FONTANA, CA (Nov. 3, 2001) - Ricky Hendrick had big hopes for his first full season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. He had no idea that he would score a win, eight Top-5's and the series record for the most Top-10 finishes (19) for a rookie in NCTS history.
"It's really cool to hold the record for the most Top-10's," said the 21-year old Charlotte, NC native. "I was hoping to win another race today too, but it just wasn't in the cards. We just couldn't turn. We were really fast through the straight-aways, but we just couldn't turn. I think we could have won this race, it was just like Daytona where we finished second."
Hendrick started the race from 13th position and quickly moved into the Top-10. Hendrick then stayed in touch with the leaders throughout the race despite a tight handling condition. Crew chief Lance McGrew kept Hendrick up front pitting the young driver for fresh tires and adjustments.
"I guess we brought a knife to a gunfight," said McGrew. "We worked really hard thinking we were making changes that were better for the truck, but it didn't work out that way. Over all we have had a really good season and I am proud of Team GMAC, Ricky and these guys."
"For awhile, I felt like I was driving a snowplow," said Hendrick. "Team GMAC made some adjustments and we were pretty good. We were tight all day, but we stayed in the Top-10 most of the day. I wish we could have done more."
The 10th place earned Hendrick $ 12,775 in prize money. Team GMAC secured sixth-place in the Championship Points race and second in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year race.
Meanwhile, Hendrick's teammate Jack Sprague clinched a record third NCTS championship despite crashing out of the race and scoring a 31st-place finish.
"Congratulations to Jack and Team NetZero for the championship," said Hendrick. "These guys at Hendrick Motorsports have worked really hard and deserve the title Congratulations to everyone."
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Championship Awards Banquet will officially ring down the curtain on the 2001 season Thursday, November 8. The event, which will be held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Miami, FL, will begin with a reception at 6 p.m. with dinner and the awards ceremony to follow at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.