Dover MBNA E-Commerce 200 results

DOVER, Del. - Unfazed after wrecking his primary truck during the final practice session, Kurt Busch came from the 34th and final position to pass a spinning Mike Wallace and win Friday's inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series MBNA ...

DOVER, Del. - Unfazed after wrecking his primary truck during the final practice session, Kurt Busch came from the 34th and final position to pass a spinning Mike Wallace and win Friday's inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series MBNA E-Commerce 200 at Dover Downs International Speedway. Busch, a 22-year-old rookie who earlier in the day qualified 10th for his first NASCAR Winston Cup Series event, methodically carved his way through the field after surrendering the Bud Pole position when his team substituted a spare truck for the Exide Batteries Ford F-150 he'd crashed when its right front tire went flat entering Turn 1. He took the lead for the first time on the 147th lap, passing Wallace, then dueled spectacularly with the veteran driver for the remainder of the $554,000 event. The two ran nose-to-tail, making daring moves through lapped traffic after making their final pit stop on lap 155. The deciding moment came on the 198th circuit, when Wallace's Team ASE Racing Ford slipped in the one-mile speedway's fourth turn after contact with his pursuer. Wallace, attempting both to block Busch's charge while keeping his truck off the outside wall, instead spun down front straightaway and lightly brushed the Turn 1 barrier. He was able to restart the truck and finish the race - but couldn't renew his battle with the leader. When the green flag waved for the final time to begin lap 202, Busch held off his Roush Racing teammate Greg Biffle over two final laps of competition as the 200-lap distance was extended by three serials. The winning margin of victory was 0.21 seconds - about a truck length. The victory, worth $50,640 plus a Craftsman Bud Pole/Winner's bonus of $10,000, was Busch's third of the 2000 season and the most by a freshman driver in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series history. Because of the late action, some among a Dover Downs record Friday crowd estimated at more than 50,000 booed Busch when he mounted the podium in victory circle. Busch, however, stood his ground in the fading daylight and refused to take the blame for Wallace's misfortune. "Unbelievable," said Busch. "I knew that we had a shot at getting around Mike but I had to wait for the right time. He was loose off of Turn 4 for three or four laps before we got into each other. That's not the way I would have chosen to win but that's racing. "It's unfortunate that the race had to turn out like it did. We were racing hard on every lap." Wallace was unhappy but philosophical. "Had we not gotten into each other there at the end of the race, I think it would have been a great finish," said Wallace, who lost a lap when he pitted out of his pit box as his crew made repairs under the final caution. "I don't think it would have been my choice on how to win the race but that's how it goes." Biffle, meanwhile, increased his championship lead over the 12th-finishing Wallace to 290 points. He can clinch the title by scoring 80 points - a finish of 27th or better - in the Oct. 13 O'Reilly 400 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Rick Crawford, starting his 100th career NCTS event, finished third in the Milwaukee Electric Tool Ford. He was followed by Andy Houston's CAT Rental Store Chevrolet and Ken Schrader, driving the Federated Auto Parts Chevy. Jamie McMurray, aided by his TKO Motorsports team's strong work on pit road, was in the thick of the battle most of the way before settling for sixth. Marty Houston, who regained a lap lost in a 154th lap tangle with J.D. Gibbs, Rick Carelli, Dennis Setzer and Carlos Contreras completed the top-10 among 25 finishers. Busch averaged 97.168 mph for the 203-mile distance. Seven caution flags consumed 40 laps. The day's most serious incident came on the 79th lap when Tom Carey's AAA Aircraft Supply Dodge hit the Turn 1 wall nose-first then caromed into the path of Lance Norick's Victory Lane Karting Chevrolet. Carey, who suffered multiple lacerations to his upper body and facial cuts was treated for his injuries at Kent General Hospital and released Saturday. Jack Sprague, who fought his way from 33rd-place after an early pit stop into third-place by mid- race, was unscathed when his GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet suffered a tire failure in Turn 3 of the 132nd lap. Accidents also eliminated Coy Gibbs, Tom Boston and B.A. Wilson. Wallace was the event's dominant driver, leading four times for 168 laps. Busch, however, took advantage of a lengthy stretch of green flag racing between laps 38 and 79 to move into the top 10 and - when caution flew for Carey's accident - made up nearly a lap deficit to Wallace's fleet Ford. After that, the race became a five-way affair between Wallace, Biffle, Crawford, McMurray and Busch. Biffle, who lost three positions on pit road during his last service, passed Crawford on lap 184 but was too far back to challenge the race leaders until Wallace's spin. "We had the fastest truck here today and I proved it two or three times by passing Wallace without any effort at all," complained Biffle who elected to run a conservative pace through much of the event because of his partner's Thursday afternoon tire trouble - and a shredded practice tire of his own - that Goodyear officials traced to a camber issue. The top eight drivers completed all 203 laps with the next six one lap behind. Marty Houston and Carelli got their laps back when the final caution flew. Teams get the next two weekends at home before heading west for the final two events of the 2001 season. The tour's second visit to Texas will be followed by the Oct. 28 finale at California Speedway where Sprague will be gunning for his third consecutive victory at the two-mile superspeedway. MBNA E-Commerce 200 (203 laps) -- 1. (1)Kurt Busch, Ford, 203, 97.168 mph, $50,640; 2. (2)Greg Biffle, Ford, 203, $29,005; 3. (10)Rick Crawford, Ford, 203, $24,350; 4. (3)Andy Houston, Chevrolet, 203, $17,720; 5. (4)Ken Schrader, Chevrolet, 203, $16,100; 6. (8)Jamie McMurray, Dodge, 203, $13,970; 7. (6)Marty Houston, Chevrolet, 203, $14,770; 8. (17)Rick Carelli, Ford, 203, $13,920; 9. (18)Dennis Setzer, Dodge, 202, $13,420; 10. (31)Carlos Contreras, Dodge, 202, $14,620; 11. (20)Hermie Sadler, Dodge, 202, $11,870; 12. (7)Mike Wallace, Ford, 202, $15,170; 13. (24)Steve Grissom, Dodge, 202, $12,570; 14. (11)Terry Cook, Chevrolet, 202, $12,470; 15. (9)Lance Hooper, Ford, 201, $11,370; 16. (15)Randy Tolsma, Dodge, 201, $12,420; 17. (14)Joe Ruttman, Dodge, 201, $12,170; 18. (22)Mark Petty, Dodge, 199, $11,070; 19. (30)Scott Riggs, Dodge, 197, $11,970; 20. (12)Rob Morgan, Ford, 196, engine, $11,895; 21. (23)Brad Bennett, Chevrolet, 195, $10,670; 22. (27)Randy MacDonald, Dodge, 195, $11,695; 23. (28)Wayne Edwards, Chevrolet, 194, $10,470; 24. (34)Jeff Beck, Ford, 193, $10,370; 25. (16)Ricky Hendrick, Chevrolet, 190, $10,270; 26. (21)J.D. Gibbs, Chevrolet, 173, $10,170; 27. (5)Jack Sprague, Chevrolet, 131, accident, $12,070; 28. (33)Tom Boston, Chevrolet, 89, accident, $9,970; 29. (13)Bryan Reffner, Chevrolet, 78, engine, $10,870; 30. (29)Tom Carey, Dodge, 76, accident, $9,770; 31. (25)Lance Norick, Chevrolet, 76, accident, $10,670; 32. (26)Jimmy Hensley, Chevrolet, 68, engine, $10,620; 33. (19)Coy Gibbs, Chevrolet, 50, accident, $9,570; 34. (32)B.A. Wilson, Chevrolet, 2, accident, $9,470 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Point Standings: 1. Greg Biffle 3;573; 2. Mike Wallace 3,283; 3. Kurt Busch 3,246; 4. Andy Houston 3,211; 5. Jack Sprague 3,049; 6. Joe Ruttman 2,978; 8. Dennis Setzer 2,929; 8. Steve Grissom 2,925; 9. Randy Tolsma 2,908; 10. Bryan Reffner 2,818

- Owen Kearns

NASCAR CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES MBNA E-COMMERCE 200 NOTES AND QUOTES

DOVER, Del. - Greg Biffle, believing he'd locked away the 2001 champion, was looking around the room for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship trophy after entering the Dover Downs International Speedway's infield media center following his second-place finish in Friday's MBNA E-Commerce 200. Not so fast, counseled a representative of the series' sponsor. Although the championship is going to come - Biffle needs only to start the season's final two events - the 290 points by which he leads Mike Wallace isn't enough to mathematically eliminate Wallace, Kurt Busch or Andy Houston. Odds are good, however, that Biffle will gain the 80 points he needs for a post-race championship celebration at Texas Motor Speedway on Oct. 13. All he requires is a 27th-place finish. "We can't celebrate yet because I could technically still lose (the title) if I decided to take a vacation right now and just not show up for the last two races," quipped Biffle, a five-time winner this year - but not since late July in Michigan. "I think I'll probably be (in Texas and at California Speedway)." Still, Biffle would like to end the point-chasing mode and win two more races before moving on to Roush Racing's No. 60 Ford Taurus in the NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division. "I'm a little upset because I wanted to have won more races this year," he said in his post-race interview. "We have really just lost a few races this year to little things." The final pit stop, on lap 155, was Biffle's Achilles Heel this time. A lug nut got stuck in the air gun and Biffle left pit road in sixth-place after entering in third. Biffle's second place check of $29,005 made him the first series driver to win $600,000 in race awards. His total, with two events remaining, is $610,565. Biffle held the single-season mark of $579,405 accumulated in last year's 25-event calendar.

***

Rick Crawford has had a less-than satisfying campaign - especially after signing a national sponsor, Milwaukee Electric Tool and leasing Roush Racing engines. Some of the disappointment ended in Delaware where the Alabama native battled for the lead late before settling for a third-place finish. Crawford's first top-five run of the 2000 season came in his 100th series start and under the guidance of crew chief Ray Stonkus, a longtime friend and former Slim Jim All Pro Series crew member who subbed in the pits following the release of Mike Cheek. Crawford would like to make the reunion permanent. Stonkus currently heads Kevin Lepage's part-time NASCAR Busch Series effort. "We have been together for seven years, then I lost him for five and now I'm going to see if I can keep him this time," said Crawford. Crawford, by the way, had a ready answer to a media member's question about the Busch-Wallace dustup that concluded the tour's first trip to Dover Downs International Speedway. "I think that everyone who was here today will be back to watch us again," replied Crawford. "I think that a promoter really likes to see some controversy because it creates excitement."

***

Dover Downs Entertainment, like many current track owners, does not release an attendance figure. There was no doubt, however, that nearly half the 133,000-seat stadium was full, along with a healthy infield turnout and packed suites. That likely would have made the crowd third largest of the year, behind the Daytona 250 opener and the nearly 70,000 fans who braved inclement weather for the grand opening of Kentucky Speedway in mid-June.

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Busch qualified about 1.3 seconds slower than the quickest of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series cars. His speed, 151.764 mph, was comparable to Dover's NWCS track record of 1993. The rookie-of-the-year leader can match Biffle's freshman record of three consecutive Bud Poles should he quick-time at Texas Motor Speedway on Oct. 12.

***

Continuing rumors of Carlos Contreras' move to Petty Enterprises in 2001 (along with his Hot Wheels Latina sponsorship) likely were fueled further by the Mexico City driver's 10th-place finish - his first among the top-10 on an oval track. Contreras didn't exactly start up-front either, gaining the field with a provisional for 30th on the grid. "I was really nervous before the race because the track is really hard," admitted the first Hispanic driver to compete on a fulltime basis on a national NASCAR tour. "Maybe I need more experience because I'm a rookie but I'm very proud of my entire race team." Crew chief Doug George opted for track position over a final pit stop to tie the bow around a near-perfect afternoon's work. -

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Dover was a throwaway weekend for Joe Ruttman and the Bobby Hamilton Racing team that struggled - along with other Dodge teams - to find a handle on Dover's mammoth, concrete banks. Ruttman finished out of the top-15 but became the series' second driver (to Jack Sprague) to complete 20,000 miles in a NCTS career. -

***

Speaking of Sprague, his accident-caused fifth DNF of 2000 ended a four-year stretch in which he and Hendrick Motorsports had gone down to the final race with a shot at the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series title. Sprague, the 1997 and 1999 champion, could finish out of the top-five for the first time since a split-team, 1995 campaign. "Just another one of those weekends that we can't seem to shake," said a subdued Sprague, who walked away from a nasty looking accident which followed the deflation of his truck's right front tire in Turn 3. "It's bound to change someday but today wasn't the day."

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Hermie Sadler led his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series laps when K Automotive crew chief Bob Keselowski told his driver not to pit under caution on lap 81. Sadler, who'd like to join the Detroit-based team for a full campaign in 2001, is the 32nd different competitor to head a lap in 2001. That matches last year's lap leader record. -

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Four different drivers - Busch, Wallace, Biffle and Ruttman - won the year's visits to venues new to the series. Houston, however, wound up with the most consistent record. Houston posted his third fourth-place finish on a first-time track. He also sports a third for a perfect, four-for-four slate of top-five finishes.

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A pit road collision with Crawford that damaged the right front of Houston's CAT Rental Store Chevrolet upset the truck's aero package. Houston, taking over the No. 1 starting spot when Busch dropped to the rear, led the first 10 laps. He'll return to Dover Downs in 2001 as the driver of PPI Motorsports' McDonald's Ford and that has Houston a little spooked. "The pits were awfully tight ... I mean, I don't see how they can pit 43 Winston Cup cars here all day long," observed Houston.

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Eleven teams failed to qualify for The MBNA E-Commerce 200 (and a 12th left after an accident in Wednesday's open test). Over the past five races, beginning at Indianapolis Raceway Park, there has been an average of 10.5 drivers on their way home before the green flag fell.

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The winning margin of victory, 0.210 second, was the second closest of the 2000 season. It also marked the fourth time this year that a late caution has extended a race for a "shoot-out" finish. How close has NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competition been since the tour's inception? Entering the Dover weekend, 140 races produced an average margin of 1.058-second.

- Owen Kearns

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Ken Schrader , Greg Biffle , Kevin Lepage , Mike Wallace , Andy Houston , Kurt Busch , Marty Houston , Ricky Hendrick , Jack Sprague , Dennis Setzer , Coy Gibbs , Lance Norick , Carlos Contreras , Terry Cook , Rick Crawford , Jamie McMurray , Scott Riggs , Lance Hooper , Joe Ruttman , Hermie Sadler , Bryan Reffner , Randy Tolsma , Jimmy Hensley , Rick Carelli , Steve Grissom , Rob Morgan , Wayne Edwards
Teams Hendrick Motorsports