March 2004 Truck Series News Archive
- Orleans Racing hires new GM: Orleans’ Racing has announced that Fritz Kroyer, father of engine builder Kevin Kroyer, has joined the team as General Manager. Kroyer will the lead the day-to-day operations for the Las Vegas based race team, which includes the Craftsman Truck Series’ #62 Dodge driven by Steve Park and the NASCAR Grand National Division West Series’ #08 Yerf-Dog Dodge driven by 2003 series champion, Scott Lynch. Kroyer has over 36 years of experience in auto racing, both behind the wheel and behind the scenes. He has recorded numerous off-road racing wins as a driver and worked as a fabricator and mechanic with Walker Evans Racing before heading to Rick Mears Racing.(Frontstretch)(3-26-2004)
- Edwards and Wood test for Martinsville: Roush Racing teammates #50-Jon Wood and #99-Carl Edwards spent Tuesday testing at Ace Speedway in Elon, N.C., preparing for the upcoming race at Martinsville Speedway on April 17. Ace is a four-tenths-mile short track which has characteristics similar to the half-mile of Martinsville. Both drivers felt the test was extremely worthwhile and they came away with valuable information. “We were pretty fast right away,” Wood said of the #50 F-150. “It is a brand new truck and it’s the first Roush-built chassis out of Concord (N.C.) that we’ve ever raced. We spent some time getting used to that along with the new tires. It was our first short-track test with the new body, although that didn’t seem to make much of a difference at a track like that. “We spent our time working on some things to make the truck turn better and trying to get better forward bite. Those are both very important at Martinsville and some of the things we learned should help us race better. We won there last fall and we’d sure like to win it again.” Edwards is trying to better a fourth-place and a second-place finish at Martinsville last year. Testing at similar tracks before the race was an important part of the team’s strong runs in 2003. “We tested right before the Martinsville race last year and it really seemed to pay off for us,” said Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Superchips Ford F-150. “I think we are going to try to test one more time before the race to make a little more progress at going faster. “The test yesterday went really well. It was good to get back to the feel of a short track after spending all of this year so far working on our set-ups for big, fast tracks like Daytona and Atlanta. It was also our first test with the new tires, which had a different feel. I’m excited to go short-track racing again after this test. The Roush teams should be strong.”(Roush Racing PR)(3-25-2004)
- #15 Crew Chief Fined: NASCAR has fined Richard J. Wauters, crew chief for the #15 Chevrolet driven by Shane Hmiel, $500 for an infraction discovered March 12 during NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series opening-day inspection at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Wauters was penalized under Section 12-4-A of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Rule Book (Actions detrimental to stock car racing) and Section 12-4-Q (Any determination by NASCAR Officials that parts and/or equipment used in the Event do not conform to NASCAR rules: unapproved jacking bolts).(NASCAR PR)(3-23-2004)
- Musgave tests at Atlanta..after the race: Following #1-Ted Musgrave’s eighth-place finish in the March 13 EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the only thought this veteran driver had was of coming back to the fast, high-banked speedway to test – as soon as possible. “I wanted to come back the next day, but that was the (NEXTEL) Cup race,” Musgrave said. “We ended up finishing OK, but we basically made something out of nothing, because we just weren’t good all weekend. We knew we could have run much better if we’d tested. So as bad as we were, we wanted to come right back to the track we had just raced on and try to improve.” Musgrave did just that almost immediately upon returning to the track Monday, turning a fast lap of 173.521mph (31.95 seconds) around the high-banked 1.54-mile track. Musgrave tested both his own #1 Mopar Dodge and the #2 ASE/CARQUEST truck of his teammate, Andy Houston. “This track is so much like others that we race on – Charlotte and Texas especially – that we’re learning a lot right now,” Musgrave said. “Plus, this test will actually help everywhere we go, including the short tracks, because we’re learning how the truck reacts to changes.” Musgrave said he had improved his speeds in the two Ultra Motorsports trucks by almost half a second over the times he turned just two weeks ago in the race at Atlanta. Both Musgrave and Houston qualified in the back half of the field for the EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts 200, with Musgrave starting 21st and Houston 23rd. “We’ve learned a lot today, but I can’t tell you what, or it’ll be all over the internet,” Musgrave said with a wicked grin. “I can tell you this: We’re running a lot closer to what the leaders ran during the race, and the truck is real comfortable right now. I couldn’t say that two weeks ago.” Musgrave said he knew going into the EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts 200 that his truck didn’t have a shot at winning, but he was reluctant to make any drastic changes right before the race. “We were off all weekend, and we almost changed a bunch right after happy hour,” Musgrave said. “But that’s risky. We could have been right on, or we could have been way off. Now I wish we’d changed things, because the changes we were going to make have made the truck way better during today’s test. But you learn.” And despite what he considers a poor finish for himself, Musgrave is still in awe over the inaugural truck race held at Atlanta two weeks ago. “That was an amazing show, and there was an amazing crowd here,” Musgrave said. “With the finish that we had, I could see all the fans standing and cheering as I came off the track after the race. We loaded up and came back out, and the fans were STILL standing and cheering. What a great race for our series; these fans in Atlanta are great.”(AMS PR)(3-23-2004)
- Andrews is looking UPDATE 2 to BANG?: Paul Andrews, a successful crew chief for many years [championship with Kulwicki, wins at Penske and DEI], lost his job earlier this week with Bob Osborne, an engineer now taking over with Jeff Burton at Roush Racing. Andrews is still on the Roush payroll but reportedly looking elsewhere for a job.(Gaston Gazette)(3-21-2004)
UPDATE: Crew chief Paul Andrews is looking for a job, since being released by Jeff Burton and Jack Roush, and says “We’re talking to different people now about what we might do next. We’ve got a lot of people talking and that’s good. “I was brought in to win races and we hadn’t won races, so we felt like we needed to make a change and that’s what we did. I think Jeff is a good driver and there are a lot of good things going on over at Roush’s. But that’s just what happened. We couldn’t win races together.”(Winston Salem Journal)(3-22-2004)
UPDATE 2: hearing that Larry McReynolds and Bang Racing are talking to Andrews about potentially heading up their Nextel Cup effort later this year.(3-22-2004)
- NASCAR Examing the #14: Rick Crawford left the Atlanta Motor Speedway in a way that no one would want to — in the back of an ambulance. Crawford found himself there after an unfortunate, some might say horrific, incident in the inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Crawford got tangled up in a lap 45 incident when he drove into a stationary vehicle that was sitting on the track. The hit was savage and resulted in the three drivers who were involved being sent to local area hospitals. Now, several days after the incident Crawford is resting at home, with two broken bones in his left foot. Thankfully Crawford will not require surgery; and if he follows doctors orders of staying off the injury he should be in good shape for the series’ next event, which will take place April 17, at Martinsville Speedway. TFR spoke with team spokesman, Jeff Opalach, who relayed this information regarding Crawford’s health. Opalach also told TFR that the remnants of Crawford’s truck had been hauled to NASCAR’s research and development center in Conover, N.C., where inspections were taking place on the #14 Circle Bar Motel & RV Ford. While Opalach did not have a specific number for the g-forces applied to Crawford’s rig, he did say that, according to NASCAR, it was a heavy hit that Crawford rode through. Crawford’s safety “cocoon” within the vehicle held up nicely, and the Head And Neck Safety device that he wears likely saved him from more serious, injury. Opalach also noted that this was only the second event where his driver had worn a full-faced helmet, one of the new Impact Racing units being produced by longtime safety advocate Bill Simpson. Crawford, until this year, wore an open-face helmet due to previous preferences. But the new helmet was chosen due to its unique air inlet system, which blows air down onto the driver from a port in the top of the helmet. Simpson helped Crawford make the switch with his meticulous attention to detail, accommodating the drivers’ needs at every step of the process. The new Impact branded helmet is gaining in popularity within the garage, as Simpson visits with the drivers to help educate them regarding the newest technology.(Ford Racing)(3-19-2004)
- Seven Cup Drivers to run Special Chevy Trucks: The Chevrolet Silverado All-Stars, pairing NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers with superstar musical celebrities in the Truck Series. Michael Waltrip will be the first of seven different drivers to pilot the #47 Chevy All-Stars Silverado in individual races during the 2004 NCTS season. His musical partner, Sheryl Crow, will be featured in the special paint scheme for the first All-Stars race – the Charlotte Tailgate 200 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on May 21. Following the program debut at Lowe’s Motor Speedway with Michael Waltrip, the following Chevy drivers with their specific musical partners will pilot the #47 Chevy All-Stars Silverado: Robby Gordon, Bristol (August 25); Tony Stewart, Richmond (September 9); Ricky Craven, New Hampshire (September 18); Bobby Labonte, Martinsville (October 23); Driver To Be Announced, Phoenix (November 5); and Ward Burton, Darlington (November 12). Serving as primary sponsor of the #47 Chevy All-Stars Silverado is Acxiom, a worldwide data services company. This Silverado entry will be campaigned by Morgan-Dollar Motorsports, with whom Acxiom has been partnered since 1998 in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.(GM PR)(3-13-2004)
UPDATE – Stewart to run a truck at Richmond in Sept: Tony Stewart will defend his back-to-back NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series wins at Richmond International Raceway September 9, 2004. Stewart will pilot the #47 Chevy All-Stars Silverado, featuring a special paint design depicting country music recording sensation Sara Evans. Tony Stewart has won the past two NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races at Richmond International Raceway. Last year Stewart came from a starting position of 27th place to capture the checkers in the Virginia is for Lovers 200. Sara Evans’ album Born to Fly is approaching double platinum sales marks after its release in 2000. Evans garnered Video of the Year at the 2001 Country Music Association Awards, and has since released another hit album-Restless. The Chevrolet Silverado All-Stars will pair NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers with superstar musical celebrities in select NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races. Partnered with pop star Sheryl Crow, Michael Waltrip will be the first of seven different drivers to race the Silverado at different races this season. Robby Gordon, Ricky Craven, Bobby Labonte and Ward Burton will also steer the Silverado as part of the Chevy All-Star program. Tickets to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series 200 on Thursday, September 9 are $30 a piece (general admission seating only) and include admission to the IROC Series race. Children 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by a paid adult admission. For more information on September’s race weekend in Richmond, visit www.rir.com or call 1-866-455-RACE (7223).(RIR PR)(3-18-2004)
- Sad News: Former Winston Racing Series Champion Raymond Hooper Sr. passed away suddenly on Thursday, March 11th in Paducah, KY. Hooper Sr., 66, was the 1970 NASCAR Winston Racing Series Champion at Saugus Speedway in Santa Clarita, CA. Hooper Sr. was the father of NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Busch Series, and Nextel Cup series driver Lance Hooper, and West Coast driver Ray Hooper Jr. Funeral services were held this past Saturday in Paducah. Hooper Sr. is survived by his wife Sharon, daughter Donna Tudor, and sons Ray Jr. and Lance. Condolences can be sent to The Hooper Family, C/O Sharon Hooper, P.O. Box 4326, Mooresville, NC 28117.(3-18-2004)
- UPDATE on injuries at Atlanta: Crawford suffered a fractured left foot, and Gordon fractured her right ankle. Crawford was treated and released. Joey Clanton, who hit the wall on Lap 88 in an unrelated incident, was given a CAT scan, which came back negative. He was released. Parker Jr. suffered a back injury and will be held overnight at the hospital. It is believed that Parker’s injury will not require surgery, and Parker could be released as early as Sunday.(NASCAR.com)(3-14-2004)
UPDATE II on Injuries: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Hank Parker Jr. was expected to be released from Atlanta Medical Center about 12:00noon/et Sunday and return to Charlotte, NC. He sustained a back injury in an accident in Saturday’s truck race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, which also sent Rick Crawford and Tina Gordon to the hospital. Crawford suffered broken bones in his left foot and Gordon broke her lower-right leg. Both were released Saturday. Joey Clanton was involved in another accident and went to the hospital for a precautionary CT scan. He was also released Saturday.(ThatsRacin.com)(3-14-2004)
UPDATE III 3-15-2004: Both Alabama drivers injured in Saturday’s NASCAR trucks series race are out of the hospital and recovering. Tina Gordon marked her 35th birthday on Sunday at home in Cedar Bluff with a broken bone in her lower right leg. No cast was required, and doctors have told her to keep weight off the leg for a week. Rick Crawford of Mobile, who broke some bones in his left foot, was released from an Atlanta hospital on Saturday. The crash came in the first race for the trucks at Atlanta. Gordon’s truck was hit twice as it spun down the backstretch. Crawford clipped the rear end, then Hank Parker Jr. slammed into Gordon. Parker was the last driver discharged from Atlanta Medical Center. He was released on Sunday after treatment for a crushed vertebra.(Alabama Live)(3-15-2004)
UPDATE – Parker: Following the accident, Hank Parker, Jr. was airlifted to Atlanta Medical Center and held overnight for observation. All precautionary tests came back negative and Hank was diagnosed as having a compression fracture of his L-2 vertebrae. After being released from the hospital Sunday afternoon, Hank had this to say, “It was a heck of a hit and my whole body is pretty sore, but I’ll get plenty of rest and be ready to get back on the track at Martinsville.” He continued, “My crew gave me a real hot rod, and I was looking forward to a great finish in my Sport Clips Toyota. I really appreciate Sport Clips sponsoring me for this one race deal, as well as the ongoing support of Toyota, Jenkins and Jenkins Attorneys at Law, and White House Foods. I especially want to thank all the fans for their thoughts and prayers; it means a lot to me to have their support.“ Parker Jr. and the #21 Toyota Tundra will make their next appearance on April 17, 2004, at the Kroger 250 when the Truck Series returns to action at Martinsville.(Catchfence)(3-16-2004)
UPDATE – Gordon: Tina Gordon is at home in Cedar Bluff, Alabama resting comfortably after a crash on lap 45 of the EasyCare Vehicle Service contracts 200 on Saturday at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Gordon suffered a concussion as well as a broken right fibula in the accident. On a positive note, these injuries were not to the same leg that was broken in a crash two years ago in Charlotte. Doctors did not cast the right leg, but did put it in a boot. Gordon will have to stay off of the leg for one to two weeks to let the fracture heal itself. While things do look positive for the next race, Gordon’s injuries will be evaluated again in a couple of weeks and a decision on her prognosis for the Martinsville race will be made at that time.
Tina would like to thank Duke and Rhonda Thorson and everyone else at ThorSport Racing as well as her sponsors, Vassarette lingerie and Microtel Inns & Suites for all of their support. Gordon and her family would also like to thank Ed Clark, Angela Revell, and the rest of the staff at Atlanta Motor Speedway for their help in getting her entourage to and from the hospital on Saturday. Tina’s thoughts are with Rick Crawford and Hank Parker, Jr., and she is hoping for a speedy recovery for them as well. She would also like to say thanks to all of the drivers and fans who have called and written with get well wishes.(Victory Lane Motorsports Management PR)(3-16-2004)
Updates: Three drivers injured during last Saturday’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway anticipate returning to competition next month at Martinsville Speedway.
The three – Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar RV & Motel Ford), Tina Gordon (No. 13 Vassarette/Microtel Chevrolet) and Hank Parker Jr. (No. 21 SportClips Toyota) – were involved in a Lap 45 incident on the 1.54-mile track’s backstretch.
Crawford sustained two fractures to the left foot; Gordon incurred a break of the fibula in her right leg. Both were treated at Atlanta Medical Center and released last Saturday (March 13) to the care of their personal physicians. Parker, hospitalized overnight for further evaluation of a compression fracture of the L-2 vertebra and released this past Sunday, continues to be evaluated by his personal physician.
Also, Joey Clanton (No. 40 Optech Chevrolet), involved in a Lap 88 incident, also was transported to Atlanta Medical Center where he underwent CAT scans. The scans were negative and Clanton was released, also last Saturday. All four competitors have stated their intentions to compete in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series’ next event, the Kroger 250, on April 17 at Martinsville.(NASCAR PR)(3-18-2004)
- Edwards to race in USAC race: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series points leader #99-Carl Edwards will pilot a USAC Silver Crown car this Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway. Edwards, who drives the #99 Superchips Ford for Roush Racing, will be driving for RE Technologies of Memphis, Tenn. It will be Edwards’ 12th start in the Silver Crown Series. His best finish is third at Indianapolis Raceway Park last August.(ThatsRacin.com)(3-18-2004)
- Hines to race at Irwindale: Mopar’s Tracy Hines will return to his midget racing roots, as he will compete in the Mopar Twin 25’s at Irwindale Speedway in California on March 27. Driving the No. 11 Wilke-PAK machine supported by Mopar sponsorship, Hines will take a break from his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series duties to make another attempt at the coveted $50,000 bonus the prestigious event offers. The Mopar Twin 25’s at Irwindale will be held March 27, 2004. Tickets can be purchased for the event by calling (800) 515-8445. For more information regarding the Mopar Twin 25’s, log on to www.twin25s.com or www.midgetmadness.com.(MOPAR PR)(3-18-2004)
- Hamilton wins at Atlanta; Parker, Gordon, Crawford Injured: #4-Bobby Hamilton used overtime and a wild last-lap pass of fellow veteran #42-Mike Skinner to claim the win in Saturday’s EasyCare 200, the inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. A late-race caution forced the scheduled 130-lap race to go to Lap 133, as series rules require a green-flag finish. Skinner led on the restart on Lap 132, followed by Hamilton, then rookie and pole-winner #17-David Reutimann. Skinner stayed out front until Hamilton moved around him on the outside exiting Turn 4 on the last lap. The two trucks touched slightly approaching the finish line, sending Skinner into a slide. Hamilton ended up winning by .330 seconds. Reutimann finished third, #24-Travis Kvapil fourth and #6-Matt Crafton finished a career-high fifth. #99-Carl Edwards (seventh) continues to lead the points.
#14-Rick Crawford, #13-Tina Gordon and #21-Hank Parker Jr. were involved in a scary accident on Lap 44 after Gordon cut a tire and drifted down the track and then back into the path of approaching traffic. All three were taken to Atlanta Medical Center, Crawford and Gordon by ground transportation and Parker Jr. by air. The three were awake and alert en route. Hospital officials said Crawford was treated for a fractured left foot and released. Gordon was being treated for a fractured right fibula (lower leg). She was expected to remain at the hospital overnight. Parker Jr. was undergoing tests Saturday night, as was #40-Joey Clanton, who was hurt in a later wreck. The race was slowed four times by caution for 26 laps. There were 11 lead changes, including five in the final 11 laps, among four drivers.(ThatsRacin.com)
See results at ThatsRacin.com, MotorsportsOne, TruckSeries.com or NASCAR.com.(3-13-2004)
- Reutimann wins pole at Atlanta, Toyota on the pole: #17-David Reutimann led a Toyota and rookie invasion of Atlanta Motor Speedway on Friday. Reutimann, a rookie, turned a lap at 179.452 mph to claim the pole for Saturday’s EasyCare 200 (1 p.m. Eastern, Speed), the inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Atlanta. Joining him on the front row was fellow Toyota rookie, #12-Robert Huffman. In all, Toyota swept four of the top five and six of the top nine positions. Rookie #23-Shelby Howard (26th) was the only Toyota entry that didn’t qualify in the top nine. “The truck drove good. The wind picked up a little bit and I think it made us a little tight,” Reutimann said. “Hopefully, the wind will stay the same for everybody.” Reutimann, who drives the #17 Toyota for the team owned by for Cup driver-turned-TV announcer Darrell Waltrip, said the racing would be a big “unknown.” “Every Cup race and Busch race that I’ve seen have been great races at this facility so there’s no reason the truck can’t do the same thing,” he said. “I felt like at Daytona that our race was the best race of the weekend. Hopefully, we can do the same thing here.” #99-Carl Edwards, winner of the series opener at Daytona, was third fastest in a Ford. #42-Mike Skinner and #22-Bill Lester rounded out the top five. #6-Matt Crafton was the top Chevrolet, at sixth fastest.(ThatsRacin.com). Missing the race were: #48-Greg Sacks, #28-L W Miller and #0-Loni Richardson.
For race lineup/qualifying results see ThatsRacin.com or NASCAR.com.(3-13-2004)
- Raines in the #08: KW Racing says former Cup driver Tony Raines will take over the team’s #08 Chevrolet in Saturday’s Easycare Vehicle Service Contracts 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The team’s regular driver, Ken Weaver, was involved in a wreck in the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway but expects to return for the April 17 Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway and for the rest of the season.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(3-12-2004)
- Sports Clips to sponsor Parker at Atlanta: In a last minute deal, Sport Clips (All*Star Haircuts for Men and Boys) has agreed to sponsor the #21 Innovative Motorsports Toyota Tundra driven by Hank Parker, Jr. in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Sport Clips will be the primary sponsor of the #21 Toyota Tundra in the Easycare Vehicle Service Contracts 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday. Sport Clips, who is a major associate sponsor on the #4 Biagi Bros. Racing entry in the NASCAR Busch Series, is in the first year of building their brand through NASCAR. Parker is excited at the news that Sport Clips was coming on board. “We are very pleased to have Sport Clips on board as a sponsor with us in Atlanta. They came out of the blue to sponsor the truck this weekend and we are looking forward to doing a good job for them,” Parker said on Wednesday. Parker has had great success at Atlanta, finishing 5th in the NASCAR Busch Series race at the speedway in 2003 and he is looking to extend his run this weekend on the 1.54 mile oval. Team owner, George deBidart, is equally excited about the partnership with Sport Clips. “We really appreciate Gordon Logan and the people at Sport Clips stepping up to help us out in Atlanta. I got to know Gordon last year and it is nice to have him be a part of our team for this race,” deBidart said on Wednesday. He added, “We are looking for a primary sponsor to fill out the 2004 season and beyond so we appreciate Sport Clips picking up this one race deal for Atlanta. We are looking forward to having a great run for Sport Clips and showing potential sponsors that we are a serious team that they need to be involved with.”
Gordon Logan, CEO and Founder of Sport Clips, said Wednesday that he is looking forward to the partnership in Atlanta. “Hank Parker, Jr. has a tremendous reputation, a driver who fits our image and everything we strive for as a company,” Logan said. “George deBidart is a quality team owner and we are very pleased to sponsor his #21 truck for the Atlanta race. We have four Sport Clips in the Atlanta area and this will bring increased awareness to our brand there and in the other twenty states where we operate. NASCAR fits perfectly with our concept of a sports-themed haircutting experience for men and boys, and our slogan: Guys Win at Sport Clips!” The Georgetown, TX-based enterprise currently has 155 stores in 19 states. Targeting men and boys, Sport Clips operators provide high quality haircuts in a fun sports environment, complete with TV’s at every stylist’s station tuned to sports. Every Sport Clips has “guy smart” stylists who focus on providing the highest level of service to every client. For more information or to find a location near you, please visit www.SportClips.com or www.SportClipsRacing.com.(PR)(3-12-2004)
- Atlanta Notes: Some records seem destined to last forever, like Bill Elliott’s qualifying marks of 210.364 and 212.809 mph, respectively, at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. Geoffrey Bodine (No. 03 Team EJP Chevrolet) holds the title to one such lap – with the 197.478 speed he posted in November 1997 during qualifying for the NASCAR premier series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The pavement on the 1.54-mile track was brand new and Bodine took full advantage of its grip. “I don’t know if it was the perfect lap but it sure was one of the wildest laps ever run there,” Bodine said. “I was able to run it flat all the way through turns 1 and 2 and I was planning on trying to do the same thing through three and four. I had to just come off the throttle coming off turn 4 to keep it off the wall so it wasn’t perfect. “I am also very proud because that is a record that will last a long time with the rules the way they are and the track continuing to age.” It’s highly unlikely that Bodine or any other driver will come close to matching that speed in qualifying for Saturday’s inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts 200 but one thing is certain: Atlanta will be one of the fastest venues on the series – alongside Daytona and Texas Motor Speedway. “The speeds will be high and that will offer a chance to pick up the draft,” said Bodine, who finished 10th in last month’s 2004 season-opening race at Daytona. “I am fortunate to have a lot of laps around the track, so we will have a head start against most of the field. “Some of what we know will transfer over from the (NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series) cars but the trucks are really totally different. So all you can do is make the best educated guess and fine-tune it from there.” Bodine, who finished third in the 1990 NASCAR premier series championship, won 18 times with more than $16.1 million in career winnings. He also added six NASCAR Busch Series wins. But Bodine also is a charter member of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series – as an owner as well as a driver. Bodine finished fifth in the series’ first race at Phoenix International Raceway. The Chemung, N.Y., native fielded full-season efforts in 1995 and ’96 with Dave Rezendes. In 1997, the seat in Bodine’s Ford was occupied by Tammy Jo Kirk, the first female competitor on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series whose 11th-place finish at Topeka that year remains best by a female driver in the series. Although he has yet to win a series race, the 53-year-old Bodine has come close, finishing second on three occasions. He came within two laps of victory at Martinsville Speedway in 1995 before a turn 4 shoving match with Mike Skinner (No. 42 Toyota Tundra Toyota) gifted the win to Joe Ruttman. “What you saw (in 1995) was a lot of (premier series) drivers came over and ran some of the races. It was a brand-new series and everyone wanted to be part of it,” said Bodine. “And you had a lot of top-notch drivers in the series back then – winners and champions from every form of racing you could think of. “But as the Cup schedule grew, it made it harder and harder for the drivers to come over and run truck races.” Shortly before the 2004 season began, Bodine got the opportunity to drive Peter Prescott’s Maine-based Chevrolet, thereby extending a NASCAR career in which Bodine believes still has some victories – and maybe even a championship – left. It’s the same philosophy that fuels the competitive drive of NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series rivals Skinner, Bobby Hamilton (No. 4 Square D Dodge), Ted Musgrave (No. 1 Mopar Dodge) and Steve Park (No. 62 Orleans Racing Dodge). “What you have now is a real demand for the young drivers over in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup garage so it has given many of us older guys a chance to come to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and have some fun,” Bodine said.
NEWS & NOTES, PART II
* Where Atlanta will rank speed-wise … The 1.54-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway should be in some pretty fast company after Friday’s Bud Pole qualifying. The two quickest one-lap records are 187.563 at Daytona and 181.953 at Texas. Atlanta is the 42nd different venue to host a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race.
* Streak on the line in Atlanta … Dennis Setzer (No. 46 Chevrolet Silverado Chevrolet) notched his 21st consecutive top-10 finish on Feb. 13 at Daytona, a streak that began May 30, 2003 at Dover. He’s just three shy of Jack Sprague’s (No. 16 Chevy Trucks Chevrolet) record of 24, a string that opened on July 27, 1997 and ran through July 18, 1998.
* Etc. …Kelly Sutton (No. 02 Team Copaxone Chevrolet) recently was awarded a Gene Autry Courage Award, which is presented to athletes who have overcome hardships and disabilities. Sutton competes despite being afflicted with multiple sclerosis (MS). Former Chicago Cubs third baseman and broadcaster Ron Santo also was honored at the Phoenix-area banquet, a fund-raiser for Arizona scholarship programs and youth charities.
* … Featherlite, a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series sponsor for nine seasons through its Long Haul Award program, has revised its program in 2004. Now known as the NASCAR/Featherlite Most Improved Driver Award, the award of $1,500 will be paid to the eligible driver improving the most positions from the finish of the previous event. Featherlite, the official trailer and coach of NASCAR, will pay a $10,000 end-of-season bonus to the driver winning the greatest number of Most Improved Driver awards during the 2004 season.
* … Tony Raines, a four-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series winner, returns to the series to drive the No. 08 Phoneco Chevrolet. Raines’ last appearance came in 1999 at The Milwaukee Mile. He most recently won at the old Louisville Motor Speedway in August 1998.
* Plenty of Atlanta experience in the field … Many series competitors have significant Atlanta Motor Speedway experience entering this week’s inaugural race at the 1.54-mile facility – especially Mike Skinner, winner of the 1999 NASCAR Busch Series Yellow Freight 200 and Ken Schrader (No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet), who won a 1991 NASCAR premier series race. Schrader is among the top-15 money winners at Atlanta with more than $1 million in earnings. Skinner also won a 500K ARCA race in 1995. … Hank Parker Jr. (No. 21 Innovative Motorsports Inc. Toyota) finished fifth in last year’s NASCAR Busch event while Shelby Howard (No. 23 Bill Davis Racing Toyota) nabbed a runnerup finish in the track’s 2003 ARCA race.
* Kimmel could take K Automotive team to victory lane … Frank Kimmel (No. 29 K Automotive Ford) has done everything but win at Atlanta, a track that has figured prominently in the Indiana native’s five ARCA RE/MAX championships. Kimmel counts six poles and nine top five and ten top-10 finishes in 15 trips to AMS.
* Mike Skinner could be considered the “series king” of debut races, having won six of them – all in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series’ inaugural season. Ted Musgrave and Jack Sprague have won a pair of first-time events. Bobby Hamilton and Kenny Schrader count one apiece. Musgrave’s May 2003 victory at Lowe’s Motor Speedway is the most recent.
What: EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts 200 (Race No. 2 of 25).
Where: Atlanta Motor Speedway.
When: 1 p.m. ET, Saturday, March 13.
Track layout: 1.54 -mile banked paved oval.
Race length: 130 laps/200.2 miles.
Posted awards: $487,932.
TV: SPEED Channel, 1 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
2003 winner: None – new event.
2003 polesitter: None.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday – Practice, 9 – 11:15 a.m. Qualifying, 1:30 p.m. Final practice following NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series practice, time permitting.(NASCAR PR)(3-12-2004)
- Nead the new crew chief at the #14: L&S Air Conditioning’s Inside Alabama Racing radio show, from Mobile AL reported that former #1 Ultra Motorsports crew cheif, Gene Nead, is now the crew cheif for the #14 team and driver Rick Crawford.(WNSP 105.5) and Nead is listed as the crew chief on Rick Crawford’s site.(2-27-2004)
UPDATE – Nead Ready to Call The Shots at Circle Bar Racing: Circle Bar Racing heads into the second race of the 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season this weekend at the Atlanta Motor Speedway with a new face leading the charge as veteran crew chief Gene Nead joins Series “Ironman” Rick Crawford. Nead joins Circle Bar Racing after working for such teams as Hendrick Motorsports, Curb-Agajanian Motorsports and most recently Truck Series driver Ted Musgrave and Ultra Motorsports. While working with Musgrave, Nead helped the team to six wins, seven poles, 26 top-five and 34 top-ten finishes in 47 starts. With Nead at the helm, the team captured back-to-back third place point’s finishes in the chase for the Series championship. Nead takes over for crew chief Ray Stonkus who joined the team in the fall of 2001. Under Stonkus the team scored a victory at the Daytona International Speedway, two poles, 33 top-five and 51 top-tens and a second place finish in the Series 2002 point’s standings. Nead leads the team into the Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts 200. Live green flag begins on the Speed Channel Saturday, March 13th at 1:00 pm EST with radio coverage coming on MRN Affiliates at 12:30 p.m.(PR)(3-11-2004)
- Speed Channel: Speed Profile: Wendy Norris.(3-3-2004)
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Born On Date: February 27, 2004
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