</pre> DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Feb. 16 may be the first day of class, but the 2001 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series rookies have been doing their homework. They bring a wealth of experience from more than 10 national racing series...
</pre> DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Feb. 16 may be the first day of class, but the 2001 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series rookies have been doing their homework. They bring a wealth of experience from more than 10 national racing series to the season opener at Daytona International Speedway. Welcome the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series rookies of 2001:
Willy T. Ribbs
--No. 8 DaimlerChrysler Dodge.
Ribbs arrives at Bobby Hamilton Racing with broad experience in professional racing. In SCCA's Trans-Am Series, he claimed 17 victories for Jack Roush. >From Trans-Am, Ribbs went on to win in IMSA. Open-wheel fans will remember Ribbs from the 1991 Indianapolis 500. Ribbs, 42, continues to live in San Jose, Calif.
--No. 16 Team Rensi Motorsports Chevrolet.
Donohue, 33, claimed the first CART Super Touring championship in 1997. The following year he went on to victory in his class at the 24 Hours of LeMans driving a Dodge Viper GTS-R. Donohue, son of the famed Indianapolis 500 winner Mark Donohue, lives with his family in Malvern, Pa.
--No. 17 GMAC Financial Chevrolet
A name synonymous with winning, Hendrick, son of four-time NASCAR Winston Cup championship owner Rick Hendrick, competed in a handful of Craftsman Truck Series events in 2000. His best finish was sixth at Pikes Peak International Raceway. At 20, Hendrick will try to become the youngest driver to win in Craftsman Truck Series competition. He started his career in late model stock cars near his hometown at Concord Motorsports Park in N.C.
Mark Petty -- No. 44 Dodge Petty, son of Maurice Petty and nephew of Richard, entered seven events in the 2000 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season. The 31-year-old's best finish was 10th in October at Texas Motor Speedway. Petty, who resides in Randleman, N.C., works alongside his father and brothers building engines for the Petty Enterprises stable of race vehicles.
--No. 50 Roush Racing Ford
Recommended by former NASCAR Busch Series champion Randy LaJoie, Hossfeld, 23, survived several on-track auditions with Jack Roush to win his seat for the 2001 season. Growing up in Ransomville, N.Y., he stormed the Northeast to win 18 asphalt modified races in 1999. The same year, the open-wheel racer claimed two track championships and won the prestigious Sunoco Race of Champions.
--No. 60 CAT Rental Stores Chevrolet
Kvapil, 24, is looking forward to the Craftsman Truck Series stop in Pikes Peak International Raceway since he tasted victory there the last two years with the RE/MAX Challenge Series. The late model touring division is where Kvapil, of Janesville, Wis., competed against Roush Racing newcomer Nathan Haseleu. Ironically, both raced out of the same shop in Wisconsin.
--No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet
Bigley, a native of Naples, Fla., clinched the Slim Jim All Pro Series championship in 2000. The 38-year-old leaves this NASCAR tour as the all-time leader in career starts. Bigley plans on driving in a handful of All Pro Series races outside his Craftsman Truck Series duties.
--No. 88 Sealmaster Racing Chevrolet
Crafton graduates as the 2000 Featherlite Southwest Series champion, where he has raced since 1996. His first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series start was at last season's finale in California where he finished an impressive ninth. This run helped secure the 24-year-old's spot in the No. 88 Chevrolet. To be with the team, Crafton recently moved to Ohio from his hometown of Tulare, Calif.
--No. 99 Roush Racing Ford
Jack Roush, known for bringing new talent to the Craftsman Truck Series, introduces Haseleu, a three-year veteran of the RE/MAX Challenge Series. A native of Wisconsin, Haseleu, 23, won three local track championships before moving to NASCAR's late model touring division.
Several other drivers have tossed their hats in the rookie ring for the 2001 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season: Ronnie Hornaday III, Ricky Sanders, Jason Small, Larry Gunzelman, and Brian Rose. With so many talented competitors, finishing at the head of the class will be quite an accomplishment.