Fontana, CA - It wasn't exactly the California Dreamin' that Dennis Setzer and the #46 Acxiom/Computer Associates team had in mind for the season final at the California Speedway in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, but they'll take it and shift their concentration to a championship run in 2002.
Setzer and the #46 crew took the green flag for the Auto Club 200 in the fourth position, their seventh top-five qualifying effort of the 2001 season. Early in the race Setzer complained of a rare "loose" condition in the corners, a rare condition because of Setzer's driving style that normally shifts towards being constantly "tight". Chassis changes were made on the first pit stop and the handling of the truck eventually improved.
Pit stops would prove to be one of the biggest hurdles the team would have to contend with all afternoon. On the first stop the team faced several mistakes, resulting in lost positions on the two-mile superspeedway. Setzer was able to move back towards the front after a long green flag run between laps 30 and 49.
On the next stop, driver error would create the deficit as Setzer overshoot his pit stall coming in for a left-side change. The team would lose valuable time backing Setzer into the stall, returning him to action in the 10th position after entering pit road in fourth.
As the laps clicked away, it looked as if fuel mileage would become an issue for the team and on lap 67, crew chief Danny Gill made the call to pit for the final time under yellow. Calculations showed that the team could barely make it to the finish with the final tire and fuel stop. With important track position on the line, the team pulled off an excellent stop moving the #46 Morgan/Dollar Motorsports entry into the seventh position.
Setzer was able to use the pit strategy to his advantage, moving into the second position by lap 72. However, the position would not hold as the superior aerodynamic advantages of John Wood's Ford and Ted Musgrave's Dodge quickly delegated Setzer to fourth. He went on to hold the position until the checkered flag, crossing the finish line as best in class as the top-finishing Chevrolet.
"The team has really come together this year and Danny Gill has done an exceptional job of preparing these Silverado's for me," said Setzer. "Morgan-Dollar Motorsports has also become a very competitive team now, and that makes me very happy. We are extremely excited about next season and are eager to get started. Rob Morgan and David Dollar have assembled a formidable operation here and I am glad to be a part of it."
The finish was Setzer's eighth top-5 of the 2001 season his first with the Hennessey, Oklahoma based Morgan/Dollar Motorsports team. Through the series 24 events, the team recorded their first ever victory in Memphis, two poles in Kansas City and Richmond, 8 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes. After being as low as 22nd in the series points chase Setzer and company climbed there way back into the top-10 finishing the year in the ninth position.
The team now has a short week to celebrate their season finale fourth as Setzer prepares for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Banquet, Thursday night in Miami, Florida.