Portland race story and results

PORTLAND, Ore. - Andy Houston ended an up and down afternoon on a high note, passing Dennis Setzer on the final lap around Portland International Raceway to capture Saturday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Line-X 225. Houston,...

PORTLAND, Ore. - Andy Houston ended an up and down afternoon on a high note, passing Dennis Setzer on the final lap around Portland International Raceway to capture Saturday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Line-X 225. Houston, who'd never finished better than sixth on a road course, appeared in for a long day despite qualifying his CAT Rental Store Chevrolet fifth in the 33-truck field. Involved in a fifth-lap altercation with series point leader Mike Wallace in the first gear chicane at the end PIR's drag strip front straightaway, the pair fell to mid-pack. Pit strategy, however, brought both back into contention. Houston took second-place from Wallace on the 60th lap around the 1.95-mile circuit then, aided by the race's fourth and final caution that erased Setzer's lead of 10 seconds, closed to within a length of his rival on the next-to-final circuit. Houston dove to the inside of Setzer's Mopar Performance Dodge in the first turn of the 73rd and final lap, made the pass stick and drove away to a 1.616-second victory as the second-place driver's truck began to run low on fuel. The victory was Houston's second of the 2000 season, first on a road course and was worth $41,140. The Hickory, N.C. driver averaged a race record 74.301 mph. The race, promised to be completed rain or shine, ran under dry conditions despite forecast rain that didn't materialize until an hour after the event's conclusion. Jack Sprague, his GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet's tailgate battered after a lap 60 spin into the Turn 9 tire wall, made repairs under the final caution which fell three laps later and roared back to edge Wallace's Team ASE Racing Ford for third-place in a photo finish. Rick Crawford finished fifth in his Milwaukee Electric Tool Ford to break a top-five drought extending to August 1999. Jimmy Hensley, Bryan Reffner, Steve Grissom, Marty Houston - the winner's older brother - and rookie John Young comprised the remainder of the top-10 finishers among 15 drivers completing the full, 73-lap distance. Houston's third career victory - he also won at Phoenix in March -- cut 20 points from Wallace's championship lead but he still trails by 39 entering the May 7 Ram Tough 200 at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis. The race lead changed hands seven times among six drivers with Houston leading just once - the final lap. Pole starter Greg Biffle led twice for 22 laps, one fewer than Setzer, but finished 13th after losing a top-five position to an off-course excursion on the 70th lap following a brush with Wallace. "In all honesty, I didn't have a plan," Houston said of his late charge. "I was waiting for him (Setzer) to slip. It looked like his truck (lost forward momentum) and he took me all the way to the curb (in Turn 1) "If I was trying to hold off a guy for the win, I'd do that, too. It was a great day." Setzer, still seeking his first win of the year after three victories and a third-place championship finish in 1999, matched Dodge's best finish on a road course. And because his truck ran out of fuel after the checkered flag, Setzer doubted he could have run the distance without the yellow flag, which put Houston in position to make the deciding pass. Crew chief Howard Comstock pitted the brand-new Ram on lap 28 and elected to pursue a course of fuel conservation as did Brevak Racing, whose Young ran a close second to Setzer until the final restart in which he was overwhelmed by a horde of trucks with fresh rubber. "If we hadn't had that caution (for Lance Norick's stalled truck near Turn 1), I wouldn't have made it," he said. "The caution was the lesser of the two evils." From Bud Pole qualifying, when Biffle and rookie leader Kurt Busch annexed the front row, the race appeared to be a Roush Racing showcase - especially when Wallace and Houston started some short-track style competition early. Busch got the jump at the green flag in the Exide Batteries Ford and led the first 10 laps before Biffle, the defending race winner, motored around his teammate. Biffle led until lap 33, when crew chief Randy Goss - knowing his driver could go the remaining distance on fuel - ordered the leader to pit road. Busch, Sprague and Boris Said then headed the pack before stopping. Setzer and Young went to first and second on lap 50, when Said - last year's Bud Pole winner - pitted. Setzer owned a 16-second lead on old tires and, with five trucks arguing over third-place, the advantage appeared safe. The only question remaining was fuel, which became moot thanks to Norick's engine failure. By lap 60, the order was Setzer, Young, Houston, Wallace, Busch, Biffle and Said. Busch, however, was the driver on the move. After caution ended on lap 66, Busch followed Wallace past Young into the top-three. On lap 68, Busch's inside move on Wallace entering Turn 1 looked textbook. Unfortunately for Busch, his truck broke traction for a split-second when Busch picked up the throttle. Wallace, also on the gas, hit the rear of Busch's Ford, sending it off the pavement. Busch's composure was rattled as he left the roadway again in Turn 12 and continued to a disappointing 11th-place finish. Biffle's luck wasn't any better as he spun on the 70th lap in Turn 9 to give up a sure top-five run. And Said, lurking, saw his chance of victory vanish when his Federated Auto Parts Ford's engine dropped a cylinder three laps from the finish. That left the field to Setzer and Houston - a pair of Hickory Motor Speedway short track graduates who hardly consider themselves road racers. Of course, as one observed, all a road course is is a short track with right turns. The wrinkled trucks being loaded into the haulers after the checkered flag proved his point, along with a bevy of frayed tempers.

<pre> The results:

Bud Pole Award - Greg Biffle, Ford, 1 minute 16.776 seconds, 91.435 mph (record, old, Boris Said, 91.144 mph, 1999) LINE-X 225 (73 laps) -- 1. (5) Andy Houston, Chevrolet, 73, 74.301 mph, $41,140; 2. (15) Dennis Setzer, Dodge, 73, $30,005; 3. (6) Jack Sprague, Chevrolet, 73, $18,850; 4. (4) Mike Wallace, Ford, 73, $13,370; 5. (13) Rick Crawford, Ford, 73, $13,550; 6. (9)Jimmy Hensley, Chevrolet, 73, $11,195; 7. (19) Bryan Reffner, Chevrolet, 73, $10,520; 8. (17) Steve Grissom, Dodge, 73, $10,320; 9. (16) Marty Houston, Chevrolet, 73, $10,220; 10. (12) John Young, Ford, 73, $11,520; 11. (2) Kurt Busch, Ford, 73, $9,870; 12. (10) Joe Ruttman, Dodge, 73, $9,670; 13. (1) Greg Biffle, Ford, 73, $10,670; 14. (20) Randy Renfrow, Dodge, 73, $9,170; 15. (3) Boris Said, Ford, 73, $8,420; 16. (23) Randy MacDonald, Chevrolet, 72, $9,070; 17. (18) Rick Carelli, Ford, 72, $8,045; 18. (7) Carlos Contreras, Dodge, 71, $9,020; 19. (25) Rick Ware, Chevrolet, 71, $7,995; 20. (30) Andy Genzman, Ford, 70, $8,120; 21. (26) Milan Garrett, Ford, 70, $7,845; 22. (8) Terry Cook, Chevrolet, 69, $8,820; 23. (21) Mike Cope, Dodge, 69, $8,795; 24. (31) Bill Lester, Chevrolet, 69, $7,770; 25. (27) Dane Pitarresi, Chevrolet, 68, $7,745; 26. (29) Jeff McClure, Ford, 66, $7,720; 27. (14) Rob Morgan, Ford, 64, rear end, $8,695; 28. (22) Lance Norick, Chevrolet, 60, engine, $8,670; 29. (11) Randy Tolsma, Dodge, 54, running, $8,645; 30. (24) Lance Hooper, Ford, 38, engine, $7,620; 31. (32) Bobby Hillis, Chevrolet, 32, engine, $7,595; 32. (33) Bobby Norfleet, Chevrolet, 27, handling, $7,570; 33. (28) Ryan McGlynn, Chevrolet, 23, transmission, $7,545 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Standings - 1. Mike Wallace 1,008; 2. Andy Houston 969; 3. Jack Sprague 909; 4. Steve Grissom 877; 5. Kurt Busch 872; 6. Joe Ruttman 858; 7. Dennis Setzer 846; 8. Greg Biffle 837; 9. Rick Crawford 752; 10. Terry Cook 749.

{TX} NASCAR CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES LINE-X 225 NOTES AND QUOTES

PORTLAND, Ore. - The buzz, all week long, was that Saturday's Line-X 225 would be NASCAR's first national touring series race run in the rain. After all, the National Weather Service was promising the wet stuff, right? Wrong - at least until an hour after the checkered flag had fallen. The weather man, however, might argue that he was correct. Several downpours delayed, halted and finally ended after 36 laps the accompanying Raybestos Northwest Series NASCAR Touring event some 16 circuits shy of its scheduled distance. Goodyear, which brought 500 all-weather Eagles to the Rose City, reloaded its tires for the trip back to Akron. Their next date is June 24, when the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series visits Watkins Glen International where the rain rubber was tested in practice for the 1999 Bully Hill Vineyards 150. Andy Houston, a short tracker who has yet to win on the series on a track of less than one mile, added a road course victory to his resume in his seventh career start on a left turn, right turn venue. That's the second longest any of eight road race winners has taken to get to victory circle. Mike Bliss won at Topeka, Kan. last August in his 14th road course start. "I (still) don't know if you can call me a road racer," admitted Houston. Addington Racing crew chief Rick Ren became the fifth series crew chief to count victories on short track, superspeedway and road course. The others are Rich Burgess, Randy Goss, Danny Diaz and Doug Williams. - The race's final caution saved a runner-up finish for Dennis Setzer and a top-10 run for rookie John Young, who continues to compete despite his battle with leukemia. The 10th-place effort was the first top-10 for Brevak Racing since July 10, 1999 at Nashville, Tenn. "We couldn't have gone all the way on fuel (without caution) but the truck ran great," said the unsponsored Young, a California businessman and former sports car competitor. "We had a great time and we are really happy with the result." Mike Wallace's fourth-place finish made the St. Louis native the first series driver to win $200,000 in the year 2000. Wallace's Team ASE Racing Ford suffered a broken swaybar in his fifth lap accident with Houston but his crew made repairs. "It was going to be a miserable day and the guys did a great job of rallying back," said Wallace. "We also had a great pit strategy (just two stops) that worked to our advantage." Bill Lester and Bobby Norfleet were among four drivers who made their NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut at Portland International Raceway, finishing 24th and 32nd, respectively. Their appearance marked the first time two African-American drivers have competed in the same NASCAR national touring event.

Jack Sprague hasn't finished worse than third since his accident at Daytona International Speedway, which left him 33rd. Saturday's third consecutive third-place effort was the defending series champion's 75th career top-five. "I think we would have had something for 'em if I hadn't run off the race track," said Sprague. "Greg (Biffle), got off the track and the 99 truck (Busch) got off and scared me and I'm off in the grass wrecking." Steve Grissom hasn't threatened for the win in his six NCTS starts but if consistency counts for anything, watch out when the NASCAR Winston Cup Series veteran hits the combination. Grissom's eighth-place finish was his fourth consecutive top-10 and his fifth in six starts. His worst finish of 2000 is 11th. No surprise, the Alabama driver has moved to the No. 4 spot in series standings. "I'm not sure that I can even explain what happened out there today," said the Dodge by Petty racer. "On one of the pit stops (he made three) we changed the shocks ... these guys made a great stop not to lose a lap when we made the changes." Biffle's 91.435 mph Bud Pole lap gives him four series qualifying records. He's now posted fast times on road course, short track and superspeedway. Joe Ruttman, Mike Skinner and Ron Hornaday previously covered the trio. Randy Renfrow, in his first season as a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series regular, made his first start on a road course finishing 14th. Renfrow's last road racing effort came in 1981 - in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. Ruttman's 122nd NCST start matched Hornaday for No. 2 on the all-time list. He's now 0-for-2 in pursuit of his 50th top-five finishing 12th in the Line-X 225. Troy Selberg, crew chief for Team Rensi and Jimmy Hensley, and his wife, Carol, celebrated the birth April 19 of daughter Tiffany Leigh.

-OWEN KEARNS JR.-

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Mike Skinner , Boris Said , Greg Biffle , Mike Wallace , Andy Houston , Kurt Busch , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Marty Houston , Jack Sprague , Dennis Setzer , Lance Norick , Carlos Contreras , Terry Cook , Lance Hooper , Joe Ruttman , Ryan McGlynn , Bryan Reffner , Randy Tolsma , Jimmy Hensley , Rick Carelli , John Young , Bill Lester , Steve Grissom , Mike Bliss , Rob Morgan , Bobby Hillis
Teams Williams