Indy IRP pre-race notes

INDIANAPOLIS (August 4, 2004) The following is news and notes leading into the Power Stroke Diesel 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck race on August 6, 2004 at IRP. * The 2004 season is the 10th for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series....

INDIANAPOLIS (August 4, 2004) The following is news and notes leading into the Power Stroke Diesel 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck race on August 6, 2004 at IRP.

* The 2004 season is the 10th for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The schedule calls for 18 events on tracks of a mile or longer and seven on short tracks. Thirteen of the 25 are run in combination with the NASCAR NEXTEL Series -- the most ever. An even dozen races will be run under the lights.

* Three former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champions will compete fulltime on the series in 2004 -- a series first. They are Travis Kvapil (No. 24 LINE-X Toyota), 2003; Mike Skinner (No. 42 Toyota Tundra Toyota), 1995 and Jack Sprague (No. 16 Chevy Trucks Chevrolet), 1997, 1999 and 2001. Kvapil and Skinner are teammates at Bang! Racing marking the first time that two champions have raced simultaneously for the same organization. The series has not seen a champion defend his title since 2000 (Sprague).

* Bang! Racing owner Alex Meshkin is youngest NASCAR team owner at age 24. Meshkin was an Internet entrepreneur at age 19, wireless technology inventory; and founder of multi-national software development company. The team enjoyed a second-place finish in its Daytona International Speedway debut.

* IWX Racing (No. 16 Chevy Trucks Chevrolet driven by Sprague) seeks an unprecedented third consecutive owner's championship. The team, owned by Steve Coulter, won the 2002 title with Mike Bliss and with Kvapil a year ago. IWX is the only team with back-to-back series championships and the only team to have won the title with two different drivers.

* Kelly Sutton (No. 02 Team Copaxone Chevrolet), mother of two of two (Ashlee, Nicole) competes at a high level despite being afflicted with MS. Four different female drivers have competed on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 2004: Sutton, Tina Gordon, Teri MacDonald and Deborah Renshaw. Seven different female competitors have started at least one series event.

* Toyota competes on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series with its Tundra model; the first time the truck-maker has participated in one of NASCAR's national touring series. As many as 20 teams are actively supported by Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford and Toyota in 2004, a record for the series.

* Eighteen competitors -- third most ever - will compete for the Raybestos Rookie of the Year title in 2004. They range in age from 19 (Shelby Howard) to 48 (Ken Weaver). Two U.S. Auto Club Silver Crown champions are in the competition. They are Thor Racing teammates Tracy Hines (No. 88 Menards Chevrolet) and Paul White (No. 13 Sta-Max/Microtel Chevrolet. A series rookie has won a race in six of the eight seasons in which the award was available including each of the past four years. NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series veteran Kurt Busch, the 2000 Raybestos Rookie of the Year, holds most of the freshman records: wins (four), championship finish (second) and money won ($745,632). Two former top rookies -- Greg Biffle and Kvapil -- have gone on to win the series championship. Three series rookies of the year currently are active on the NASCAR NEXTEL Series: Biffle (1998), Busch and Brendan Gaughan (2002).

* There have been nine different winners of the series' first 13 races in 2004. Bobby Hamilton (No. 4 Square D Dodge) won his third race on July 10 at Kentucky Speedway. Two competitors have two victories apiece: Carl Edwards, Daytona International and Kansas speedways and Dennis Setzer (No. 46 Chevrolet Silverado Chevrolet), Lowe's and Texas Motor speedways. Other 2004 winners are Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Racing Ford), Martinsville Speedway; Jack Sprague Mansfield Motorsports Speedway, Chad Chaffin (No. 18 Dickies Dodge) Dover International Speedway and Ted Musgrave (No. 1 Mopar Dodge), The Milwaukee Mile, David Starr (No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet) Gateway International Raceway and Travis Kvapil (Michigan International Speedway.

* There have been five consecutive different winners heading into this week's 14th race at Indianapolis Raceway Park. There has only been one repeat winner -- Bobby Hamilton -- over the past eight races. Only twice has the halfway leader gone on to win a race; drivers leading the most laps have four wins in 13 tries.

* Toyota's Michigan July 31 victory by Travis Kvapil gives each of four series truck makers a win during the month of July. Ford won at Kansas Speedway, Dodge at Kentucky Speedway and Chevrolet at Gateway International Raceway. Toyota's first victory came in the manufacturer's 13th start. Chevrolet won the inaugural race on Feb. 5, 1995. Ford won in its ninth appearance while Dodge required 51 appearances over nearly 2 ½ seasons on the tour.

* Dennis Setzer holds the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship lead for the 10th consecutive race. That's four shy of Greg Biffle's 2000 record -- and the most recent of three times the season's halfway leader has gone on to win the championship. Setzer leads Bobby Hamilton by 33 points. His lead has fluctuated from a high of 131 (June 28, Carl Edwards) to a low of six (July 10, Hamilton).

* The Power Stroke Diesel 200 marks the 10th consecutive season Indianapolis Raceway Park has hosted a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race. Only five tracks have been on the schedule each year of the series' existence.

* Four of six series champions have won races at IRP. In fact, they combined to win every event from 1995 through 1999 (although Greg Biffle didn't win his title until the following season). Mike Skinner and Jack Sprague are double winners at the track. Other former winners expected to participate in this year's race included Terry Cook (No. 10 Power Stroke Diesel Ford, 2002) and Carl Edwards (2003).

* Mike Skinner was the dominant driver at IRP in 1995-96, leading all 250 laps of the two events. Skinner has led 350 laps/240.1 miles to pace all drivers, although Jack Sprague (237 laps) and Terry Cook (221) aren't that far behind. Cook has completed the most laps/miles -- 1,361/933.646 of 1,753/1,202.558). He didn't compete in 1995-96 but has run every race since and is one of just five competitors to have started seven times.

* Jack Sprague is the leading money winner at IRP with $144,782. Should Sprague win this year's race, he'll become the first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitor to win $5 million a career. His current total is $4,964,569 in 185 starts.

* Defending winner Carl Edwards is the only Raybestos rookie winner of a series event at IRP. He used the second of three 2003 victories as a springboard to the rookie of the year crown thus giving the past three top freshman award winners a top five finish. Travis Kvapil (2001) finished second with Brendan Gaughan (2002) fourth.

* Two Daytona 500 winners have entered the Power Stroke Diesel 200. They are brothers Darrell Waltrip (No. 11 Toyota Tundra Toyota) and Michael Waltrip (No. 33 Monaco Custom Coach Chevrolet). The two have competed against each other in one previous NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, in November 1996 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Michael got the best of his older brother finishing fourth to DW's 20th.

* Ken Schrader (No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet) will attempt to end the series longest non-winning streak by a previous winner -- 48 races dating to April 1995. Schrader made his only series appearance at IRP a year ago and finished seventh.

* Other series notes: Kyle Busch, this year's leading Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender on the NASCAR Busch Series, will drive the No. 47 Chevrolet Silverado All-Star entry this week. Busch made his NASCAR national touring series debut at IRP in 2001 at age 17. He finished ninth. ... Shane Hmiel (No. 15 Earl Small's Harley-Davidson Chevrolet) will perform double duty this week as he did at The Milwaukee Mile where he nearly won the NASCAR Busch half of the weekend doubleheader substituting for Kasey Kahne. ... The preliminary entry for the Power Stroke Diesel 200 lists 53 teams. Forty-six drivers attempted to qualify for the 36-truck starting field one year ago. ... Thorsport Racing teammates Tracy Hines and Paul White square off in Thursday night's U.S. Auto Club Silver Crown race. ... The IRP winner has started outside the top three just once -- Carl Edwards from the No. 5 position a year ago. Four of nine races have been won from the pole.

-irp-

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Darrell Waltrip , Michael Waltrip , Mike Skinner , Ken Schrader , David Starr , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Ted Musgrave , Jack Sprague , Dennis Setzer , Terry Cook , Rick Crawford , Tina Gordon , Shane Hmiel , Shelby Howard , Kelly Sutton , Kasey Kahne , Brendan Gaughan , Chad Chaffin , Tracy Hines , Mike Bliss , Carl Edwards , Ken Weaver , Paul White , Deborah Renshaw , Teri MacDonald , Kyle Busch , Travis Kvapil