Martinsville: News of note, schedule

Kroger 250 results mark switch to 2006 truck owner points to set starting lineups NEWS AND NOTES Setting the Field: After Martinsville, Top 30 in 2006 Owner Points Locked In ... After Saturday's race, the teams ranked in the top 30 of the ...

Kroger 250 results mark switch to 2006 truck owner points to set starting lineups


Setting the Field: After Martinsville, Top 30 in 2006 Owner Points Locked In ... After Saturday's race, the teams ranked in the top 30 of the current 2006 truck owner standings will be guaranteed starting positions each week. Heading into Martinsville, the No. 13 ThorSport Racing Chevrolet owned by Duke Thorson and driven by Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender Kerry Earnhardt is ranked 30th in truck owner point standings. Darrell Waltrip's No. 12 Curb Records Toyota, driven by freshman Joey Miller, is 31st. Other teams vying to come out of Martinsville with their top 30 rankings intact include James Smith's No. 98 Cheerios Betty Crocker Dodge driven by Erin Crocker (29th in owner points) and the No. 1 Dodge of James Smith and driver Robert Richardson (28th). The battle to remain in -- or advance into -- the top 30 will be extremely competitive. The 28th through 33rd ranked teams are separated by just 21 points in the truck owner standings.

He's not the only one with busted 'brackets' ... Brendan Gaughan (No. 77 The Orleans Dodge) was disappointed on two counts as the NCAA men's basketball tournament winds up this weekend. Gaughan, a former Georgetown University player, saw his Hoya team lose its Sweet 16 game last week to Florida 57-53. And none of his Final Four picks will make it to Indianapolis either. Always the optimist, Gaughan sees one silver lining in the otherwise dark cloud. "If the Hoyas made it to the championship games, the Martinsville race may have had to wait," Gaughan said.

Martinsville's Kroger 250 is record-matching race ... Saturday's Kroger 250 marks the 15th time the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has competed at the historic, .526-mile paved oval, which equals the record for the most events at a single track (Texas and Phoenix). Martinsville, whose first race was held Sept. 25, 1995, is one of four tracks to schedule a series race in all 12 seasons. The other facilities are Indianapolis Raceway Park, The Milwaukee Mile and Phoenix International Raceway. Martinsville has seen only one repeat winner in 12 races. Dennis Setzer (No. 85 GM FlexFuel E85 Silverado Chevrolet) won the Kroger 250 back-to-back in 2002-03. Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) and Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Truck Corral Ford) are the only other Martinsville winners expected to compete in this year's race.

ETC. Bill and Cheryl Lester (No. 23 Checkers/Rally's Toyota) anticipate the arrival this week of the couple's second son Austin Richard. ... The recent John Deere 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway garnered a 1.0 rating -- with 920,000 viewers -- placing the race among SPEED's top five, highest-rated, non-Daytona broadcasts. SPEED's rating for the event increased 11 percent over 2005 according to Nielsen Media Research. ... Mark Martin (No. 6 Scotts Ford) goes for win No. 3 of 2006 at Martinsville this week. No driver has started the season with three victories in his first four starts. ... Two competitors hope to make their NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debuts this week. Marcos Ambrose (No. 20 Wood Bros./JTG Ford) would be the first native Australian to compete in the series. Justin Martz (No. 63 Dave Porter Truck Sales Ford) is the son of former Montana governor Judy Martz and is a graduate of NASCAR's Dodge Weekly Series and AutoZone Elite Division. ...This week's race is the first of six scheduled on tracks measuring less than one mile in length. Setzer (Indianapolis) and Skinner (Bristol Motor Speedway) are last year's only short track winners entered at Martinsville. ... Thirteen Raybestos Rookie of the Year contenders are entered in the Kroger 250. None has completed a lap on the track in NASCAR Craftsman Truck competition. There have been no rookie winners with Travis Kvapil (2001) and Carl Edwards (2003) logging runnerup finishes. ... Martinsville races have been won from the front row five times but only once from the Bud Pole -- by Rich Bickle in 1997. ... Lance Hooper has rejoined ThorSport Racing as crew chief for Earnhardt's Chevrolet. Hooper was previously crew chief at ThorSport in 2004, and most recently held the position with Key Motorsports' Chevrolet driven by Chaffin. ... Bobby Hamilton Jr. (No. 18 Fastenal Dodge) is among four drivers who will participate in a Goodyear tire test Wednesday at the repaved Lowe's Motor Speedway, which the series visits May 19.


Bodine solid performer in his own backyard ... Martinsville Speedway isn't far -- about 45 minutes - from Rocky Mount, Va. where Todd Bodine (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota) went to high school so it's fitting the 42-year-old New York native is among the most consistent performers at the track. Bodine counts four top-10 finishes in four appearances with a high of fourth in last year's Kroger 250. Bodine won a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Bud Pole at Martinsville in 2001.


"The trucks are fun to race at Martinsville but it's a track that's brutal on truck bodies. Martinsville is a place where people seem to think, 'well, we can just run into each other because it's a short track.'" -- Johnny Benson, No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota, who finished 15th and 17th in last year's two events.

"These drivers beat and bang on speedways so I can only imagine how much banging there will be on a tight, little track like Martinsville." -- Robert Richardson, who is anticipating his first event at Martinsville.

"I don't know if this sport is ready for Marcos Ambrose. He's something else. He's the biggest racing star (his) country has known. We believe he's going to be all of that, if not more here in America." -- Eddie Wood, whose driver is a two-time Australian V8 Supercar champion.

"Martinsville is a pretty cool track from standpoint the fans know that there's only one way in and one way out of the track. They're good fans. They get at the track at 5:30, 6 a.m. every day the track is open Thursday all the way through Sunday and then line up outside the gate, which is pretty cool in itself. They're looking for autographs, they've got merchandise that needs to be signed and it's a pretty neat time to go out of your way to take care of those fans that take care of us." -- Terry Cook, No. 10 Ford Power Stroke by International Ford.


Dennis Setzer posted two of the three fastest laps the series recorded at Martinsville in 2005. His 94.686 mph was quickest of all. ... Bodine led last year's Driver Rating at Martinsville Speedway with a 121.6 out of a possible 150 among entered competitors. ... Bodine and Setzer were tops in Consecutive Laps Run Without Being Passed, with 18. ... Last year's Kroger 250 winner Bobby Labonte executed 42.9 percent of his passes -- six of 14 -- in Turn 2. ... Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet) was Martinsville Speedway's leader in Quality Passes (a top-15 truck under green flag conditions) with 49 -- 12 more than the category's runnerup Ted Musgrave (No. 9 Team ASE/Germain Toyota).


Four teams -- Morgan-Dollar Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing, Roush Racing and Ultra Motorsports -- have won Martinsville Speedway events with multiple drivers. David Dollar's Morgan-Dollar Motorsports is the outright owner leader at the southern Virginia track with three victories -- two by Dennis Setzer and one by Bobby Labonte.


What: Kroger 250 (Race 4 of 25).

Where: Martinsville Speedway.
When: 3:15 p.m. Saturday, April 1.

Track layout: .526-mile paved oval.
Race length: 250 laps/131.5 miles.

Posted awards: $485,445.

TV: SPEED Channel, 3:15 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.

2005 winner: Bobby Labonte.
2005 polesitter: Bobby Hamilton.

Top 10 drivers: 1. Mark Martin 560. 2. Todd Bodine 535. 3. Ted Musgrave 495. 4. David Reutimann 458. 5. Johnny Benson 433. 6. Jack Sprague 432. 7. Rick Crawford 423. 8. Erik Darnell 422. 9. Jon Wood 408. 10. Mike Bliss 389.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday -- Practice 1:45-2:45 p.m. Rookie practice 3 -- 3:30 p.m. Final practice 5:15 p.m., time approximate following NNCS qualifying. Saturday - Qualifying 12:05 p.m. Trucks impounded after qualifying.


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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Rich Bickle , Bobby Hamilton , Darrell Waltrip , Bobby Labonte , Todd Bodine , Kevin Harvick , Bobby Hamilton Jr. , Johnny Benson , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Ted Musgrave , Jack Sprague , Dennis Setzer , Terry Cook , Rick Crawford , Jon Wood , Lance Hooper , Marcos Ambrose , Brendan Gaughan , Mike Bliss , David Reutimann , Carl Edwards , James Smith , Joey Miller , Robert Richardson Jr. , Erik Darnell , Mark Martin , Travis Kvapil
Teams Richard Childress Racing