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Spencer seventh to hit for NASCAR national 'cycle'; Connor gets No. 25 Top-two battle in points remains second-closest in series history NEWS & NOTES * Big day for Spencer at NHIS ... Spencer, at New Hampshire, became the season's 11th ...

Spencer seventh to hit for NASCAR national 'cycle'; Connor gets No. 25
Top-two battle in points remains second-closest in series history


* Big day for Spencer at NHIS ... Spencer, at New Hampshire, became the season's 11th different winner. He's the seventh competitor to score a victory in NASCAR Winston Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Trucks, NASCAR's national 'cycle.' The 46-year-old also kept intact a nine-season streak: each driver who's occupied the seat of Ultra's No. 2 truck -- Spencer, Leffler, Mike Bliss, Mike Wallace and Scott Riggs -- has won at least one race. Also, Dennis Connor recorded his 25th series victory as crew chief. Connor is the first crew chief to win with different drivers on the same team in the same season, having guided Leffler to victory earlier this year at Dover International Speedway.

* Kvapil, Setzer on top-10 tear ... Ron Hornaday Jr. set the single-season record of 18 consecutive top-10 finishes in 1996. Kvapil and Dennis Setzer (No. 46 ACXIOM/Computer Associates Chevrolet) aren't far off that mark. Kvapil posted his 14th straight top 10 at New Hampshire while Setzer recorded No. 13.

* Points chase remains series' second closest ... The closest series points battle, with seven races remaining, came in 2001 in which one point separated Riggs and Joe Ruttman --neither of whom won the championship. The current spread of nine, from Gaughan to Kvapil, ranks No. 2. The first through third place margin of 62 ranks No. 3 to 2001 (48) and 2002 (61). Gaughan, in New Hampshire, became the first points leader to maintain his position since July 19 when Kvapil retained the spot in St. Louis.


* Andy Houston, a two-time Bud Pole winner at California Speedway, moves into the Ultra Motorsports No. 2 Dodge for this week's American Racing Wheels 200. Houston has led three of the track's four races in which he's competed ... Kurt Busch's 2000-winning average speed of 144.260 mph gave California Speedway bragging rights to the series' fastest race until July 26 when Gaughan blazed a 154.044 pace at Michigan International Speedway ... Other freshman drivers also have fared well at California Speedway: Gaughan, Jon Wood and Kenny Irwin enjoyed third-place finishes, Houston logged a fourth and Randy Tolsma ran fifth ... Bob Keselowski returns as crew chief of the No. 29 Power Stroke Diesel Ford of Terry Cook. Rick Ren had performed crew chief duties since mid-April, when Keselowski was hospitalized briefly. Ren joins a new team, not officially announced, for the 2004 season.


* Five competitors ride consecutive top-10 streaks in California ... Cook, Kvapil, Musgrave, Setzer and Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Motel & RV Park Ford) each has finished among the top 10 in 2001-02 events at California Speedway.


* "This is a team that I competed against for years and they were always one of the teams to beat." -- Andy Houston, on landing a ride this week with Ultra Motorsports.

Ø"I was told a long time ago by Ernie Irvan 'the man who stands on the gas the longest is going to win the race,' so California (is a) track where you can stand on the gas as long as you want." -- Rick Crawford, No. 14 Circle Bar Motel & RV Park Ford.

* "They are very straightforward; there aren't any tricks to them. You just go out and run as fast as you can go. It is what it is; there usually aren't any surprises." -- Carl Edwards, No. 99 Superchips Ford, a fifth-place finisher earlier this year at Michigan International Speedway.


* Bliss was the class of the field in 1997, leading 193 of 200 laps off the Bud Pole to capture the inaugural running of the American Racing Wheels 200. That's the most laps led by any NASCAR Craftsman Truck winner at California Speedway.

What: American Racing Wheels 200 (NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race No. 19 of 25).
Where: California Speedway, Fontana, Calif.
When: 4 p.m. ET, Sat., Sept.20.

Track layout: 2.0-mile paved oval.
Race length: 100 laps/200 miles.

TV: SPEED Channel, 4 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday--Practice, 10:35 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Qualifying, 3:15 p.m. Final practice 5:45-6:45 p.m.


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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Ernie Irvan , Mike Wallace , Andy Houston , Kurt Busch , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Dennis Setzer , Terry Cook , Rick Crawford , Jon Wood , Scott Riggs , Joe Ruttman , Randy Tolsma , Mike Bliss