HOMESTEAD, Fla. (April 2, 1998) The Class of 1998. This year's field of Cintas Rookie of the Year contenders comes to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series with a diverse range of success in all forms of motorsports. The rookies are...
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (April 2, 1998)
The Class of 1998. This year's field of Cintas Rookie of the Year contenders comes to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series with a diverse range of success in all forms of motorsports. The rookies are facing a brand new challenge though -- the veterans of a division that boasts the closest cumulative margin of victory among NASCAR's top touring series.
The competition is close and it will take truly outstanding talent to duplicate Kenny Irwin's amazing rookie victory at the Miami-Dade Homestead Motor Sports Complex in the Florida Dodge Dealers 400 on Sunday.
Following Thursday's opening four-hour practice session, it seems obvious that the Cintas Rookie who presents the greatest threat in Homestead will be Scot Walters, due to his experience at the 1.5-mile oval. Walters ran the second-fastest lap in practice of the 55 trucks on site that plan to attempt to qualify in Bud Pole Qualifying on Friday at 3 p.m. EST.
Walters was clocked at 36.518 seconds, an average speed of 147.872 mph, in the No. 37 Red Man Chevrolet. Defending series champion Jack Sprague was quickest at 36.376 seconds, or 148.450 mph, in the No. 24 1-800-MARROW-2 Chevrolet.
Walters, along with fellow Cintas Rookie Wayne Anderson, come to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series from the popular Slim Jim All Pro Series, a NASCAR Touring Division, where they battled fender-to-fender at many of the same tracks that the truck series will visit this season.
Anderson's potential ace in the hole will be the Liberty Racing Ford that carried Irwin to the Cintas Rookie of the Year championship in 1997, while Walters will be driving the Brewco Motorsports Chevrolet for the team's first full season. In 1996, Walters won the Slim Jim All Pro Series race at Homestead, while Anderson finished fifth.
Challenging veterans such as Ron Hornaday and Sprague, fielded by Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Hendrick Motorsports, respectively, may be an "intimidating" experience for some of the rookies.
"The combination of top veteran drivers with some of the top young talents makes exciting racing for the fans," Anderson said. "I'm honored to be on the same track with these guys."
Each of the candidates feels confident in his abilities as a race driver, but facing the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series contingent tests the abilities of the best driver.
"We expect it to be a challenge, but we've got our sights set on the Cintas Rookie of the Year Award and we'll work all season toward achieving that goal," said Dominic Dobson, the driver of the No. 78 MCI Dodge who has seven consecutive Indy 500 starts to his credit, through 1994.
In addition to Anderson, Walters and Dobson, drivers competing for the coveted Cintas crown who are in Homestead include Andy Houston, son of famed NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division driver Tommy Houston; Rob Morgan; Greg Biffle driving for Jack Roush ; sports car champion Tommy Archer, with 38 championships to date for Archer Motorsports; Rick McCray from the NASCAR Winston West Series; Joe Gaita of the NASCAR Winston Racing Series; and Randy Nelson, who is the youngest Cintas Rookie candidate at age 19. Source: NASCAR Online