MARTINSVILLE, Va. - After watching his driver, Scott Riggs, nearly get the nose of his truck torn off in a pit road collision with Terry Cook, veteran crew chief Tim Kohuth made what turned out to be a winning decision Saturday at ...
MARTINSVILLE, Va. - After watching his driver, Scott Riggs, nearly get the nose of his truck torn off in a pit road collision with Terry Cook, veteran crew chief Tim Kohuth made what turned out to be a winning decision Saturday at Martinsville Speedway. After pulling bent metal and changing tires, Kohuth told Riggs to forget about any more pit stops. "Too dangerous in here," he observed. Riggs, the No. 2 qualifier of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Advance Auto Parts 250, restarted 17th. He went the final152 laps without a pit stop and, as one driver after another swapped Goodyear Eagles under the final five of the event's nine caution periods, Riggs gradually moved up the order. He took the lead on the 143rd circuit when Bobby Hamilton opted for pit service. Although Raybestos Rookie Travis Kvapil was able to trim Riggs' advantage to under a second, he wasn't able to overhaul the 30-year-old leader who scored his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory on the track that - one year ago - gave Riggs a shot at a fulltime spot on the circuit. Riggs, driving the Team ASE Racing Dodge for series co-founder Jimmy Smith, won in his 23rd start, collecting $35,560. He also protected a series championship lead that grew to 27 points over fourth- place finisher Joe Ruttman. Riggs, who led 108 of the race's 250 laps, averaged 70.836 mph for the 131.5-mile distance. The victory was the fourth straight in 2001 for a Dodge Ram - the longest winning streak on the series by the manufacturer. Kvapil, whose CAT Rental Store Chevrolet started 14th, finished 0.874 seconds off Riggs' tailgate. Cook's K Automotive Performance Ford collected third-place, followed by Bud Pole qualifier Ruttman's DANA Corporation Dodge and Randy Tolsma's battered Team Rensi Chevrolet. The final lead lap finishers, sixth through 10th, were Matt Crafton, Rick Crawford, Bryan Reffner, Ricky Hendrick and Nathan Haseleu. Ruttman and Hamilton, the latter heading 133 laps, were the event's only other leaders as three drivers twice exchanged the lead. Just 20 of the 36 starters were around at the finish as a spate of rear end failures and a seven-truck pile-up at the start-finish stripe on a restart beginning the 94th lap decimated the field. "What's my favorite race track?" asked Riggs in response to a question from a media member. "I figured as soon as I won one, that would be my favorite track so I guess it has to be Martinsville." NASCAR Late Model Stock Car veteran Riggs came to Martinsville last April behind the wheel of an unsponsored truck, expecting to run perhaps a handful of races. He finished ninth and, in May, was tapped by Impact Motorsports to replace Mike Cope. After finishing 20th in the standings, Riggs was hired by Smith and immediately finished third at Daytona and won the Bud Pole at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. "It's the team's year," proposed a humble Riggs. "I'm just a lucky, local driver." Saturday figured to be a Dodge day although it was teammates Ruttman and Hamilton steaming away from the field as Riggs - his truck a bit tight - slipped back to fifth-place. Ruttman headed the first nine laps then slowed between turns three and four to give the defending race winner the advantage. The duo, with Riggs teammate Ted Musgrave and Raybestos Rookie Billy Bigley in tow, charged away from the pack. Bigley, then Musgrave, were struck down by rear end woes on the 52nd and 75th laps respectively. Both wound up finishing but far off the pace. The mechanical misfortune blunted Musgrave's bid to win for the third straight event. The race's third caution, when Jason Small hit the wall between turns one and two, sent the field down pit road for the first time. That's when Cook, who'd led Riggs in for service, drove into his rival's left front as the pair exited. Riggs had to return several times for repairs. The green flag waved just briefly when Michael Dokken's Ford, stuck in gear, turned sideways at the head of the field and collected a number of contenders including Ken Schrader, Rick Carelli and Tolsma. Schrader, however, was the only one of the seven involved to immediately call it an afternoon. The caution proved pivotal for Riggs, who returned to the pits to add leftside tires to the rights the crew had given him prior to the Cook incident. Riggs, Hendrick, Carlos Contreras and Haseleu all stayed on track on lap 142 when the track went yellow for Turn 2 debris. Ruttman took position away from Hamilton on pit road but it didn't matter as the latter drove his Dodge to the garage with a broken rear end after 221 laps. The in-the-pack drama wasn't over. Jack Sprague, the only the driver to have started all 150 races, appeared headed for a top-five finish until getting loose in Turn 4 on lap 190. Kvapil had nowhere to go and spun Sprague's Silverado around, possibly contributing to engine trouble that ended the two- time champion's race. Reffner, who started 18th, worked his way to third but dropped back after being tagged by Ruttman on lap 204 entering Turn 1. Cook, meanwhile, had the last word on Riggs' victory. "I guess I helped Scott win the race because it changed his strategy - and track position," he quipped. "I'm going to have a little talk with him about splitting that first-place money!" The tour takes a month off before moving to Gateway International Raceway for the May 6 Ram Tough 200 by Pepsi.
Bud Pole Award - Joe Ruttman, Dodge, 20.491 seconds, 70.386 mph Advance Auto Parts 250(250 laps) - 1. (2)Scott Riggs, Dodge, 250, 71.263 mph, $35,560; 2. (14)Travis Kvapil, Chevrolet, 250, $28,275; 3. (6)Terry Cook, Ford, 250, $18,190; 4. (1)Joe Ruttman, Dodge, 250, $14,500; 5. (12)Randy Tolsma, Chevrolet, 250, $11,250; 6. (22)Matt Crafton, Chevrolet, 250, $9,200; 7. (23)Rick Crawford, Ford, 250, $8,650; 8. (18)Bryan Reffner, Chevrolet, 250, $8,600; 9. (19)Ricky Hendrick, Chevrolet, 250, $7,550; 10. (13)Nathan Haseleu, Ford, 250, $10,500; 11. (15)Carlos Contreras, Dodge, 249, $8,450; 12. (7)Rick Carelli, Chevrolet, 247, $8,315; 13. (27)Jason White, Ford, 247, $8,265; 14. (30)Ronnie Hornaday, Chevrolet, 224, $7,215; 15. (3)Bobby Hamilton, Dodge, 221, rear end, $9,315; 16. (5)Billy Bigley, Chevrolet, 211, $8,490; 17. (28)Larry Gunselman, Ford, 209, $7,040; 18. (20)Chuck Hossfeld, Ford, 208, $7,990; 19. (17)Dennis Setzer, Chevrolet, 203, $7,940; 20. (8)Jack Sprague, Chevrolet, 200, engine, $8,515; 21. (32)Jason Thom, Chevrolet, 180, ignition, $8,165; 22. (4)Ted Musgrave, Dodge, 174, $6,840; 23. (29)Nathan Buttke, Chevrolet, 156, engine, $6,815; 24. (24)Lance Hooper, Ford, 154, engine, $7,790; 25. (10)Jimmy Hensley, Chevrolet, 154, rear end, $8,140; 26. (33)Coy Gibbs, Chevrolet, 146, engine, $7,715; 27. (21)Lance Norick, Chevrolet, 139, $6,690; 28. (34)Jason Small, Chevrolet, 95, accident, $6,665; 29. (9)Ken Schrader, Chevrolet, 93, accident, $6,615; 30. (36)Michael Dokken, Ford, 92, transmission, $6,590; 31. (31)Jon Wood, Ford, 82, rear end, $6,140; 32. (11)Richard Landreth, Ford, 79, suspension, $6,115; 33. (16)Bobby Dotter, Chevrolet, 64, engine, $6,090; 34. (35)Ricky Sanders, Ford, 55, accident, $6,065; 35. (25)Ryan McGlynn, Chevrolet, 46, steering, $6,040; 36. (26)Morgan Shepherd, Ford, 31, brakes, $6,015
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series standings - 1. Scott Riggs 675; 2. Joe Ruttman 648; 3. Rick Hendrick 610; 4. Terry Cook 600; 5. Randy Tolsma 599; 6. Jack Sprague 575; 7. Ted Musgrave 569; 8. Travis Kvapil 563; 9. Rick Crawford 543; 10. Coy Gibbs 485 End
NASCAR CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES ADVANCE AUTO PARTS 250 NOTES AND QUOTES
MARTINSVILLE, Va. - Although three former winners - Bobby Hamilton, Jimmy Hensley and Joe Ruttman started Saturday's Advance Auto Parts 250, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event got its seventh consecutive winner. No other stop on the circuit has gone as long without a repeater in victory circle.
Scott Riggs, who cut his teeth in the .526-mile oval's NASCAR Late Model Stock Car special events, is the first campaigner to win for the first time at the historic venue. Riggs' best previous series finish, third-place, came in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway.
Winning crew chief Tim Kohuth, who got his sixth checkered flag, now has victories with three different competitors - Riggs, Ken Schrader and Mike Wallace. The Pennsylvania native has won in four different seasons including the 1995 inaugural campaign with Schrader.
Ironically, owners Jim and Marlene Smith were not on hand to enjoy Ultra Motorsports' triumph in the tour's 150th event. Smith stayed in Los Angeles to accept a humanitarian award for his charity work in Southern California. Although Smith's other truck driven by Ted Musgrave had won previously this season - giving Ultra victories in all seven years on the series - Riggs' triumph marked the seventh year that the No. 2 truck collected a checkered flag.
Speaking of 150, that's the number of fans who were aligned on Martinsville Speedway's frontstretch prior to the Advance Auto Parts 150, each holding a sign containing the name of a race and race winner on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Smith, one of four who suggested the idea of truck racing to NASCAR and Rick Hendrick were cited by Craftsman's Henry Ferris as owners participating in every event, along with "ironman" Jack Sprague, a 19-time winner in 150 series starts. Also acknowledged were Joe Gibbs Racing crew chief Gary Showalter, his son Chris, NASCAR inspector Jim Kent and series communications manager Owen Kearns Jr. - all of whom have worked each race since the tour's inception.
Terry Cook gave Ford its first top-five finish of the 2001 season, ending a three-race streak of frustration for the Blue Oval brigade that won NCTS manufacturer titles the past two years. Cook, meanwhile, broke a 26-race drought of his own. The last time Cook managed a top-five finish was in February 2000 when he ran fourth at Daytona International Speedway.
Ruttman's 15th career Bud Pole gives him a share of the series record previously held alone by 1995 NCTS Champion Mike Skinner. Bobby Hamilton Racing teammate Willy T. Ribbs, however, was among six competitors failing to qualify for the race.
Coy Gibbs, after a spin, also was too slow to make the starting grid but replaced Jonathon Price in a Ware Racing Enterprises Chevrolet. "Coy's running for the championship and I'm here looking for seat time," said Price. "It was the right thing to do." Gibbs did not finish and dropped from eighth to 10th in points.
Rick Crawford posted his third top-10 finish of the 2001 season with a heavy heart, his longtime friend and sponsor John A. Holliday of Vicksburg, Miss. having passed away the previous day at age 86. Holliday backed Crawford for 14 years and shared in 15 victories on the Gatorade All Pro Series of NASCAR Touring. He also served as jackman and sponsor for NASCAR Winston Cup Series rookie-of- the-year Skip Manning in the 1970s.
"I probably wouldn't have been on the map without him," Crawford said prior to starting Saturday's race. "He helped put me together with Mr. (Tom) Mitchell," the Circle Bar Racing team's current owner.
Saturday's crowd, which included 6,000 young people who came to Martinsville Speedway's "take a kid to the races" promotion, may have been the largest NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series gathering at the southern Virginia facility that is a charter member of the tour.