GM Racing 2004 season preview

Dennis Setzer, Jack Sprague, David Starr and Matt Crafton set to continue Chevrolet winning tradition in the Nascar Craftsman Truck Series. February 4, 2004 ~ A review of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) record books will reveal that ...

Dennis Setzer, Jack Sprague, David Starr and Matt Crafton set to continue Chevrolet winning tradition in the Nascar Craftsman Truck Series.

February 4, 2004 ~ A review of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) record books will reveal that Chevrolet has been the leading manufacturer in the series since the 1995 inaugural season. Bow Tie drivers have won eight of the nine driver championships. A total of five prestigious manufacturers' championship trophies are prominently displayed in GM Racing headquarters. But resting on the laurels of previous success is not the philosophy of Chevy Trucks. To continue the Chevrolet winning tradition, a mix of veterans and rising stars will carry the torch for Team Silverado and make their debut at Daytona International Speedway February 13, 2004 for race number one of the 25-event 2004 NCTS schedule.

Four of the sports' best drivers will headline Team Silverado driving for four of the strongest and most professional teams in the garage. The consistency of winning veterans Dennis Setzer and Jack Sprague will be complimented by rising star David Starr and the enthusiasm of the youth of Matt Crafton.

Setzer will drive the #46 Morgan-Dollar Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado. Sprague is behind the wheel of the #16 IWX Racing Chevy Trucks Silverado. Starr is the driver of the #75 Spears Motorsports Silverado and Crafton will pilot the #6 Kevin Harvick, Inc. GM Goodwrench Silverado.

"This is clearly an exciting time for Chevrolet Silverado, Chevy Trucks and GM Racing," said Maria Rohrer, Chevrolet Silverado Marketing Manager. "Our main objective is to fully activate what we have and this year both General Motors and Chevrolet have stated that racing will be our key promotional platform. As such, the Craftsman Truck Series, in particular serves as an excellent venue to showcase our new sponsorship with top Chevrolet drivers such as Dennis Setzer, Jack Sprague, David Starr and Matt Crafton. They are already great teams in their own rights, but we have been able to give them adequate resources to do what is needed to win. Most importantly, when Chevy wins on the track we are able to cultivate a stronger relationship with the vast amount of truck buyers who attend the races. Chevrolet will bring out ten new vehicles in twenty short months and looks to achieve three million units for the company. Silverado is a big slice of that number," Maria concluded.

In his fourth season with Morgan-Dollar Motorsports, North Carolina native Setzer is coming off his highest points finish in NCTS competition, second in 2003 by a mere nine points. Setzer was fourth in the standings when the series rolled into Homestead, FL for the season finale, but like the eventual championship Chevy team, drove his Silverado race truck to the front of the pack. The impressive runner-up spot marks his fifth consecutive top-ten series' points finish. Building on his successful 2003 season which included three wins, 15 top-five finishes and an incredible 22 times in the top-ten, Setzer will clearly be one of the favorites in the 2004 run for the championship. Setzer boasts one of the most consistent records in the series with a total of ten wins and 52 top-five and 94 top-ten finishes in just 142 starts.

"I am very proud to be behind the wheel of the #46 Morgan-Dollar Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado race truck this season," stated driver Dennis Setzer. We are honored to represent Chevrolet at this monumental time in their history and be a part of their present and future endeavors. Chevrolet and Silverado have dominated the Craftsman Truck Series over its nine-year existence and we are very excited to carry the banner for them in Chevy's first-ever team sponsorship.

"We came up a little short of the championship in 2003 and now with a substantial increase in support from Chevrolet, our team has been able to make some major improvements in the off-season. The team was really coming together and our performance was outstanding in closing out the 2003 season. I feel that we can be a much better team this season, but its going to be very important to get off to a good start. You can't play catch up in this series anymore and have to bring your best every week," concluded Setzer.

Jack Sprague returns to familiar territory in 2004. He was a full-time competitor in the NCTS from 1995-2001. The 2002-2003 seasons, he enjoyed success in the NASCAR Busch Grand National Division as well as a solid effort in NASCAR's Cup division. The Michigan native returns to the NCTS as the only three-time series champion capturing the crown in 1997, 1999 and 2001. Sprague is also the series leading money winner and has started more races in the history of the series than any other driver. The IWX Racing Team won consecutive series' championships in 2002 and 2003. With a total of five NCTS championships between them, the team will be a formidable challenger for victory lane and the championship.

"I'm extremely happy to be able to drive for IWX Racing this season," said Sprague. "This team is all about winning races and championshipsâ^À¦that's what I'm all about.

"Winning two consecutive championships in the Truck Series is a powerful statement about the team's dedication to every detail that translates to consistent performance. As a driver, it gives me tremendous confidence to know my Chevy Trucks Silverado will be competitive every time we unload it from the hauler."

"Testing went very well at both Daytona and Talladega," Sprague continued. "We accomplished a great deal working on the truck in the draft. Although horsepower is important and having an adjustable setup so you can continue to improve the handling during the race, the truck has to work well in the draft. The majority of the Daytona races in any NASCAR series come down to how well you run in the draft to hook up with a partner and pull away from the field so you are in position to make your move at the right time for the win.

"It is all about building momentum at the start of the season," concluded Sprague. "Then being able to build on that as the season progresses. With the tremendous support we are getting from Chevrolet added to the experience and knowledge on the this team, I feel like we have positioned ourselves for a strong start right out of the box and then continue the effort as the season unfolds."

The 2004 season will be Starr's third full season of competition in the NCTS. Prior to the 2002 season, the Houston, TX native competed in the series on a limited basis but it was enough to impress team owner Wayne Spears who gave him the opportunity to live his dream with a full time ride. Spears' instincts proved to be right-on. Since joining the team, Starr has garnered one victory and numerous top-five and top-ten finishes and received the series' Most Popular Driver award, all attributes that make him a valuable asset to Team Silverado. Off the track, Starr spends his time working with Speedway Children's Charities and other organizations that raise money for variety of non-profit children's programs.

"To drive the #75 Spears Chevrolet Silverado race truck has been truly a dream come true," said Starr. "Now the addition of full support from GM Racing as a member of Team Silverado, I believe this team is poised to do great things in 2004.

"Testing has gone very well. We made tremendous strides in the drafting characteristics of the truck. I felt very comfortable and have confidence we will be running in the front pack as the final laps at Daytona begin to unwind. Last season, we didn't have much luck at Daytona and created a deep hole to dig out as the season started to roll. We want to leave Daytona this year with a solid finish and a good points position. A run for the championship begins at the first race of the season. It is critical to develop that consistency day one for a strong foundation on which to build as the season continues.

"With a month between Daytona and our next race in Atlanta," Starr concluded. "We can utilize all available testing opportunities to ensure we have a strong baseline in place for each track on the schedule. Our goal this season is to win races and the championship. This team is loaded with talented people, and with the full support of Chevrolet, all the ingredients are here to be a contender every week and I think we are poised for a tremendous season."

Tulare, CA native Crafton brings youthful enthusiasm and excitement to the Team Silverado program. At 27-years old, he has amassed an impressive racing resume that includes a NASCAR Southwest Tour championship. In 2000, Crafton finished ninth in his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, earning a multi-year contract to drive for Duke Thorson's Ohio-based truck team. He's scored 29 top-10 finishes in 72 starts over three seasons on the circuit, finishing 11th in 2003, 15th in 2002 and 12th in 2001 in the points. NASCAR Nextel Cup star Kevin Harvick recognized talent when he saw it and hired Crafton to drive for him in 2004 and beyond.

"It's been a long winter and I'm ready to go," said Crafton. "The first NASCAR Truck race under the lights at Daytona will be a lot of fun for the drivers and an exciting race for the fans. The lights will add an extra touch to an all ready exciting race.

"Now we've got GM Goodwrench behind us and that's going to make a big difference for us. They are THE sponsor of sponsors in NASCAR. They've supported great teams and drivers and won races and championships and we're going to try to follow that pattern.

"We've gotten in a bunch of testing at Talladega, Atlanta," Crafton concluded. "We also had three days at Daytona and we're happy with what we've learned. We didn't work on speed at the Daytona test so much as drivability and drafting. These trucks make such a big hole in the air and that makes aerodynamics and drafting a big factor. We want to handle good in the draft."

When asked what would make for a successful year on and off the track, Maria Rohrer responded, "A successful year on the track would be one without injuries, a manufacturer's championship for Chevrolet, and for one of our key sponsored teams to win the driver championship. Off the track, we have known for a long time that there is a great appeal for the truck series. We also see an incredible opportunity to speak to our own truck buyers through entertainment and onsite sponsorship and presence. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series works hard for us and we intend to leverage that into a successful year at the dealerships."

The opening event of the 2004 season is the Florida Dodge Dealers 250 February 13, 2004 at Daytona International Speedway. Live television coverage will begin at 8:00 p.m. on Speed Channel. Fans can listen to live radio coverage on Motor Racing Network (MRN).

DRIVER: Matt Crafton
TEAM: #6 Kevin Harvick, Inc. GM Goodwrench Silverado
Birthdate: June 11, 1976
Hometown: Tulare, CA.

On Daytona: "It's been a long winter and I'm ready to go. The first NASCAR Truck race under the lights at Daytona will be a lot of fun for the drivers and an exciting race for the fans. The lights will add an extra touch to an all ready exciting race.

"Now we've got GM Goodwrench behind us and that's going to make a big difference for us. They are the sponsor of sponsors in NASCAR. They've great teams and drivers and won races and championships and we're going to try to follow that pattern.

"We've gotten in a bunch of testing at Talladega, Atlanta and three days at Daytona and we're happy with what we've learned. We didn't work on speed at the Daytona test so much as drivability and drafting. These trucks make such a big hole in the air and that makes aerodynamics and drafting a big factor. We want to handle good in the draft."

DRIVER: Tracy Hines
TEAM: #88 ThorSport Racing Menards Silverado
Birthdate: May 1, 1972
Hometown: New Castle, IN

On Daytona and 2004 Season: "We are going to Daytona with a great team and great equipment. Menards is a great sponsor and they have given us a lot of support. We have a veteran crew chief in Tim Kohuth that will be there too, and he's won races there in the past. I had a chance to work with him in the four races I was in last year, so we have a good working relationship already. Daytona is unique. The only time the equipment really shines is in qualifying. For the race, you need to rely heavily on the driver and on the draft. It is going to be all about finding the right dance partners and not making any mistakes.

"Our goal is to run for wins and top-5s every time we are on the track. We have a great package with great owners, great guys in the shop, great engines and a great sponsor. We have looked at the competition for rookie of the year and we think we have a very solid shot to win it. The competition is going to be very stout, for sure, but with what we have in place here, I think we definitely have a good shot at it."

DRIVER: Dennis Setzer
TEAM: #46 Morgan-Dollar Motorsports Silverado
Birthdate: February 27, 1960
Hometown: Newton, NC

On Daytona and 2004 Season: "I am very proud to be behind the wheel of the #46 Morgan-Dollar Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado race truck this season. We are honored to represent Chevrolet at this monumental time in their history and be a part of their present and future endeavors. Chevrolet and Silverado have dominated the Craftsman Truck Series over its nine-year existence and we are very excited to carry the banner for them in Chevy's first-ever team sponsorship.

"We came up a little short of the championship in 2003 and now with a substantial increase in support from Chevrolet, our team has been able to make some major improvements in the off-season. The team was really coming together and our performance was outstanding in closing out the 2003 season. I feel that we can be a much better team this season, but its going to be very important to get off to a good start. You can't play catch up in this series anymore and have to bring your best every week."

DRIVER: JACK SPRAGUE
TEAM: #16 IWX MOTORSPORTS CHEVY TRUCKS SILVERADO
Birthdate: August 8, 1964
Hometown: Spring Lake, MI

On Daytona and 2004 Season: "Testing went very well at both Daytona and Talladega. We accomplished a great deal working on the truck in the draft. Although horsepower is important and having an adjustable setup so you can continue to improve the handling during the race, the truck has to work well in the draft. The majority of the Daytona races in any NASCAR series come down to how well you run in the draft to hook up with a partner and pull away from the field so you are in position to make your move at the right time for the win.

"It is all about building momentum at the start of the season, then being able to build on that as the season progresses. With the tremendous support we are getting from Chevrolet added to the experience and knowledge on the this team, I feel like we have positioned ourselves for a strong start right out of the box and then continue the effort as the season unfolds."

DRIVER:  David Starr

TEAM: #75 Spears Racing Silverado
Hometown: Houston, TX

On Daytona and 2004 Season: ""To drive the #75 Spears Chevrolet Silverado race truck has been truly a dream come true. Now the addition of full support from GM Racing as a member of Team Silverado, I believe this team is poised to do great things in 2004.

"Testing has gone very well. We made tremendous strides in the drafting characteristics of the truck. I felt very comfortable and have confidence we will be running in the front pack as the final laps at Daytona begin to unwind. Last season, we didn't have much luck at Daytona and created a deep hole to dig out as the season started to roll. We want to leave Daytona this year with a solid finish and a good points position. A run for the championship begins at the first race of the season. It is critical to develop that consistency day one for a strong foundation on which to build as the season continues.

"With a month between Daytona and our next race in Atlanta, we can utilize all available testing opportunities to ensure we have a strong baseline in place for each track on the schedule. Our goal this season is to win races and the championship. This team is loaded with talented people, and with the full support of Chevrolet, all the ingredients are here to be a contender every week and I think we are poised for a tremendous season."

DRIVER: Kelly Sutton
TEAM: #02 Team Copaxone Silverado
Year of Birth: 1971
Hometown: Crownsville, MD

On Daytona: "We're looking forward to going into the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, bringing in a new team and driving our Team COPAXONE Chevy Silverado at tracks that we've never raced before. It's definitely going to be a new adventure and exciting year for us, and there's no better place to start than Daytona!"

DRIVER:  Ken Weaver

TEAM: #08 PhoneCo Silverado
Hometown: Dallas, TX

On Daytona and 2004 Season: "We are excited to be a part of the 2004 NASCAR Series, and plan to make an earnest run at "Rookie Of The Year'. I haven't truly proven myself yet, but I believe I have the determination, the crew and the drive to win".

"I can contribute my speed and confidence to Tommy (Morgan, crew chief). He knows the correct set-up for track conditions, and with his help, I should be running pretty close to the front all season."

-gm racing-

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers David Starr , Kevin Harvick , Jack Sprague , Dennis Setzer , Matt Crafton , Kelly Sutton , Tracy Hines , Ken Weaver