As the 1999 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) season nears the end, many skeptics say there are only two drivers left in the championship hunt: Greg Biffle and Jack Sprague. Dodge Motorsports respectfully begs to disagree. Dennis Setzer, ...
As the 1999 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) season nears the end, many skeptics say there are only two drivers left in the championship hunt: Greg Biffle and Jack Sprague. Dodge Motorsports respectfully begs to disagree. Dennis Setzer, driver of the #1 Mopar Dodge, moved from fourth to third in points following last weekend's race in Topeka, Kan., and is 136 points behind series leader Biffle and 31 out of second, held by Sprague. Stacy Compton, driver of the #86 RC Dodge, is fourth, 140 points out of first. With 185 points available at each race, the title chase is sure to tighten up before the end of the season.
Dodge's goal for the remaining races of the season is to maintain their consistency and, hopefully, earn a spot at the head table at this year's championship banquet.
"We're very proud to have two Dodge teams contending for the championship so close to the end of the season," said Bob Wildberger, senior manager, NASCAR Motorsports, DaimlerChrysler. "Dodge has worked very hard with its teams and engineers since returning to NASCAR and the Craftsman Truck Series in '96, and the success we're seeing now is the result of several years of hard work. Dodge is very happy with four wins and seven pole positions this season. We've been contenders at every race, which is an improvement over past years. We want to win the championship, but if we don't, we've shown how competitive Dodge can be."
Setzer and the K Automotive team have come a long way since the season-opening race in Homestead, Fla. Setzer's Dodge Ram experienced engine failure on the first lap of the race and he earned a 34th-place finish; since then he has rebounded to collect three wins and one pole.
"This team has come a long way in a short period of time," said Setzer. "We think we can win two or three more races before the season is over, but realistically, Greg will have to have a little bad luck for us to catch him. These last five race tracks are good for me - I feel confident at Las Vegas, Louisville and California. We think we can take second in points, but we're shooting for first every time out."
Compton came on strong in the first eight races of the season, posting top-four finishes in each event. He also led the points standings for two races before the hot streak cooled off for the Impact Motorsports team. Compton, winner of five poles this year, is fourth in points and poised to battle for the series title.
"We think we still have a good chance to win the championship," said Compton. "Anything can happen, and this team has shown that we're capable of winning races and the championship for Dodge and Impact Motorsports."
Five races remain in the 1999 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season: Richmond, Va.; Las Vegas; Louisville, Ky.; Fort Worth, Texas; and the October 30 season-ending race in Fontana, Calif.
Dennis Setzer and several DaimlerChrysler engineers will speak to members of the Purdue, Ind., SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) Chapter, SAE Mini Baja and Formula SAE Club on Thurs., Sept. 16, at 7 p.m.
The group will discuss the technology involved in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and how the technology is transferred to DaimlerChrysler production vehicles. The session is intended for engineering students to learn about engineering programs and internships offered by DaimlerChrysler.
"DaimlerChrysler is doing a great thing for the future of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series program," said Setzer. "I know what the series has done for me, and this is a good opportunity to bring some new faces into the truck program."
Jimmy Hensley made his 100th career NCTS start - all behind the wheel of a Dodge Ram - at Heartland Park Topeka last weekend; he finished 14th. Hensley has earned NCTS wins in Nashville, Tenn., and Martinsville, Va.
DODGE RAM FAST STATS After the O'Reilly Auto Parts 275 in Topeka, Kan.
Dennis Setzer, #1 Mopar Dodge 1 pole, 3 wins, 8 top-five finishes, 15 top-10 finishes Started 21st in Topeka, finished 12th $359,555 total winnings in 20 NCTS starts Third in championship points
Randy Tolsma, #25 Supergard Dodge 1 pole, 0 wins, 1 top-five finish, 8 top-10 finishes Started 20th in Topeka, finished 13th $174,505 total winnings in 20 NCTS starts 11th in championship points
Jimmy Hensley, #43 Dodge By Petty 1 win, 6 top-five finishes, 11 top-10 finishes Started 17th in Topeka, finished 14th $223,245 total winnings in 20 NCTS starts 10th in championship points
Stacy Compton, #86 RC Dodge 5 poles, 0 wins, 11 top-fives, 15 top-10 finishes Started 12th in Topeka, finished 21st $290,920 total winnings in 20 NCTS starts Fourth in championship points
Joe Ruttman, #18 Dana Dodge 0 wins, 2 top-five finishes, 6 top-10 finishes Started 11th in Topeka, finished seventh $115,140 total winnings in 14 NCTS starts 22nd in championship points
RAMMIN' AHEAD... 9/9 Virginia is for Lovers 200 Richmond International Raceway Richmond, Va. Television: Sept. 9 at 8 p.m. on ESPN2
9/24 Las Vegas 250 Las Vegas Motor Speedway Las Vegas, Nev. Television: Sept. 24 at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN
10/8 Kroger 225 Louisville Motor Speedway Louisville, Ky. Television: Oct. 8 at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN