Charlotte: GM Racing preview

* Chevrolet Silverado has won six of the12 NCTS manufacturers championships * Silverado drivers have won eight of the 12 possible Series' driver championships * Silverado drivers have won more races than any other brand - 125 of 292 - 42.8% ...

* Chevrolet Silverado has won six of the12 NCTS manufacturers championships

* Silverado drivers have won eight of the 12 possible Series' driver championships

* Silverado drivers have won more races than any other brand - 125 of 292 - 42.8% (1995-2006)

Concord, NC - Another multi-week layoff has Team Chevy Silverado drivers ready to get back to the race track. Lowe's Motor Speedway (LMS), the hometown track for the majority of the teams, plays host for race number six of the 2007 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) season on Friday night.

Silverado teams and drivers took part in a two-day LMS test late last week, priming everyone for the intense competition that has become the hallmark of the Charlotte race.

Racing near home is always a plus for Dennis Setzer, No. 77 Spears Manufacturing Silverado.

"Although our Spears team is owned by Wayne and Connie Spears who are in California," said Setzer, "our shop is here in this area like most of the teams, so racing at Charlotte and winning is bragging rights.

"We had a good test last week and are feeling good about our Silverado for Friday night. As always, there is a balance you have to maintain in getting out and going to the front as soon as possible, but saving your equipment to have what you need to make a charge at the end."

But Brendan Gaughan, No. 77 South Point Hotel Silverado, would like to play the role as spoiler. Born and raised in Las Vegas, NV, Gaughan and the team are based in the desert oasis.

"I would absolutely love to still their thunder at Charlotte this Friday night and take the trophy back with me to Las Vegas," said Gaughan. "I would love to ruin the Charlotte-based NCTS teams night - just like they want to ruin mine when they are in Las Vegas. We ended up almost winning this race two years ago. Ted Musgrave and I were going door-to-door, right down to the wire, so I still want that trophy.

"We had a great test with two equally good Chevrolets although we were practicing with two different setups - one being a coil bind setup and the other being a conventional setup. After the test, I think everyone had a tough time deciding which truck to make our primary.

"That has been the greatest thing about the partnership that the South Point team has made with Chevrolet and how far this team has come. All our trucks are just as good as the other."

Of course, two-time NCTS winner at LMS, Kyle Busch, will have something to say. Busch will again be behind the wheel of the No. 51 Billy Ballew Motorsports Silverado, the team that he took to victory lane in both 2005 and 2006.

"We're excited about having Kyle (Busch) back in one of the trucks this weekend," team owner Billy Ballew said. "It would be pretty stout to bring home another victory in Charlotte and the third in a row for Kyle. We've got a great truck for Bill Lester in the No. 15 as well, so it might be a battle between the two when it comes down to the end."

Said full-time Ballew driver Bill Lester, No. 15 Silverado, who will team with young Busch: "We had a great test last week and I really feel that things are coming together nicely. It will be much easier to build momentum going into the stretch of races after this week in Charlotte and I am looking forward to it."

Busch will then be looking for a Saturday night victory for a cool million dollars in the Nextel All Star Challenge in his Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg's Chevrolet.

But Kevin Harvick, Inc. is bringing a strong pair of Silverados to the party. Sporting a new full-time sponsor, two-time NCTS champion Ron Hornaday, No. 33 Camping World Silverado will team with his boss, Kevin Harvick, No. 2 Camping World Silverado.

"The Charlotte Motor Speedway has always been a favorite of mine," said Hornaday. "It's nice to race so close to home. A lot of my friends and family are able to come to the track and watch me race, and that makes it even more fun. This week testing with Rick (Ren), I drove an old favorite and a new truck. They were both great. It's not the same track as it used to be, but it's still just as much fun.

"The folks at Camping World are just as committed to the program and winning as the No. 33 team. Having signed on for the rest of the season with our team, on top of the other KHI programs that they already work with -- that says a lot. I am also happy to have blue and yellow on the truck. This new paint scheme reminds me of a time in my career that was just as exciting as it is right now. Blue and yellow has always brought me good luck."

Harvick will have a double-duty weekend as well running both the Quaker Steak and Lube 200 and the Nextel All Star Challenge in his No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet.

Harvick explained the difference between driving his Silverado and his Monte Carlo SS at LMS, "The trucks are almost wide open all the way around because they have so much more down force. With the cars, you have to lift of the throttle in the corners. With the trucks, you arc it in a lot more and roll out of the gas a lot slower in the corners. They (the trucks) draft a lot more like a car would at Daytona or Talladega because they are so much boxier and punch such a bigger hole in the air."

"I really enjoy racing the trucks because they are so much fun," Harvick concluded. "I like racing at Charlotte, under the lights on the All-Star weekend. I think it gets everybody excited."

Don't count out the youngsters in the Silverado contingent. Kraig Kinser, No. 47 Ginn Clubs and Resorts Silverado, is ready to get back in the cockpit and ready to race.

"I am ready to get back to the track for sure," said the Bloomington, IN native. "Having races spread out like they have been has been like teasers to me, but we are going to have seven races in a row, which will definitely be better for me. I am really hoping to have some good runs in this stretch, which we have had, it was just getting the finishes we should have has been the problem. It just seems like little things have gone wrong, but hopefully the kinks are gone and the bad luck is behind us.

"In my opinion, the test was great. Anytime we are given time at a track to test and get extra practice, we are game. I only have one race under my belt at LMS, so I was ready to make as many laps as I could. The guys were able to try some things out and having the time on the track at night, which will be the conditions that we race under, was beneficial also, as all of our practices are during the morning. Rodney (McGehee, crew chief) and the guys are going to be pulling a lot of information from the test and will be applying it to the upcoming race, and I am confident in our chances."

Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender Willie Allen, No. 13 ThorSport Silverado, like the veterans, is ready to get back to the track.

"I'm glad we had the opportunity to test at Charlotte," said Allen. "It gave me a chance to get a few laps under my belt and get a good feel for the track. I think our major concern is the tires Goodyear brought us for this race. The tires are hard and very slick so the balancing act has been tough to find but we've been working very hard as a team on a setup that will make us successful at Charlotte. This race is the first of seven races in a row for us and I'm excited about that. Not having a long break between races really helps when you are trying to carry over knowledge you gained from the previous race. This is a very competitive series and that is what I love about it. You have to bring your A game as a driver and team to every race to be successful and that is what we intend to do."

Shane Huffman will be behind the wheel of the No. 40 Curtis Key Plumbing Silverado. Huffman is the full-time driver for Dale Earnhardt, Jr's. JR Motorsports Chevrolet entry in the NASCAR Busch Series.

"I'm really looking forward to getting back to racing the trucks," said Huffman. "I had some good races with Key Motorsports last year, and I know their equipment has improved in 2007. I'm hoping that the added seat time I'll get in the truck will help me with the Busch car the following week."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Kevin Harvick , Ted Musgrave , Dennis Setzer , Bill Lester , Brendan Gaughan , Willie Allen , Shane Huffman , Kyle Busch
Teams Richard Childress Racing