Open-wheel champs battle at IRP in NASCAR Craftsman Trucks DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 4, 2004) -- The first week of August, for a number of seasons, has drawn open-wheel champions Tracy Hines (No. 88 Menards Chevrolet) and Paul White (No. 13 ...
Open-wheel champs battle at IRP in NASCAR Craftsman Trucks
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 4, 2004) -- The first week of August, for a number of seasons, has drawn open-wheel champions Tracy Hines (No. 88 Menards Chevrolet) and Paul White (No. 13 Sta-Max/Microtel Inns & Suites) to Indianapolis Raceway Park.
This year, however, the Thorsport Racing teammates will get a double-dose of the .686-mile oval. Hines and White seek to improve their Raybestos Rookie of the Year standing in Friday night's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Power Stroke Diesel 200.
They'll warm up for the 10th running of the 200-lap race -- along with Carl Edwards (No. 99 Superchips Ford) -- by competing in Thursday night's U.S. Auto Club Silver Crown event, their traditional IRP stop. Hines is the division's 2000 champion, while White was the champion in 2001.
At first glance, the open-cockpit cars and NASCAR trucks don't have much in common. But it's a path that was followed by former NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champions Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart and the 2002 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion, Mike Bliss, so Hines and White hope they'll have a shot at some NASCAR hardware.
"The longer races in the Silver Crown Series help you make the transition," said Hines, who finished 27th in last year's Power Stroke Diesel 200. "You're usually running 100 laps. You learn to save your tires and conserve your fuel."
White, a NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series regional champion in his native Texas, agrees. "You learn to handle the speed and all the moving around," he said. "You have to learn to drive it out of shape and still be fast and that helps you when you make the move to trucks."
Hines ranks third in Raybestos standings and 19th overall. He finished fourth earlier this year at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway. White, who joined Thorsport last month, finished 14th at Gateway International Raceway with his first lead-lap result.
"Tracy's a hard racer; I'm that way, too," said White. "Now that we're teammates, I may give him a little extra room and he'll do the same for me."
The two are friends, but even friendships can be strained by the heat of competition.
Hines recounts an incident several years ago at Phoenix, when a late-race battle for the lead ended with White in Victory Lane and Hines' car in the Turn 4 wall.
"I was mad, got out and threw my helmet at him," said Hines, a 32-year-old Indiana native. "It was kind of funny because we've always been friends. When the No. 13 ride opened up, I talked to him about joining the team."
White, 41, is eager to compete in Friday's race.
"From what I've seen watching other races there, the trucks run a whole different line than the Silver Crown cars do," he said. "I'm really anxious to get there and run the trucks. We've got a little momentum with how we ran at Gateway."