamlin at this time, however, more could be added as the season progresses.(Speed Channel)(7-9-2004)
  • #50 to promote new Roush Racing game at Kentucky: Jon Wood’s #50 Roush Racing Ford F-150 will have decals promoting RoushRacing.com’s “You Pick ‘Em Challenge” this weekend at Kentucky Speedway. RoushRacing.com launched the new game this week. Each week, players guess the finishing positions of all five Roush Racing Nextel Cup drivers and accumulate points based on each correct guess. After 18 weeks, the player with the highest point total will win two pit passes to the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup race of their choice and the opportunity to meet all five Roush Racing drivers. Prizes will also be awarded for second and third place. “It looks pretty cool to have decals on our truck this week,” Wood said. “I hate that Roush employees are ineligible to play since it sounds like a pretty fun game. I’m glad we can help RoushRacing.com promote the new game and I encourage everyone to sign up and play.”(Roush Racing PR)(7-9-2004)
  • Kerry Toyota to sponsor Parker Jr. at Kentucky: Kerry Toyota, in Florence, KY, has agreed to be the primary sponsor of Hank Parker, Jr. for the July 10, 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race to be held at Kentucky Speedway. Kerry Toyota will be featured on the hood, rear quarterpanels, and truckbed of Hank’s #21 Toyota Tundra. Kerry Toyota, located in Florence, KY, is one of the largest new and used car dealerships in the tri-state. They have a large inventory of Toyota products, including the all new Scion line-up, as well as Toyota Certified Used Cars. As recently as June 2004, they were rated the top Toyota dealership in customer satisfaction for the Greater Cincinnati district. They can be contacted at (859) 371-3939 or on the web at: www.kerrytoyota.com.(Innovative Motorsports PR)(7-9-2004)
  • Ragan To Pull Double Duty at Kentucky: David Ragan will be behind the wheel of the #67 Fiddle Back Racing Ford F-150 this weekend in Kentucky. Ragan returns to the driver’s seat for the first time since Texas Motor Speedway last month where he finished 20th in his first Truck Series start. Fiddle Back Racing is currently enjoying its best finish of the year this past weekend in Kansas City with teammate, Kevin Love [11th] at the wheel. Ragan has raced at Kentucky in the ARCA RE/MAX Series and feels he should be a top-ten contender. Ragan will also be competing in the ARCA race Friday night in the Palm Beach Grading, Mike Edge powered #88 owned by Bobby Jones. The Fiddle Back Racing pit crew will be assisting Ragan in his ARCA effort with some over-the-wall pit-stop help Friday night. For more information on David Ragan, and the Fiddle Back Racing team, please visit fiddlebackracing.com.(PR)(7-9-2004)
  • BANG Racing Cup team on hold UPDATE 2 McReynolds leaves BANG: Larry McReynolds’ plans to expand his two-team Truck program to add a Nextel Cup team are on hold. “Things were in place for six, seven, eight races this year, but it wasn’t solid for next year,” said McReynolds, a Fox broadcaster, Truck team owner and former star crew chief. “I told Alex (Meshkin, the team owner) we don’t need to take our focus away from the Truck championship this year and trying to win races this year, and there is no way you can put together a good Cup program for this year without having everything in place for next year. In all honesty, it’s a little relief to me, because I don’t want to take focus away from the Trucks, and I’m still nervous about Busch and Cup from my standpoint. The Truck deal works, because it’s not a conflict of interests (with his TV jobs). When I walk through this garage, the guys respect me, and respect that when I’m with the Trucks, I’m with the Trucks, but when I’m in with them, I’m a broadcaster. So the Cup deal is not going to happen right now.”(Winston Salem Journal)(7-6-2004)
    UPDATE: an hearing that Larry MacReynolds parted way with BANG Racing today.
    HOWEVER: there is a brand new article posted by McReynolds at FoxSports, where the teams switched crews again, back to where they were.(7-7-2004)
    AND no mention of McReynolds anymore on the BANG Racing Site, also of note, the car# listed on the BANG Racing site for their Nextel Cup team is #28.(7-9-2004)
    UPDATE 2: Fox TV commentator and former Nextel Cup crew chief Larry McReynolds said Friday he had resigned from his role with Bang Racing on Tuesday and will concentrate his time on his family and his broadcasting duties with Fox and Speed Channel. “It was a business decision. I was spreading myself awfully thin,” he said. “Not that I felt like I was short-cutting anything. I still feel I was doing as good a job broadcasting as I was when I didn’t have anything else going on. My days were getting longer and longer and longer. I am going to devote a little more time to broadcasting. I’m going to catch my breath a little bit. I hope I never leave Fox or Speed because I enjoy it and I feel I put a lot into it,” McReynolds said. He did not rule out an eventual role again as a consultant or team owner. “I’m not saying that in the near future I won’t go back and do something” he said. “It would have to be probably under some different circumstances, though. I bit off an awful lot.”(ThatsRacin.com)(7-9-2004)
  • Problems with Edwards Truck UPDATE win stands, no penalty: Saturday’s Truck Series victory by Carl Edwards was put into question when his #99 Ford failed to meet the minimum-height requirement in post-race inspection at Kansas. NASCAR has decided to confiscate some parts of Edwards’ truck and take them to its research and development center in Concord, NC., for further review. Edwards was involved in a Lap 1 accident in the race that damaged his truck. NASCAR wants to check to see if that damage could have affected the height measurement, spokesman Mize Zizzo said Saturday night.(ThatsRacin.com)(7-4-2004)
    UPDATE: Statement from NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Director Wayne Auton regarding the No. 99 Ford of Carl Edwards failing the minimum height requirement during Saturday’s post-race inspection for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway: “After reviewing and evaluating the parts that NASCAR officials secured from the No. 99 truck of Carl Edwards, NASCAR has reached the conclusion that the first-lap accident in which he was involved was the direct cause for the truck failing the minimum height requirement during post-race inspection. As a result of those findings, there will be no penalties assessed.”(NASCAR PR)(7-8-2004)
  • Kentucky News and Notes:
    Show me the money … Setzer will become the series’ No. 3 career money winner when he takes the green flag in Saturday’s The Built Ford Tough 225. Setzer, a veteran of 152 events, has won $3,070,138 and trails Ron Hornaday Jr. by $9,715. Last week’s race saw Travis Kvapil (No. 24 LINE-X Toyota) become the 10th driver to win $2 million or more ($2,013,753) while Hamilton ($998,200) at Kentucky is due to be the 26th member of the division’s $1 million club.

    Etc. … Carl Edwards (No. 99 Superchips Ford), winner of the July 3 O’Reilly Auto Parts 250, is the third driver in four races to post his second victory of the season. Setzer won at Texas Motor Speedway and Hamilton in Memphis – events also sponsored by O’Reilly. … Matt Crafton (No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet) and Jon Wood (No. 50 Roush Racing Ford) led their first laps of the year at Kansas Speedway. Crafton, advancing to fifth in the point standings, hadn’t led a field since June 21, 2003 at Memphis while Wood, the defending Kansas winner, last led on Nov. 14, 2003 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. … There have been five different Raybestos Rookie of the Race Award winners in the last five races with Kevin Love (No. 67 Fiddle Back Racing Ford) the latest with an 11th-place, career-best effort in Kansas. … The Fourth Annual Craftsman-sponsored softball challenge, pitting series drivers against SPEED Channel talent and staff, is set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Champion Window Field, home of the Frontier League’s Florence (Ky.) Freedom. Driver team coach Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Motel & RV Ford) will toss out the first pitch for the Freedom-Kalamazoo Kings game that follows. … Bang Racing’s two-week swap of crews and crew chiefs has ended with Eric Phillips returning to Kvapil’s Toyota and Rick Ren back with Mike Skinner (No. 42 Toyota Tundra Toyota). … Two drivers, Greg Biffle (2000) and Mike Bliss (2002) won both The Built Ford Tough 225 and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship in the same seasons. … No Kentucky Speedway race has been won from the Bud Pole. In fact, no Bud Pole winner has a victory in any previous or subsequent series event at the track. Every pole starter, however, has finished fifth or better and on the lead lap. … By starting this week’s event, Deborah Renshaw (No. 29 Motion Dealer Services Ford) will be the seventh different female to compete in a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event and fourth of 2004. There have been 57 races (of 227) in which at least one female competitor has participated.

    ON THE RIGHT TRACK
    Kentucky victory opened door for Edwards … Last year’s Kentucky Speedway victory was the first of five for Carl Edwards, the most wins by any series driver over the one-year span – three in 2003 and two this season. Setzer’s Kentucky record nearly spotless … Although he gave back most of a 131-point championship lead with last week’s 25th-place finish at Kansas Speedway, Dennis Setzer figures to regain his momentum this week. Setzer, the only driver with three top-five finishes (2001-03) at Kentucky Speedway, has completed all 600 laps/900 miles contested at the 1.5-mile track and is the venue’s top money winner with $118,315.

    FROM THE ARCHIVES
    A virtually caution-free Kentucky Speedway event in 2002 saw Mike Bliss win the fifth-fastest race in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series history at an average speed of 143.515 mph. Greg Biffle’s 2000 winning pace of 98.385 remains the slowest of 39 series events contested on a 1.5-mile track.

    Fast Facts
    What: The Built Ford Tough 225 presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers (Race No. 11 of 25).
    Where: Kentucky Speedway, Sparta, Ky.
    When: 8 p.m. ET, Saturday, July 10.
    Track layout: 1.5-mile paved speedway.
    Race length: 225 miles/150 laps.
    Posted awards: $731,384.
    TV: SPEED Channel, 8 p.m. ET.
    Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
    2003 winner: Carl Edwards.
    2003 polesitter: Jon Wood.
    Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday – Practice 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. Qualifying 6 p.m. Final practicefollowing ARCA race, time permitting.(NASCAR PR)(7-8-2004)

  • Renshaw to make Truck Series debut AND: Deborah Renshaw will make her NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut at next weekend’s Built Ford Tough 225 at the Kentucky Speedway in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. Renshaw, a 28-year old native of Bowling Green, Kentucky will be piloting the #29 K Automotive Ford F-150 owned by Bob and Kay Keselowski. This event will mark Renshaw’s first career start in one of the top three NASCAR divisions. The 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway has become something of a home track to Renshaw who made her ARCA RE/MAX Series debut at the same race track three years ago. Renshaw turned heads during that debut qualifying in the seventh position and finishing an impressive eighth. Renshaw will have the experience of Bob Keselowski, team owner and former NCTS driver, serving as crew chief along with Brad Keselowski, who has piloted the No. 29 Ford in seven events this season and also serves as team engineer. Renshaw previously competed in the ARCA RE/MAX Series where she made nine starts in the series and earned three top ten finishes and six top ten starts. Renshaw fielded eight entries for Bob Schacht Motorsports and one with Montgomery Motorsports. Renshaw made her mark in the world of motorsports when she became the first female driver to lead the points’ race of a NASCAR-sanctioned series while competing in the Late Model Stock Cars at the Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tennessee.(LM Motorsports Marketing)(7-3-2004)
    AND By starting this week’s event, Deborah Renshaw (No. 29 Motion Dealer Services Ford) will be the seventh different female to compete in a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event and fourth of 2004. There have been 57 races (of 227) in which at least one female competitor has participated.(NASCAR PR)(7-8-2004)
  • MRD Motorsports Signs Driver Jay Sauter: MRD Motorsports signed NASCAR driver Jay Sauter to run a series of seven selected NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races behind the wheel of the #06 Chevrolet Silverado beginning this weekend at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky. The seven race package also includes the events held at Nashville; Bristol; Richmond; Texas; Darlington; and Homestead. Founded by Dave Malcolmson MRD Motorsports is located in Concord, N.C. Malcolmson makes his home in Largo, Fla., and previously owned teams in the Allison Legacy Series and also in the Goodies Dash series prior to making the move to the Truck Series. Malcolmson began building his truck series team by hiring Bryan Berry as the crew chief. Malcolmson believes that the Homestead, Fla. native is a vital element to the success of his organization. As their search for a driver began both Malcolmson and Berry realize the highly competitiveness of the Truck Series this season and took into consideration the number of veteran drivers including former series champions Jack Sprague and Mike Skinner that have returned to the series. “The list of seven races is good for me,” commented Sauter. “They are all places I have run well. MRD Motorsports have built three new Chevrolet trucks. I am looking forward to driving for them.” Malcolmson’s intent is to use these seven races with Sauter as a springboard into next season. “With Jay’s track record at these events we should have a good showing. We are using this schedule to lay the ground work to run a full season in 2005,” said Malcolmson. “I feel that we have a good, solid package with Jay as the driver and Brian as the crew chief.”(Champion Sports Group PR)(7-6-2004)
  • Miller scores win for Victory Junction: L.W. Miller, a part-time racer in the Truck Series and the current S.M.A.R.T. Modified point leader, won Friday’s 150-lap feature event at Caraway Speedway and donated the winnings – $1,825 – to the Victory Junction Gang Camp. “We’ve had a good season,” said Miller, who is the defending series champion. “But, with only two wins and needed something to get us fired up again. We decided to donate whatever we won on Friday night to the Victory Junction Gang Camp. It got us going and I’m very happy that we ended up in victory lane.” Miller started ninth in the feature and used patience, saving his tires, to march to the win. In scoring the victory, Miller also secured a guaranteed starting spot in the very lucrative North South Shootout that will take place later this season at Concord Motorsport Park. The S.M.A.R.T. Modified have a hiatus until Labor Day weekend when the schedule picks up with a pair of races. From that point on, the schedule gets real busy with racing every week.(Catchfence)(7-5-2004)
  • Sponsor for the #15? during Speed Channel’s race coverage at Kansas. Ray Dulap mentioned that an annoncement is coming in the next few days that the #15 Team and driver Shane Hmiel are close to signing a primary sponsor.(7-3-2004)
  • Congrats: Dick Timmons, a crew member with the #38 Cure Autism Now/Werner Ladder Ford NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team of driver Brandon Whitt, was greeted with welcome news Friday morning. His wife Rachel gave birth to their first son, Riley, in North Carolina. The Truck will carry the message “Welcome Riley Timmons” during Saturday’s race at Kansas.(Williams Company PR)(7-3-2004)
  • #18 Camo scheme: #18-Chad Chaffin will have a new camouflage truck starting in Kansas and going all the way through the Nashville race. Dickies is coming out with a new line of camouflage wear geared toward all the thousands of hunters and outdoorsman out there. They have combined the Real Tree and Mossy Oak patterns, which are the two most popular patterns of camo, to make the Dickies wear.(Bobby Hamilton Racing PR)(7-3-2004)
  • Edwards wins at Kansas: #99-Carl Edwards came back from a first-lap accident Saturday to win the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas Speedway, his second victory of the season. Points leader #46-Dennis Setzer was not so fortunate in the most caution-filled trucks race in the track’s four-year history. After Setzer drifted wide and put Edwards into the wall on the first lap, Setzer dropped back into the pack – where he got caught up in a seven-car crash in the second lap. He had to replace his oil cooler and radiator, fell 31 laps down before re-entering the race and finished 25th. Forty-four laps were run under caution Saturday; the previous record was eight cautions for 34 laps in last year’s race. Edwards won the season opener at Daytona, one of the nation’s most storied tracks – but this victory, about two hours west of his native Columbia, Mo., was sweeter. The rest of the top five were #4-Bobby Hamilton, #14-Rick Crawford, #62-Steve Park and #6-Matt Crafton.(ThatsRacin.com/AP)
    For race results, see:
    Motorsports One
    Truckseries.com.
    NASCAR.com.(7-2-2004)
  • Kansas qualifying rained out: qualifying for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas Speedway was rained out, the field was set based on Owners Points. The top five are: #46-Dennis Setzer, #99-Carl Edwards, #4-Bobby Hamilton, #14-Rick Crawford and #1-Ted Musgrave. See an AP story at ThatsRacin.com.
    For starting lineups see:
    Truckseries.com.
    NASCAR.com.(7-2-2004)
  • Houston back in the #2 at Kansas: After a one week hiatus, Andy Houston returns to the wheel of the #2 Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge for this Saturday’s truck series race at Kansas Speedway. NASCAR veteran Jimmy Spencer piloted the Ultra Motorsports entry last week at Milwaukee while Houston raced the #59 Harris Trucking Dodge. “I want to thank Jimmy Spencer for stepping in and helping the Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge crew evaluate our program,” Houston said. “I also want to thank Jim Harris for allowing me to drive the #59, that really helped us with the driver’s points scenario.” Houston will make his second career stop at Kansas Speedway’s 1.5 mile tri-oval.(PR)(7-1-2004)
  • Conner steps down as #2 Crew Chief UPDATE: Three-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship winning crew chief Dennis Connor has relinquished his role as the crew chief of the #2 Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge. Connor is a proven winner in NASCAR competition and has successfully guided the fortunes of several drivers during his career. The Sylva, NC native mentored Jack Sprague to three NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championships (1997, 1999 and 2001), two runner-up points finishes (1996 & 1998), 25 victories and 23 pole positions. Connor proved his considerable skills once again in his very first outing with Ultra Motorsports and the Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge in 2003, winning the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race with driver Jason Leffler at Dover in late May. Connor backed that win up with another at New Hampshire with driver Jimmy Spencer. In 2003 Connor captured a unique NASCAR ‘hat trick” by winning three poles with three different Ultra Motorsports drivers – Leffler (Michigan), Spencer (New Hampshire) and Andy Houston (Texas). The 2004 campaign has seen its share of bad luck including getting swept up in multi-truck crashes, untimely caution flags and mechanical woes.
    “In all my time in racing I have found that situations either work out or they don’t,” said Connor. “The 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season has not gone as any of us would have preferred. As a result Jim Smith andI have reached a very amicable and mutual agreement to part ways at this time. I look forward to finding an opportunity that provides me with a chance to have a positive impact with a competitive race team. I am sure that type of opportunity is just around the corner.”(PR)(6-28-2004)
    UPDATE: Trip Bruce, former car chief for Ultra Motorsports’ NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series program, becomes interim crew chief.(NASCAR PR)(7-1-2004)
  • Kansas Notes and News:
    If history has a way of repeating itself, Shane Hmiel (No. 15 Whitaker Farms Chevrolet) figures the third time has to be the charm. Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas Speedway has produced the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series’ two youngest winners – Ricky Hendrick in 2001 and Jon Wood (No. 50 Roush Racing Ford), each at 21 years of age. The fact that the 1.5-mile speedway doesn’t favor the more experienced competitors could bode well for Hmiel, 24, who’ll be appearing in just his tenth series race. “I’d like to add my name to that list,” said Hmiel, who finished 15th in last year’s NASCAR Busch Series standings but continues to pursue his first NASCAR national touring series victory. “I really think (Kansas Speedway) is a neutral advantage for both the veterans and the young guys, as they like to call us. “I’ve said it before; I’m hungry for a win.” The North Carolina competitor nearly won each of his past two starts at The Milwaukee Mile and Memphis Motorsports Park. Hmiel also led at Texas Motor Speedway before engine failure sent his Billy Ballew-owned Silverado to the garage. Ballew, an Atlanta resident whose team has competed full or part-time on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series since 1998 also is ready to visit Victory Lane. Until Hmiel finished second at Memphis, the team’s best performances were fifths with Rich Bickle at Richmond in 1998 and Andy Houston (No. 2 Team ASE/Carquest Dodge) a year ago at Daytona. Ballew definitely has tasted the lows. Now he’s enjoying the highs that come with running fender-to-fender with – and frequently ahead of – former series champions Travis Kvapil (No. 24 Line-X Toyota), Mike Skinner (No. 42 Toyota Tundra Toyota) and Jack Sprague (No. 16 Chevy Trucks Chevrolet). “To see us get out on the track and go and lead the amount of laps we led and having a shot to win is overwhelming,” said Ballew. “It’s like a payback for all the struggles you go through as a team owner or team member.” Ballew has completely revamped his team in 2004 – from driver to crew to trucks. Hmiel’s father, Steve Hmiel, technical director at Dale Earnhardt Inc., has made significant contributions. “I’ve really enjoyed working with Steve and he’s been a tremendous help to us,” said Ballew, whose driver and team stand 16th in series standings with three top-10 finishes. “His unsurpassable amount of knowledge has been a great asset to Shane and the team.” Ballew also rehired veteran crew chief Richie Wauters and, despite not having a national sponsor, has pushed the team to the series’ top tier with the help mainly of several Atlanta small businesses. “Everyone on the team is pulling in the same direction and they also are friends,” said Ballew. “It’s not a 9 to 5 work atmosphere. What free time they have, they hang out and go to dinner and stuff like that. I think it’s always that way if you have chemistry and everyone is on the same page.” Driver Hmiel, as well, is on top of his game. He did the Milwaukee Mile “double” and finished a glossy fourth – leading more than 60 laps – in Saturday night’s NASCAR Busch Series event as stand-in for Kasey Kahne. Hmiel was 12th in the Black Cat Fireworks 200 although the finish hardly was indicative of his performance. A lap 199 spin dropped Hmiel out of the top five where he’d run for most of the race. “I just want to work hard and win some races,” he said. “That’s who I am; a racer through and through. As long as it has four tires and a steering wheel, I’m ready to drive it.”

    NEWS & NOTES, PART II
    Series pioneer Smith adds to record streak … Ted Musgrave’s victory in the June 25 Black Cat Fireworks 200 made Ultra Motorsports’ Jim Smith, owner of the No. 1 Mopar Dodge, a winner at least once in all ten seasons on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Smith, one of four off-road owners who in 1994 proposed to NASCAR the idea of racing trucks on America’s top oval tracks, counts 31 wins in series competition, three behind all-time leader Jack Roush. Musgrave, who also won the race in 2001, is the first repeat winner at The Milwaukee Mile. The winner started from the Bud Pole to claim Craftsman’s pole-to-victory bonus of $18,000. Etc. … A third-place finish at Milwaukee gives Dennis Setzer (No. 46 Chevrolet Silverado Chevrolet) a 131-point championship lead over Carl Edwards (No. 99 Superchips Ford). He enjoys the largest margin since Oct. 28, 2001 when Sprague led Scott Riggs by 141 following the season’s next-to-final event at Phoenix International Raceway. … Sprague’s engine failure at Milwaukee ended the series’ longest finishing streak by an owner. IWX Racing was running at the finish of 54 consecutive races beginning with the March 15, 2002 stop at Darlington Raceway. … Matt Crafton (No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet) became the series’ 25th career $1 million winner. Crafton finished tenth. … This week’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 marks the 100th NASCAR Craftsman Truck start by David Starr (No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet). He’s the 16th competitor to reach the century mark. … Dennis Connor has resigned as crew chief of Andy Houston’s No. 2 Team ASE/Carquest Dodge. Trip Bruce, former car chief for Ultra Motorsports’ NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series program, becomes interim crew chief.

    ON THE RIGHT TRACK
    Wood, Setzer master Kansas Speedway … Jon Wood and Dennis Setzer have completed all 501 laps and 751.5 miles contested at Kansas Speedway. They are the only drivers with three top-10 finishes at the venue.

    QUOTEBOOK
    “Don’t get me wrong, everyone likes short track racing, but after having a couple consecutive races on some of the circuit’s shorter tracks, it’s nice to not see quite as much of each other.” – Raybestos Rookie contender Brandon Whitt (No. 38 Cure Autism Now/McMillin Homes Ford), who seems ready for a change of pace this week at Kansas Speedway.

    FROM THE ARCHIVES
    The O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 played a major role in Mike Bliss’ drive to the 2002 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship. Bliss won the race when Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Motel & RV Park Ford) suffered a freak mechanical failure while leading four laps from the finish. Crawford, who wound up 12th, lost 43 of the 46 points by which he lost the title.

    FAST FACTS
    What: O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 (Race No. 10 of 25).
    Where: Kansas Speedway, Kansas City, Kan.
    When: 3 p.m. ET, Saturday, July 3.
    Track layout: 1.5-mile paved speedway.
    Race length: 250.5 miles/167 laps.
    Posted awards: $564,324.
    TV: SPEED Channel, 3 p.m. ET.
    Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
    2003 winner: Jon Wood.
    2003 polesitter: Chad Chaffin.
    Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday – Practice 9 – 10:15 a.m. and Noon – 12:50 p.m. Qualifying 2 p.m. Final practice 4:50 to 4:45 p.m., time permitting.(NASCAR PR)(7-1-2004)