Two female drivers in 2004 championship chase -- a NASCAR first NEWS & NOTES * 10-year anniversary for series begins at Daytona ... The 2004 season figures to be the most competitive yet with an unprecedented three former champions -- Skinner,...
Two female drivers in 2004 championship chase -- a NASCAR first
NEWS & NOTES
* 10-year anniversary for series begins at Daytona ... The 2004 season figures to be the most competitive yet with an unprecedented three former champions -- Skinner, Jack Sprague (No. 16 Chevy Trucks Chevrolet) and Travis Kvapil (No. 24 LINE-X Toyota) -- competing fulltime. Sprague will be in pursuit of his fourth title behind the wheel of IWX Racing's 2002-03 championship Silverado. Steve Coulter's team became the first to win back-to-back owner championships, doing it with two different drivers -- Kvapil and Mike Bliss. Kvapil partners with Skinner, marking the first time that teammates have won the series crown.
* Fourth manufacturer joins series this week ... Toyota's Tundra makes its official series debut in the Florida Dodge Dealers 250. Four teams -- Bang, Bill Davis Racing, Darrell Waltrip Inc. and Innovative Motorsports -- will field a total of seven trucks. A historical footnote to consider: Chevrolet and Ford won in their first year in the series while Dodge did not capture a victory until its third. Chevrolet remains first in series wins with 104, followed by Ford (64) and Dodge (49).
* A first for female competitors in 2004 ... Tina Gordon (No. 13 ThorSport Chevrolet) and Kelly Sutton (No. 02 Team Copaxone Chevrolet) are set for full-season efforts in 2004, marking the first time two female drivers have competed fulltime in a NASCAR national touring series during the same year. Sutton, a Crownsville, Md. native and former Dash Series Most Popular Driver, has applied for Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidacy. Gordon and Tammy Jo Kirk chased rookie of the year honors in 2003 and 1997, respectively. Kirk remains the best-ranked female driver with a 20th-place championship effort and 11th-place race finish. Gordon's team is due to announce its sponsor this week.
* Etc. ... Joe Ruttman is the only driver to have won the Florida Dodge Dealers 250 from the Bud Pole ... Two of four previous races at Daytona have gone into overtime -- four extra laps in 2001 and six a year ago. When possible, NASCAR Craftsman Truck events conclude with two consecutive green-flag laps ... In addition to broadcasting Friday's Florida Dodge Dealers 250, SPEED Channel will air live practice and qualifying as part of its 70-plus hours of Speedweeks coverage ... The 31 official lead changes in the 2000 Florida Dodge Dealers 250 remains the series record.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
* Daytona, Florida appeal to Rick Crawford ... Crawford, in winning last year's race, broke a record 120-race drought, dating to his April 1998 victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The Alabama native has yet to post a series win outside the state of Florida. Crawford finished second to Bobby Hamilton (No. 4 Square D Dodge) in last year's Miami finale, suggesting Crawford is pleased to return to the Sunshine State.
"It's hard for people to get off work and come see us race on Friday afternoon. Now they will have that chance to come out after work and see the big action under the lights. It makes a lot of sense." -- Bobby Hamilton on the series' first Daytona night race.
"I learned a lot last year about racing trucks instead of cars." -- Chad Chaffin (No. 18 Dickies Dodge), the 10th-place championship finisher in 2003.
"I think that sneaking up on people is something I've had experience with in the past and that's fine by me. I would just as soon people not think a lot about it and then they look up there and say, 'hey, we forgot about this guy.'" -- Andy Houston (No. 2 Team ASE/Carquest Dodge) on being overlooked as a top championship contender in several preseason media polls.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
* Last year's Florida Dodge Dealers 250 featured the closest three-way finish -- .03 of a second -- with Crawford, Kvapil and Pressley in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series history. The total combined margin of victory in the four races at Daytona is .695 of a second, an average of .174.
What: Florida Dodge Dealers 250 (Race No. 1 of 25).
Where: Daytona International Speedway.
When: 8 p.m. ET, Friday, Feb. 13.
Track layout: 2.5 -mile high banked paved oval.
Race length: 100 laps/250 miles.
TV: SPEED Channel, 8 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Wednesday -- Practice, 9-- 10:30 a.m. and Noon-1:30 p.m. Qualifying, 6:30 p.m. Thursday -- Practice 5:30--6:15 p.m. Final practice 7-8 p.m.