Memphis: GM Racing preview

Team Chevy Silverado Heads to Memphis Motorsports Park Millington, TN - Team Chevy Silverado returns to Memphis Motorsports Park (MMP) where the Bowtie brand has scored four victories in eight previous NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) races...

Team Chevy Silverado Heads to Memphis Motorsports Park

Millington, TN - Team Chevy Silverado returns to Memphis Motorsports Park (MMP) where the Bowtie brand has scored four victories in eight previous NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) races held on the .75 mile virtually flat race track located north of downtown Memphis, TN.

"Chevrolet has had some great race trucks at Memphis," said Dayne Pierantoni, GM Racing Silverado program manager. Over the years we have had some exciting wins and a couple of near misses. We had a dominant truck get black flagged while leading a couple of years ago. Last year Ron Hornaday led the most laps but lost the race after an incident on the last lap. You just never know what to expect at the short tracks. I know that our teams are hungry and we need a bit of momentum as we end our longest consecutive stretch of races. We have a great group of short track racers in our Silverados and we expect to see one of them to drive into victory lane on Saturday night.

The annual trip to MMP generates excitement among Silverado drivers for a variety of reasons. The race track ranks high on Dennis Setzer's list of favorites. The Newton, NC native has a remarkable 3.6 average finish in seven starts, the highest of all active full-time competitors in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS). He has never finished out of the top-five scoring a win in 2001.

"We won in Memphis in 2001," Setzer said. "It was my first win with Morgan-Dollar Motorsports as well as their first win as a team. We've always ran there really well, it is a fun short track and is really fast for a short track. There are some humps and bumps that you have to work around, that are unique to just that track. There are some bumps into Turn One, some bumps down the backstretch, and some bumps into Turn Three, so it is a fun place to go race. You have to run there a few times to find some things that you need to work all the way around."

Ron Hornaday was on his way to what appeared to be a sure victory late in the race last year when an accident unfolded in front of the leaders jumbling the order. But the two-time NCTS champion heads back to MMP riding the momentum of his second win last weekend at Kentucky Speedway.

"Racing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has taught me that no race track owes you anything," stated Hornaday. "You have to deserve it. Every time we go there, these guys give me a great Chevy Silverado, so I am just looking forward to it. The guys built me a brand new truck, looking forward to going to Memphis. We ran good there, I guess my own mistake last year. When you see smoke, you can slow down enough in these trucks, so I am looking forward to it."

Raybestos Rookie contender Aric Almirola is anxious to return to MMP. It was the site of his first-ever NCTS start as well as the beginning of his return to tracks where he has run previously.

"It is going to be pretty cool going back to Memphis," Almirola said. "With that being the place where I got my first truck start, I am really looking forward to that and it will be cool. I love the town of Memphis also, it is a lot of fun; Beale Street is a lot of fun, we have the schedule worked out pretty good, so we can have a late night on Friday night, and won't have to get up too early on Saturday morning so I plan on seeing some of the sites."

The first practice for the O'Reilly 200 is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. CDT on Friday, July 14th followed by the one-hour final practice at approximately 7:45 p.m. CDT. Qualifying will be held at 5:00 p.m. EST on Saturday, July 15th and the trucks will be impounded until the scheduled race start at 8:15 p.m. CDT. Live television coverage of the 200-lap/150-mile-race will be provided by SPEED Channel with MRN and XM Satellite bringing the race live on the airwaves.

Team Chevy Silverado
Driver Quotes

DRIVER: DENNIS SETZER
TEAM: No. 85 E85 FlexFuel Silverado - Morgan Dollar Motorsports

"We won in Memphis in 2001, and it was my first win with Morgan-Dollar Motorsports as well as their first win as a team. We've always ran there really well, it is a fun short track and is really fast for a short track. There are some humps and bumps that you have to work around, that are unique to just that track. There are some bumps into Turn One, some bumps down the backstretch, and some bumps into Turn Three, so it is a fun place to go race. You have to run there a few times to find some things that you need to work all the way around."

Is there something different that you do at Memphis to cope with the normally hot temperatures we deal with there?
"You know, it is a hot place. But when you sit around and have the water breaks, and such like we did last year with 50 laps to go that is the worst thing that you can do to a driver, is make them sit in the heat. As long as you are moving, you are good to go; I have never run the air conditioner there, so I have been very fortunate. But whenever you stop, the heat just soaks right through you, and the whole truck is 150-200 degrees and the bars are hot, the seat is hot, the steering wheel is hot, and everything is hot. The water you have in your jug is hot also, so we just need to keep moving. We are supposed to be tough racers, let's make it tough."

DRIVER: KRAIG KINSER
TEAM: No. 46 CENTRIX Auto Finance Silverado - Morgan Dollar Motorsports

"Memphis is another track that I have never been to, not even the dirt track. So it will be another learning experience, and I will be picking Randy (Goss, Crew Chief) and Dennis Setzer's brain to get some ideas and pointers to get around that place. I have heard quite a bit about the track, and am hopeful that we can have a good run. I like the short-track racing, and really enjoy going to all these new places, and learning my way around each place."

DRIVER:  RON HORNADAY

TEAM: No. 33 Kevin Harvick, Inc. Silverado

We are going back to a place that owes you something.
"Racing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has taught me that no race track owes you anything, you have to deserve it. Every time we go there, these guys give me a great Chevy Silverado, so I am just looking forward to it. The guys built me a brand new truck, looking forward to going to Memphis. We ran good there, I guess my own mistake last year. When you see smoke, you can slow down enough in these trucks, so I am looking forward to it."

What is it about Memphis?
"I don't know what it is about Memphis. Maybe it is the guitar, or maybe Elvis is there, you just never know. These guys seem to work really hard on their short track program, and I the track is a fun track to drive, and you go out and there and it is a different frame of mind. I just enjoy it."

DRIVER:  MATT CRAFTON

TEAM: No. 88 Menards Silverado - ThorSport Racing

"I like Memphis. It is going to be really hot, and it is definitely a driver's track. I look forward to running the short tracks, and I look forward to running the mile and a half tracks also. I like the short tracks because you can hit somebody, and you don't really have to explain yourself, they will hit you and you will hit them, it is part of the deal at a short track."

Is Memphis is a rough track, with lots of bumps and hills and valleys.
"I thought it was fairly smooth. The surface is pretty old, I think, and the tires fall off, which is what I really like about it. There is something about the place that when you get the truck good on the long runs, it is really hard to get it to go for qualifying. That is what we have really worked on the last few times we have been there, and in 2004 I was really, really good there, and didn't qualify that well, and it was the same way last year. I think we qualified 10th or 12th, and finished 7th, but we just needed long green flag runs. We would go on a long green flag, but we just weren't real good on the short runs. So, hopefully we can put the whole package together and have a good qualifying effort and stay up front the whole night, wear them out and hopefully take the checkered flag."

DRIVER:  ARIC ALMIROLA

TEAM: No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Silverado - Spears Motorsports

"It is going to be pretty cool going back to Memphis, with that being the place where I got my first truck start. I am really looking forward to that and it will be cool. I love the town of Memphis also, it is a lot of fun; Beale Street is a lot of fun, we have the schedule worked out pretty good, so we can have a late night on Friday night, and won't have to get up too early. It is a cool place."

What did you learn there last year, because you had a pretty good run going there?
"Before last year's race, we were able to test, so I feel like I am a little bit ahead of the game when we go there. We tested with there with Randy (Goss and the Morgan-Dollar Motorsports team) for a day, When came back for the race, and we ran really well, we ran in the top-20 and top-ten, which I thought was respectable for my first truck race. Then towards the end of the race, there was a late race incident, but it was a lot of fun, and I am looking forward to going back there."

What do you like about the track?
"It is just the short track racing. I have always liked the short track racing. It is just fun, you can get in there and beat and bang, and I don't know, there is just something about short track racing it is just cool, under the lights, and it takes you back to the Saturday night short track racing. We all grew up doing that, so I think a little extra comes out of everyone when we go back to the smaller tracks.

How does returning to tracks that you have been to before, so how does that help you?
"It helps me a lot. I know what I am looking for right when I get there. I am not spending the first practice figuring out what I want, and then the second practice working on the truck, I am able to go there and know what I want to feel, and it just speeds up our practices a lot more so we can get a better handle on the truck. Definitely looking forward to going back to the tracks where I have raced at before."

Your Spears Manufacturing team had a great run in Memphis last year, finishing 5th, so that has to be encouraging to you.
"Yeah, I am looking forward to having a good run. We are bringing back the same truck that we ran in Gateway, and the same truck we had at Milwaukee. In Gateway, we ran tenth, and at Milwaukee, we ran in the top-10 all night, so we had pit strategy that cost us the top-10 in Milwaukee. It is truck #23, and it is an awesome truck, and an awesome short track truck, and I imagine that we will run really well."

DRIVER:  KERRY EARNHARDT

TEAM: No. 13 National Pork Board Silverado - ThorSport Racing

"I ran at Memphis in the FitzBradshaw #12 Supercuts Chevrolet in the Busch Series, and had a pretty decent run going there. I think that something happened with the engine, and then went there with Michael Waltrip Racing and ended up missing the show. I have only been there two or three times, but it is a tough but fun track. I think we can run two-wide there, and my problem there has been other drivers. That is going to be my main goal; just watch out for other drivers and hopefully come away from Memphis with a good run.

"We are actually going down there early, we are going to stay down there the whole week. My wife, and the two girls, and the in-laws and we are going to go fishing and visit Graceland, and just be tourists and relax. I can play "racer" later on in the week."

Have you ever visited Graceland before?
"Yeah, I went and did about a thirty minute tour about a month ago; I went up there and did a fishing show for a local sports channel and just got to get a little bit behind the scenes. My mother-in-law wants to see it, so we are going to take her up there, and do about an hour-and-a-half tour."

DRIVER:  MIKE BLISS

TEAM: No. 16 Xpress Motorsports Silverado

"Memphis has not been a very good track for me. I have qualified well, but when I ran the truck for Dave (Fuge, Team Owner) we were running really well until we had a battery come unplugged four times. I think our short tracks, and all of the tracks. I am looking forward to going there and hopefully winning a race."

It is a tough track, though, with bumps and humps.
"Yeah, it is a tough and rough, and I like that. I would rather be there than, somewhere else. It is just different, like nothing else we race on. It is a motor track, more than anything, you need a motor. Off Turn 4, you get dogged down, and you need something to accelerate, and if you have a good motor that has good torque, you can pass people there.

The heat is always one of the biggest issues at Memphis.
"You just have to know that it is going to be hot there, so you just do the same thing that you do every weekend, just drink lots of water. "

DRIVER: CHAD MCCUMBEE
TEAM: No. 08 Green Light Racing Silverado

This will be your first race at Memphis, do you have any idea on what to expect from the race track?
"Yes, it will be my first trip to Memphis, I have heard that it is ¾ mile stuff, I am envisioning something not quite like Richmond, maybe a little tighter corners, I am honestly not sure. I will see it for the first time Thursday night, or Friday, whenever we get there.

Are you more comfortable on the short tracks, and do you think that your driving style will adapt quickly to the track?
"I would hope so. We have ran well at the short tracks so far this year, and it is where we first had success at Gateway, although it is not really a short track, but it has short track characteristics. You have to be good at all the tracks, no matter where you go, so the goal is to make sure that we can run in the top-ten and top-15 everywhere we go. And also, make sure we take the right trucks; we have been able to run the same truck at a lot of the tracks here lately, but now we will have to use some different stuff coming up. Everyone has eventually come from short track racing, so we get back to the grass-roots racing, and have a little fun.

With bumping each other and everything that goes along with short track racing.
"It is going to happen a little bit, and everyone knows that it is going to happen, but there is nothing you can do about it. If you do bump into someone, you just let them know, 'Hey man, sure am sorry' and just hope that you don't crash big, but there is stuff you can do to avoid it, but you just cannot race like every lap is the last lap. You don't go racing until the end, and just keep that in mind, and don't crash early, and hopefully get a good finish."

DRIVER: RYAN MOORE
TEAM: No. 40 Key Motorsports Silverado

"I can't really say much now about Memphis, and our short track program, because we didn't run well at Milwaukee, and we're bringing the same truck. But Barry (crew chief Dodson) has a great set-up at Memphis that he used with Travis Kittleston in the Busch Series race there last year, so we should be OK. It'll probably be a long race, so we need to stay consistent and stay out of trouble, and that should get a good finish."

-gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Dennis Setzer , Aric Almirola