Florida Dodge Dealers 250 kicks off series' second decade NEWS & NOTES Truck racing's second decade unfolds in Florida ... The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is "10 Years Tough" and counting down to its 250th race later this spring at Dover ...
Florida Dodge Dealers 250 kicks off series' second decade
NEWS & NOTES
Truck racing's second decade unfolds in Florida ... The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is "10 Years Tough" and counting down to its 250th race later this spring at Dover International Speedway. The Florida Dodge Dealers 250 marks the 243rd event and ninth consecutive season in which the season-opening race has been held in the Sunshine State. The 2005 season is the first in which four former champions -- Skinner, Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet), Jack Sprague (No. 16 Chevy Trucks Chevrolet) and Bobby Hamilton (No. 04 Lufkin Pro Series Dodge) -- have battled for the championship. Hamilton is the defending champion while Hornaday returns fulltime to the series for the first time since 1999.
Etc. ... Shige Hattori (No. 9 AISIN/AISIN AW Toyota) is bidding to become the first Japanese-born driver to compete in a NASCAR national touring series race at Daytona International Speedway. Hattori, a veteran open-wheel competitor, just missed qualifying for the 2004 finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Only one Japanese driver has competed in a NASCAR-sanctioned race at Daytona: Seiichi Suzuki participated in a February 1970 Grand American race at the wheel of a Mercury Cougar fielded by "Tiger Tom" Pistone. ... The Florida Dodge Dealers 250 will be the 100th series start for Ted Musgrave (No. 1 Mopar Dodge). Musgrave won the Bud Pole in 2002. ... While only two previous winners are expected to participate in this year's race -- Pressley (2002) and Crawford (2003) -- the entry list includes 15 drivers who have won a combined 128 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races. ... Pressley is the only driver to have won his first series race at Daytona and one of three to win in his first start. The others are Skinner and Kasey Kahne. ... Pressley, who spent the 2003-04 seasons in the NASCAR Busch Series, holds the Daytona series average race speed record of 140.121 mph. That's the 10th fastest average race speed in series history. ... This year's Daytona race likely will be the first in which the previous season's top three finishers won't compete. Carl Edwards, Kvapil and Mike Wallace, all NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series regulars, aren't entered. ... The youngest viewer of SPEED Channel's Florida Dodge Dealers 250? Possibly Lydia Cathleen Craven, born to Cathleen and Ricky (#99 Superchips Ford) on Feb. 10, the couple's third child. ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Terry Cook still golden at Daytona ... Last year's Florida Dodge Dealers 250 Bud Pole winner Terry Cook (No. 10 Power Stroke Diesel by International Ford) remains the only driver to lead all five races at Daytona as well as finish among the top 10. Cook was fifth in 2004 with a best finish of fourth in the 2000 inaugural event.
Jimmy Spencer knows the way ... To Daytona's victory lane, that is. Spencer (No. 2 Mopar/Team ASE Dodge), won the track's 1994 Pepsi 400, one of the Pennsylvania native's two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victories. The Ultra Motorsports team is riding Kahne's two-race win streak from 2004 -- at Darlington and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Jamie McMurray also scored for the No. 2 team at Martinsville Speedway last October.
"If you miss all the mistakes that people make out there then you will be in a position at the end to have a strong finish. There isn't a trick to winning the race, just a trick to drafting well. That part I won't tell. It took me years and the great Dale Earnhardt to learn that." -- Bobby Hamilton, whose trucks have won twice at Daytona.
"You do not lose the draft as quickly and can regain positions quicker than in a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup car. I feel like I can take more chances knowing that I can still regain positions." -- Johnny Benson, No. 23 Toyota Tundra Toyota, who finished 10th in the 2002 Daytona 500.
"There seems to be a lot of talk about the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup veterans coming to the series. As a competitor, I see it as an advantage to have them in the field. The rookies are never going to learn if they don't have teachers." -- Chase Montgomery, 21, who qualified second for last year's Daytona race and won the 2003 ARCA 200; he's making his first start in the No. 18 BHR Dodge.
"Starting the season with a DNF puts you in a hole when it comes to the points race. Sure, we have 24 more races to work our way back to the top of the standings, but if someone gets out of Daytona with the win or a strong, top-five finish and then puts together three or four more strong runs in a row, you already have a huge mountain to climb." -- Jack Sprague, who won the 2001 championship after finishing 12th at Daytona. 10 YEARS TOUGH
Five drivers and four owners who participated in the series' inaugural race are expected to compete in the Florida Dodge Dealers 250. The drivers are Hornaday, Skinner, Sprague, Johnny Benson (No. 23 Toyota Tundra Toyota) and Ken Schrader (No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet). Owners who fielded an entry at Phoenix in 1995 are Schrader, Bob Keselowski, Jim Smith and Wayne Spears. Smith, one of the four off-road owners who brought the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series concept to NASCAR Vice Chairman Bill France, has entered at least one truck in every race. His Ultra Motorsports team has won 35 times -- second only to Roush Racing's 36. FROM THE ARCHIVES
The season's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion has finished among the top five at Daytona just once -- Kvapil's second-place effort in 2003. The worst Daytona finish in a driver's championship season? Bliss, after engine failure, finished 33rd in 2002 and left Florida 131 points behind winner Pressley. Bliss finished all 24 of the remaining races, logging 13 top-five finishes.
What: Florida Dodge Dealers 250 (Race 1 of 25).
Where: Daytona International Speedway.
When: 8:15 p.m. ET, Friday, Feb. 18.
Track layout: 2.5-mile high-banked paved.
Race length: 250 miles/100 laps.
Posted awards: $807,103.
TV: SPEED Channel, 8:15 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
2004 winner: Carl Edwards.
2004 polesitter: Terry Cook.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Wednesday -- Practice 3:00 p.m. -- 4:25 p.m. Thursday -- Practice 9:00 a.m. to 9:50 a.m. Qualifying 6:30 p.m. Trucks impounded after qualifying.