FOUR PAST TRUCK CHAMPIONS AND THREE-TIME SPEEDWAY WINNER TO VIE FOR AMERICAN RACING WHEELS 200 WIN FONTANA, Calif. (February 21, 2005) - If you thought Interstate 10 heading into the City of Angels was difficult to maneuver, you haven't been to...
FOUR PAST TRUCK CHAMPIONS AND THREE-TIME SPEEDWAY WINNER TO VIE FOR AMERICAN RACING WHEELS 200 WIN
FONTANA, Calif. (February 21, 2005) - If you thought Interstate 10 heading into the City of Angels was difficult to maneuver, you haven't been to a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race lately. Trucks carrying heavy clout, including seven series championships among four drivers and five California Speedway trophies between two drivers, will trail behind the field of 36 in the American Racing Wheels 200 on Friday, February 25.
Leading the way to the Fontana, Calif., facility, just one week after the Daytona season-opener, will be past champions Mike Skinner (1995), Ron Hornaday Jr (1996 & 1998), Jack Sprague (1997, 1999 & 2001 as well as 1998 & 1999 California Speedway winner), Bobby Hamilton (2004) and three-time American Racing Wheels 200 champion Ted Musgrave (2001-2003) - an impressive line-up of seasoned NASCAR veterans who battle some impressive young drivers on the rise.
"The level of competition is very high," said Musgrave, driver of the No. 1 Mopar Dodge. "Each year in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, the level of competition seems to go up a notch. Here in the past few years, it's seemed to be bumped up two notches. The great sponsors, drivers and team owners in the series are a testament to just how outstanding the series is."
The Craftsman Truck Series, which is celebrating its "10 Year's Tough" anniversary, has had the championship decided on the final laps of the season finale seven times with three of the final points standings being less than a 10 point margin of victory, or two race finishing positions. California Speedway's event decided the title in 1999 and 2001. Such close racing has brought the anticipation of the current season to an all time high.
"Competition this year is going to be stronger than it has ever been before" said Hornaday, driver of the No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet. "We know that you are going to have to run up front all year long if you want to compete for the championship this season. If you can't finish the race first you are going to want to finish at least in the top three. Any slip ups could cost you a chance at the trophy. Our goal this season is to take that NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series trophy home."
Three-time Craftsman Truck Series Champion Jack Sprague agrees the competition is fierce. "The level of the competition in 2004 was strong; this year, the intensity level has gone way up. We have a stronger group of veterans hungry to run up front and win. Every lap of every race is going to be critical to make a run for wins, which ultimately translates to a run for the championship. It is going to be the best season yet for the Series and I am excited to be a part of it," he said.
Taking the Competition Out West
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events at California Speedway are a family affair, bringing great enjoyment to the racers and fans alike. The Friday night racing, under the lights, provides fender-banging excitement that will get race fans out of their seats and onto their feet as they root for their favorite in the 100-lap event. With tickets starting as low as $30, and children 12 and under free with a paid adult admission, the value of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event is a must see - You Have to Be Here! And the racers, they can't wait to come out West for the second race of the season.
"Having back to back races this year to get the season started is better for everyone," said Sprague, driver of the No. 16 Chevy Trucks Chevrolet, who'll be chasing his third California Speedway win during the American Racing Wheels 200. "It is much easier to get a momentum going and keep it going when the races are closer together.
"Since the first NCTS race at California Speedway, I have loved that track. I have had pretty good luck there. It is a fun track to race. It is one of those places that we could come race more than once a season and I would be happy! It is a great track and the races are always good for the fans," Sprague said.
"We definitely look forward to going to California Speedway each year," said Musgrave, who just missed his fourth win at California Speedway when a caution came out on the final lap exiting Turn 4 in last year's race. "We're very comfortable with the track, due in part because we've got multiple victories at the facility. We know that after Daytona, we've got a potentially good race for the team as a whole at California; it's a confidence booster for us to run there. As long as our luck holds up, we know we've got a good shot at winning the event."
Palmdale, Calif., native Hornaday is much like his fellow competitors when it comes to racing at California Speedway. He said, "I love going to California to race. California is where I am from so I can't wait to get a chance to race in front of my home crowd. The fans in California are awesome so I know that we are going to put on a great show for them. I can't think of anything better than getting a chance to get the checkered flag right around the corner from my hometown."
Tickets to California Speedway
Be at California Speedway for the NASCAR tripleheader weekend on February 25-27. The weekend will start on Friday with NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series qualifying, NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series practice and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series American Racing Wheels 200. Tickets are $30 with children 12 and under free with a paid adult admission. Saturday includes NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series qualifying, the NASCAR Busch Series Stater Bros. 300, the Miller Lite Rock 'n Racing Concert with Alter Bridge and a fireworks show. Ticket prices are just $40 and $50. Sunday's ticket, which includes the second race of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season - Auto Club 500, is $65 and $105. For ticket and event information, call 800-944-RACE  or visit www.californiaspeedway.com.