Team Rensi Motorsports goes trucking in 2000 By Dave Rodman
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Dec. 29, 1999) Team Rensi Motorsports will debut its NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team in the season opening NCTS 250 at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 18.
Team owners Ed and Sam Rensi purchased seven Chevrolet Silverado trucks from Dale Earnhardt Inc. following the 1999 season. NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series veteran Jimmy Hensley will drive the No. 16 truck at Daytona, Ed Rensi said Wednesday.
Sam Rensi said the brothers' intention is to compete in a full season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The team may possibly even use African American driver Bill Lester in some events, Ed Rensi said.
"We wanted to start a second team, to create a multi-car or multi-series organization," Sam Rensi said of the birth of the truck team. "The logic behind it was that the Busch Series was so competitive that we wanted to enter into the Craftsman Truck Series with a young driver who would develop and have a greater chance of greater success, earlier in the Craftsman Truck Series."
Despite that intent, the opportunity to put the veteran driver into equipment that won series championships in 1996 and 1998 with driver Ron Hornaday was too good to pass up.
"We thought the Craftsman Truck Series was a good way to go because there's about 149 Busch numbers requested for 2000," Sam Rensi said. "When Dale Earnhardt got out of the truck series and his equipment became available, and when Jimmy was released we saw it as an opportunity to put the two together and we moved ahead with it pretty quickly."
Now, the icing on the cake would be a business partner to move the program up another notch.
"We're looking for a marketing partner with which we can mutually exploit the full benefit of being involved in the Craftsman Truck Series," Sam Rensi said. "Our strategic alliance with Dale has allowed him to maintain contact with a series he has valued and done well at. So far, it's come together pretty well."
Hensley said he was anticipating testing in the double championship winning equipment, first on Jan. 3 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and later in the month at the "World Center of Racing" in the open Daytona test on Jan. 14-15.
"I'm really excited about it," said Hensley, who was released following the 1999 season as the driver of Petty Enterprises' Dodge Rams despite winning a race in each of the last two seasons. "We don't have sponsorship right now but they have got some stuff working. Hopefully we can keep on digging.
"It's a good opportunity for me -- everyone I've talked to says they're great people to work for."
Hensley will work with veteran crew chief Troy Selberg, who has been with Team Rensi Motorsports for two weeks and will serve as general manager of the overall racing operation, Ed Rensi said. Hensley said despite working with Selberg for the first time, he didn't see it as a detriment.
"I've been around him a lot in my career and he's one of the few I haven't actually worked with," said Hensley, who has extensive experience in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division, as well as the NCTS. "We've talked a lot in the last week or so and I don't see where we'd have any problems at all getting the truck dialed in."
Hensley should be in a position to excel in the opener. Not only does he have extensive experience at the 2.5-mile Daytona trioval in stock cars; he also participated in the first series test session there in September, when he drove Petty's No. 43 Dodge.
"I was real impressed with the speed we ran, plus the stability the trucks had," Hensley said. "I've driven cars there that didn't really feel any better than that truck did. We ran some pretty good numbers that first test. I was pretty impressed with the way they drove and the way they reacted in the draft."
Hensley predicted a wild season opener for the division's sixth year.
"The draft worked like it did long ago when you had some horsepower and could really get a run at somebody," Hensley said. "I was surprised at that -- most of my racing at Daytona has been with the restrictor plates -- so that was kind of different."
But for sure, the experience, and the opportunity with the Rensi brothers, is a welcome salvation for the likeable Virginia veteran.