* Kroger 200 may be obstacle to overcome for title hopefuls * Chevrolet can clinch sixth series manufacturer championship this week DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 17, 2005) -- The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series hits the homestretch this Saturday at...
* Kroger 200 may be obstacle to overcome for title hopefuls
* Chevrolet can clinch sixth series manufacturer championship this week
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 17, 2005) -- The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series hits the homestretch this Saturday at Martinsville Speedway, where the Kroger 200 kicks off five consecutive weekends of competition to crown the 2005 champion.
Just five points separates Dennis Setzer (No. 46 Chevrolet Z71 Silverado Chevrolet) in first place from Ted Musgrave (No. 1 Mopar Dodge), in second place, a margin that matches the 1998 season as the closest with five races remaining.
Setzer and Musgrave -- the No. 2 and 3 finishers in 2003 and 2004 -- are the favorites at this juncture. But 16 competitors remain mathematically in the championship hunt.
Former champions Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet) and Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota), ranked third and fourth, respectively, certainly can't be counted out. Hornaday trails Setzer by 200 points. Skinner is 250 behind.
Martinsville hasn't been kind to title hopefuls in recent seasons, suggesting this week's race may be an obstacle to overcome rather than an opportunity to build a lead.
A year ago, Bobby Hamilton (No. 04 Bailey's Dodge) finished 26th in the Kroger 200 and passed the point lead to Setzer. Travis Kvapil won the 2003 title despite Martinsville finishes of 16th and 18th. Skinner is the only champion to win a race at Martinsville but in 1996, the season after he won the series' inaugural title.
Setzer, the only two-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck winner at the .526-mile layout, suffered his next-to-worst finish of the 2005 season in April's Kroger 250. Tire trouble left the Newton, N.C. veteran in 33rd place, 32 laps behind winner Bobby Labonte (No. 16 Chevy Trucks Chevrolet).
Despite a pair of Bud Poles, Musgrave has yet to win at Martinsville. Still, he finished among the top 10 in four of the track's most recent five events and was seventh in April.
Chevrolet can wrap up its sixth NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series manufacturers championship this week. A victory will win the title outright. Chevrolet also can clinch with a second place among manufacturers if Toyota finishes fourth and Dodge third.
Manufacturer points are awarded to the highest-finishing truck by manufacturer on a nine-six-four-three basis.
Chevrolet's last championship came in 2002. Chevrolet won four consecutive titles from 1995 through 1998.
The manufacturer championship has been clinched with a victory in eight of the series' 10 seasons. Kasey Kahne's Darlington Raceway win handed the trophy to Dodge in 2004.