DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 16, 2001) -- With 28 lead changes among 12 drivers it was clear that the season-opening Craftsman Truck Series event at Daytona International Speedway was a race that every driver wanted to win and every fan wanted to...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 16, 2001) -- With 28 lead changes among 12 drivers it was clear that the season-opening Craftsman Truck Series event at Daytona International Speedway was a race that every driver wanted to win and every fan wanted to watch. When the checkered flag fell after 104 eventful but otherwise safe laps, rookie Ricky Hendrick, in his #17 GMAC/Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado, in a dramatic last-lap charge, ended up a mere .318 of a second behind winner Joe Ruttman in a Dodge.
Hendrick, son of Winston Cup team owner Rick Hendrick, who also owns Ricky's team, led the way for Chevrolet when he became the top Silverado qualifier and second rookie, grabbing the fifth starting spot. He proved his qualifying run was no fluke, as he continued to demonstrate his personal talents and the Silverado's durability in the 250-mile race, leading seven of the 13 laps led by Silverados, and never running out of the top 10.
The 20-year-old snowboarder and scuba diver from Charlotte, N.C., survived several wrecks on the 2.5-mile superspeedway and eight caution-flag periods to find himself in a three-truck draft (Ruttman, Hendrick and Scott Riggs) in the remaining two laps following the final caution. "To be honest with you," he said, "right before that last caution came out I didn't want to see it, because three or four of us were about 30 car lengths ahead of fourth and fifth. We were kind of strung out, and I was hoping to slow down a little bit on that last lap and get momentum with Riggs and go by him (Ruttman) off turn four. It's every man for himself on that last lap. We were just waiting and waiting and waiting for that to happen. Riggs actually made his move on me going into turn three. Riggs got by me and I put my air back on his spoiler and luckily slowed him down to get second (place) back."
Ricky's dad, who was on the radio with him throughout the race, was expectedly nervous yet proud. "It's hard to believe he's never seen Daytona before and ended up ninth in the ARCA race (last week) and second in the truck race," he said. "I was so nervous I was going to get on the button and tell him what to do. I was trying to help him, but what do I know? I've never raced here. As big as the button was on the radio, I couldn't get my finger on the button; my hand was shaking so fast. I don't do a very good job being father and owner watching my son race.
"He drove a smart race; stayed out of trouble. Between the ARCA race and this he has a Masters Degree," added the senior Hendrick.
Lance Norick, in the #90 Aventis Behring Choice Silverado, finished fourth; Randy Tolsma led two laps in the #61 Team Rensi Motorsports Silverado to place fifth. Coy Gibbs, in the #20 MBNA Silverado was seventh, followed by Bryan Reffner's #3 Menards Silverado and Lyndon Amick in the #52 Federated Auto Parts Silverado.
Silverado lap leaders were Ricky Hendrick (7), Randy Tolsma (2), Dennis Setzer (2), Jack Sprague (1), Bryan Reffner (1).
Chevrolet Silverado continues to lead in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victories. After a total of 147 races in the series' history, Silverado tops the win column with 80 wins, versus cross-town rivals Ford (52) and Dodge (15), giving Chevy a win percentage of 54 percent.