Mansfield: Round seven preview

Fans and drivers alike enjoy close-up action on this week's short track menu DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 22, 2006) -- Mansfield Motorsports Speedway, host to Saturday's City of Mansfield 250, might be termed a "throwback" half-mile track. And...

Fans and drivers alike enjoy close-up action on this week's short track menu

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 22, 2006) -- Mansfield Motorsports Speedway, host to Saturday's City of Mansfield 250, might be termed a "throwback" half-mile track.

And that would be a compliment.

More than 11 years ago, when the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debuted, more than half the schedule -- 14 of 20 races -- was contested on tracks measuring .375-mile to .686-mile in length.

Saturday's 250-lap, 125-mile race likely will play to a packed house thanks to constant action on the half-mile track.

"For a driver, it is more like the old days of racing at home," said Timothy Peters (No. 4 Dodge Motorsports Dodge), a three-time champion at South Boston Speedway in southern Virginia that hosted a trio of NASCAR Craftsman Truck races between 2001 and 2003. "You can hang out with the fans instead of being separated from them like we are at so many tracks.

"And the fans are awesome at Mansfield."

Peters joined Bobby Hamilton Racing on a part-time basis last year. His driving skills and willingness to learn on high-speed ovals so impressed owner Bobby Hamilton, that the Providence, N.C. driver got a full deal for 2006.

The 25-year-old Peters believes that a solid short-track resume still can be the ticket to a NASCAR national series career.

"There was a time in the past when teams just picked drivers with late model and short track experience but that is not the standard way any more," he said. "I don't think teams are eliminating choosing possible drivers from a weekly short-track background. The bottom line is the number of competitive rides are very slim."

Peters enters the season's seventh race -- and second on a short track -- 24th in series point standings. His best finish, ironically, came at Daytona International Speedway where Peters ranked 12th.

"My biggest learning curve has been learning to race at tracks like Lowe's and Atlanta but it seems we spend more time at tracks that have short track characteristics," he said.

Peters and his fellow Dodge drivers hope the return to Mansfield, where Hamilton scored the manufacturer's most recent victory, will be a reversal of fortune.

"We ran good at St. Louis and we ran good at Martinsville so we have had good runs going to the shorter tracks this year," said Peters. "I am looking forward to going up there and back to somewhere that is close to the type of racetracks I learned on -- the grassroots of late model racing. That part will be fun."

-nascar-

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton