NEWS & NOTES NASCAR NEXTEL Cup presence in Kroger 250 ... Kevin Harvick (No. 92 Yardman Chevrolet) eyes an unprecedented consecutive race sweep of NASCAR's three national series in Saturday's Kroger 250. Harvick, who'll team with Atlanta winner...
NEWS & NOTES
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup presence in Kroger 250 ... Kevin Harvick (No. 92 Yardman Chevrolet) eyes an unprecedented consecutive race sweep of NASCAR's three national series in Saturday's Kroger 250. Harvick, who'll team with Atlanta winner Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet), won the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Food City 500 and NASCAR Busch Series Sharpie Professional 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Harvick's best series finish at Martinsville is third in April 2003. Bobby Labonte (No. 47 Rodeway Inn/Econo Lodge/Trick Pony Chevrolet) and Ken Schrader (No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet) also have entered this week's race.
ETC. ... Hamilton has held a top 10 spot in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship standings for a record 53 races, eclipsing the record held by Hornaday and Jack Sprague (No. 16 Chevy Truck Chevrolet) in February at California Speedway. Mike Bliss' 1999 qualifying record of 94.275 mph could be in jeopardy this week due to a softer compound Goodyear Wrangler tire. Bliss clocked 20.086 seconds to get within an eyelash of a 19-second lap. ... Last year's Kroger 250 saw the most finishers in series history as 34 of 36 starters took the checkered flag. The 24 lead lap finishers matched Richmond's record set in 1998. ... The Kroger 250 will be the fourth and final race in which 2004 owner championship points will be used to set the starting field.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Setzer closes on Martinsville money mark ... Dennis Setzer (No. 46 Chevrolet Silverado Chevrolet), the only series driver to win twice at Martinsville Speedway, will surpass the $200,000 mark in track winnings by starting the Kroger 250. Setzer has won $195,990 in 10 appearances. His five top-five and seven top-10 finishes rank No. 1 at the .526-mile track.
"What stands out in my mind is crossing the finish line and the feeling of time standing still. There were a lot of different emotions. There was a sense of relief and accomplishment at the same time." -- Ricky Craven, No. 99 Superchips Ford, remembering his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup win at Martinsville in 2001. Craven hopes to win his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race this weekend.
"It has been tough to wait through these first three races, but it has been a learning experience for me." -- Timothy Peters, No. 4 Bailey's Dodge, who takes over the Bobby Hamilton Racing truck driven by Casey Atwood in the season's first three events.
"Patience is a virtue during the race. You cannot race a guy really hard in the opening laps because the truck will fall off by the end, but at the same time you cannot get behind." -- Chase Montgomery, No. 18 Bobby Hamilton Racing Dodge, who finished 16th and 19th respectively at Martinsville Speedway in 2004 as a Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender.
"I don't want to say that anything less than a top 10 will be disappointing, because you never know the hand you're going to be dealt, but this team is definitely capable of a top 10 at Martinsville." -- Brandon Whitt, No. 38 McMillin Homes/Cure Autism Now Toyota, whose best series finish of 12th came at the Virginia track in October. Former NBC TV "ER" cast member Anthony Edwards, national spokesman for Cure Autism Now, will be the Grand Marshal for the Kroger 250.
"There were 50 or 60 cars there and I had to run a qualifying race just to get into the 250-lap feature. I managed to finish second in the heat to make the race. Then we ran the big race -- running against guys like Jack Ingram, Tommy Ellis and Tommy Houston -- and we finished ninth. It was a big deal just to make the race, let alone finish in the top 10." -- Jeff Hensley, crew chief for Skinner, remembering his 1982 NASCAR Busch Series race at Martinsville.
10 YEARS TOUGH
With 25 races run over the first 10 years, Virginia arguably is the cradle of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series -- especially when it comes to short-track racing. Three tracks, Martinsville, Richmond International Raceway and South Boston Speedway, have produced 18 different winners, including series champions Greg Biffle, Mike Bliss, Bobby Hamilton, Mike Skinner and Jack Sprague.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Until Bobby Hamilton captured February's Florida Dodge Dealers 250 from the 36th and final starting position, Dennis Setzer owned the record for most positions gained by a series winner. Setzer, whose qualifying speed at Martinsville was disallowed due to a technical infraction in 2002, lined up 33rd but still won the race. Only three drivers -- Hamilton, Setzer and Jimmy Hensley -- have won from a starting position of 30th or worse.
What: Kroger 250 (Race 4 of 25).
Where: Martinsville Speedway.
When: 1:15 p.m. ET, Saturday, April 9.
Track layout: .526-mile paved oval.
Race length: 250 laps/131.5 miles.
Posted awards: $465,155.
TV: SPEED Channel, 1 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
2004 winner: Rick Crawford.
2004 polesitter: Jack Sprague.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday -- Practice 9:00 a.m. -- 11:15 a.m. Qualifying 4:45 p.m. Trucks impounded after qualifying.
Top 10 drivers: 1. Bobby Hamilton 525. 2. Ted Musgrave 460. 3. Ricky Craven 439. 4. Jimmy Spencer 438. 5. Ron Hornaday Jr. 422. 6. Dennis Setzer 414. 7. Matt Crafton 401. 8. Johnny Benson 401. 9. David Starr 389. 10. Robert Huffman 378.