DENNIS SETZER, NO. 46 MORGAN DOLLAR MOTORSPORTS CHEVROLET SILVERADO ARE YOU READY FOR ANOTHER SEASON? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHT ON LAST YEARS SEASON? - "We are excited to be back here at Daytona and start this season. Last year was tough, it wasn't...
DENNIS SETZER, NO. 46 MORGAN DOLLAR MOTORSPORTS CHEVROLET SILVERADO
ARE YOU READY FOR ANOTHER SEASON? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHT ON LAST YEARS SEASON? - "We are excited to be back here at Daytona and start this season. Last year was tough, it wasn't bad, second isn't winning but it isn't bad. There are 20 or 25 other teams out there trying for that spot. It is pretty tough in this Truck Series right now. We are excited to be back here at Daytona and try it another year.'
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT HAVING YOUR FIRST FULL TIME TEAM MATE? HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR ROLE AS A MENTOR FOR KRAIG (KINSER)? - "Well, first of all, I am actually trying to learn all I can from him. His racing heritage, his Dad's (Steve Kinser) success is impressive. This kid is a racer and has been for a lot of years. I have been around here doing this for about three years (said in jest) and he has been racing for like 15 or something. The stats Kraig has racked up already are pretty impressive. He is very good in the truck and has a strong crew chief there with Randy Goss. For me to do all I can to help that team up and bring them up to full speed will help all of our Morgan Dollar organization. We will have two trucks out there to draw information from. It has paid big dividends for Bobby Hamilton and other teams in the past like Ted Musgrave to win the championship last year. If one is struggling you can pull some information from the other one to get us both up to speed. Kraig has done a great job everywhere we have been so far. It is exciting for us to work with Kraig and I am excited about the season."
KRAIG KINSER, NO, 47 MORGAN DOLLAR MOTORSPORTS CHEVROLET SILVERADO
TALK ABOUT YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE '06 ROOKIE CLASS AND WHAT YOU EXPECT TO GET OUT OF THIS SEASON - "I am definitely looking forward to this year. It is going to be tough with the quality of the rookies out there this season. There are so many good trucks out there; it is going to be tough. We are just looking to be competitive and stay near the front in the races and finish as many as we can. We have a good team to do it and I am really happy with how things are. Having Dennis (Setzer) as a teammate will help me so much. He probably doesn't know how much he has helped me already. I feel like a part of the team. They have welcomed me with open arms. I feel really good where I am at."
IS THE TRUCK SERIES THE NEW ENTRY POINT FOR YOUNG DRIVERS COMING INTO NASCAR? - "Yes, I would say definitely it is. With the level of competition here even though it isn't the long race schedule, is for sure a good place to be for a rookie. With all the good trucks out there, you can't slip a bit because it will be tough every race of the season. I need to learn what it takes to race on pavement and what it takes to race in NASCAR and this is a great place to start. I think it is the gateway. It is about as hard as it gets from a competition standpoint and I am looking forward to the season."
HOW MUCH PRESSURE DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU HAVE TO GET INTO THE DAYTONA RACE ON TIME? - "I feel pretty good about it. There is always a pressure point when you aren't in the race for sure. But hopefully we will not have any trouble. I think Randy (Goss) is more nervous as I am back there in the garage, scratching his head trying to find some more speed but I think we will do fine."
ARE YOU PLANNING ON RUNNING ANY SPRINT CAR RACES THIS YEAR? - "Probably not too many. I am going to try and run as many as I can but I am focused on the Truck. If we get an open weekend, you will see me in a sprint car."
ARIC ALMIROLA, NO. 75 SPEARS MANUFACTURING SILVERADO
HOW DID YOUR TIME ON THE TRACK GO TODAY? - "We are pretty good. We aren't as good as we would like to be by ourselves but we have a really good race truck. It is real stable. I got in a pack with a bunch of trucks and it drives good. I am looking forward to racing it. We need to pick up a little speed to get a good qualifying run out there by ourselves."
HOW BENEFICIAL IS THE DRAFTING PRACTICE FOR YOU? - "For me, it is very beneficial. Being down here at Daytona and being able to draft for three days is going to be big for me. I only have one other superspeedway experience and it was cut short on the second lap of an ARCA race at Talladega. They had a big wreck on lap two and I got caught up in it. It is good to have this much time on the track here and speed up the learning curve before Speedweeks."
HOW DID YOUR DEAL COME TOGETHER TO DRIVE FOR SPEARS MOTORSPORTS THIS YEAR? - "I am a part of the Joe Gibbs Racing Development program and through that I got the opportunity last year to run four truck races for Morgan Dollar Motorsports. We ran pretty well, had two top-10 finishes in four starts. I pretty much went to J.D. (Gibbs) and begged him to put something together full-time for us. We started talking to teams and it turned out that Spears Motorsports had an opportunity for us. I am really excited about it. They have really good equipment; they are one of the best teams in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Wayne and Connie Spears have been here since the beginning of Craftsman Truck Racing. I think it is very beneficial for me to come in with a team that has been around so long. Me being a rookie, they have so much experience at it is going to help my learning curve tremendously."
HOW MUCH WILL JOE GIBBS RACING CONTRIBUTE TO THE PROGRAM? - "That part of it is still being worked on as we speak. We have talked about some motor stuff but we are very happy with our Hutter motors. Ron Hutter builds a great motor. Wayne Spears is a man of his word and he told Hutter he would be back with them this season and that is what we are doing. "
OBVIOUSLY IF YOU BEGGED FOR IT, YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE READY TO COMPETE FULL TIME AT THIS LEVEL? - "I think so. There might be some other people in the garage that don't think so (said in jest), but I feel like I am ready. I had two top-ten finishes in four starts last year and had a really good run going in Texas before I made a rookie mistake. I didn't know enough about the aero stuff and got side-by-side with another truck running about 14th and it got loose on me and I wrecked. Up until that point, we had a real good running there. I feel like we can go out and compete every race. "
SIZE UP THIS YEARS' ROOKIE CLASS IN THE NASCAR CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES THIS YEAR - "It is a really tough field of rookies this year. There are a lot of good rookies out there in a lot of good trucks from good teams. Kyle Krisiloff in the 15; Kraig Kinser in the 47; Erik here (Darnell); David (Ragan), myself - I think it is going to be one of the most interesting rookie battles in the Truck Series in a long time. "
WHAT IS A REALISTIC GOAL FOR YOU THIS SEASON? - "For me the ultimate would be to win the rookie of the year. But for me I feel like we need to go out there and run competitively getting top-10 and then top-five finishes. At the end of the year we should be in a position to win races. For me that would be a good, competitive, successful year for us. I think winning races is important whether you are a rookie or a veteran. So, I think that would be a realistic goal for me is to go win a race."
KERRY EARNHARDT, NO. 13 THORSPORT RACING SILVERADO
HOW DID YOUR DEAL WITH THORSPORT COME TOGETHER? "Well, believe it or not, I was actually giving up racing this year. I had been working with DEI trying to work something out with them and get more involved on the business side, especially the family business side. I had an opportunity to meet with Duke Thorson (team owner) about three or four weeks ago and he made me an offer to drive for him that I just couldn't turn down. It will be for the whole season in the truck series. I have really lost interest in the Busch and Cup series to compete over there full-time. The Truck Series is where I have seen that the racing is at; it is a good opportunity to get back in something to just race. This series is good racing, it is rough and tough. You can push on each other just a little and the officials don't mind that you do it to one another and don't fuss at you so much about it. I am excited about being back in the Craftsman Truck Series. We had some exciting starts last year but they didn't finish exciting for me, maybe for the fans, but it was a short two races. We are going to turn that around now. One thing I have been doing down here is to see if I could wreck this truck, but so far I haven't been able to, it might be a different story when we get back here in a couple weeks but I hope not. We are tight and stable and haven't never gotten loose in traffic or underneath someone in the drafting we have done so far. The thing should be in a museum somewhere as old as it is but it is amazingly fast. Duke brings it out everything and Tracy Hines was fast in it last year. I am looking forward to the season in the Craftsman Truck Series.
"We are looking forward to a successful season. I signed up for Rookie-of-the-Year since we withdrew last year so I am going to try again."
WILL YOU DO ANY CUP RACES WITH RCR LIKE YOU DID LAST YEAR? "I am focused on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. I am not going to say yes or no. I am not going to ignore any offers, I will look at them. I got a call this morning about running a Cup car here but I think it is safe to say I won't run this one. I don't have anything scheduled and haven't thought about running the race here this year, only the truck."
HOW EXCITED ARE YOU ABOUT HAVING YOUR FIRST FULL SEASON, FULL-TIME RIDE? - I am pretty excited about it. Last year, the guys I drove for couldn't commit for a full season, but had to go race-t- race by sponsorship. We brought Kraft and DEI on board for the two races last year with Billy Ballew but could just never get anything full-time or long-term put together. With ThorSport, the way our program is structured, it could go out to five years. So he is committed full-time and stand behind me 100%, good and bad. We are all in this together. I went up to Ohio and spent sometime at the shop to get to know Duke and the guys. I hit it off with Duke. He is the kind of guy who will tell you everything straight up and straight forward, he won't tell you what he thinks you want to hear, he will tell you what he wants to tell you. I like that a lot. I am the same way and sometimes have taken offensive at things I say. It is the way I was raised. That is why we hit it off really well."
WHAT ARE YOUR REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS FOR THE SEASON? - "My number one goal is to finish these races. We need to not only run in the top-10 like we did last year but we need to be there at the end. With the program Duke has put together, we can do that. We are also going to try and help out with the engine program a little bit. Menards is supplying the engines for us and they are doing a lot of work on the bottom end. They have always been good on the their top ends. We are working really hard on helping them with the bottom end difficulties they have had. Just trying to help make things as good as we can, helping them stay in races, be competitive and finish strong."
WHEN DID THIS DEAL COME TOGETHER FOR YOU? - "It was about three to four weeks ago that Duke wanted to talk to me. They had about seven or eight drivers they were looking at. David Pepper (team manager), Duke and I all got together and just got to know each other. We really didn't talk about racing, talked about family life, hunting, fishing and other stuff. Duke is a big fisherman so we kind of hit it off in that area. They called me back that night and told me I had the deal. They had the Sullivan Marketing Group that represents them meet with me, so I met with Greg Sullivan that evening and that sealed the deal."
DO YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO PROVE TO YOURSELF THIS TIME? - "I have always wanted to stay in racing and driving. I just didn't have any opportunities and when this opportunity came up to race in the Truck Series, it really excited me. You can still race in this series and provide lots of excitement for the fans and the drivers themselves. It is like grass roots racing when you can lean on and rub someone a little bit and have fun as a driver. I am very confident that Duke has committed to me 100% and very confident it isn't going to be jerked out from underneath me."
IS DEI WORKING WITH MENARDS ON ENGINES NOW? - "Richie Gilmore, who was the head of our engine department a couple of years ago before he moved up, has communicated with the Menard engine program in Germany and working with the engineers giving them some information that DEI has used and been successful. They can use it if they want to and they have used some of it and some haven't."
DID YOU HAVE ANY DISCUSSIONS WITH YOUR BROTHER ABOUT DRIVING FOR CHANCE TWO OR ANYTHING ALONG THOSE LINES? - "I lived with my brother for years, there is no way I could ever work for him. (Said in jest). Actually we have discussed me coming over and running his organization at JR Motorsports, not driving, I just don't see where I could fit right at this moment. Given the family relationship, being brothers, we would butt heads a lot and it probably wouldn't be good for either one of us. I don't see how I can go there and make the decisions that might buck the system if I run it."
KYLE KRISILOFF, NO 15 BILLY BALLEW MOTORSPORTS SILVERADO
WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE THE LAST COUPLE OF DAYS TESTING HERE AT DAYTONA? - "It has definitely been exciting. Yesterday we were trying to get the truck comfortable. We finally got that today and we feel like we have a pretty good truck and after tomorrow we will be ready."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS YEARS' NASCAR CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES ROOKIE CLASS? - "I think there are several of us who really have a chance to win the Rookie of the Year title. It is an exciting year to be a rookie in this series. There are a lot of good young drivers in this series."
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOUR CAR AND YOUR TRUCK? "We have a lot to learn in these trucks especially when we get to the mile and a half tracks. The trucks move around a lot more here than a car does. The get loose and the back end jumps out more. But they are more fun to drive and it creates great racing. That is why the Craftsman Truck Series race is the best race down here at Speedweeks. There is a lot of driver involvement, you have to pay attention to every corner, every lap or you can get in trouble."