NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Dover, Delaware NEWS OF NOTE * A long time coming for Xpress Motorsports... Mike Bliss's eighth trip to victory lane on May 19 at Pikes Peak International Raceway snapped a four-year, seven-month victory drought...
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
NEWS OF NOTE
* A long time coming for Xpress Motorsports... Mike Bliss's eighth trip to victory lane on May 19 at Pikes Peak International Raceway snapped a four-year, seven-month victory drought for Steve Coulter's Xpress Motorsports - longest in duration by a NASCAR Craftsman Truck owner. The No. 16 IWX Motor Freight/Knights Inn Chevrolet team last won, with Randy Tolsma, on Oct. 12, 1997 at Bakersfield, Calif.
* Many new faces atop the points in 2002... Bliss is the fourth different competitor to head the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series standings this season. The former USAC Silver Crown champion, despite competing in 126 events, never had occupied the No. 1 spot. Neither had the year's other three leaders - Ted Musgrave, Robert Pressley and David Starr. The standings don't get much closer than this - Bliss leads Starr by a single digit while the spread from first to fifth is 41.
* Five isn't a bad number, either ... That's the number of winners in five NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events to match the beginning of the season record set in 1996 and duplicated the following year. Bliss last won on Aug. 28, 1999 at Heartland Park Topeka. He joins Joe Ruttman as the only competitors to win on the series for three different owners. An interesting side note: Bliss, the only competitor in the Pikes Peak field who appeared in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut on Feb. 5, 1995, finished .330-second ahead of the only team to have competed in all 175 races. Bliss drove for runnerup Ultra Motorsports in the series inaugural race at Phoenix International Raceway.
* Back to school for series drivers... Bill Lester spoke to students of Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington D.C. on May 22. Lester will be in Philadelphia Wednesday when Sears officials make a major presentation to 160 students of the Urban Youth Racing School. Leffler and Musgrave will represent Ultra Motorsports sponsor ASE at Poly Tech High School in Dover at 9 a.m. Friday. Both visits seek to drive greater numbers of young people in automotive technology and motorsports careers.
* We're gaining on it..."It's weird to be happy about finishing 15th, but any time you better your previous best (finish), it's a time to be happy - not satisfied - but happy," Lester said of his May 19 performance at Pikes Peak International Raceway.
* Dover's way more fun than root canal... Here's what veteran Terry Cook recalls about the concrete surface at Dover International Speedway:"As the race goes on there's actually rubber built up in the concrete joins which begins to shake the fillings out of your teeth - if you have any. It's a very tricky and treacherous track."
* He has a day job, too... Part-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitor Donnie Neuenberger airs a 9:40 a.m. Monday NASCAR report on Baltimore's 98 ROCK, KML 97.9 FM, the No. 1 rock station in the Baltimore-Washington-Delaware listening area. Neuenberger will provide live updates, in addition to competing in his No. 71 IHOP-sponsored truck.
* So, what else is new?... Brian Rose solidified his seventh-place standing in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series points at PPIR with his fourth top-10 finish (10th) - most by any Dodge team on the series. Rose, driver of the No. 4 Bobby Hamilton Racing Perry Connection Ram, will be making his first trip to Dover International Speedway to mark the sixth track the Kentucky native has visited in as many 2002 starts."All I can tell you is what I've heard and been told about this place," says Rose, 22."Everyone tells me that it's a lot like Darlington: you have to respect the place or it will bite you."
* Familiar track for a first-year veteran... Dover International Speedway would seem the obvious place for Pressley and Hamilton's No. 18 Dodge team to end their May slide - a swing of 150 points that, in two races, has seen the 42-year-old competitor go from a 20-point standings lead to 12th-place, 130 back. Pressley counts to NASCAR Busch Series victories at the Monster Mile, both in 1992."We come out of Dover with a strong run or a win," Pressley contends,"and everyone will forget about the last month. Most of the drivers hat this going to this place but I love it. If there is one place that I think we can turn our bad luck around, it's Dover."
* Lead all you want at Dover, but... Both times the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series visited Dover International Speedway victory has eluded the dominant driver. Mike Wallace led 168 laps in 2000 and finished 12th and, a year ago, Rick Crawford totaled a race-high 73 circuits before finishing 14th. Ironically, Crawford finished third in 2000 - when he failed to lead at all."Every driver has a track circled on his calendar and, for me, Dover is one of those places," says Crawford, whose No. 14 Circle Bar Motel & RV Park Ford stands a career-best third in NASCAR Craftsman Truck point standings.
TRACKING SERIES ALUMNI
Five of the current top 10 competitors in the NASCAR Busch Series championship standings - Jack Sprague, Scott Riggs, Greg Biffle, Stacy Compton and Jamie McMurray - are NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series alums. McMurray, in his second season on the NASCAR Busch Series, recently posted his first top-five finish, on May 19 at Nazareth Speedway.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teams have competed on concrete racing surfaces eight times. Six drivers have scored victories. Two-time winners are Ron Hornaday (both at Bristol Motor Speedway) and Riggs (Dover International Speedway and Nashville Superspeedway). Other concrete winners are Kurt Busch (Dover), Rick Carelli (Bristol), Joe Ruttman (Bristol) and Jack Sprague (Bristol). A seventh winner will be added May 31 since none of the aforementioned is expected to compete in the MBNA America 200.