Kansas: GM Racing preview

* Chevrolet Silverado has won six of the12 NCTS manufacturers championships * Silverado drivers have won eight of the 12 possible Series' driver championships * Silverado drivers have won more races than any other brand - 125 of 292 - 42.8% ...

* Chevrolet Silverado has won six of the12 NCTS manufacturers championships

* Silverado drivers have won eight of the 12 possible Series' driver championships

* Silverado drivers have won more races than any other brand - 125 of 292 - 42.8% (1995-2006)

Kansas City, KS - After a three-week layoff, Team Chevy Silverado gets back on-track Saturday for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas Speedway. The 167-lap/250-mile race is round five of the 25-race NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) season and the seventh time the Chevy pickup truck racers will visit the 1.5-mile facility just west of Kansas City, Kansas.

No one is more anxious to get back to the race track than Kraig Kinser, No. 47 VFW Silverado fielded by Morgan-Dollar Motorsports (MDM).

Although his stats don't show it, Kinser has had an impressive start to the 2007 NCTS season, proving that in his sophomore season as a full-time NASCAR driver, Kinser is going to be upfront often and a contender for wins.

In the season-opening race at Daytona, Kinser was in the wrong place at the wrong time, sustaining damage in a multi-truck accident that ultimately resulted in engine failure due to overheating. Kinser was riding in the lead pack, patiently waiting for the majority of the race to unfold.

Then came the California race. Kinser qualified 12th and was running in the top-10 when a spin flat spotted the tires forcing an unscheduled pit stop and a finish in 17th place.

Atlanta in March was a heartbreaker for the young Bloomington, IN native. Kinser led and ran in the top-three until late in the race when what he called a "rookie mistake" sent him spinning and making hard contact with the wall.

The Martinsville short track race was just that, a typical beating and banging short track NCTS race that sent Kinser to the garage early with a 30th place finish.

So, with a spectacular paint-scheme to honor the VFW for the second consecutive year at Kansas Speedway Kinser is armed with determination. With a strong team behind his Silverado and Travis Kittleson in a second MDM entry, Kinser is determined to get the finish at the Midwest race track he and his team deserve.

"Last year, we had quite a few people comment on the truck," said Kinser. "It was an honor to be able to put the VFW on the hood. With the world like it is today, I think it is pretty neat that we can honor those that served our country and the paint scheme looks pretty neat also.

"Hopefully, we can utilize our practice sessions, bounce some thoughts and ideas off Travis and his guys and put together a racy truck that can be fighting at the end. The past couple races have been tough, we have had trucks that ran up front, just something weird seems to happen and it takes us out. I am hoping Kansas is the place that we can turn our luck around."

"Travis is a great guy," Kinser concluded. "It will be nice to have someone at the track to share ideas, and talk to him and see what his truck is doing. Hopefully, we both can learn from each other and work together where we both can have encouraging runs."

Travis Kittleson will be behind the wheel of the second MDM entry, No. 46 Bob Steele Silverado. It will be the driver's fourth NCTS start and the first of the 2007 season.

"I haven't actually raced since November," said Kittleson, a Cross Plains, WI native. "I am going to concentrate on getting my discipline back, and really just on the little stuff like fan switches. I am really going to focus on my consistency in hitting my marks, and am going to have to learn in a hurry since practice time is of the essence. I know the guys on the team are going to come with their best game and I am going to do the same.

"I am going to hit the track with getting myself acclimated to the truck, the track, and will be concentrating on getting solid laps under my belt. I hope I will be lucky and will be able to get around a seasoned veteran and will be able to follow and learn from them. I am also definitely going to work with Kraig and bounce things off of him. Although his time in the Truck Series has been over a year, we are about the same age, and understand each other's lingo, and I really look to share ideas and discuss our trucks with him."

"I cannot tell you how exciting it is to be getting this opportunity with Morgan-Dollar," concluded the 27-year old driver. "When you look at the record books, wins, and consistency, Morgan-Dollar has been one of the premier teams in the Truck Series. They have been Chevrolet's best team over time, and to be able to drive for them is a chance in a lifetime. Getting to work with Eric Phillips is also something I look forward to. He has been with the team for quite a while, and his notebook has endless notes, setups, and he definitely knows the equipment. It is so great to work with someone who has been established with the team, and has countless races under his belt with the team, so the possibilities should be endless. I am also glad to get Bob Steele Chevrolet back on the hood and get a good run for everyone there."

Kevin Harvick, Inc. (KHI) will also field two trucks at Kansas Speedway. Two-time NCTS champion Ron Hornaday, Jr., No. 33 AES HR Solutions Silverado will team with KHI teammate Cale Gale. Gale is also running a part-time schedule in the KHI NASCAR Busch program.

Hornaday, Jr., is off to a championship-contending season. With one top-five, a second-place run at California Speedway and four top-10 finishes thus far; he currently sits fourth in the championship standings.

"When I first started racing everything was more physical because I was thinking so much," Hornaday, Jr. said. "Now I go out there and driving is my job, it's my office. So now it's more mental than physical for me.

"The Kansas Speedway is a newer track, and it reminds me of Chicagoland (Ill.). It is a mile-and- a-half track and with the new coil binding setup, you hope you have the most horsepower. We are taking a truck that we ran well in twice this year, and we finished second at California in it. But it doesn't really matter what we take, because I know with Rick Ren and my team working on it, that truck will be the best we have in the shop."

The O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 will mark Gale's second NCTS start for Team Chevy in 2007. It will be the first time at the Kansas track for

"The main thing when I go to a new track is I try and approach it like a rookie," said Gale, the 22-year old Mobile, AL native. "I try to learn the track as fast as possible, and I try not to complain too much about the truck until I know I have the track figured out. But I don't think it's any more pressure, it's just a race track like all the others.

"Yes, Chicago is a lot like Kansas and I have raced at Chicago before. There should be some similar characteristics between the two. I like Chicago. I was having a great race there last season in the Busch Series, running about 13th with 18 laps to go when the transmission broke. I think a top 10 would be a good day. The truck is obviously capable of finishing in the top-five. It is the same truck that Clint Bowyer drove to a fifth-place finish in Atlanta (GA)."

In six previous Kansas Speedway starts, Dennis Setzer, No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Silverado, has scored two poles, three top-five and three top-10 finishes. New to the Spears Motorsports team, Setzer feels like the chemistry is building and the team is sitting on the verge of breaking through with the finishes and consistency both Setzer and the team are noted for.

"I have had some pretty good runs at Kansas," said the Newton, NC native. "It is a beautiful facility and the fans there are great!

"We have been working hard on our Spears Silverado to get ready to get the finishes that this team deserves and I really feel like we have come a long way in a short time. There is always a learning curve when a driver is new to a team, but these Spears guys are so professional and this team is a proven winner, it was a pretty easy transition for all of us. I am excited to get to the track and see if we can get a really solid run this weekend."

Billy Ballew Motorsports will also field a pair of Silverados at Kansas. Bill Lester will pilot the No. 15 Silverado and team with former full-time NCTS and Silverado driver Kelly Sutton in the No. 51 Team COPAXONE (glatiramer acetate injection).

Last year at Kansas Speedway, Sutton was involved in an accident that caused her to miss a number of races to heal from the crash.

"I am really excited to be headed back to the race track," said Sutton. "It is an honor for me to have the opportunity to drive for Billy Ballew Motorsports with their history of performance and winning.

"I am also very grateful to Team COPAXONE (glatiramer acetate injection) for giving me the opportunity to conqueror the track that took so much away from me last year and kept me out of a couple of races. I am looking forward to the excitement of getting back in the cockpit and having a solid run."

"I think this will be the first time in NASCAR history that an African American driver and female driver have been on same team," said Billy Ballew. "As an independent team owner, this is really exciting for us and I know both Bill and Kelly are looking forward to the weekend."

Lester has one a pole, a top-five and two top-10 finishes at Kansas and is excited about going back.

"Richie (Wauters, crew chief) has put together a good truck for this Kansas race," said Lester. "We are excited to break the streak of bad luck we have had the last few races and I really believe we can do it at Kansas Speedway.

"It has been a good track for me over the past few season. It is smooth and fast and suits my driving style well so we are looking for a strong run and solid results."

Brendan Gaughan, No. 77 South Point Hotel Silverado, is eager to get back in the routine of racing. As the newest member of Team Chevy Silverado, Gaughan and his team continue to make strong gains in their on-track performance as the season kicks in to high gear.

"Kansas was one of those cookie cutter tracks that the South Point team excelled at for a long time," said Gaughan. "Last year, we were struggling pretty bad and we hit the summer stretch and Kansas and Kentucky were really good weeks for us. It started with Kansas and went right to the next week at Kentucky. We had back-to-back top fives. We would really like to see that trend start over again.

"I like big tracks. If you go back to my off-road days, I like the bigger tracks - the really big fast tracks a lot more than I like the tight ones. My first NASCAR race was the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. I just say its because the driver likes big tracks. I've always had crew chiefs and guys that work in the race shop that do really good work and when you go to those aerodynamic tracks, you've got to have people that do really, really well on all their jobs. You have to be a very well-prepared race team to keep the aero on your trucks, and I've always had good people and our team has a driver who likes going fast instead of going slow.

Gaughan is a strong supporter of collegiate sports and feels like the Kansas Speedway NCTS event will hold special significance to all competitors. "It doesn't matter if you are ACC or Big East if you are from Virginia or from Las Vegas, Nevada. Our hearts and prayers go out to everybody involved with something like that. Just some amazing stories that are coming out of it - like the professor who was a Holocaust survivor, a student who played dead and survived. For the young men and young women who survived, it's going to be horrific to deal with for years to come. It's going to be a tough thing to overcome. NASCAR, the whole nation is taking a stance to try to help out Virginia Tech as much as they can. I'm of the opinion that sports help heal. People rally around sports. NASCAR is one of Virginia's favorite sports. NASCAR country is in Virginia, so I definitely think having all the NASCAR teams run their decal is important. You know that we're all thinking about it and we're going to give them all our best and our thoughts and prayers."

Clay Rogers, the 2006 USAR Hooters Pro Cup Late Model Series champion, will be driving for Key Motorsports in the #40 Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet Silverado at Kansas City.

"I am really excited about getting back to NASCAR competition," said Rogers. "I tested for Key Motorsports in Daytona and know that the team has some good equipment, and with Barry (crew chief Dodson) calling the shots, I know that we will be competitive. I really like the Kansas track, and it should suit my driving style well, and I'm looking forward to come away with a good performance to help me get some additional opportunities with the team this season."

Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender Willie Allen is more than ready to get back in NCTS competition.

"I'm very excited about going to Kansas," said Allen. "I think the Chevy teams will perform well there. Lance Hooper and the rest of the ThorSport team have been working very hard in the off time on our trucks to make them the best that the can be when we come off of this break. I feel confident that we will have a fast and consistent truck at Kansas. To prepare for the race, I have been making several laps at Kansas online and staying in good physical shape. I'm ready to get back to racing!"

Practice for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 will start at 11:00 a.m. CDT on Friday, April 27th followed by the one-hour final practice at approximately 2:30 p.m. CDT. Qualifying will be held at 1:300 p.m. CDT on Saturday, April 28th and the trucks will be impounded until the scheduled race start on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. CDT.

-credit: gm racing

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Clay Rogers , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Dennis Setzer , Lance Hooper , Kelly Sutton , Bill Lester , Brendan Gaughan , Clint Bowyer , Kraig Kinser , Willie Allen , Cale Gale , Travis Kittleson