Spears Motorsports becomes series' all-time team start leader at Dover NEWS AND NOTES Like most competitors, Wayne Spears had no clear view of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' future when he added a Chevrolet pickup truck to his NASCAR...
Spears Motorsports becomes series' all-time team start leader at Dover
NEWS AND NOTES
Like most competitors, Wayne Spears had no clear view of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' future when he added a Chevrolet pickup truck to his NASCAR Grand National, AutoZone West Series championship team in 1994.
Twelve years later, Spears and current driver Aric Almirola (No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet) are ready to make history Friday at Dover International Speedway.
The AAA Insurance 200 will be the 273rd race in which a Spears Chevy has competed -- one more than the 272 in which 2005 owner champion Jim Smith rang up before retiring and transferring his interests to Ray Evernham.
Spears is the last active owner to have fielded a truck in the Feb. 5, 1995 series inaugural race at Phoenix International Raceway. A Spears No. 75 Chevrolet has started all but two events, at Richmond and Martinsville in 1997.
Spears takes pride in having groomed a number of West Coast drivers, most notably Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet) and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup star Kevin Harvick. Hornaday drove Spears' West Series car and truck prior to his "discovery" by the late Dale Earnhardt. Harvick won the 1998 West Series title in a Spears Chevy while competing fulltime in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Two years later, he was driving for current owner Richard Childress and on his way to becoming the 2001 NASCAR Busch Series champion.
The team's most successful driver, David Starr (No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota), won three times. He finished in the top 10 three times, including fifth in 2002.
"I don't think about those kinds of things," Spears said. "I'm more worried about next week or next year and what it takes to make us the best team in the garage."
Spears and others thought the series would be a West Coast oriented circuit but that wasn't how things worked out. Ultimately, Spears moved his race shop to the Charlotte area where most of the series' teams are located.
"By not staying on the West Coast and going national, the series has given us all a big place to perform," he said. "We've got to race in some great places and meet a lot of great people. It's been a fun thing."
Sprague moves up with third solid run at Mansfield ... Three-time series champion Jack Sprague (No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota) jumped three spots in the standings -- ninth to sixth -- with his third consecutive top-five finish at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway last Saturday. Sprague chased home Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet), who fashioned his record-extending 28th series victory and became just the third driver to win a race in eight different seasons. Hornaday and Sprague together count 53 wins and five series titles. Hornaday's last win came in March at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Germain teams finally falter but Bodine, Musgrave still lead ... Despite finishes of 15th and 16th -- their worst performances of the season -- Todd Bodine (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota) and Ted Musgrave (No. 9 Team ASE Toyota) remain the standings leaders. Bodine gained three points on his teammate to lead by 20, but David Reutimann (No. 17 Team Tundra Toyota) is beginning to loom in their mirrors. Reutimann logged his sixth top-10 finish of the season to trail Bodine by 106 points entering this week's Dover event. Last year, owner Darrell Waltrip gave an inspirational speech to his teams at Dover and put index card in the trucks that said 'Don't Beat Yourself'.' Reutimann went on to finish fifth.
Two in, two out in top 30 owner race ... Bobby Hamilton Racing received good and bad news following owner point tabulations, which guarantee starting spots for each week's race. The No. 4 Dodge Motorsports Dodge of Timothy Peters moved into the top 30 (24th) but the No. 04 Dodge Hemi Dodge of Scott Lagasse Jr. dropped to 31st. The No. 25 Woodard Racing Dodge of Boston Reid went from 31st to 25th displacing the No. 46 Centrix Auto Finance Chevrolet driven by Kraig Kinser, which fell to 32nd. Only 35 points separate teams from 23rd to 33rd place.
ETC. ... Dover International Speedway is the first of three concrete tracks on which the series will compete in 2006. Teams will compete at Nashville Superspeedway on Aug. 12 and Bristol Motor Speedway on Aug. 23. ... Kyle Busch (No. 51 Billy Ballew Motorsports Chevrolet) heads this week's field that includes 2002 Dover winner Musgrave. Mark Martin (No. 6 Scotts Ford) will make his first series start at the track on which he has won a combined five NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series events. ... Dodge has won four times at Dover and is the only one of four series manufacturers without a victory though the season's first seven races. ... Dover's inaugural race in September 2000 produced the track's greatest number of lead changes -- 10. That race also saw the closest finish as Kurt Busch edged Roush Racing teammate Greg Biffle by .210 second. ... Each of Dover's six winners is a current or former NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competitor. Two, Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart, are series champions. ... Point leader Bodine counts three NASCAR Busch Series wins the most recent 1993 -- a season he swept both spring and fall races. ...Last year, 27 drivers finished on the lead lap to gain a share of the series record. ... Joey Miller's (No. 12 Curb Records Toyota) fifth-place finish at Mansfield was a career best (10th, 2005, Atlanta) and marked the first time a Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender has finished among the top five this season. Miller's finish also is the best by a driver in a Darrell Waltrip-owned truck. Mike Wallace guided the team to a sixth-place performance last September in Richmond. ... Mansfield's rookie practice was a busy affair with 20 of 38 entrants eligible to participate. ... Former Boston Red Sox outfielder Mike Greenwell (No. 08 North Trail Travel Centers Chevrolet) finished 26th in the City of Mansfield 250. He was the final driver to complete all 250 laps. ... Inclement weather canceled qualifying at Mansfield for the second time in three trips to the Ohio track. ... Ryan Moore, who made his series debut at Mansfield, replaces Chad Chaffin in the No. 40 2FatGuys American Grill Chevrolet.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Everything but a win for Crawford at Dover ... Maybe this will be the week that Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Truck Corral Ford) gets his first win of the season. Dover would seem fertile ground. Crawford won the Budweiser Pole in 2002 and counts a trio of top-three finishes, including a second in 2004. He leads all drivers with three top-five finishes and shares the top-10 mark of four with David Starr (No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota) and Ken Schrader.
"For years, I've had a little personal competition with (Ron) Hornaday. We're good friends, and we always try to outdo the other. I have three championships, he has two. I have 25 all-time wins, and last weekend at Mansfield, he moved up to 28 all-time wins. I want to get this No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota into Victory Lane more than ever to even up the score." -- Jack Sprague on motivation entering this week's race.
"There was a ton of pressure on me. It was one of the most miserable races that I had ever run for the simple fact that I felt like I was under the microscope. We needed to perform and step up. I knew we needed to turn things around for the team. After finishing fifth at Dover, our season turned around and we ran well and finished well. We got our first win shortly after." -- David Reutimann on the impact of last year's Dover event.
IN THE LOOP
Six drivers -- including the first four finishers -- ran every one of 200 laps in the top 15 during last year's AAA Insurance 200. By leading 134 laps en route to a fourth-place finish, Hornaday posted the best Driver Rating of 139.2, more than six points higher than the Driver Rating of winner Kyle Busch.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Mile tracks have been a part of NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series history since the beginning. Mike Skinner won the inaugural race at Phoenix International Raceway, where he also won the season finale and wrapped up the 1995 title. At mid-season, he was victorious at The Milwaukee Mile. Hornaday and Sprague, however, are the series' top winners on mile tracks with seven each. Hornaday has won on six different mile tracks; Sprague on four.
What: AAA Insurance 200 (Race 8 of 25).
Where: Dover International Speedway, Dover, Del.
When: 4:45 p.m. ET, June 2.
Track layout: 1-mile banked concrete speedway.
Race length: 200 miles/200 laps.
Posted awards: $643,503.
TV: SPEED Channel, 8 p.m. (ET), tape delay.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
2005 winner: Kyle Busch
2005 polesitter: David Starr
Top 10 drivers: 1.Todd Bodine 1,140. 2. Ted Musgrave 1,120. 3. David Reutimann 1,034. 4. David Starr 948. 5. Johnny Benson 948. 6. Jack Sprague 935. 7. Dennis Setzer 922. 8. Matt Crafton 910. 9. Terry Cook 905. 10. Mike Bliss 888.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Thursday --Practice 2:30 p.m. -- 3:30 p.m. Rookie Practice 4 p.m. -- 4:30 p.m. Final Practice 4:30 p.m. -- 5:30 p.m. Friday - Qualifying 10:15 a.m. Trucks impounded after qualifying.