NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Teleconference Wednesday, September 30 Dennis Setzer (Driver of No. 46 Silverado Chevrolet) David Starr (Driver of No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet) Dennis Setzer is driver of the No. 46 Silverado Chevrolet...
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Teleconference
Wednesday, September 30
Dennis Setzer (Driver of No. 46 Silverado Chevrolet)
David Starr (Driver of No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet)
Dennis Setzer is driver of the No. 46 Silverado Chevrolet for Morgan-Dollar Motorsports. He is in his sixth full-season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Just last season the Oklahoma-based Morgan-Dollar Motorsports team moved to North Carolina. Setzer is currently second in the points standing, 39 points behind leader Bobby Hamilton. He has two wins on the season - Lowe's Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway. He also has seven top-fives and 11 top-10 finishes. Setzer finished second in the points championship last season, just nine points behind champion Travis Kvapil. Setzer has 12 career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series wins.
David Starr is the driver of the No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet for Spears Motorsports. This is his fourth full-season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Starr is currently ninth in the championship points standings. He has one win in 2004 at Gateway International Raceway. Starr also has one pole (Lowe's Motor Speedway), four top-fives and 11 top-10s. Starr has two career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series wins
Q: You won the last NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in June, and that helped propel you right in the middle of the championship race. Talk about being in the middle of another championship race for the second straight year, and what it is going to take to run down and beat Bobby Hamilton.
DENNIS SETZER: Well, it's great to be in that situation again. We owe it all to our team and the preparation they do on our trucks, on our Silverados each and every week is just second to none. We don't have failures - knock on wood. We usually don't have failures on our truck. No parts ever fall off, and the guys do a great job every week. That has paid big dividends. We ran really good the early part of the year, the first half to third of a year. We kindly went through a little slump, but I think things are starting to come back together now. We're just getting everything lined up, and hope to make a run for the championship at the end of the year.
Q: David, you had a very strong second half of the season. The first half for some stages you would probably like to forget. Talk about what's helped turn things around for the Spears team here in the second half.
DAVID STARR: Well, it seems like the first part of the year if there was some bad luck to have we were definitely going to have it. It seemed like we had a monkey on our back. We had a great racing team and Dave McCarty, my crew chief, is a great crew chief. The guys work hard, and when they bring our Chevrolet Silverado's to the race track, like Dennis was saying earlier, nothing ever falls off of them and we always seem to have a good prepared race truck. But it just seemed like we were having bad luck. We were kind of in a slump you could say.
Finally towards the end of the first half of the season this thing started turning around and we started knocking off good finishes, finishing in the top five and being very consistent. We're continuing to do that today. It's a great racing team. It just seemed like when we got off to our start of the 2004 season we just got off to a slow start. We're starting to get it turned around now, and we're looking forward getting back to Texas Motor Speedway for the Silverado 350.
Q: Dennis, being the winner of the June race - that was a night race and this will be in the afternoon - is there anything that the team can really bring from that night and everything the you did back in June to translate it into October.
SETZER: Well, we certainly hope so. We did most of our practice and qualifying for the June race actually during the daytime, so that will translate over. Texas is usually always warm there, and the surface is one of the best in NASCAR. The speedway has done a lot to accommodate some other divisions in NASCAR that complained a lot about it, but it seemed like the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series never complained. They have always enjoyed being at Texas Motor Speedway and always enjoy racing there. The track has worked so hard to make the facility as great as it is, and I don't see much changes from the June race until now.
Q: What would it mean for you, Dennis, for David Dollar and Rob Morgan (the owners of Morgan-Dollar) the Oklahoma ties - what would two wins at Texas in one season mean to them and to you?
SETZER: Well, it would just be unbelievable. We've unfortunately been chasing Brendan Gaughan down there for a few years. He dominated and took Texas out of the picture for us for a couple of years. It's nice to have that available to us now. It'd be great for David Dollar - he's in nearby Oklahoma still. That would be huge for him to get a win there close by his home state. It'd just be great for the whole team. These guys on the team are competitive every week. They don't care where it is, they want to win a race. But it would be special for David (Dollar) and all his people.
Q: David Starr, to say you want a victory at Texas Motor Speedway would probably be the greatest understatement of all time. You're still looking for that first win. Talk about what a Silverado 350 victory would mean, finally getting a win at Texas and getting the monkey off your back.
STARR: I consider Texas Motor Speedway my home track. All the guys there have been really good to my family. It just seems like when the race track opened up in 1997, and let us bring in our business, our racing school there - the Team Texas High Performance Driving School - and that's really been a lot of fun to have it based right there at the Texas Motor Speedway. A lot of people get to enjoy that.
On the racing aspect of it, I've been racing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series the last four years, and it's always fun to come home, to be able to sleep in your own bed, and come to your home track, the Texas Motor Speedway, and to race there. You get to race in front of all your family and friends. Really a lot of the people that influenced my career since I got started in my dirt car days, they are up in the stands watching. Just to be able to win there at my home track would really be big for my career and something that would be close to my heart. because really, I don't think I would have made it as far as I have made it to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. When the Texas Motor Speedway came to Fort Worth, Texas, Eddie Gossage and all the people there really did some stuff to help me further my career. So, it would mean a lot to me to be able to win there at home. That would be really big for my team.
And like Dennis said earlier, week in and week out when we unload off the truck, no matter if we're in St. Louis, Las Vegas, Daytona, Texas Motor Speedway, our goals are always the same and that's to put our Spears Chevrolet Silverado in Victory Lane. And that's what we'll be trying to do this weekend in California, and we'll be trying to do the same thing at the Texas Motor Speedway. But it would definitely have a sweeter taste I guess you could say being there at Texas Motor Speedway because I have tried for four years now to win there, and I've been close several times. Brendan Gaughan seemed to master the place, and now that he has moved up to the NEXTEL Cup Series, he has really opened up the door for other people to win since he took away from us for so long. I'm glad to see that if I couldn't win the last race (in June) that Dennis Setzer, my Chevrolet Silverado teammate, won the race. But it would sure be sweet to me.
Q: Four major manufacturers stepping up this year, the competition level has been at an incredible level all season long with Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge and Toyota. Talk about when you when you get on to a superspeedway with all the top notch programs, how much tougher is it this year than last year or 2002 as far as competition.
SETZER: The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has really come to another level I think. Partially because of all the champions that have went on to other divisions like NEXTEL Cup and now they are all back in this division, you have Jack Sprague, Mike Skinner, Ted Musgrave and Travis Kvapil is still here - just a huge amount of guys along with the regulars like David Starr and myself. It's just unbelievable the competition level. Last year, I think we may have had 18 or 19 top-10s. This year, you can actually race hard and not finish in the top 10 in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series because of the caliber of the competition out there - not really have any problems that day and just unfortunately not run well enough to do it. It speaks highly of the competition. Chevrolet has really stepped up their program this year. On my truck they brought Allison transmissions and DuraMax Diesel came in and fully sponsored the truck. They brought the RCR group back in, to supply us with engines and that has paid big dividends to us at the big tracks like Texas and other places.
STARR: Like Dennis said, last year and two years ago, there were 12 or 13 teams that could win any given weekend, and if you look at the rundown in practice and in qualifying these, our fields are so tight now. You are used to seeing that in the NEXTEL Cup Series, but now you see that in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. You could get loose in one corner two years ago or last year in qualifying and still come out with a decent qualifying run. But going into qualifying this year, if you get loose in the corner or wherever just a little bit, where you have to get off the throttle just a little bit it really shows up on the time because the competition level is so tough.
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has just grown and grown over the years. I think with Toyota coming in to the Series this year, it really stepped up the level of competition. And like Dennis said, all the past champions and all the NEXTEL Cup drivers we have in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series now, just the competition level is incredible. Before you would see people with 15, 16, 17 top 10s, and now you're not seeing that. You could be off a little bit and be out of the top 10 very easily just because the competition level is so fierce. It is when Toyota came in. They did raise the bar in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
Being a factory team with Chevrolet, they have really stepped up their program if you look at what Dennis Setzer has done and what Jack Sprague (No. 16 Chevrolet) has done and Matt Crafton (No. 6 Chevrolet) and myself, the Spears Motorsports Team. Chevrolet has really stepped up their program. I always knew and heard over the years that being a factory-backed team was really big, but until you are really a part of it and see what Chevrolet does, and how our team benefits from being a factory-backed team, it's incredible, it's bigger than what I ever thought it would be. I kind of credit how all the Silverados have been running in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series to the factory backing, the support they give us, and us utilizing that and working together. All four teams work together as one team. After practice I can sit down with Dennis or Jack or Matt Crafton and we can talk about our set-up. We listen to their crew chiefs, and we see what they changed on their truck. We get ideas from our teammates. So really, there are four GM teams our there, but we work together as one team and I think that has been real beneficial to all the Chevrolet teams this year. Dennis Setzer being second in points and having a shot at the championship says a lot for what Chevrolet has done.
Continued in part 2