Dodge Racing Nashville Preview

Ram Report FEDERATED AUTO PARTS 250 Nashville Speedway USA Nashville, Tenn. July 10, 1999 NASCAR news, notes and quotes from Dodge Motorsports July 7, 1999 JIMMY HENSLEY OUT TO REPEAT IN NASHVILLE Tennessee is home to The Grand Ole Opry,...

Ram Report FEDERATED AUTO PARTS 250 Nashville Speedway USA Nashville, Tenn. July 10, 1999

NASCAR news, notes and quotes from Dodge Motorsports July 7, 1999

JIMMY HENSLEY OUT TO REPEAT IN NASHVILLE Tennessee is home to The Grand Ole Opry, Vice President Al Gore and Dolly Parton's Dollywood. It's also home to one of 53-year-old Jimmy Hensley's favorite race tracks, the .596-mile Nashville Speedway USA. At last August's Federated Auto Parts 250, Dodge Motorsports ended a 13-month NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) drought when Hensley scored his first and Dodge's third series victory.

"It really meant a lot to win at the Nashville Speedway," Hensley, driver of the #43 Dodge By Petty, said. "There's so much history and tradition at this track and so many great drivers have won there. I'm proud to add my name to the list."

Last year, Hensley won the race the hard way. His primary Dodge Ram was destroyed in a practice accident, forcing him to start at the back of the pack with a backup truck. Hensley carefully picked his way through the field and led the last 36 laps en route to the half-second victory. Hensley holds the NCTS record for the most positions gained by the winner of a race and is the only provisional starter to ever win a series event.

"We didn't set out to set the records we did last year," Hensley shrugged. "Obviously we would have rather started from the front of the field, but it meant even more to win from as far back as we did. That win proved how strong this entire race team is - they never gave up, and after the practice accident they worked well in to the night to get that truck as good as the one that we wrecked the day before."

Hensley also broke one of the longest driver winless streaks. He had not visited victory lane in series 69 starts and had never won in the NCTS before his win at Nashville last year. Hensley has one win this season at his home track at Martinsville, Va., four top-five and six top-10 finishes, and is 12th in points.

GINO ACROSS AMERICA: PART FIVE After a one-week break from contributing to the Ram Report, we found Kevin "Gino" Ryan, driver of the Dennis Setzer #1 Mopar Dodge transporter, on his way back to team's new shop in Lake Orion, Mich. to take delivery of a brand-new Freightliner transporter. The Bob and Kay Keselowski-owned K Automotive team bought a 2000 Century Class Freightliner in June and, after Ryan secured the required registrations and licenses, the team applied the Mopar decals and Ryan headed to Milwaukee.

The Freightliner is a state-of-the-art truck that Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor from television's Home Improvement would envy. "It has all the comforts of home," Ryan said, "and probably a few I don't have." The triple metallic jet-colored 20-foot tractor/trailer has one of the largest Cummins motors on the market, generating an impressive 525 horsepower. The interior includes two fully reclining six-way adjustable cloth seats, a double bunk bed, refrigerator, color television, VCR and a six-disk CD changer. Ryan's taste in music leans toward Led Zeppelin.

There are also wipers on the headlights and - this is Ryan's favorite option - a chrome train horn. The new rig was the talk of the NCTS pits - most of the teams stopped by the Setzer pit in Milwaukee to inspect the new rig, and several orders are being placed with Freightliner for the "Gino" truck.

Nashville is the sixth of a challenging ten-races-in-nine-weeks schedule, made even more difficult by K Automotive's move into a larger race shop. "The tough part of the back-to-back schedule is over - I guess you could say it's all downhill from here - but it was rough for a while moving and racing at the same time," Ryan said.

The schedule - which takes Ryan to Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Hampshire and Indiana after Tennessee - means that he can now spend a couple of days home each week with his wife, Beth, and their three children. While at home he makes time to get behind the wheel his brand-new Dodge Ram 4x4. "The Dodge is black with a tan leather interior," he said. "This new Freightliner is really beautiful - it's probably the nicest truck I've ever seen - and the Ram is a great ride. This is a great way to travel."

RAM REVIEW Following the July 3, 1999 Diehard 200 at the Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wis.

When the Dodge Ram drivers rolled in to The Milwaukee Mile, there were high hopes for good qualifying runs and great finishes.

Qualifying was not a disappointment: Randy Tolsma in the #25 Supergard Dodge took the outside pole position for the race. Stacy Compton in the #86 RC Dodge qualified fourth, Joe Ruttman in the #18 Dana Dodge started sixth and Dennis Setzer in the #1 Mopar Dodge started ninth position. Jimmy Hensley had the toughest day of the Dodge teams when he qualified in the 20th starting position.

When the field took the green flag, Tolsma jumped out to an early lead, pacing the first 36 laps. However, Tolsma finished the race in the eighth position after getting loose from the last set of tires the team put on the truck. Setzer finished sixth position when lapped traffic came between the Mopar Dodge and the lead trucks. Compton finished tenth after missing a shift during a late-race restart, and Hensley brought the Dodge By Petty from the 20th starting position to 12th by the end of the day. Ruttman finished in the 15th position when handling problems cost the team several positions on the track.

RAMMIN' AHEAD... 7/10 Federated Auto Parts 250 Nashville Speedway US Nashville, Tenn. TV: July 10 at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on CB

7/18 NAPA Auto Care 200 Nazareth Speedway Nazareth, Pa. TV: July 18 at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) on CBS

7/24 Michigan 200 Michigan Speedway Brooklyn, Mich. TV: July 24 at 1 p.m. (EDT) on ESPN

DODGE RAM FAST STATS After the Diehard 200 at The Milwaukee Mile, the 13th of 25 NCTS events

Dennis Setzer, #1 Mopar Dodge 1 win, 5 top-five finishes, 9 top-10 finishes Started ninth in Milwaukee, finished sixth $192,015 total winnings in 13 NCTS starts Seventh in championship points Randy Tolsma, #25 Supergard Dodge 1 pole, 0 wins, 0 top-five finishes, 5 top-10 finishes Started second in Milwaukee, finished eighth $112,230 total winnings in 13 NCTS starts 11th in championship points

Jimmy Hensley, #43 Dodge By Petty 1 win, 4 top-five finishes, 6 top-10 finishes Started 20th in Milwaukee, finished 12th $137,640 total winnings in 13 NCTS starts 12th in championship points

Stacy Compton, #86 RC Dodge 2 poles, 0 wins, 8 top-fives, 10 top-10 finishes Started fourth in Milwaukee, finished 10th $181,550 total winnings in 13 NCTS starts Third in championship points

Joe Ruttman, #18 Dana Dodge 0 wins, 0 top-five finishes, 1 top-10 finish Started sixth in Milwaukee, finished 15th $49,310 total winnings in seven NCTS starts 25th in championship points

RAM REPORT REWIND TO ... the Federated Auto Parts 250, Nashville, Tenn. Aug. 15, 1998

The Federated Auto Parts 250 last August was the site of Hensley's first NCTS win, and he did it in spectacular fashion, starting last on the grid (using a provisional) and leading a total of 72 of the event's 250 laps. The win moved him from tenth to eighth in the NCTS driver point standings.

Results for other drivers now on the Dodge Ram team include: * Randy Tolsma started eighth and finished sixth. He was seventh place in points after the event. * Stacy Compton started 11th on the grid and finished ninth; he was sixth in point after the event. * Joe Ruttman started 10th and finished 24th.

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Stacy Compton , Dennis Setzer , Joe Ruttman , Randy Tolsma , Jimmy Hensley