HOMESTEAD, Fla. (March 4, 2001) -- Florida fans witnessed a repeat performance of Daytona's Craftsman Truck Series season-opening event today; only the names have changed. In today's 250-mile event on Homestead-Miami Speedway's 1.5-mile ...
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (March 4, 2001) -- Florida fans witnessed a repeat performance of Daytona's Craftsman Truck Series season-opening event today; only the names have changed. In today's 250-mile event on Homestead-Miami Speedway's 1.5-mile superspeedway, it was a Dodge in front and a Chevy Silverado rookie in second, as Travis Kvapil took his #60 Cat Rental Stores entry into second place behind Ted Musgrave. Kvapil benefited from savvy pit strategy and a strong, storied Silverado from Addington Racing to finish in the runner-up spot.
Kvapil's Silverado, nicknamed "Canned Heat" by the team, was the winner here in 2000, with Andy Houston driving, and has two wins and about a dozen top-five finishes in 23 races, according to crew chief Rick Ren. Kvapil (pronounced KWA-pul), a regular in the NASCAR Re/Max Challenge Series for the last three years, took over from Houston this season when Houston moved over to the Winston Cup series.
While other top contenders chose not to pit under the final caution, then were forced to stop under green-flag conditions for a splash of fuel, Kvapil and his crew made the right calls to plant the Janesville, Wis., racer solidly into second place at the finish. The 167-lap race was slowed by six caution-flag periods for 21 laps. Most teams were hoping for a seventh caution to help them with fuel conservation.
"On the last caution (on lap 105) we stopped," said Kvapil. "We knew we were in our fuel window. We wanted to get all the fuel we could because we thought it would be green like that (to the end.) Once we got the fuel we weren't really concerned with charging up front. We knew some of the guys in front of us would have to stop and get gas."
As leaders Jack Sprague and Scott Riggs (who did not pit on the final caution) pitted with 15 laps to go, Musgrave stayed out and held on for the win as Kvapil, who ran in the top five for most of the day, moved into second place, finishing 10 seconds behind. "I knew we didn't have a chance to run Ted down," he said. "I just rode in the second spot as conservatively as I could. In the last five laps I really kept my eye on the fuel pressure gauge. It was definitely starting to lose fuel, but it never coughed or sputtered."
Sprague, two-time series' champion and winner of 19 truck races, led 53 laps today. He was looking good for his first win here, but ended up third after the late stop. "If they made this race 15 laps shorter or maybe 50 laps longer I would have won about three of them today," he said. "Musgrave had a good truck. It would have been a very good fight. I'm surprised he had enough fuel, as the Dodges don't get as good gas mileage as the Chevrolets do. Ted had some in his pocket."
Four Silverados finished in the top 10: Rookie-of-the-year candidate Ricky Hendrick, in the #17 GMAC Silverado, finished fifth; and Randy Tolsma, in the #61 Team Rensi Motorsports Silverado was sixth. Michael Ritch, in the #51 Ware Racing Enterprises Silverado led three laps, but ended up 33rd.
Chevrolet Silverado continues to lead in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victories. After a total of 148 races in the series' history, Silverado tops the win column with 80 wins, versus cross-town rivals Ford (52) and Dodge (16), giving Chevy a win percentage of 54 percent.