* Avoiding trouble is watchword for this week's O'Reilly 200 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 22, 2005) -- Nothing sums up Bristol Motor Speedway better than the phrase "no place to hide." It matters little whether you're fast or slow, veteran or ...
* Avoiding trouble is watchword for this week's O'Reilly 200
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 22, 2005) -- Nothing sums up Bristol Motor Speedway better than the phrase "no place to hide."
It matters little whether you're fast or slow, veteran or rookie driver. Trouble can be a split-second ahead for any competitor in Wednesday night's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series O'Reilly 200 presented by Valvoline.
"Avoiding trouble is an extremely difficult task," said Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet), the race's only two-time winner. "The best way to do it is to get out front and lead the race.
"Out front is the place to be but you still are not safe. There is always lapped traffic and sometimes you can't tell the difference no matter where you are on the track."
Hornaday, an aggressive driver, led all 200 laps in 1997. He also finished runnerup in a NASCAR Busch Series race around Bristol's 36-degree banked concrete speedway in 2001.
He counsels patience -- a word frequently forgotten at Bristol -- at least to a degree.
"Make sure you drive hard enough to get out of the middle of the pack but not too hard as to make everyone upset," he said. "It doesn't take much to get under someone's skin around there and when you have another driver angry with you on the track, chances are that they are going to find you.
"If you show some patience and don't cause anything yourself, you are putting the odds in your favor."
Since the series returned to Bristol two years ago, the track has broken hearts and fulfilled dreams.
A year ago, Dennis Setzer (No. 46 Chevrolet Z71 Silverado Chevrolet) saw a sure, top-five finish -- and possibly his first championship -- go up in smoke with a few laps remaining.
Setzer, on new tires, tried to take second place away from Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) three laps from the scheduled finish. Skinner had other ideas.
Contact sent both trucks spinning out of the top 10.
"If you don't race hard you are not going to be in position to win a championship," said Setzer, who finished 16th. Counting backwards, third would have given the current points leader the title. "But you have to race hard to earn points and sometimes it doesn't work out but most of the time, it does."
On the other hand, Bristol can seal championships. In 2003, Kevin Harvick's next-to-last lap tire trouble handed the win to Travis Kvapil. Without Bristol's 10 points -- the difference between first and second and the lap leader bonus -- Kvapil would not have won the title.
Another Bristol winner, Jack Sprague (No. 16 Chevy Trucks Chevrolet), sees it this way.
"At Bristol, it is always better to be lucky than good because of the fast action," he said. "But to win, you have to put yourself in the best possible place as the race winds down. So you have to have both to get to victory lane.
"It is an intense race because you are just on it mentally and physically the entire race."