Las Vegas: GM Racing preview

Dennis Setzer Take 59 Point Lead to Las Vegas Motor Speedway * Dennis Setzer holds a 59 point lead in the NCTS championship standings * Setzer is only four-time NCTS winner this season - Michigan, Milwaukee, Kentucky and IRP * Chevrolet sits...

Dennis Setzer Take 59 Point Lead to Las Vegas Motor Speedway

* Dennis Setzer holds a 59 point lead in the NCTS championship standings

* Setzer is only four-time NCTS winner this season - Michigan, Milwaukee, Kentucky and IRP

* Chevrolet sits atop the NCTS manufacturer championship chase with 128 points and nine wins

* Ron Hornaday and Jack Sprague each have one victory in 2005 - Atlanta and Texas respectively

* Jack Sprague holds virtually every NCTS record at 1.5 mile Nevada track

Las Vegas, NV - "Luck" is the word that is synonymous with the city of Las Vegas and the state of Nevada and is applied in a variety of connotations in stories surrounding the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) annual visit to Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS).

But Dennis Setzer, current NCTS points leader, knows that the "luck" he and his No. 46 Morgan-Dollar Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado team is going to be the result of preparation meeting opportunity. As the Newton, NC native continues his methodical march toward his first championship, preparing and focusing on one race at a time will give his Eric Phillips-led team just such opportunities. In six previous LVMS starts, Setzer has three top-five and five top-10 finishes.

"We had a great run in New Hampshire," said Setzer following his exciting runner-up finish. "Our approach to that race is the same approach we are using for Las Vegas - focus on the race at hand and race to win. It has been successful for us this season and it is what is going to continue our success in these last six races.

"We have great support from Chevrolet Silverado. We want to reward all they have done for our Morgan-Dollar organization with as many race wins as possible and hopefully a championship. Our RCR engines have been incredible this year. We have all the ingredients - it is up to us to make our own luck by doing exactly what we have been doing. With six races left in the season, we have to maintain our focus and teamwork."

When you look up the various NCTS records at LVMS, the name you most prominently see as the holder of the benchmark is Jack Sprague, driver of the No. 16 Chevy Trucks Silverado. His two wins, three second-place finishes, six top-five finishes, six top-10 finishes and three poles in seven previous NCTS starts are all Series' records. He has never started out of the top-ten and has led the most NCTS laps and miles - 298 and 447 respectively. He's also led most races (five), won the most money ($317,165) and completed the most laps/miles (919/1,378.5).

"I just love the place," said Sprague. "It is a superspeedway but is much flatter than the other 1.5-mile tracks we run like Texas and Charlotte. That makes the track more technical from a driver standpoint. Truck setup is so critical as it always is, but you have to have the drive off the corner to take advantage of the straightaways. There are multiple grooves for passing but you need a strong truck to get good position on someone and complete the pass. Our Silverado is up to the task, but in the NCTS, there are 12 or so others who have the same thing in mind. It will be a great race."

Don't count out fellow Team Silverado drivers David Starr and Ron Hornaday from a trip to victory lane. Starr got his first-ever series win in 2002 at LVMS and has wins in NASCAR West competition at the track as well.

Two-time NCTS champion Hornaday has four previous starts at LVMS. He scored three top-five and four top-10 finishes. In a great battle with Sprague in 1998, the California native clinched his second NCTS championship. Currently sitting third in the point standings, Hornaday is poised to make a hard charge for the win at 'Vegas and continue his push for a third title as the season winds down.

"Our teams are looking forward to Las Vegas," said Dayne Pierantoni, GM Racing Silverado program manager. "After a string of predominantly short tracks it will be good to get back to a speedway. Vegas requires the whole package engine, aero, chassis and driver. Our teams have worked hard all year. We are still chipping away at the wind tunnel, our chassis engineering program is coming along and our engines have been really strong lately. But, so has everyone else. This series gets tougher every week. Everyone has elevated their programs across the board. These next few races will determine the outcome of the championship. Its crunch time! I think that Dennis Setzer and his Morgan-Dollar Silverado have shown the speed week in and week out and Ron Hornaday keeps beating on the door. We are expecting a hard fought battle from here all the way through Homestead."

Practice for the September 24, 2005 Las Vegas 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. PDT on Saturday, followed by the one-hour final practice at approximately 10:30 a.m. PDT. Qualifying will be held at 3:00 p.m. PDT and the trucks impounded until the scheduled race start at 6:15 p.m. PDT (9:15 p.m. EDT). Live television coverage of the 146-lap/ 219-mile/350K race will be provided by SPEED Channel with MRN and XM Satellite bringing the race live on the airwaves.

TEAM: No. 46 Morgan-Dollar Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado

QUOTES: "Las Vegas has been a great place for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series to race over the years. Everyone loves to go to Las Vegas because its such a great city, and the facility at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is first class.

"The track itself is one of the flatter mile-and-a-half tracks that we visit. Its got plenty of racing room all the way around with a wide racing surface. You want your truck to rotate well in the corners and get out of the corners. If you can exit the corner good and throttle up quicker, it's going to give you an advantage down the straightaways. We expect to run well here this weekend, but I am a little concerned about the tire we will have. This tire is the same tire that we ran here last year and it was pretty inconsistent."

TEAM: No. 16 Xpress Motorsports Chevy Trucks Silverado

QUOTES:  "I have loved racing at Las Vegas since the first time the
trucks unloaded there in 1996.  It is wide and fast with room to pass.

"Although it isn't as flat as New Hampshire, IRP and a couple others we run, it doesn't have the banking of the other 1.5 mile tracks we run which gives us a lot of speed but you still really have to drive the track. I have always liked flatter tracks; they just suit my driving style.

"We had a great truck last year but the engine problem put us out early. We will head back this year and see if we can't recapture the Las Vegas luck of the past. I have been fortunate to set some records at the track. I have clinched a championship there and lost one there as well. It is just a track that I enjoy; I am not sure how to explain it. I think every driver has tracks that have been special in their career and Las Vegas is one of those for me.

"Our Chevy Trucks team has had some huge disappointments this season. It would be nice to get a win and set the stage for a strong finish to the season."

TEAM: No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Silverado

QUOTES: "Las Vegas is just a great place to race. Not only is the track terrific, but also the whole city is exciting and magical...the hotels, the casinos, the is all great. I can't think of anything bad about going to Las Vegas.

"The track is one of my favorites and is definitely special to me as it is where I won my first NASCAR Craftsman Truck race and my first NASCAR West race. This will be the sixth time we have competed there and we have finished in the top 10 five times out of six.

"The track definitely suits my style of driving. It is wide, smooth and multi-grooved which makes for good passing. You need a good aero package and strong horsepower and our Spears Chevy Silverado, along with our Hutter engine, definitely fits the bill.

"We are ready to have some of that famed Las Vegas luck. I always wait til after the race to go to the tables because I don't want to use up my luck gambling. I want to channel it all into racing. Taking the win in Las Vegas for the second time would be totally awesome and that is what we are aiming for."


TEAM: No. 6 Kevin Harvick, Inc. GM Goodwrench Silverado

QUOTES: "I really like going to Las Vegas. It's a great track and I've always had good runs there. We have a great fan base on the West Coast and so anytime we race out there, I feel like it's a home track race. Having a ton of downforce is the key to keeping your corner speeds up. I won a NASCAR Truck Series championship at Vegas, so we know what it takes to win there."

TEAM: No. 15 Billy Ballew Motorsports Silverado

QUOTES: "I'm really excited and looking forward to making my NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut at Las Vegas. I'm running with a well-known team and this is the best opportunity I've ever had. I want to have a good run for Billy (Ballew, team owner) and Ritchie (Wauters, crew chief). Our test went well in Richmond and Ritchie and I worked really well together. I love Las Vegas. I seem to run well at the bigger tracks, so I'm looking forward to running there in the No. 15 Chevrolet this weekend."

TEAM: No. 07 Green Light Racing Pavestone Silverado Date of Birth: May 20, 1965 Hometown: Redondo Beach, CA

QUOTES: "It's the first time since clinching our championship that we're back together as a team. This is exciting for all of us. It is a reunion of sorts. The members of my team all continue to work in NASCAR racing. Many of them made special arrangements so they could race with me this weekend. It will be a sentimental and exciting race for us. The chemistry is really right for this race. I know Green Light Racing has the strength, as a competitor in the truck series. I want to be able to show everyone what we can do.

"It's great to have a team come together the way this one has. It is a pleasure to represent Pavestone both on and off the track. Pavestone is a great company to work with. It is impressive how much they add to the Las Vegas landscape. Hopefully, we can have another great run for the sponsors, team and my old crew."

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers David Starr , Kevin Harvick , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Jack Sprague , Dennis Setzer