Mansfield: GM Racing preview

Chevrolet Team Silverado Set for Mansfield Motorsports Speedway Run Jack Sprague and Chevy Trucks Team Set to Defend Last Year's Win on Shortest Track on NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Circuit Mansfield, OH -- Early in his career, Jack Sprague...

Chevrolet Team Silverado Set for Mansfield Motorsports Speedway Run

Jack Sprague and Chevy Trucks Team Set to Defend Last Year's Win on Shortest Track on NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Circuit

Mansfield, OH -- Early in his career, Jack Sprague was known for his skill on big tracks. Several nicknames such as "Big Track Jack" were attached to the three-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion by media and fellow competitors alike. But the labels are misleading. Out of his 24 NCTS victories, 11 have come on short tracks including his 2004 win at the inaugural race at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway.

"At Mansfield last year we were able to put it all together and get it done," Spring Lake, MI native Sprague said. "At all the short tracks our Chevy Trucks Silverado team has been a factor for the win. We have started out this year the same way, we are as strong or stronger than we were last year and I think we have a good shot at repeating our win."

Added to the excitement of returning to the half-mile track as the defending race winner is the Speedway is only 60 miles from Chevy Trucks Silverado crew chief Chris Showalter's family home in Amherst, Ohio.

"It was great to win at Mansfield, Showalter said. "There were probably 300 people there that I knew last year and it sounds like there might be even more this year. We are taking the exact same truck we won with last year so it should be exciting and pretty cool."

Dennis Setzer, driver of the No. 46 Chevrolet Silverado team, has been dubbed the NCTS Short Track King. Of his 12 wins in NCTS competition, seven have come on the short tracks. But Setzer, who finished second to Sprague in 2004, has scored his last two wins on superspeedways and would like to reverse the order this year.

"Our Chevrolet Silverado teammate Jack Sprague won the race there last year and we finished second." Setzer said. "I feel like we have the Right Truck under us when we go back this year to put our No. 46 Chevrolet Silverado in victory lane. I really like Mansfield, it is a great track. It is very technical track for a short track; very much a driver's track. I feel like we are ready for a good run."

David Starr and the No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Silverado had a solid run at Mansfield coming home ninth in the 2004 event. The Houston, Texas native was in contention all afternoon but the green/white/checkered finish for which the NCTS is famous sent him up of the track out of the racing groove and he had to settle for a top-10 finish. Starr currently sits 13th in NCTS point standings heading into the sixth race of the season.

For Ron Hornaday, racing at Mansfield will be a new experience. The two-time NCTS champion has not tested nor raced on the track. But racing and winning on short-tracks isn't a problem for the Palmdale, CA native. Hornaday is the leading NCTS race winner with 27 trips to victory lane on his resume. 15 of those wins and seven of his 11 pole positions came on the various short-tracks on the circuit.

OF NOTE: Two NCTS veterans with a total of four wins between them, Rich Bickle and Butch Miller will attempt to qualify for the UAW/GM Ohio 250 at Mansfield. Both veterans will be driving Silverados from the Green Light Racing stables. Bickle will be in the No. 08 Hidden Heros Silverado and Miller will be driving the No. 07.

The UAW/GM Ohio 250 practice will begin on Saturday, May 14 with one session from11:30 a.m. -- 12:30 p.m. and the final session set for 1 p.m. -- 2 p.m. Qualifying is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Trucks impounded after qualifying. The race will take the green flag at 2:15 PM EDT on Sunday, May 15. The 250-lap/125- mile race will have live flag-to-flag television coverage provided by SPEED. The race can also be heard on MRN Radio as well as XM Satellite Radio.

DRIVER: DENNIS SETZER
TEAM: No. 46 Morgan-Dollar Motorsports Chevrolet SilveradoJ Date of Birth: February 27, 1960 Hometown: Newton, NC

ON RACING AT MANSFIELD: "I really like Mansfield, it is a great track. It is very technical track for a short track; very much a driver's track. It is hard to pass because the primary groove is pretty much in the middle of the track so you have to really plan you passes by maximizing your corner entry and drive off the corner.

"It is exciting for us to have new facilities come on the schedule and to see how much effort they have put into the track, the facility and giving the fans everything they could possibly want or need coming to watch the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race. Mansfield has gone out of their way to provide a great place for us to race."

ON THE 2004 MANSFIELD RACE: "Our Chevrolet Silverado teammate Jack Sprague won the race there last year and we finished second. I feel like we have the Right Truck under us when we go back this year to put our No. 46 Chevrolet Silverado in victory lane."

ON LEVEL OF COMPETITION IN NCTS: "Martinsville was great proof of how high the level of competition is in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. I finished 33rd because we have a front tire problem that set us back early in the race but we were still running at the checkered flag. We don't see half the field retiring to the garage any longer. I think we will have some long green flag runs that puts more emphasis on the team to have a good setup under the truck so you are good on long runs. I don't see green flag pit stops at Mansfield but I don't see a race with an excess of cautions either."

ON READINESS OF MORGAN-DOLLAR MOTORSPORTS: "We have always had a very strong short track program at Morgan Dollar Motorsports so we have concentrated our testing on the bigger tracks where we needed to improve. It has definitely paid off for us. When we want to try something for the short tracks, we go to a track around this area similar to where we are going to race. We were close to winning short track races last year with our second in Mansfield and at Martinsville so I think our short track program is just as solid as it has ever been.

"To be a championship contender, you have to be able to compete and win on every track configuration, and we have made huge strides in our program in that regard. We are ready to get down to winning in 2005 and Mansfield will be a good place to start."

DRIVER: JACK SPRAGUE
TEAM: No. 16 Xpress Motorsports Chevy Trucks Silverado

ON WINNING THE 2004 INAGURAL EVENT AT MANSFIELD: "It was cool, it's Chris' hometown and it's really close to my hometown. Unfortunately, that is our last memory of a win, but it was a lot of fun. That race track was perfect for a short-track. The guys on the Chevy Trucks Silverado team did a great job. We beat the whole body off the thing and then came home the winner. Hopefully we can go back and do the same thing again. I need to win a race really bad and so does this team.

" I think all of the short tracks we were a major factor to win the race. I think at Martinsville, both races, we had a shot at winning. Same with New Hampshire, Milwaukee, Memphis, St. Louis, you can go on and on. We have been strong at all the short-tracks. At Mansfield, we were able to put it all together in a day and get it done. I think by what is happening this year, we are as strong or stronger than we were last year on these types of race tracks and unfortunately, we keep having bad luck. I think we have just as good a shot at winning Mansfield this year as we did last year."

ON RACING AT MANSFIELD: "You drive it kind of like you do Indianapolis Raceway Park even though IRP is bigger. You drive the higher side of the race track versus the lower side because of the progressive banking. It's just a rooting, gouging place. It's a lot of fun.

"I worked pretty good every where I needed to run. The middle of the race track is where you want to run. That's where the banking is. That is where you can run the fastest by yourself. I was passing good trucks on the bottom on the flat. I passed (Dennis) Setzer for the lead on the bottom, and I also passed trucks on the outside. You can race on that race track. If your truck is set up good, you can race."

DRIVER: DAVID STARR
TEAM: No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Silverado

ON THE 2004 MANSFIELD RACE: "Racing at Mansfield is a lot of fun. We ended the inaugural race there last year with a green/white/checkered. Sometimes green/white/checkered flag endings work out to your advantage and sometimes they don't. In that particular race, it didn't end up working out to my advantage. I was running fourth when the green/white/checkered came out and I ended up finishing 9th. Somebody got me (at the restart) and opened up the lane and I couldn't get back."

ON RACING AT MANSFIELD: "Mansfield is a great racetrack and the fans there are unbelievable. They pack that place -- you would think we are the NEXTEL Cup Series putting on a show there. You see 250,000 people at a NEXTEL Cup race and I know they don't seat 250,000 seats at Mansfield but it's like its 250,000 people because there is no room for anyone else. It's a fun race to be in -- it's a short track so there will be some beating and banging -- trading paint, just like the fans like it and I like it too. Hopefully we can bring our Spears Manufacturing Silverado to victory lane"

ON SITTING 13TH IN THE POINTS: "To get yourself back in the top-10 in points you need to win. A lot of times I don't worry about the points --Even though we've been competitive at every one of the races and just had bad luck or something happened. The fact of the matter is we are 13th in points and 200 points behind. The only way to fix that is to win. We are not going to look at the points - we are just going to go to every race and try to win. If we can't win, we need to get the best we can get out of that particular day. The points will take care of themselves."

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

ON RACING AT MANSFIELD: "I have never been to Mansfield but I can't wait to go. We had problems last week and the best cure for that is getting back on the track. Wally and the rest of the GM Goodwrench team will be ready to get that behind them and a good finish is exactly what this team needs. We took a hit in the points and now we have to start making up for our mishap. I got my start racing on tracks like Mansfield so I think I will be right at home when the green flag drops this weekend."

DRIVER: KELLY SUTTON
TEAM: No. 02 Team Copaxone Silverado

ON RACING AT MANSFIELD: NOTE: Sutton holds the record for the best finish by a female driver, 20th place in 2004. "We've worked hard to prepare for the race, so we can continue our past success here in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The top 20 last year felt good, and we're going to continue to improve our program to bring home more strong finishes for Sutton Motorsports, and attract some associate sponsors. I'm living proof that if you do everything in your power to help yourself, no dream is out of reach. Modern medicine offers those of us with MS a lot of hope. With my therapy, diet and exercise, I am able to manage my disease and get out here and drive!"

-gm racing-

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