Martinsville, VA---Joe Ruttman is off to a blazing start in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series as he and the Bobby Hamilton Racing team have begun to gel. Ruttman has won the pole in all three Craftsman Truck Series races this season and is...
Martinsville, VA---Joe Ruttman is off to a blazing start in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series as he and the Bobby Hamilton Racing team have begun to gel. Ruttman has won the pole in all three Craftsman Truck Series races this season and is coming off a win at Phoenix last Saturday. He now only has a stop at Mesa Marin this weekend before coming back to Martinsville Speedway for the NAPA 250 on Saturday, April 8. Ruttman won Martinsville's 1995 Craftsman Truck race in a wild event. Ruttman battled Geoffrey Bodine and Mike Skinner until the final laps when Bodine and Skinner got together in turn four while Ruttman slipped past for the win. Ruttman says that's the kind of race you can expect at Martinsville. "If two drivers get mad at one another like Skinner and Bodine did, it could be even more exciting than at the end of that race," said the 55-year-old driver. "I think any short track race tends to be the best racing you can ask for. Martinsville is not going to disappoint anybody. It's a contact sport and that's what happens between two guys going for the win." Ruttman, driver of the Dana Dodge, came to Bobby Hamilton Racing about mid-season a year ago and says the move has been a good one. "I think we'll be in the hunt for the points championship," he said. The chemistry between Ruttman and Hamilton is good. Partly so, because both love to drive race cars and take a keen interest in how the car works and what it takes to make it go fast. "It's a lot of fun running with Bobby because we can drive the same truck. When we go test or we're at the race track, if I have a problem or he wants me to test his truck, we can jump into each other's truck. I've never had that ability in all of the time I've been in racing to have a Winston Cup quality driver that can drive my truck. We bounce ideas back and forth. So that relationship is one I've never had and probably the best that you can ask for." Hamilton has had success at Martinsville and the two should be a force in the NAPA 250. Hamilton won the pole for the 1996 event and finished fifth in 1997. In Winston Cup competition, Hamilton won the 1998 Goody's Headache Powder 500 from the pole. "I've questioned Bobby immensely about his success at Martinsville, his pole, and how good he's running. So far, he hasn't leveled 100% with me, but the advantage I have is I'll get to drive his truck and then I'll know what it is," Ruttman said. "I'm not going to tell anyone, that way we can keep the advantage right in the Dana pits. Maybe that's why he won't tell me. If he told me, he'd have to kill me." Ruttman considers Martinsville a special place. "I like Martinsville because the fans are sitting really close. You're performing on track like ones you cut your teeth on for years and years. It's like the old Saturday night specials," he said. "Martinsville has to be one of the two tracks I look forward to each year."
Craftsman Truck time trials are at 1:40 p.m. on Friday, April 7 to determine their 36 starting positions followed at 3 p.m. by Bud Pole qualifying for the Goody's Body Pain 500 Winston Cup race that starts at 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 9.
Mike Bliss holds the NAPA 250 qualifying record with a speed of 94.275 miles per hour in a Ford.
The truck race, with tickets going for $30 for adults and $5 for children 6-12, gets the green flag at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 8.
Steve Sheppard Senior Director of Corporate Communications Martinsville Speedway