Off-week news of note 2008-03-31

Setzer's Hometown Victory An Emotional One For Late Champion's Team Dodge Back In Victory Lane After Drought Of 72 Races Speed, Wallace Impress With Solid Finishes At Martinsville Speedway BHR VA Wins Kroger 250: Redemption At Martinsville ...

Setzer's Hometown Victory An Emotional One For Late Champion's Team
Dodge Back In Victory Lane After Drought Of 72 Races
Speed, Wallace Impress With Solid Finishes At Martinsville Speedway

BHR VA Wins Kroger 250: Redemption At Martinsville Speedway

Daytona Beach, Fla. (March 31, 2008) -- The late Bobby Hamilton, the 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion, took pride in the fact his team -- no matter the odds -- never gave up.

The 14 months since his January 2007 death provided challenges that well would have sunk lesser groups.

Driver changes, lost sponsorship and a move from the Nashville area to Martinsville, Va., proved daunting, but ultimately led to redemption.

Dennis Setzer drove the team's No. 18 Duck Head/Aquaduck Dodge to a convincing win in Saturday's Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway..

Setzer's third Martinsville victory came in the team's 73rd start since Hamilton's last win at Mansfield (Ohio) Motorsports Park in May 2005.

Hamilton's widow, Lori Hamilton, stated the obvious. "Obviously, the emotions are running high right now.," she said. "We all said after Bobby passed away if we couldn't do it with him, then we would do it in honor of him."

"So to win at Martinsville, which is now our new home track in the fashion that Dennis did today, is an amazing accomplishment for us and our new-found partners and family."

She added, "This win is about all those race fans, Bobby's friends and the employees that not only stood behind us last year and worked through a lot of hardships, but those who continued to stick behind us this year and our new-found employees doing it for one man -- Bobby Hamilton."

Setzer, who joined the team last September, said, "Lori brought this team through some really hard times last season and did a tremendous job of holding everyone together. This year, she partnered with another group of smart businessmen and racers to help her and it's working."

Dodge Snaps Series' Longest Manufacturers' Winless Streak

Dodge's record-NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series winless streak reached 72 races in early March at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Thanks to Martinsville master Setzer, the drought is over.

Kyle Busch's (No. 51 Miccosukee Resorts Toyota) victory at Lowe's Motor Speedway on May 20, 2005 signaled the beginning of the streak for -- ironically -- the previous season's manufacturer champion.

Busch's March 7 Atlanta win proved to be Dodge's final loss.

Ford's 27-race non-winning streak between September 2004 and September 2005 stands as the second-longest in NASCAR Craftsman Truck history.

The truck maker's 10-race drought, dating to Talladega last October, is the series' current longest.

Toyota, which entered the series in 2004, required just 13 races to capture its first win but in October of the same season, ran into a 15-race dry spell that lasted until Todd Bodine's (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota) July 2 victory at Kansas Speedway.

Chevrolet, winner of six Manufacturers' championships, has the fewest consecutive losses between wins -- 12 -- in 2000.

Etc. & Quotable: Great Day For Speed, Wallace

Formula One Veteran Likes Short-Tracking. ... Once he concluded that fenders can be an offensive weapon, Scott Speed (No. 46 Red Bull Chevrolet) quickly moved through the Kroger 250 field and finished 10th in his second NASCAR Craftsman Truck start. "In the beginning I was getting abused (and) it was hard t get my brain around the fact that I can touch something and not rip the corner of the (truck) off," Speed said. "It took me awhile to realize, 'you know what?' I can get in there on the inside and if I touch them, it is okay -- there is a bit of a cushion."

Wallace Matches Best Female Debut In Series. ... Chrissy Wallace guided her No. 03 GEICO/Mobil Delvac Toyota to a hard-fought 18th-place finish and in doing so joined Shawna Robinson as the best finishing female competitors in their first NASCAR Craftsman Truck start. Wallace stands alone with the best finish in the series by a female making her NASCAR national debut. "They put the belief in me that I could get a top-20 finish and that is exactly what we did," said Wallace of Germain Racing, her father and spotter Mike Wallace and coach Tony Stewart.

Busch Holds Points Lead Despite Last Lap Incident. ... Standings leader Kyle Busch saw a 72-point edge over Todd Bodine cut to 36 after a final turn collision with Johnny Benson (No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota). Behind Busch, however, there's a big logjam. The difference between Bodine and fifth-place Rick Crawford (No. 14 Power Stroke Diesel by International Ford) is just 62 points.

On To 2008 Owner Points. ... The Kroger 250 was the final race in which the top 30 starting positions were set by 2007 owner points. Owners gaining top-30 status are Delana Harvick (No. 2 RVs.com Chevrolet), Billy Ballew (No. 15 Miccosukee Resorts Toyota) and Kevin Buckler (No. 71 TRG Chevrolet). In The Loop:

Dennis Setzer proclaimed "Hello, world!" after his impressive victory at Martinsville Speedway.

Setzer, an 18-time winner on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, dominated the field Saturday, posting a near-perfect Driver Rating of 143.4 (150.0 is the maximum rating), an Average Running Position of 3.9, 40 Fastest Laps Run and spending all but one lap in the top 15. Prior to the win, Setzer's best finish in the first three races this season was a 10th.

The victory improved his standing and his statistics among the NASCAR Craftsman Truck stars.

Setzer catapulted into fourth place in the series standings, up from his previous ninth-place spot. His season Driver Rating is now 86.1, up from 67.0 prior to Martinsville.

The series lead still belongs to Kyle Busch, despite his 26th-place finish at Martinsville. He also holds the series lead in many of the season-to-date Loop Data stats: Average Running Position (5.1), Driver Rating (122.1), Fastest Laps Run (107 -- Busch is the only driver with triple digits in the category) and Laps in the Top 15 (551).

Erik Darnell continues to shine in this young season. He scored his best finish of the year last Saturday with a solid fifth-place run. The finish vaulted Darnell from 13th in the standings to eighth. His Driver Rating is now a sixth-best 91.8 and his Average Running Position of 9.8 ranks fourth in the series.

Rookies

Donny Lia (No. 71 Autism Speaks/TRG Chevrolet) put his Martinsville modified experience to good use as he finished ninth in Saturday's Kroger 250.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion was the highest finishing Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate.

Lia won last September's modified tour race at the .526-mile oval.

The Kroger 250 marked the third time in four races that at least one rookie candidate has finished among the top 10.

Up Next

Erik Darnell (No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford) will defend his 2007 Kansas Speedway victory on April 26 .

The O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 will be the eighth race held at the 1.5-mile facility in Kansas City, Kan.

FAST FACTS

The Race: O'Reilly Auto Parts 250

The Place: Kansas Speedway
The Date: April 26, 2008

The Time: 6:00 p.m. ET
Race Distance: 250.5 miles / 167 laps

TV: SPEED, 5:30 p.m. ET
Track Layout: 1.5-Mile Oval

2007 Winner: Erik Darnell
2007Pole: Mike Skinner

Schedule: Friday: Practice, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Saturday: Qualifying, 12:40 p.m.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Tony Stewart , Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , Shawna Robinson , Mike Wallace , Johnny Benson , Dennis Setzer , Rick Crawford , Kevin Buckler , Scott Speed , Erik Darnell , Donny Lia , Chrissy Wallace , Kyle Busch
Teams Germain Racing