NEWS OF NOTE * Scorching the superspeedways... Jason Leffler (No. 2 Team ASE Racing/Carquest Dodge), broke the one-lap qualifying record at New Hampshire International Speedway on July 19 to record his seventh Bud Pole of the 2002 season...
NEWS OF NOTE
* Scorching the superspeedways... Jason Leffler (No. 2 Team ASE Racing/Carquest Dodge), broke the one-lap qualifying record at New Hampshire International Speedway on July 19 to record his seventh Bud Pole of the 2002 season and third consecutive on a track of one mile or longer. The latter feat ties the NASCAR Craftsman Truck record shared by Stacy Compton (1999) and Joe Ruttman (2000). What's the record for consecutive poles on the series? Ten, by Mike Skinner in 1995.
* Second, again, but still climbing the ladder... A third consecutive second-place finish moved Dennis Setzer (No. 46 ACXIOM/Computer Associates Chevrolet) closer still to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck points lead. Setzer, 172 points out after finishing 15th at Milwaukee on June 29, has cut the deficit to 115. He also has moved from eighth to fifth - and 15 points out of fourth. Greg Biffle is the only other series competitor to finish second in three consecutive races, in 2000 at Chicago, Richmond and Dover.
* No repeater at New Hampshire... None of the four leaders of the New England 200 - Leffler, Mike Bliss, Terry Cook and Kevin Harvick - ever had won a race at New Hampshire International Speedway. Cook became winner No. 7 at NHIS. Cook is the second competitor to win three times in 2002.
* Craftsman Trucks return to Michigan... After a year's absence, NASCAR Craftsman Truck competition returns to Michigan International Speedway. Biffle won both previous events, in 1999-2000, in the No. 50 Roush Racing Ford F-150 truck now driven by Jon Wood. Setzer is the only entered driver with a top-five finish on the 2-mile superspeedway. He finished fifth in 2000.
* Wide-open competition at MIS... The lead changed hands a dozen times at MIS in 1999 and 14 the following year. Twelve different drivers have led a series race at the track but only one - Bryan Reffner - is ticketed to compete in 2002. Speaking of Reffner, his No. 7 www.missingkids.com <http://www.missingkids.com> Chevrolet will carry the photo of Steven Earl Kraft, a 14-year-old Benton Harbor, Mich., youth who disappeared Feb. 15, 2001.
* Home game for Cook, Keselowski team... Cook, from MIS neighbor Sylvania, Ohio (a Toledo suburb), will host guests from Big Brothers and Big Sisters organizations prior to the Michigan 200. A fire prevention and safety seminar featuring members of the Sylvania Police and Fire Departments is planned. Team owner/spotter Kay Keselowski and family hail from the Detroit area. Her husband and K Automotive crew chief Bob Keselowski won an ARCA race at MIS.
* Points leader has fond Michigan memories... Ted Musgrave (No. 1 Mopar Performance Dodge), competed in his first NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway in 1990. Musgrave is the most recent series winner at California Speedway, a near copy of MIS. He carries a 35-point championship advantage (over Bliss) into the 200-mile race." At Michigan, drafting is going to be very important. That's one of the benefits of having a two-truck team," Musgrave said, referring to teammate Leffler."If we can draft together, we'll run a lot faster than just one truck by itself and that will help both of us conserve fuel."
* It's where you finish... Once upon a time in NASCAR, a top-five finish was considered a mark of excellence. Then, as competition increased, the measure was a top 10. Now, many - especially rookie drivers - see the top 15 as a goal, especially in the championship standings. Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Bill Lester (No. 8 Dodge Motorsports Dodge), is one of five competitors ranked 14th through 18th who are separated by only 33 points."We just need to have a solid run," said Lester, whose bids for top-10 or top-five finishes have been blunted by a continuing series of pit road troubles. Those in the mix with Lester include veterans Bobby Dotter (14th), Brian Rose (15th), Carlos Contreras (16th) and Matt Crafton (18th).
* Streaking to Michigan... Travis Kvapil is the only competitor, with a significant number of starts, to have completed every NASCAR Craftsman Truck race he's started. The 2001 Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year completed his 36th consecutive event last week at New Hampshire where he finished seventh. Kvapil and Musgrave are 12-for-12 in finishes this season."I don't know a whole lot about MIS other than watching it on television," said Kvapil, whose No. 60 CAT Rental Stores Chevrolet team finished fourth in the 2000 race with Andy Houston."They say it's a lot like California and we did pretty well at California. We qualified second and finished seventh."
TRACKING SERIES ALUMNI
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champions Biffle, Ron Hornaday Jr. and Jack Sprague finished first, second and fourth in last Saturday night's NASCAR Busch Series Charter Pipeline 250 at Gateway International Raceway. NASCAR Craftsman Truck alum Tony Raines was fifth.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
In 1999, Biffle won nine times to break the single-season mark established in 1995 by Skinner. The fifth victory of the season came at Michigan International Speedway where Biffle edged Jay Sauter by .153-second. That finish remains the 11th-closest in 182 NASCAR Craftsman Truck races.
TV: ESPN (1 p.m. ET).
Weekend schedule: Friday-Practice, 10:35 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; Qualifying, 3:05; Final practice, 5-6 p.m. Saturday-Drivers/crew chiefs meeting, 11 a.m.; Drivers introductions, 12:30 p.m.; Race start, 1 p.m.