Milwaukee Gives Hensley a Lift

Second place is a lift for Hensley Shawn A. Akers WEST ALLIS, Wis. (July 4, 1998) Talk about a huge, huge lift for a team. A second-place finish in Saturday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series DieHard 200 at The Milwaukee Mile, though not a...

Second place is a lift for Hensley Shawn A. Akers

WEST ALLIS, Wis. (July 4, 1998) Talk about a huge, huge lift for a team. A second-place finish in Saturday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series DieHard 200 at The Milwaukee Mile, though not a victory, was just what Jimmy Hensley and the No. 43 Cummins Dodge team needed.

Entering the race, Hensley was mired in 19th in the series standings. He had managed only one top-10 finish all season, and both he and the team were getting more and more frustrated as the season went along.

On Saturday, however, the team gambled, going the final 90 laps of the 200-lap event on one tank of gas, and wound up finishing runner-up to Mike Bliss, who recorded his first victory of the 1998 campaign.

"We got a big shot in the arm today," Hensley said. "Here at Milwaukee, it's an old tradition here. Just to come in and run well was great. We're certainly better than what we've shown up until the last few races.

"That was bothering me, it was bothering the team, and it certainly was bothering (team owner) Richard (Petty). We're a better team than that. Maybe this will get the monkey off our back and we can go and do what we need to do and do it like we know we can do it."

Petty was in Milwaukee due to the postponement of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Pepsi 400. The owner of the No. 43 truck was delighted with his truck team's performance on Saturday.

"They had a good run," Petty said. "They made a pit stop for gas, and they made it a bit early, and that put him in the position up front. The truck ran pretty good. It was just not handling as good all the way around (the race track) for us. The truck pushed a little bit behind people, he (Hensley) couldn't get close to them, but when he got in front, he was okay."

Hensley was running in the middle of the pack at the beginning of the second half of the race. On lap 110 during a caution, he, Ron Barfield and Lonnie Rush were among some that decided to pit for fuel.

Another caution flag flew on lap 134, and the leaders came into the pits. Hensley, Barfield and Rush, however, did not, opting to stay out and attempt to go the final 90 circuits on one tankful of fuel. That gave the lead to Barfield, with Hensley in second and Rush in third.

Bliss, with clearly one of the strongest trucks on the track throughout the afternoon, eventually regained the lead on lap 151 and went on to win the race.

Hensley and Barfield made it the rest of the way on fuel. Rush ran out with four laps to go and eventually finished 27th.

"That was one of the things we checked this morning, fuel mileage," Hensley said. "We thought we could run 90 laps. We did, and things worked good. It was a good day for us. The Cummins Dodge ran a lot better the second half. It was decent at times in the first half, but we never could get consistency. I'd run a 31.20, and then I'd run a 31.60. The second half of the race, I stayed within two-tenths about every lap.

"We thought we could go (the final 90 laps), but you never know. You might not have gotten quite as much (fuel) in as you thought you did. There is ten thousand things that can go through your mind. What can I say, it's the best run we've had all year."

Hensley hopes it will continue. He said the team has been running better as of late, it's just that the results haven't shown it. Hensley and the No. 43 Cummins Dodge team finished ninth at Bristol two weeks ago.

"It (the team's recent good runs) really started at Odessa," Hensley said. "We ran good there and we got in a wreck. We were running really good at Watkins Glen and we blew a motor. Went to Texas and had driver failure.

"But we were running better, which made everybody feel better even though we were not finishing where we wanted to. So, maybe this is a positive we can build on to get some more top-fives and top-10s and still have some fun."

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Mike Bliss , Ron Barfield