Record six former NASCAR Craftsman Truck champions in GM FlexFuel 250 field NEWS AND NOTES Six of eight series champions headed for Daytona ... Musgrave heads a solid list of veteran competitors who count nine titles won over the series' ...
Record six former NASCAR Craftsman Truck champions in GM FlexFuel 250 field
NEWS AND NOTES
Six of eight series champions headed for Daytona ... Musgrave heads a solid list of veteran competitors who count nine titles won over the series' first 11 seasons. That's the greatest number of NASCAR Craftsman Truck champions to enter a season-opening event. Also in the field are Mike Bliss (No. 16 Xpress Motorsports Chevrolet), 2002; Bobby Hamilton (No. 18 Fastenal Dodge), 2004; Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 KHI Chevrolet), 1996, 1998; Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota), 1995 and Jack Sprague (No. 60 Con-Way Toyota), 1997, 1998 and 2001. The six have won a combined 108 races, only one of which -- by defending winner Hamilton, making his 100th start this week -- came at Daytona.
Huge Raybestos Rookie class anticipates season kick-off ... Thirteen competitors have applied for Raybestos Rookie of the Year status, making the 2006 freshman class one of the largest in the 11 seasons the award has been contested. This is in marked contrast to last year in which the final standings listed only three drivers. The accent definitely is on youth: 11 of the candidates are ages 19 through 25; only two drivers have celebrated their 30th birthdays. Last year's Daytona pole winner Kerry Earnhardt (No. 13 ThorSport Chevrolet) is the senior member of the class at age 34. Homecoming for Compton and Wood ... A pair of former series stars, Stacy Compton (No. 21 State Fair Corndogs/Edy's Ice Cream Ford) and Jon Wood (No. 20 U.S. Air Force Ford), return at Daytona after absences of three and one seasons, respectively. The NASCAR Busch Series veterans are part of the Wood Brothers/JTG Motorsports team jointly owned by Eddie Wood and Tad Geschickter. Compton is doing stand-in duty for Bobby East, Wood for Marcos Ambrose -- the team's pair of first-year drivers who'll take over later this spring.
Mark Martin is busiest of Roush drivers at Daytona ... Although his debut as a fulltime NASCAR Craftsman Truck competitor is a year away, Mark Martin (No. 6 Scotts Ford) will make the GM FlexFuel 250 one of five Daytona races in which he competes. Martin opened with Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout and will follow with Thursday's Gatorade Duel, which sets the field for Sunday's Daytona 500. On Friday, Martin competes in IROC before joining Roush teammate Erik Darnell (No. 99 Roush Racing Ford) in the 250-mile truck event. Darnell won Roush's Driver X competition that recently completed its television run on the Discovery Channel.
ETC. ... Four competitors -- Setzer, Terry Cook (No. 10 Ford Power Stroke Diesel by International), Rick Crawford (Circle Bar Racing Ford), and David Starr (No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota) have competed in all six Daytona events. ... Former Daytona winners expected to compete are Mike Wallace (No. 59 Melling Engine Parts Dodge), 2000; Crawford, 2003 and Hamilton, 2005. ... This year's total posted awards of $835,651 makes the GM FlexFuel 250 the richest race in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series history. This year's winning purse could surpass 2004 Daytona winner Carl Edwards' series record payoff of $85,760. ... Five competitors have entered both GM FlexFuel 250 and Daytona 500. They are Martin, Skinner, Wallace, Chad Chaffin (No. 40 Russell E. Garwood Electrical Contractors Chevrolet) and Carl Long (No. 28 Adult Oncology Hematology Chevrolet) ... Skinner was one of five NASCAR competitors to tape a segment of The Golf Channel's Big Break All-Star Challenge. The show was taped Monday at Spruce Creek Fly-In Community Golf & Country Club in Port Orange, just south of Daytona Beach. ... SPEED begins its fourth season as the exclusive television home of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. All of the week's practice and qualifying events will be broadcast live featuring Rick Allen, Phil Parsons, Michael Waltrip, Ray Dunlap and Krista Voda. Last year's race drew a 2.1 average rating -- the highest for a racing event on SPEED. Last year's overall ratings grew 14 percent over those of 2004. ...
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
2004 Bud Pole winner Cook top Daytona finisher ... In six races, Terry Cook has compiled an average finish of 8.3. Cook, whose best Daytona finish is fourth in 2000, has taken the checkered flag 6.5 positions higher than his average start of 14.8. He's also the only driver to have led a lap in each Daytona race.
Bobby Hamilton Racing team to beat ... BHR has a .500 batting average at Daytona, winning with Joe Ruttman in 2001, Robert Pressley in 2002 and owner Hamilton a year ago. Ruttman also won back-to-back Budweiser Poles and holds the series' all-time qualifying record at 187.563 mph set in 2000.
"The guy's got numerous wins, championships and poles under his belt, and to come in and be a leader of our Power Stroke Diesel race team, it's an honor to just even have him, and an honor for him to even accept the position." -- Terry Cook on his new crew chief, Dennis Connor, who won titles with Sprague in 1997, 1998 and 2001.
"Superspeedway races are a roll-of-the-dice in many ways. Things happen so quickly out there that you can get caught up in something and taken out in a blink of an eye. For some reason, I haven't been able to have good results from this race. Last year we were running fifth or sixth and were headed to the front when disaster struck again. We could have finished at least second if not won the thing if that wouldn't have happened." -- Jack Sprague, hoping to improve on his Daytona-best 12th-place finish of 2001. "At the test it was like going to drafting school. I went out and followed Bobby (Hamilton) for awhile. After that we went back out to draft and he roughed me up a little bit. He shoved me, he crowded me, he drove me out of bounds and he pinched me down to the bottom. He did that to show me what it would be like in the race and he is a heck of a teacher, I can tell you that." -- Timothy Peters, No. 4 Dodge Motorsports Dodge, who makes his Daytona debut.
"I'm really looking forward to driving these trucks again. It was a great feeling to win my first career Bud Pole Award at Daytona last season but my focus this season is on the Big Picture. I want to take it one race at a time this season and try not to get caught up in little details that don't mean much." -- Kerry Earnhardt.
"My realistic goal for the GM FlexFuel 250 would be a top-20 finish. My goal for 2006 is to: a) finish races, b) be consistent and c) improve every time we're at the track." - Erin Crocker, No. 98 Betty Crocker Cheerios Dodge.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Amazingly, the widest finish in six NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races at Daytona is .318 second. The total margin of victory is .836 second. Winning has required a last-lap pass on three occasions: Wallace over Andy Houston in 2000, Crawford over Travis Kvapil in 2003 and Hamilton over Jimmy Spencer a year ago. Hamilton edged the nose of his Dodge past Spencer's front bumper a split second before the caution light flashed. That was the only time Hamilton led after starting 36th and last in the field on a past champion's provisional.
What: GM FlexFuel 250 (Race 1 of 25).
Where: Daytona International Speedway
When: 8:15 p.m. ET, Friday, Feb. 17.
Track layout: 2.5-mile high-banked paved.
Race length: 250 miles/100 laps.
Posted awards: $835,651.
TV: SPEED Channel, 8:15 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
2005 winner: Bobby Hamilton.
2005 polesitter: Kerry Earnhardt.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Wednesday -- Practice 4:05 p.m. -- 5:30 p.m. Thursday -- Rookie practice 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Final practice 9:30 a.m. to 10:55 a.m.) Qualifying 6:30 p.m. Trucks impounded after qualifying.