Chevrolet, Dodge in tight battle for manufacturers' crown NEWS & NOTES Handicapping the title contenders at Darlington ... Hamilton has won both series starts at Darlington Raceway in 2001 and '03. Musgrave won in 2002 and finished second a...
Chevrolet, Dodge in tight battle for manufacturers' crown
NEWS & NOTES
Handicapping the title contenders at Darlington ... Hamilton has won both series starts at Darlington Raceway in 2001 and '03. Musgrave won in 2002 and finished second a year ago. Setzer counts a best finish of 11th. Edwards was 23rd last year as a Raybestos rookie. Crafton finished eighth in 2001.
Manufacturer championship battle goes down to the wire ... Dodge leads Chevrolet by four points -- 144 to 140 -- in the race for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series manufacturer championship. Dodge can clinch its third title by winning either of the final two races. Chevrolet victories at Darlington and Homestead would give General Motors a sixth crown.
Survey Says! NASCAR on Family Feud ... The popular game show will air special NASCAR-themed episodes the week of November 15-19. Drivers representing the sanctioning body's top three national series will pit their NASCAR families of crew chiefs, crew members and family members against each other for the benefit of their favorite charities. The Family Feud lineup includes Ward Burton (No. 0 Net Zero HiSpeed Chevrolet), who will play for The Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation; Sterling Marlin (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge), who will play for the Boys and Girls Club of Nashville, Tenn.; Casey Mears (No. 41 Target Dodge), who will play for Target House and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Bill Lester (No. 22 Toyota Tundra Toyota), who will play for the Urban Youth Racing School. Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M&M's Ford) and NASCAR Busch Series driver Kenny Wallace (No. 23 Stacker2 Chevrolet) will play for the Autism Society of America. Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet) and Jeremy Mayfield (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) will play for the Victory Junction Gang Camp.
Etc. ... Jason Leffler will drive the No. 47 ACXIOM Chevrolet in this week's Darlington 200. Leffler holds the series' qualifying record of 163.703 mph, set in March 2000. Ken Schrader (No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet) finished second in the 2001 Darlington 200 -- his best performance since winning at Saugus Speedway near Los Angeles in April 1995. ... Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Motel & RV Park Ford) needs $30,643 to become the series' fifth $3 million career winner. A victory at Darlington will do the trick. ... Jack Sprague's (No. 16 Chevy Trucks Chevrolet) sixth pole of the season at Phoenix International Raceway clinched the 2004 Bud Pole Award. By leading the most laps at Phoenix, Musgrave wrapped up the Wix Filters Lap Leader prize. Each award is worth $10,000. ... Sprague was second at Phoenix -- his fourth consecutive runner-up finish at the track -- to narrowly miss collecting Craftsman's $28,000 Win from the Pole bonus. The bonus increases to $30,000 at Darlington.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Competitors have great Darlington finishes -- just not in trucks ... This could be the week that Johnny Benson (No. 23 Toyota Tundra) gets his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory. Benson runs well at Darlington, finishing second in a NASCAR Busch Series event in 1995. His best NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series finish of seventh came in 2001. Todd Bodine (No. 30 Germain Motor Company Toyota) won last spring's NASCAR Busch Series event. Bobby Hamilton Jr. (No. 59 Harris Truck Co. Dodge) counts a pair of top-10 finishes in NASCAR Busch competition -- the highpoint a fourth in last summer's race.
Schrader has hit for Darlington's top-three cycle: second in NASCAR Craftsman Trucks and third in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup (1991) and NASCAR Busch Series (1990).
"Our team doesn't really have a lot of notes because we only ran a few laps here last year before we lost an engine. Darlington was our only DNF (Did Not Finish) of 2003 and the only one of two races where we didn't finish in the top 10. But this has been a strange year for us. The tracks that we run good at have not been as good for us and we have run good at places that have not been our best tracks." -- Dennis Setzer, unsure what to expect at Darlington Raceway.
"I've got a shot. I've never given up. We're just going to try to dominate and win that race." -- Ted Musgrave on his Darlington 200 strategy.
"We're 133 points back with two races to go. Now we just need to go out and win these last two races. It would be awesome to win at Darlington and have my name in the record books with so many legendary drivers. That place is all about history and I'd like to be a part of it." -- Carl Edwards on taking the title race to Darlington.
"We are definitely not out of it. Hopefully, we can carry this little bit of momentum ... and if any of the top-four drivers' luck turns on them as bad as our luck turned on us, then we have a shot. It's a long shot at this point, but it's a shot." -- Matt Crafton, who finished third at Phoenix to match his best series performance.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Darlington Raceway is the ninth track measuring a mile or longer to schedule a night race in 2004. Other first-time night races were held at California Speedway, Daytona International Speedway and The Milwaukee Mile. Three different drivers scored victories: Todd Bodine (California), Carl Edwards (Daytona) and Ted Musgrave (Milwaukee).
What: Darlington 200 (Race No. 24 of 25).
Where: Darlington Raceway, Darlington, S.C.
When: 8 p.m. ET, Friday, Nov. 12.
Track layout: 1.366-mile banked paved speedway.
Race length: 200 miles/147 laps.
Posted awards: $445,294.
TV: SPEED Channel, 8 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
2003 winner: Bobby Hamilton.
2003 polesitter: Time trials not held. Field set by rule book.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Thursday -- Practice 11:30 a.m. --1:30 p.m. Qualifying 3:30 p.m. Practice 5:30 p.m. -- 6:15 p.m. -- Final practice 6:45 p.m. --7:30 p.m.
Top 10 in Points: 1. Bobby Hamilton 3,334. 2. Dennis Setzer 3,327. 3. Ted Musgrave 3,214. 4. Carl Edwards 3,201. 5. Matt Crafton 3,077. 6. David Starr 2,987. 7. Travis Kvapil 2,940. 8. Chad Chaffin 2,886. 9. Jack Sprague 2,891. 10. Steve Park 2,884.