News and notes 2004-07-21

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 21, 2004) -- Prior to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Gateway International Raceway on July 17, the Toyota contingent had struggled somewhat with only four trucks finishing in the top 10 in the previous four...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 21, 2004) -- Prior to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Gateway International Raceway on July 17, the Toyota contingent had struggled somewhat with only four trucks finishing in the top 10 in the previous four races combined.

At Gateway, however, Toyota's luck changed with four drivers finishing in the top 10, led by Hank Parker Jr.'s (No. 21 Toyota Tundra Toyota) fifth-place effort. It was Parker's second top five of the season; it also marked the first time this year that four Toyotas finished in the top 10 in the same event.

"It's awesome," said Parker. "There are a lot of great drivers running Toyotas this year, so I'm really excited about being the highest-finishing Toyota [at Gateway]."

Since recovering from an accident at Atlanta, Parker and his team labored, but he believes a better showing will result during the second half of the season.

"It's cool driving in the series," he said. "I've got a great team, owner (George deBidart) and crew chief (Wesley Sherrill). They've got a good attitude and we continue to get better every week.

"Driving for Toyota is great. They want to be competitive and everyone works really hard. As a driver, it's really exciting."

Making the transition to a new team isn't the only change Parker has made this year. He also switched to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series from the NASCAR Busch Series.

"Having experience in the NASCAR Busch Series has helped me some in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series," Parker said. "The trucks don't drive like the Busch cars, but it's [driving in the NASCAR Busch Series] given me experience."

While this is his first full season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Parker is no stranger to the circuit, having substituted for injured David Starr (No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet) in four races last season and recording two top-10 finishes in the process.

Parker would like to carry that success over to the final 13 races of 2004, the next of which takes place July 31 at Michigan.

"I'd like to run more consistently and be more competitive regularly," he said. "If I do that, I'll be happy."

LaJoie rates another "10" ... Randy LaJoie (No. 59 Harris Trucking Dodge) scored his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series top-10 finish at Gateway on July 17 with an eighth-place finish, giving him at least one top 10 in each of NASCAR's three national series. LaJoie, a two-time NASCAR Busch Series champion, has made five starts in his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career. His previous best was 13th at Las Vegas in 2003. He has also participated in 38 premier series races, with two top-10 finishes during the 1998 season.

Bill Lester and Toyota celebrate diversity in auto racing ... Bill Lester (No. 22 Toyota Tundra Toyota) will be a special guest of Toyota during the National Urban League (NUL) Conference this week in Detroit, Mich. Lester will meet and greet NUL attendees at the Toyota exhibit on Thursday from 4 -- 5 p.m. and on Friday from 2 -- 4 p.m.

Etc. ... Jon Wood (No. 50 Roush Racing Ford) made his 75th career series start at Gateway. He has two wins, two poles and six top 10s this season. ... David Starr scored his second series career win at Gateway. Starr's first victory came at Las Vegas in 2002, where he also recorded the first pole of his career. ... Until Starr's victory, no driver had won a race at Gateway starting outside the top eight; Starr started 14th. ... David Reutimann (No. 17 NTN Bearings Toyota) has been the highest-finishing Raybestos rookie in six races this season. ... Dennis Setzer (No. 46 Chevrolet Silverado Chevrolet), who leads the championship standings by 64 points over Bobby Hamilton (No. 4 Square D Dodge), also leads the series in top-five finishes this season with six. ... Matt Crafton (No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet) leads the series with nine top 10s. ... The off-week provides a bit of respite from the tight points race where just one point separates fourth-place Matt Crafton (No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet) from fifth-place Chad Chaffin (No. 18 Dickies Dodge) in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series standings, while only seven points separate sixth-place Ted Musgrave (No. 1 Mopar Dodge) from seventh-place Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Motel & RV Ford) heading into the next event, July 31 at Michigan

Fast Facts

Next Race:  Line-X Spray-On Truck Bedliners 200.

Where: Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, Mich.
When: 1 p.m. ET, Saturday, July 31.

Track layout: 2-mile banked asphalt.
Race length: 200miles/100 laps.

Posted awards: $557,694.

TV: SPEED Channel, 1 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.

2003 winner: Brendan Gaughan.
2003 polesitter: Jason Leffler.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday -- Practice 10:35 a.m. -- 12:30 p.m. Qualifying 3:10 p.m. Final practice 5:15 -- 6:15 p.m., time permitting.

Top 10 in Points: 1. Dennis Setzer 1,837. 2. Bobby Hamilton 1,773. 3. Carl Edwards 1,671. 4. Matt Crafton 1,651. 5. Chad Chaffin 1,650. 6. Ted Musgrave 1,610. 7. Rick Crawford 1,603. 8. Travis Kvapil 1,564. 9. Jack Sprague 1,544. 10. Jon Wood 1,527.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Jason Leffler , Hank Parker Jr. , Ted Musgrave , Jack Sprague , Dennis Setzer , Rick Crawford , Jon Wood , Matt Crafton , Bill Lester , Brendan Gaughan , Chad Chaffin , David Reutimann , Travis Kvapil