Richmond: Round 18 preview

Richmond race could produce lucky 13th winner of 2005 season DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 6, 2005) -- NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitors are closing in on a record that's stood for six years. With 12 different winners in the season's...

Richmond race could produce lucky 13th winner of 2005 season

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 6, 2005) -- NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitors are closing in on a record that's stood for six years.

With 12 different winners in the season's first 17 races, the series is on track to eclipse the 14 who won in 1998.

The record was in jeopardy last year when 13 drivers posted victories. Significant, perhaps, is that four competitors got their first win of the 2004 season during the final eight races -- the same number remaining on this year's schedule.

Three active winners from a year ago -- Rick Crawford (No. 14 Lilly Trucking of Virginia Ford), Chad Chaffin (No. 60 Jeff Wyler Racing Toyota) and David Starr (No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet) -- have yet to visit victory lane in 2005, something each hopes to remedy with Thursday's Cheerios Betty Crocker 200 at Richmond International Raceway.

The .75-mile Richmond track has produced three first-time series winners. On four occasions, the race has added a name to that season's list of winners, most recently in 2002 when Tony Stewart (No. 92 Kevin Harvick Racing Chevrolet) captured the first of back-to-back victories.

Stewart and Jack Sprague (No. 16 Chevy Trucks Chevrolet) are the only drivers with multiple wins during the first 10 Cheerios Betty Crocker 200s. Both will compete in Thursday's race.

"I'd like to be part of setting a record this year," said Crawford, who's had a challenging season. "We're taking each of the remaining races very seriously. It's been a rough year both equipment-wise and health-wise."

Crawford, 16th in championship standings, missed his first start since 1997 because of a qualifying accident earlier this summer at Kentucky Speedway. His last victory came at Martinsville Speedway in April 2004.

"We had a good test there (at Richmond) and we've led some laps," said Crawford, an eight-time Richmond starter. "So winning is a possibility."

It's been a year of highs and lows for Chaffin, who recorded victories last season at Dover International Speedway and Indianapolis Raceway Park. He left the No. 30 Germain Motors Toyota in mid-June and caught on with a new team. Chaffin was in position to win last month at Bristol Motor Speedway until being put out of contention by tire trouble.

"I think you will see a record for the number of different winners," said Chaffin. "The series has grown so much over the last few years and all of these different winners show the depth of quality drivers and teams we have now. We have 12 different winners so far but look at the list of guys who have not won yet and can do so at any point. There are about 20 drivers out here every week that can win at a given time."

Chaffin, who is yet to finish in the top 10 at Richmond, is optimistic he can be the next winner. "Bristol was really a turning point for all of us and we showed what we're capable of doing," he said.

Starr's 2004 wins came at Gateway International Raceway and Phoenix International Raceway. He's currently 10th in points but hasn't finished higher than fifth.

"It's been a frustrating season and we've been struggling a little bit," said Starr, who must improve on a Richmond-best finish of 13th. "The series is tougher than it's ever been. We will have more NASCAR NEXTEL Cup regulars in the field at Richmond which raises the bar even more. That's good for the series but it forces you to have your ducks in a row."

Like Crawford and Chaffin, Starr also tested at Richmond and was pleased with the results.

"We are looking for a good run and a trip to victory lane," he said. "This team is more than capable of getting there."

-nascar-

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Jack Sprague , Rick Crawford , Chad Chaffin