* History suggests winner of this week's Quaker Steak & Lube 200 will be a veteran driver * Mark Martin returns to the series looking to complete May sweep AT LMS DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 15, 2006) -- It's virtually impossible to pick a winner...
* History suggests winner of this week's Quaker Steak & Lube 200 will be a veteran driver
* Mark Martin returns to the series looking to complete May sweep AT LMS
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 15, 2006) -- It's virtually impossible to pick a winner in the competitive world of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, but one thing appears constant as teams visit Lowe's Motor Speedway for Friday's Quaker Steak & Lube 200.
A veteran driver is likely to be standing in Victory Lane after the checkered flag concludes the sixth of 25 races comprising the 2006 Series schedule.
All three LMS winners, who count a combined, 274 series appearances and 36 victories, are entered in the $524,098 race.
Also, it has been nearly three years since a newcomer won a series race on a 1.5-mile superspeedway. Carl Edwards, the 2003 Raybestos Rookie of the Year, won at Kentucky Speedway in July of that season -- the last 1.5-mile winner who wasn't a NASCAR Craftsman Truck, NASCAR Busch Series veteran or current NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competitor.
A rookie driver has yet to lead a lap at LMS. Edwards' 12th-place finish in 2003 stands as the high-water mark by a freshman competitor.
Finally, a newly repaved track isn't going to make things any easier for the non-veterans, according to defending series champion and 2003 Quaker Steak & Lube 200 winner Ted Musgrave (No. 9 Team ASE/Germain Toyota).
"I remember when they repaved the race track years ago and it was quite an adventure for all of us," said Musgrave, who has competed in 305 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races. "The veterans like myself that experienced that new surface at Lowe's will not forget what that was like.
"I feel experience places a big part of being successful at Lowe's."
The 50-year-old Musgrave, whose last series victory came over a year and 25 races ago, enters the race ranked second in NASCAR Craftsman Truck point standings. He trails Germain Racing partner Todd Bodine (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota) by 12 points following the pair's one-two finish at Gateway International Raceway.
Bodine is the series' leading performer on 1.5-mile tracks with six wins at five of the seven such venues on the current schedule. Bodine has won his last three starts on 1.5-mile tracks and finished first or second in the seven races dating to his July 2005 victory at Kansas Speedway.
Dennis Setzer (No. 85 Shell ROTELLA T Chevrolet), the 2004 winner, agrees with Musgrave that experience -- for both driver and crew -- is essential to registering a solid performance on a 1.5-mile track.
"A lot of these mile-and-a-half tracks are tough to get up to speed on," he said. "The main thing that I can think that makes it so hard at a track like Lowe's is communication. Communication between driver and crew is the key to running good anywhere, but if you can't relay the right kind of communication back to your crew chief, you are going to struggle -- especially at a place like this."
Mark Martin (No. 6 Scotts Ford) can make history this week by winning the Quaker Steak & Shake 200. The victory would give Martin a first ever sweep of major NASCAR events at Lowe's Motor Speedway in May.
Martin, a two-time and defending winner of Saturday's NEXTEL All-Star Challenge, counts a Coca-Cola 600 victory among four NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series wins. Three of his six NASCAR Busch Series wins came in next week's CARQUEST Auto Parts 300.
The ever upbeat Martin, who comes into this week's race fourth in the standings despite starting only four of five events, is one of the track's biggest fans.
"Lowe's has always been one of my favorite tracks on the circuit and we've had a lot of success there over the years," he said. "The 600 win in 2002 and the win last year in the All-Star are a couple of the biggest wins of my career. Every time that I go to Lowe's I get on the radio and I tell my crew after the first couple of laps on the track, 'man, I just love this place.'
"I can't wait to get out there in the trucks as well."
Martin and his rivals will test the track's newly resurfaced track during 7-1/2 hours of testing beginning at 11:30 a.m. ET Thursday.