Former Boston Red Sox outfielder Mike Greenwell, Michel Jourdain Jr. debut at Mansfield NEWS AND NOTES Two well-known figures will make NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debuts at Mansfield -- one from racing and the other a former Major League ...
Former Boston Red Sox outfielder Mike Greenwell, Michel Jourdain Jr. debut at Mansfield
NEWS AND NOTES
Two well-known figures will make NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debuts at Mansfield -- one from racing and the other a former Major League Baseball all-star. Michel Jourdain Jr., a multiple Champ Car World Series winner and NASCAR Busch Series competitor, climbs into Roush Racing's No. 50 Ford while Mike Greenwell (No. 08 Yankee Candle Co. Chevrolet), the retired Boston Red Sox outfielder with a career batting average over .300, moves up from the Florida late model circuit.
"The sports [of racing and baseball] are more similar than I think people would realize," Greenwell recently told the Boston Globe. "It takes a team to win. One person can make a mistake and you can lose because of that. Racing is probably a little bit tougher only because of the fact that you have mechanical failures that you can't control."
Greenwell, a 37-time late model winner in his native Florida, will drive the Chevrolet that Rich Bickle guided to a fifth-place finish in last year's Mansfield 250.
Jourdain has yet to visit Mansfield Motorsports Speedway; however, he is familiar with the area having competed at nearby Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, a road course.
"I hear it's a very challenging little short track," said the Mexico City native. "The Craftsman Truck Series is a very competitive series, there are so many talented drivers, I am really excited to make my first start in the series with Roush Racing."
Defending winner absent but team returns ... With Hamilton sidelined while undergoing therapy for head and neck cancer, the race will be without last year's winner. Hamilton, however, is sending a formidable replacement in the No. 18 Fastenal Dodge -- son Bobby Hamilton Jr. "It does give us some confidence knowing that we won with Bobby Sr. there last year. He drove a masterful race," said the younger Hamilton. "We have the notes, have the experience. BHR has been there, done that. With all the talented crew guys and with all the Dodge guys, we feel like we can lean on some folks for advice and find out how to get around there fairly quickly." Best finish in a year boosts Cook in standings ... Terry Cook's (No. 10 Ford Power Stroke Diesel by International Ford) second consecutive runnerup finish at Lowe's Motor Speedway -- and to the same winner, Kyle Busch (No. 51 National Land Liquidation Chevrolet) -- isn't a bad rut in which to find one's self. Especially when Cook's last top-five finish had been recorded in June 2005 at Dover International Speedway. Cook moved up five spots in the championship standings from 10th to fifth. Owner Greg Pollex believes his team has turned the corner. "Building this truck program has been a real endeavor for me with (NASCAR) Busch (Series) racing all those years," said Pollex. "The first couple of years we struggled. We didn't have enough pieces for Terry to drive. (Crew chief) Dennis Connor has really put together a great stable of trucks for us. We're really happy and Terry's efforts have been exemplary. We're looking forward to a great remainder of the season."
ETC. ... Todd Bodine (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota) added five points to his championship with a third-place finish at Lowe's Motor Speedway last week. He finished third one position ahead of Germain Racing teammate Ted Musgrave (No. 9 Team ASE/Germain Toyota), who trails by 17 points entering the City of Mansfield 250. ... Fewer than half of last year's starters -- 17 of 36 -- have entered this year's City of Mansfield 250. ... The series' next short track event is nearly two months away on July 15 at Memphis Motorsports Park. ... Bill Lester (No. 22 SunTrust Toyota) saw his run of 102 consecutive starts end at Lowe's Motor Speedway after a qualifying accident cost him a spot in the Quaker Steak & Lube 200 field. The streak was fifth-longest among current drivers. ... Wayne Spears will match Jim Smith's series leading starts by an owner -- 272 races -- when Aric Almirola (No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet) starts the City of Mansfield 250. The Spears team has failed to start just two races -- at Richmond and Martinsville in 1997.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Sprague and Mansfield are good fit ... With a win in 2004 and second-place finish a year ago, Jack Sprague (No. 60 Con-way Freight) obviously can't wait for the green flag to drop on this year's City of Mansfield 250. Sprague led 139 laps in winning the Mansfield inaugural. That's 27.5 percent of all 506 laps contested at the track. QUOTEBOOK
""Anyone who knows me knows I will race anything with wheels. In fact, I think I have raced every weekend we have been off except one this season and I even tested that weekend. I am always in a vehicle of some sort. I am actually pumped about the nine week stretch we are (in). I am not sure everyone on the team is excited as I am, but I would race every weekend if NASCAR would let us." -- Scott Lagasse Jr., No. 04 Dodge Hemi Dodge. IN THE LOOP
With four of last year's top-five finishers including winner Bobby Hamilton not competing this week, you'll have to look further into the field to pick a favorite -- at least based upon Driver Rating. Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet) led current competitors at 123.2 followed by Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Truck Corral Ford) at 114.7 and Sprague at 102.5.
Sprague finished second, Crawford sixth and Hornaday 11th. Each completed all 254 laps.
Mansfield's Loop Data proves that Mansfield Motorsports Speedway wasn't kind to current championship hopefuls. Leader Bodine rated at 77.3, defending champion and present runner-up Musgrave at 84.4 and this year's No. 3 David Reutimann at 73.5
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Tracks measuring less than .6-mile were a staple in the early years of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The first two champions, Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) and Ron Hornaday Jr., fattened their victory totals on these "bullrings" -- each winning nine times. Dennis Setzer (No. 85 E85 FlexFuel Chevrolet) counts five wins with Jack Sprague, the 2004 Mansfield Motorsports Speedway winner, notching four.
What: City of Mansfield 250 (Race 7 of 25)
Where: Mansfield Motorsports Speedway, Mansfield, Ohio.
When: 2:15 p.m. ET, May 27
Track layout: .Half-mile paved
Race length: 250 laps/125 miles
Posted awards: $472,410
TV: SPEED Channel, 2:15 p.m. (ET)
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite
2005 winner: Bobby Hamilton
2005 polesitter: Ron Hornaday Jr.
Top 10 drivers: 1.Todd Bodine 1,017. 2. Ted Musgrave 1,000. 3. David Reutimann 896. 4. Mark Martin 844. 5. Terry Cook 808. 6. Johnny Benson 788. 7. David Starr 783. 8. Dennis Setzer 776. 9. Jack Sprague 765. 10. Matt Crafton 760.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Thursday -- Optional practice 12 noon -- 4 p.m. Friday -- Practice 11:30 a.m. -- 12:30 p.m. Rookie Practice 1:00 p.m. -- 1:30 p.m. Final Practice 1:30 p.m. -- 2:30 p.m. Qualifying 6:30 p.m. Trucks impounded after qualifying.