NAPACARD 200 Evergreen Raceway Monroe, Washington April 3, 1999 BUTCH MILLER'S EYES ON THE PRIZE In honor of the 100th NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race, Craftsman Tools is prepared to present a $100,000 bonus to the winner of ...
NAPACARD 200 Evergreen Raceway Monroe, Washington April 3, 1999
BUTCH MILLER'S EYES ON THE PRIZE In honor of the 100th NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race, Craftsman Tools is prepared to present a $100,000 bonus to the winner of the NAPACARD 200, with one hitch. The driver must have competed in all 100 NCTS races, and only five drivers - including #18 Dana Dodge driver Butch Miller - are eligible for the prize.
Miller isn't counting his chickens, of course, but finds the prospect of winning the bonus intriguing. "Obviously it'll be our biggest payday ever if we win," Miller said. "When I started racing in this series I never imagined we'd be racing for a $100,000 bonus. Evergreen is one of the most challenging tracks on the circuit, and whoever gets the checkered flag will have earned every point.
"The last four years have flown by," Miller continued. "It's pretty special to have competed in every truck race ... you don't think about it when you're doing it. We show up every week expecting to win, but it would be unbelievable if we took the checkered flag at Monroe."
DODGE RAMS NOT INTIMIDATED BY EVERGREEN SHORT TRACK After races at two tracks that are a mile or longer, the NCTS pulls into its first short-track race of the season this weekend at .646-mile Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash. Short tracks are considered by many as the type of track that can make or break a championship come November. And for the drivers of the Dodge Rams, the short tracks look to be the place where they will find their success.
With two "short-track specialists" joining the Dodge teams this season, there has been plenty of focus on how competitive the Dodge Ram power plants will be. Randy Tolsma, driver of the #25 Supergard Dodge and Dennis Setzer, driver of the #1 Mopar Dodge, think that they have the best engines to tackle the sharp corners and short straightaways.
"The Dodge is the best motor that I've ever tested on a short track," says Tolsma. "With its wide power band it gives us more control and I can stay on the throttle longer when I come off the corners."
Setzer has had a great deal of success on short tracks in his career, cutting his teeth on the half-mile oval in Hickory, N.C. and winning his first truck race at the short track in Bakersfield, Calif. "I really look forward to the short-track races," says Setzer. "It's a lot of fun to get out there and race so close to the competition, and Dodge has given us a motor and chassis that gives us more control on the short tracks."
"Dodge didn't make any significant changes to the motors for short tracks this season," says George McCord, NASCAR Liaison for DaimlerChrysler. "We've been improving our chassis and motors for the past several months, and joining forces with all of these outstanding drivers who are so talented on the short tracks really allows our motors to excel."
Evergreen Speedway is the first stop of three short tracks in a row that the trucks will compete on. In 1998, Dodge's two victories came at short tracks, Nashville Speedway USA and Mesa Marin Speedway in Bakersfield.
RAM REVIEW The Dodge Ram teams started strong at the March 27 Chevy Trucks NASCAR 150 at Phoenix International Raceway, and after the first round of pit stops showed that they were planning on being in contention all day. When it was all over ...
Stacy Compton and Dennis Setzer put on one of the best shows of the day, racing hard to the checkered flag as they battled for the #4 finishing position -- Compton edged out Setzer the finish line. Said Setzer of his close finish with Compton: "I told Stacy that it was a good thing he was in a Dodge, or the right side of my truck might not have been quite as clean. I had a great time racing him in the closing laps. I have a lot of respect for him and his team, and it was a pleasure battling with him for position."
Jimmy Hensley earned his way into the 7th finishing position with a strong comeback after a late pit stop for right-side tires. Randy Tolsma, the 15th-place finisher, was in the top-five through much of the early part of the race, but fell out of the pit stop sequence late in the race, costing him track position. Butch Miller lost track position when an oil leak forced him behind the truck wall for repairs; he finished 26th.
Overall, the Dodge Rams had a good weekend in Phoenix, with all five trucks qualifying in the top half of the field, and three trucks finishing in the top-seven.
DODGE RAM FAST STATS Following NCTS race #2 (Phoenix, Arizona):
Dennis Setzer #1Mopar Dodge Ram 0 wins 1 top-five finish 1 top-ten finish $16,150 total winnings 19th in championship points Started Phoenix 16th Finished 5th
Butch Miller #18 Dana Dodge 0 wins 0 top-five finishes 1 top-ten finish $17,315 total winnings 14th in championship points Started Phoenix 11th Finished 26th
Randy Tolsma #25 Supergard Dodge 0 wins 0 top-fivefinishes 0 top-ten finishes $18,490 total winnings 12th in championship points Started Phoenix 15th Finished 15th
Jimmy Hensley #43 Dodge By Petty 0 wins 0 top-five finishes 1 top-ten finish $15,500 total winnings 16th in championship points Started Phoenix 13th Finished 7th
Stacy Compton #86 RC Dodge 0 wins 2 top-five finishes 2 top-ten finishes $34,225 total winnings 2nd in championship points Started Phoenix 6th Finished 4th
NEWS & NOTES... According to NASCAR, Butch Miller is the seventh million-dollar winner in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Miller's ninth place in Homestead earned him a place in the exclusive club. Jimmy Hensley can join in Phoenix with a win of at least $13,791. ------------------------------------- Melanie Hensley, 17-year-old daughter of Jimmy Hensley, advanced with her teammates to the state semi-finals for volleyball. Melanie plays for the Lady Warriors of Magna Vista High School in Virginia. Melanie's position is primarily middle-hitter, but she also plays in the rotation. Jimmy and his wife, Becky, attended nearly all of their daughter's volleyball games during the season and the championship run. "I'm very proud of Melanie and the entire team," said the proud father. "The girls played hard and were thrilled to make it all the way to the state semi-finals, but just like her dad, Melanie really wanted to win."
RAM REPORT REWIND ... Last year's NAPACARD 200 at Evergreen Speedway was the fifth race of the NCTS season; this year it's third on the schedule. With the exception of Dennis Setzer - who did not compete - all members of this year's Dodge Ram team finished the 1998 event and improved on their starting positions.
Randy Tolsma was 14th on the starting grid and finished third. He left Washington seventh in NCTS points.
Stacy Compton's finish equaled his starting position - fourth. He was third in NCTS points after the event.
Butch Miller started 26th and moved up to 10th by race-end.
Bob Keselowski bettered his 15th place starting position by finishing 13th. He was tenth in NCTS points.
Jimmy Hensley started 27th and finished 19th.
DRIVER QUOTES ON ... racing at Evergreen Speedway Dennis Setzer, driver, #1 Mopar Dodge "I've never raced at Evergreen, but it sure looks like a track where these trucks can do some rubbin'. I've heard from the guys that it's hard to get a good set-up at this track, but I think it'll be a lot like Hickory Motor Speedway, which is where I learned how to race short tracks. This is going to be a fun race for the drivers and the fans."
Butch Miller, driver, #18 Dana Dodge "There'll be a little extra pressure on us this weekend because of the $100,000 Craftsman bonus, but our first priority is to nail the set-up on our Dana Dodge, conserve the tires and have patience getting to victory lane."
Randy Tolsma, driver, #25 Supergard Dodge "I really like Monroe Speedway - we finished third there last year. There's one important thing to remember about this track - it requires patience and tire conservation.
"We did a lot of short-track testing in the off season, and I think the Dodge Rams have a very competitive set-up for this style race track. The Dodge is also the smoothest motor to have at a short track -- the wider power band and torque curve make the Dodge easy to drive when there is such a smooth transition from bottom- to top-end."
Jimmy Hensley, driver, #43 Dodge By Petty "We are excited about getting to the first short-track race of the season. This season I have Fred Wanke as crew chief, and he gives this team a confidence that was missing in the past. This has been a difficult track to get a handle on in the past, but Fred has been a confidence-builder for this team and for me as a driver."
Stacy Compton, driver, #86 RC Dodge "There are two things you need to accept going into this race - this is a tough track to tame, and it's tough on tires. Evergreen Speedway is a lot like North Wilkesboro (NC). Starting position is important, but you don't have to be on the front row to win this race.
"Last season, we didn't run too hard in the early part of the race -- we started fourth and stayed in the top 15, but didn't make our move until late. We finished fourth, but could have won the race with a couple more laps. We did as well as we did because we saved our tires to the end of the race and found ourselves in the middle of the battle for the win."