Off-week news of note 2006-10-09

• Inaugural John Deere 250 Results In Great Show, Martin Win • Martinsville Last Chance For '06 Short Track Win • Roush Truck Team Gains Sponsorship • British Invasion En Route Trucks, Talladega Superspeedway A Perfect Match They...

• Inaugural John Deere 250 Results In Great Show, Martin Win

• Martinsville Last Chance For '06 Short Track Win

• Roush Truck Team Gains Sponsorship

• British Invasion En Route

Trucks, Talladega Superspeedway A Perfect Match

They came, they saw and while it's open to question whether any competitor would admit he or she conquered, all nonetheless gave high marks to Talladega Superspeedway and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' inaugural John Deere 250.

So did a crowd estimated at 80,000 which saw Mark Martin (No. 6 Scotts Ford) become the first competitor to win in all three of NASCAR's national touring series at the mammoth, 2.66-mile speedway.

The racing Oct. 7 frequently was four wide and 30 deep and among the cleanest but most competitive of the season.

It took nearly 12 years but the obvious answer is that the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and Talladega are perfect matches.

"It was a really, really great race; a clean race," said Martin, who started his Roush Racing F-150 from the Budweiser Pole with a qualifying lap of 182.320 mph. "The drivers did a spectacular job. They didn't get over their heads or get too aggressive. They got to racing big on the last lap and there was an accident but other than that they really used their heads."

Several other veterans in the field agreed with the winner's assessment.

Joe Nemechek (No. 46 U.S. Army Chevrolet) said, "Everyone used their heads pretty good and nothing crazy was oing on."

Dennis Setzer (No. 85 Shell Rotella T Chevrolet) hadn't been to the track in over a decade. "I was really impressed with the guys," he said.

Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 AES HR Solutions Chevrolet) spoke for the garage. "This was just a blast," he said. "You wish there were more laps."

Kroger 200 Last Chance For 2006 Short-Track Victory

With the majority of competitors having short track roots, it's always nice to revisit the past with a victory on one of NASCAR's "bullrings."

NASCAR Craftsman Truck teams will have the sixth and final chance to make that connection in the Oct. 21 Kroger 200 at .526-mile Martinsville Speedway.

Winning a short track race isn't easy -- or repeatable. Only Setzer has two wins at Martinsville. The track's roster of winners totals 14 but only two of them, Bobby Hamilton and Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota), are NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champions.

No champion has won at the southern Virginia track in his title season.

So far in 2006, it's been five races and five faces. David Starr (No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota) captured Martinsville's Kroger 250. Other short track winners are Hornaday, Martin, Jack Sprague (No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota) and Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Truck Corral Ford).

The series has had seven consecutive different short track winners dating to Richmond in September 2005. Skinner is the only back-to-back winner since 2003.

News & Notes -- Part II

Northern Tool + Equipment Joins Series ... Erik Darnell, this season's Raybestos Rookie of the Year leader, will carry new sponsorship on his No. 99 Roush Racing Ford for the remainder of the season and in 2007. Northern's president Chuck Albrecht (center below) joined Darnell and team owner Jack Roush in making the announcement during the Talladega weekend.

Martin Eighth To Win Five Or More ... Martin is the eighth series driver to win at least five times in a season and fifth in the last six seasons. The record is nine by Greg Biffle in 1999.

Mickel Journeys Across The Pond ... John Mickel of Cambridge, England will drive Green Light Racing's No. 07 Chevrolet in the season's final five races beginning at Martinsville. Mickel finished 29th in his only start at Texas Motor Speedway.

He will chase Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors with his Torquespeed team in 2007.

Bodine's Lead Expands ... A fourth-place finish in the John Deere 250 boosted Todd Bodine's (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota) title lead to 113 points over Johnny Benson (No. 23 Exide Batteries Toyota). The margin is third largest with five races remaining.

Ambrose Gets The Call ... Australia's most successful NASCAR competitor Marcos Ambrose (No. 20 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Ford) will move to the Wood Brothers/JTG Motorsports' No. 59 NASCAR Busch Series Ford in 2007. The team's current driver, Stacy Compton, returns to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series where he won twice most recently in 1998 in Topeka, Kan.

Wedding Bells ... 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Bobby Hamilton and Lori Shuler wed Sept. 29 in a private ceremony in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

ETC.

The Drive for Diversity program will be holding its fourth annual Driver Testing and Evaluation Combine on Oct. 16-17 at South Boston (Va.) Speedway. Twenty up-and-coming drivers from throughout the United States have been invited to the combine to showcase their skills for established team owners. The drivers will complete a series of on-track and off-track activities in hopes of being selected for one of the eight available positions. ... In 2007, eight Drive for Diversity teams will compete in either the NASCAR Grand National Division -- which includes the Busch East and AutoZone West Series -- or the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series.

FAST FACTS

Fast Fact: David Starr's April victory in the Kroger 250 made Toyota the fourth manufacturer to win a series race at Martinsville Speedway.

The Race: Kroger 200

The Place: Martinsville Speedway

The Date:  Oct. 21, 2006

The Time: 1:05 p.m. (ET)
Race Distance:     105.2 miles (200 laps)

Track Layout: .526-mile paved oval

TV: SPEED, 12:25 p.m. (ET)

Race Purse: $434,105

2005 Winner:  Ricky Craven

2005 Pole: Rick Crawford

Schedule: Friday -- Practice, 9 a.m. -- 10 a.m., 10:10 a.m. -- 10:40 a.m. and 10:55 a.m. -- 11:55 a.m. Qualifying, 5 p.m.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , David Starr , Joe Nemechek , Greg Biffle , Stacy Compton , Johnny Benson , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Ricky Craven , Jack Sprague , Dennis Setzer , Rick Crawford , John Mickel , Erik Darnell , Mark Martin