* FOX To Air First Series Race * Ruttman Returns To Bobby Hamilton Racing * Musgrave Tops In Driver Rating At Martinsville Series Returns To Network TV For First Time Since 2000 After a nearly seven-year hiatus, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck...
* FOX To Air First Series Race
* Ruttman Returns To Bobby Hamilton Racing
* Musgrave Tops In Driver Rating At Martinsville
Series Returns To Network TV For First Time Since 2000
After a nearly seven-year hiatus, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will return to network television this weekend.
Saturday's Kroger 250 will air live on FOX, the first time the series has appeared on the network. The series will make another apperarance on FOX May 26 at Mansfield Motorsports Park. The remaining 23 races on the schedule are broadcast live by SPEED.
The last time the series was seen on network television was July 15, 2000. CBS broadcast the Chevy Silverado 200 from Nazareth Speedway, which was won by Dennis Setzer.
The first broadcast of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series was the Ford Credit 125 at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif. on April 22, 1995. ABC's Wide World of Sports aired the race, the fourth race in series history, which was won by Ron Hornaday Jr.
Saturday's telecast will feature the regular SPEED broadcast team -- Rick Allen with the play-by-play, Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip analyzing the action, and Adam Alexander, Ray Dunlap and Krista Voda as pit road analysts. Joining them will be FOX's Darrell Waltrip (FOX booth analyst), Chris Myers (FOX prerace host) and Jeff Hammond (FOX prerace analyst).
Hometown Hopeful ... Each race at Martinsville Speedway has added significance to HT Motorsports, which is based in Martinsville, Va. The team is the only full-time team in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series that calls Vierginia home.
The team has been successful in its six years in the series, finishing in the top 10 in 40 percent of its races, but has yet to post a victory. The team added veteran Terry Cook (No. 59 Harris Trucking Toyota) in the offseason.
"The key is -- you have to have a good manufacturer, a good crew chief and that third part is a good driver, and I think we went out and got the best one available," said team owner Jim Harris.
Cook has six career wins and has started a series-record 225 consecutive races. He has had mixed results at Martinsville, compiling two top fives and five top 10s in 13 starts. His best finish was third in 2001.
This and That ... No driver has competed in all 16 races at Martinsville. Rick Crawford and Dennis Setzer lead all drivers with 14 starts. ... The winner of the Kroger 250 has never won that season's championship. ... A record-matching seven former series champions boasting 10 titles and 122 victories will compete in this week's race. They are Mike Skinner (1995), Ron Hornaday Jr. (1996, 98), Jack Sprague (1997, 99, 01), Mike Bliss (2002), Travis Kvapil (2003), Ted Musgrave (2005) and Todd Bodine (2006).
A long-time national series competitor, Joe Ruttman (No. 18 Fastenal Dodge) will return to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for seven races in 2007 beginning with the April 28 O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas Speedway.
Ruttman will handle driving duties for Bobby Hamilton Racing when Ken Schrader is unable to race due to his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series commitments.
"I can't wait to climb into the Fastenal Dodge," Ruttman said. "Bobby Hamilton and I had a great friendship. I am not here to fill Bobby Sr.'s seat; I don't think anyone can do that justice as he did."
Ruttman is no stranger to BHR -- he spent two and a half years with the organization from 1999-2001.
"To have this opportunity to come back home to work with his organization and Dodge again is a real dream come true," Ruttman said. "All of the core people who were here the first time I raced with them are still there."
Team employees should be glad Ruttman is returning, as well. Ruttman won at Phoenix International Raceway in 2000 season -- the first win for BHR. He opened the 2000 season with three straight poles, including one at Phoenix (the third race of the season).
Ruttman has 13 career wins, tied for seventh all-time with Mike Bliss. Five of his wins came during his tenure at BHR. He also posted 12 poles while with the team.
Ruttman, who was born in 1944, is the oldest pole and race winner in series history. His most recent win came at Pikes Peak in May 2001 when he was age 56 years, 6 months. His most recent start came in 2002.
In The Loop
Ted Musgrave has to feel good about this weekend.
In fifth place in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series standings, Musgrave sits a manageable 110 points behind leader Mike Skinner. He's battled his way to a top-10 finish in each of this season's three races. And now he gets to race at a track where he has excelled in the past.
In 10 races at NASCAR's oldest track, Musgrave has an impressive average finish of 10.6. Though he's never won at Martinsville, Musgrave does have two runner-up finishes and four top fives.
Over the past two years -- four races total -- Musgrave has some of the best stats in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. He has a Driver Rating of 114.7, which is the best of any driver competing in Saturday's Kroger 250.
Musgrave rarely finds himself running out side the top 10. He has an Average Running Position of 7.744 at Martinsville -- which is also top among drivers competing this Saturday -- and has accumulated 734 Laps in the Top 15, which is second only to reigning series champion Todd Bodine.
And not only is Musgrave consistent, he's fast. His 62 Fastest Laps Run over the last two years are second only to Jack Sprague at Martinsville, and among the drivers competing on Saturday, Musgrave is the Fastest on the Frontstretch, Turn 1 and Turn 3.
Toyota Leads Manufacturers' Championship
Toyota drivers have won all three races this season, putting Toyota on top of the manufacturers' championship standings. Toyota trucks swept both races at Martinsville last year, the first time a manufacturer has won both season stops at the track.
Next Race: Kroger 250
The Place: Martinsville Speedway
The Date: March 31
The Time: 3 p.m. (ET)
TV: FOX 3 p.m. (ET)
Track Layout: .526-mile oval
Race Purse: $504,661
2006 Winner: David Starr
2006 Pole: Bobby Hamilton Jr.
Schedule: Friday -- Practice 12:10 p.m. -- p.m. (rookies); 1 p.m. -- 2 p.m. and 2:20 p.m. -- 3:30 p.m. (live on SPEED); Saturday -- Qualifying 11:10 a.m.