Two former champions in top five together for first time since 1996 NEWS & NOTES Hornaday, Skinner make championship noise ... For the first time since the final race of 1996, former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champions Mike Skinner (No. 5...
Two former champions in top five together for first time since 1996
NEWS & NOTES
Hornaday, Skinner make championship noise ... For the first time since the final race of 1996, former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champions Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) and Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet) hold top-five rankings together in the title chase. Skinner, 11th in points as recently as Aug. 5, moved to fourth after his Sept. 8 victory at Richmond International Raceway. Hornaday's 10th-place performance boosted the 1996 and 1998 champion from fourth to third.
Don't look back, here comes Ted ... Talk about making up ground: Ted Musgrave (No. 1 Mopar Dodge) was a distant, 227 points behind championship leader Dennis Setzer (No. 46 Chevrolet Z71 Silverado Chevrolet) just three races ago. The margin is now 49 following Richmond's event in which Musgrave finished fourth and Setzer 34th. Musgrave has finishes of second, sixth and fourth in his past three starts while Setzer has failed to finish higher than 14th. A finish of first or second at New Hampshire will make Setzer the series' second $4 million career winner. Setzer has won $3,972,249.
Chevrolet still leads manufacturer standings but ... Toyota's fifth win of the season at Richmond marked the first time the second-year series manufacturer has won three consecutive races. The streak began at Nashville Superspeedway on Aug. 13. Tundra trucks won four times in 2004. Chevrolet, with nine victories, remains the manufacturer championship leader with 122 points to Dodge's 99. Toyota has scored 98 and Ford 77.
Mexico City driver Ramirez eyes series debut ... Jose Luis Ramirez (No. 08 Chevrolet) has entered Saturday's New Hampshire event. Ramirez finished 31st in the NASCAR Busch Series' Telcel Motorola Mexico 200 presented by Banamex in March. The 26-year-old Ramirez competed fulltime on the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series in 2004. Carlos Contreras was the first native of Mexico to start a series race. Contreras appeared in 70 events. His best New Hampshire finish was 15th in 2002.
NASCAR Craftsman Truck graduates cut to The Chase ... Three competitors who honed their driving skills in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, which begins Sunday at New Hampshire International Speedway. One -- Greg Biffle -- is the 2000 series champion. All three -- Biffle, Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards -- are former series Raybestos rookies of the year. Biffle, the 2002 NASCAR Busch Series champion, bids to become the first to win a championship in all three of NASCAR's national touring series.
ETC. ... At Richmond, Mike Wallace became the season's 35th different driver to lead a lap matching the series season record established in 2004. ... Jack Sprague (No. 16 Chevy Trucks Chevrolet) has finished first or second in four of his seven starts at NHIS. Sprague also has won the Bud Pole three times -- most recently last year. ... The Sylvania 200 by Lowe's has been won twice from the pole. Winners have started no worse than fifth in each of the past five races. ... Last year's race saw 19 drivers complete all 200 laps, a series record at NHIS. ... The New Hampshire winner has gone on to capture the NASCAR Craftsman Truck title twice -- Hornaday in 1996 and Sprague in 2001.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Five bid to become NHIS' first repeat winner ... Five of New Hampshire's nine series winners are expected to compete in Saturday's Sylvania 200 by Lowe's. They are Hornaday (1996), Setzer (1999), Sprague (2001), Terry Cook (No. 10 Ford Power Stroke Diesel Ford, 2002) and Jimmy Spencer (No. 2 Team ASE Dodge, 2003). Two former NHIS NASCAR Busch winners also are entered: Ricky Craven (No. 99 Superchips Ford, 1991) and Robert Pressley (No. 59 Harris Trucking Co. Dodge, 1993).
"Since they've changed the configuration of the track as far as opening up another groove on the bottom, the track has really gotten 'racey.' Now if you got a good race truck, you can drive right around everybody and not touch them and stay out front all day long." -- Terry Cook.
"We need to come to a track like this and hopefully turn our luck back around. This track has been pretty good to me over the years and our Silverado team needs a good run to get ourselves pointed back in the right direction." -- Dennis Setzer, who counts five finishes of fifth or better at NHIS.
10 YEARS TOUGH
The 1996 season saw the greatest number of new tracks -- six -- added to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule. New Hampshire International Speedway joined the series along with Homestead-Miami Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Nashville Speedway USA, Nazareth Speedway and Watkins Glen International.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
New Hampshire International Speedway will be looking for its 10th consecutive different race winner on Saturday. It is the third track to bid for No. 10. Neither Texas Motor Speedway nor The Milwaukee Mile reached that number thanks to repeat wins, respectively, by Brendan Gaughan (No. 77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Dodge) in 2002 and Musgrave in 2004. Homestead-Miami Speedway, site of the season-ending Ford 200 on Nov. 18, also has hosted nine series races without a repeat winner.
Next Event: Sylvania 200 presented by Lowe's. (Race No. 19 of 25).
Where: New Hampshire International Speedway, (Loudon, N.H.)
When: 3:15 p.m. ET Saturday, Sept. 17.
Track layout: 1.058-Mile paved oval.
Race length: 211.6 miles/200 laps.
Posted awards: $515,630.
TV: SPEED Channel, 3 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
2004 winner: Travis Kvapil.
2004 polesitter: Jack Sprague.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday -- Practice 10:45 a.m. -- 11:55 a.m. and 2:45 -- 3:45 p.m. Saturday -- Qualifying 10:05 a.m. Trucks impounded after qualifying.
Top 10 drivers: 1. Dennis Setzer 2,581. 2. Ted Musgrave 2,532. 3. Ron Hornaday Jr. 2,388. 4. Mike Skinner 2,376. 5. Jimmy Spencer 2,373. 6. Bobby Hamilton 2,349. 7. Todd Bodine 2,306. 7. David Reutimann 2,302.9. Matt Crafton 2,290. 10. David Starr 2,218.