MILLINGTON, Tenn. - Coy Gibbs is quiet, almost shy, with a personality youÂ¢d never take for that of the four-year, eat-Â¡em-alive linebacker that played football for Stanford University. But make no mistake, Gibbs is every bit the winning athlete...
MILLINGTON, Tenn. - Coy Gibbs is quiet, almost shy, with a personality you¢d never take for that of the four-year, eat-¡em-alive linebacker that played football for Stanford University. But make no mistake, Gibbs is every bit the winning athlete and beneath he's been seething with frustration at a slew of poor finishes.
If Gibbs' performance in the past three races are any indication, figure the driver of the MBNA Chevrolet is going to be a winner in NASCAR competition as well as on the gridiron. The team sent Gibbs to Dover Downs International Speedway on June 2 with an in-house engine package, the handiwork of Mark Cronquist, and the driver responded with a fifth-place finish - best of his brief career on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
At Texas Motor Speedway, Gibbs finished seventh and, on Saturday, the 28-year-old snagged his first top five qualifying berth, ran as high as fourth-place and wound up in the No. 5 spot for the second time in three races. And he did enough door and fender rubbing along the way to show that he's a real racer - not just an ex-jock and son of the Super Bowl champion coach Joe Gibbs.
"I just want to be good (and) I think we're getting better," said Gibbs pointing to his team's newfound consistency. "I don't want to get on a roll because rolls always end. We have stuff to refer to now that we have a past history."
Coach Gibbs was in his son's pit during he 150-mile race and, afterwards, admitted to more than a little nail biting over the tight racing. "I know I had my heart in my throat on the restarts about five times,* he commented. ¡I told my wife when this year started that this wasn't going to be an easy year for me."
Morgan-Dollar Motorsports went 65 starts before Dennis Setzer, the team's sixth driver, gifted the Oklahoma-based team with its first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win. The David Dollar-owned outfit first appeared on the series at Sonoma, Calif. on Oct. 5, 1996 with Marc Robe. Others who have driven for Dollar are Rob Morgan, the team's co-owner, his father Charles D. Morgan, Joe Bean and David Starr.
Setzer, meanwhile is just one of four series campaigners to have won races over four consecutive seasons. The group includes Jack Sprague (six seasons) and Ron Hornaday and Mike Bliss (five). The 17-race victory drought the Newton, N.C. veteran erased was sixth longest among active NCTS competitors.
Talk about qualifying being everything, the fourth starting Setzer came from furthest back to win thus far in 2001. Meanwhile, Sprague captured his 15th career Bud Pole (and second of 2001) to match Joe Ruttman and Mike Skinner as winners of the most poles in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series history. Odds are excellent that either Ruttman or Sprague will own the record outright when the schedule concludes.
Ruttman's outside front row qualifying effort - he missed the Bud Pole by just three thousandths of a second -- ran the 56-year-old veteran's season log of top five starts to a perfect 10.
Ruttman's third-place finish was his 99th top five run among 150 NCTS starts. His next top 10 will make him just the second series competitor to reach the century mark. Sprague is first with 122.
Greg Biffle, who proved there is life in the Roush Racing No. 99 Eldon Ford, finished among the top 10 for the 50th time as he made his first appearance of 2001 in an R&D role. Biffle qualified eighth and led twice as he stood in for Raybestos Rookie contender Nathan Haseleu. Former NCTS champion crew chief Randy Goss came along in a consulting role.n
Freshman Ricky Hendrick hasn't been around the series very long, just 16 races, but over that brief period has finished among the top 10 a scintillating 81.2 percent of the time.
John Monsam has been named crew chief for L&R Motorsports and driver Lance Norick beginning with the June 30 GNC Live Well 200 at The Milwaukee Mile. Former crew chief Paul Balmer remains with the team as truck chief. Monsam most recently headed the now disbanded Phelon Motorsports and guided Rick Carelli to victory last September at Richmond International Raceway.
Monsam, working as a consultant on Saturday, helped Norick lead his first laps since June 17, 2000 at Kentucky Speedway.
Scott Riggs now has led the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship standings after eight consecutive races. That's a record for the Ultra Motorsports team whose previous driver, Mike Wallace, headed the rankings seven straight times in 2000.
Two more competitors, Brian Rose and Jon Wood, have joined Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year competition. Wood started his first race in Roush Racing's No. 50 Eldon Ford while Rose has been announced as the permanent driver of the No. 51 Ware Racing Enterprises Sunclear Energy Team Chevrolet.
Sammy Ragan, Mike Leffingwell, Bob Coffey and Dana White made their NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debuts in the Memphis 200 with White, at the wheel of the Red Line Oil/Quality Carport Chevrolet, finishing the best - 20th.
Billy Bigley, driving a new (to the team) Spears Manufacturing Pontiac, won in his first ARCA appearance Friday, stealing the win from Carelli who lost momentum avoiding a spun car between the final two turns of the last lap of the 150-mile event. The Spears organization had gone more than 2-1/2 years since its last victory - Kevin Harvick's Oct. 11, 1998 win at Sonoma, Calif. en route to the NASCAR Winston West Series title.
Aaron's Sales and Lease made its first appearance on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series with a pair of trucks out of the MacDonald Motorsports stable. The primary backing was for Leffingwell's Dodge with Jimmy Hensley's Chevrolet added for good measure.