Ram Report Grainger 225 Portland International Raceway Portland, Oregon June 18, 1999 SETZER WINS THE HARD WAY IN TEXAS Dodge Rams tackle the Portland, Ore., road course next SETZER VICTORIOUS IN TEXAS There was nothing easy about...
Ram Report Grainger 225 Portland International Raceway Portland, Oregon June 18, 1999
SETZER WINS THE HARD WAY IN TEXAS Dodge Rams tackle the Portland, Ore., road course next
SETZER VICTORIOUS IN TEXAS
There was nothing easy about 39-year-old Dennis Setzer's second career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win - this guy definitely did it the hard way.
Setzer, driver of the #1 Mopar Dodge, endured two late-race restarts and a hard-charging Jack Sauter to take the checkered flag at the Pronto Auto Parts 400K at Texas Motor Speedway last Friday night. "With those last two restarts, I knew that I had to get a jump on the rest of the field and I was a little nervous," Setzer said.
The win was Setzer's first of the season and earned the Bob and Kay Keselowski-owned team $63,675. Setzer is fifth in NCTS points.
TACKLING THE ROAD (COURSE) This weekend, the NCTS teams make their first of three trips to a road course when they tackle the 1.967-mile Portland International Raceway in Portland, Ore. The Portland road course - replacing the half-mile Portland Speedway track on this year's NCTS schedule - features nine turns of various lengths and banking, a front stretch of 2,330 feet and back stretch of 1,575 feet.
In 1998, Stacy Compton won at the Heartland Park Topeka road course and is looking forward to running his #86 RC Dodge Ram in Portland. "Dodge has worked hard to prepare their drivers for the road courses we visit this season," said Compton, second in NCTS points after the first 10 events. "We've been through road-course driving instruction at Sebring (Fla.) and in Portland. Dodge recognizes the fact that they cannot allow their performance to suffer for the three road course races, especially when you're racing for the championship. I enjoy the road course races because they're different from the traditional ovals of the NASCAR Truck Series."
In Portland, NASCAR will run the race trucks in the rain if the situation arises - Friday's weather is expected to be partly cloudy with isolated showers during the night, daytime temperature will be in the mid-70s, and nighttime temps in the mid-50s. NCTS teams have been told to have rain equipment prepared for the race, including rain tires from Goodyear. In fact, if the NCTS races in the rain, it will be a first for any NASCAR race in the United States.
"Road course races are challenging for me, but this year I feel like I have the best preparation yet," said Dennis Setzer, winner of last weekend's truck race in Fort Worth, Texas. "We've spent a lot of time on road courses with the Skip Barber staff perfecting our road racing skills. They taught us a lot about how to drive the lines in wet and dry conditions."
"Going through the driving instruction really helped me prepare for the road courses in Portland, Watkins Glen and Topeka," said Randy Tolsma, driver of the #25 Supergard Motor Oil Dodge. "I'm not the best road racer, but the team and I are really excited about racing in Portland."
In years past, the Dodge Rams have not always been the most competitive trucks turning left and right, but 1999 has not been like any other season yet for the Dodge teams. During the first 10 races in '99, Jimmy Hensley and Setzer both earned their first wins of the season - Hensley on a short-track and Setzer on a superspeedway. A road-course win this weekend would complete the cycle.
GINO ACROSS AMERICA: PART THREE Kevin "Gino" Ryan, driver of the #1 Mopar Dodge race transporter owned by Bob and Kay Keselowski, is three-weeks into a ten-races-in-nine-week cross-country marathon. Ryan agreed to share tales of his trip across America with the Ram Report staff; however, immediately following the Texas race Ryan took off for Portland, Ore., so we caught up with Kay for a recap of the weekend's events.
According to Keselowski, hot and muggy can't begin to describe the weather the NCTS teams endured in Fort Worth last weekend. "It was anywhere between 95 to 100 degrees," she said, "and the humidity was sky high. It was so bad, in fact, that our jackman - who's also our 17-year-old son, Brian - was treated for heat exhaustion. He was carried off on a stretcher to the infield care center before the race and they pumped him full of fluids. I looked up later to see him running back to the pit before the first pit stop. Despite the heat and humidity, the guys gave Dennis and Bob great pit stops."
Ryan, Keselowski says, fed the guys cold cuts at the track most of the weekend. "Gino did the shopping like he usually does - and he's a good bargain-hunter - but it was way too hot to cook last weekend." The twilight race posed an interesting challenge: where to have the post-race victory celebration. "Gino left for Portland immediately right after the race," Keselowski said, "so the rest of the crew, Dennis, Bob and I went to the only place we could find open - an International House of Pancakes."
Meanwhile, it's business as usual for Ryan. The Mopar team has an engine change scheduled for Tuesday in the motel parking lot, and they'll park the race rig at Portland International Raceway on Wednesday in preparation for Friday's race. After the Portland race they have a daunting task - driving from Oregon to New York for the race at Watkins Glen the following Saturday.
READY TO RACE A race truck is a race truck is a race truck, right? Not exactly. While great pains are taken to make sure, for example, that the #43 Dodge By Petty Dodge Ram driven by Martinsville, Va., winner Jimmy Hensley looks identical from race to race, what you're seeing is one of a number of race-ready trucks available at the team's North Carolina race shop.
One Dodge Ram might be driven exclusively on road courses because of the difference in weight distribution, and another might only be used for larger speedways because it's fitted with a special aerodynamic body. And while no team likes to think about wrecking a race truck, it happens, and a new truck will be needed to take its place.
After this weekend's Grainger 225 at Portland International Speedway - the third event in a ten-race, nine week stretch - NCTS drivers will have driven on short-tracks, superspeedways and road courses. How do teams keep the trucks ready and maintain the hectic travel schedule?
"We have six trucks ready at the shop," said Stacy Compton, driver of the #86 RC Dodge. "In addition, we have some members back in the shop who don't travel, and these guys really help out, especially when the race team can't be in the shop quite as often."
"Our team spent many long hours before the season started getting eight race trucks ready," said Dennis Setzer, driver of the #1 Mopar Dodge, "and moving them around can get complicated. Two trucks went to Texas - one was the truck from Bristol. We'll ship another truck to Texas that will be swapped with the Bristol truck, and then the transporter will make its way to Portland for the road course race."
"Our team has six trucks mostly ready to race," said Hensley. "The crew back at the shop is constantly working on the trucks to keep them fresh and ready to race. The person who has the hardest job during the ten-race stretch is the transporter driver, because he really doesn't get to go home, while the rest of the team might get at least a day at home."
NEWS AND NOTES ... Eight-time NCTS event winner Joe Ruttman replaced Butch Miller behind the wheel of the #18 Dana Dodge at last weekend's Pronto Auto Parts 400K at Texas Motor Speedway.
Ruttman, third in championship points in 1998, will drive the Dana Dodge this weekend in Portland.
DODGE RAM FAST STATS After Fort Worth, the 10th of 25 NCTS events
Dennis Setzer, #1 Mopar Dodge 1 win, 5 top-five finishes, 7 top-10 finishes Started third in Fort Worth, finished first $164,475 total winnings in 10 NCTS starts Fifth in championship points
Randy Tolsma, #25 Supergard Dodge 1 pole, 0 wins, 0 top-five finishes, 3 top-10 finishes Started 23rd in Fort Worth, finished 17th $83,690 total winnings in 10 NCTS starts 13th in championship points
Jimmy Hensley, #43 Dodge By Petty 1 win, 4 top-five finishes, 6 top-10 finishes Started 17th in Fort Worth, finished eighth $114,600 total winnings in 10 NCTS starts 11th in championship points
Stacy Compton, #86 RC Dodge 2 poles, 0 wins, 8 top-fives, 9 top-10 finishes Started second in Fort Worth, finished ninth $155,985 total winnings in 10 NCTS starts Second in NCTS championship points
Joe Ruttman, #18 Dana Dodge 0 wins, 0 top-five finishes, 0 top-10 finishes Started 18th in Fort Worth, finished 11th $27,870 total winnings in four NCTS starts 29th in championship points
RAM REPORT REWIND TO ... The Craftsman 200 by Napa Auto Parts, at half-mile Portland Speedway, April 25, 1988
Last year's NCTS event at Portland Speedway was the fourth event of the season - this year it falls a full two months later. Two drivers now included in the Dodge Ram stable finished 1-2 in the event; the other finished 12th.
Specifically: * Stacy Compton dominated the 32-truck Portland Speedway field by qualifying #2, leading the most laps (3-200) and winning the event. He earned the MCI Fast Pace Award, the Raybestos Top Stopper Award and the Vent-Visor Super Deflector Award. Compton's win moved him from sixth to fourth in NCTS points. * Randy Tolsma started third on the NCTS grid and finished second, behind Compton. His win earned him the Featherlite Trailers Long Haul Award and the Gatorade Front Runner Award. * Jimmy Hensley started 15th and finished 12th.
RAMMIN' AHEAD... 6/18 Grainger 225 Portland International Raceway Portland, Ore. TV: June 19 at 2:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
6/26 Bully Hill Vineyards 150 Watkins Glen International Watkins Glen, N.Y. TV: June 26 at 5 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
7/3 Die Hard 200 The Milwaukee Mile Milwaukee, Wis. TV: July 3 at 2:30 p.m. (ET) on CBS