Transcript from Wednesday, June 22, 2005 teleconference with NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers Ted Musgrave (driver of the No. 1 Mopar Dodge) and Dennis Setzer (driver of the No. 46 Chevrolet Silverado). Musgrave, who is third in points, has...
Transcript from Wednesday, June 22, 2005 teleconference with NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers Ted Musgrave (driver of the No. 1 Mopar Dodge) and Dennis Setzer (driver of the No. 46 Chevrolet Silverado). Musgrave, who is third in points, has one win this season (Gateway International Raceway), four top-fives and six top-10 finishes. Setzer, who is currently second in points, also has one win (Michigan International Speedway), four top-fives and seven top-10 finishes.
Musgrave, Setzer and the entire NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series return to action this Friday night, June 24 at The Milwaukee Mile for the Toyota Tundra Milwaukee 200. The race is scheduled to start at 9:15 p.m. ET.
(Question to Musgrave) You are the defending winner at The Milwaukee Mile. How do you feel about heading back to your home track.
TED MUSGRAVE: "Well, it kind of gives you a little confidence more or less if your going to a race track that you do well on, and The Milwaukee Mile happens to be one of the race tracks where I have success at. I'm not sure exactly what I can put my finger on and say that is why. But it brings back a lot of memories to be racing there again because I did start out my career racing in that area and did race on that race track a long time ago. And also, my father raced there too, watching him race quite a bit there at that particular race track. So maybe it's just a little incentive to do a little bit better there whenever we show up."
(Question to Setzer) With your win at Michigan, you now have at least one win in each of the past eight consecutive seasons which is a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Talk a little bit about the competition in the Series, and how you are able to be so consistent.
DENNIS SETZER: "I am very fortunate to be with a good team that is capable of doing that (winning). That is the key to that deal right there. There are several other guys who have competed that long in the series but haven't been able to have consistent equipment throughout their career to be able to do that. We also have a great sponsor in Silverado which helps get us what we need to get there. It is getting harder and harder to keep up. The level of competition has grown so much in the years I have been in it. It is going to be tougher and tougher to get top-fives and top10s on a consistent basis.Before, you could be a little off and still pull a top-10 out of your hat. Where as now if you are off a tick on race day, it is hard to get that top-10, a top-15 is more likely."
(Question to Musgrave/Setzer) Would you like to see more races added to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series?
MUSGRAVE: "I guess I would like to see maybe just a couple more maybe in the beginning part of the season where we run like two or three races in the first couple of months. I think if we could fill that in a little bit with some other race tracks, that would be fine with me. There again, there might be a race track or two that we may want to delete from the schedule and take away a little bit of the very, very small short tracks and put in more or less like the three-quarter mile, the mile-and-a-half race tracks to get our sponsors more acclimated to big time racing. That's what we would really like to see."
SETZER: "It would be good to have the schedule more even in the early part of the season and then maybe a one week break here in this long run we have going right now. It is pretty tough on our NCTS teams with this eight-week stretch with the amount of sponsorship we have available to us; it makes it tough on the crews. It is nice to run the short tracks, but it is hard to get out sponsors the exposure they need when we are on the short tracks. But I do think that so many fans love the grass roots racing, I would hate to give that up."
(Question to Setzer) Would you like to see the races that you have extended to more laps?
SETZER: "I like the shorter races. Also, it seems like it fits really well with TV right now, we have a two-hour program and they go really well. I don't think many people change the channel or get up and leave their couches and TVs before our races are over. There is so much excitement going on. I think the NCTS has it going on with the race length right now."
(Question to Musgrave) Before we had Kansas Speedway as we know it, we had I-70 Speedway. Has the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series gotten away from its roots, from the short tracks?
MUSGRAVE: "We didn't really get away from them that much. We do need some short track racing. We do go to Martinsville twice, which again, I have no problem with the Martinsville Speedway. We can race side-by-side there, and places like that. It's just some of the race tracks that we have gone to like South Boston and even the one in Ohio (Mansfield) that we go to right now, you really can't race and make any progress without really upsetting the other driver -- let's put it that way. There's good short track racing that could be around. We see it out West in Tucson (Ariz.) and Irwindale (Calif.) and a lot of places where there is side-by-side racing on a short track. It is still grassroots racing, and we don't mind that. It's just that we really need if we're going to ask for three or four million dollars from our sponsor, we really need to be able to bring them to a race track where you're not really ashamed to bring them around and let them walk around in mud puddles. So we've got to be careful on that."
(Question to Setzer) What are your thoughts about the Cup guys coming to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series to race and is the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series a springboard to Cup or is it the other way around?
SETZER: "I think it is great. There is still think there is plenty of springboarding to Cup from the NCTS. Look at Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle. They came from our series. I think we have a great mixture right now. I think it is the best it has ever been-the best of all worlds. You have some guys coming over here from Cup rather than retiring; there are guys like myself who have made the NCTS our career, never did go to Cup racing; and you got the young guys that want to go to Cup. It is the best it has ever been."
(Question to Musgrave) Ted, you left Cup and established yourself in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. What is your take on the Cup guys racing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series?
MUSGRAVE: "We love it actually. I do like it when they come in and make their guest appearances. I know that Dennis has his All-Star program (No. 47 Morgan-Dollar Motorsports Chevrolet) with them. We have Kyle Busch running the No. 15 (Billy Ballew Motorsports Chevrolet) every now and then. You know we have (Kenny) Schrader and Tony Stewart and all these guys coming in to run these races off and on, and I love it. I think the guys that are the mainstays in the Craftsman Truck Series love it because you can size yourself up and say 'Ok, here's the best of the best, and I'm going to race with them. Let's see what we've got to give them.'"
(Question to Setzer/Musgrave) The drivers in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series seem to get away with more beating and banging? What do you attribute that to?
SETZER: "I think the length of the races has a lot to do with that. We have 200 miles or 200 laps to get it done. I am not the best qualifier in the world and neither is Bobby Hamilton. So we start back there and have to pass 25 or 30 trucks to get to the front in that short period of time, you are probably going to make a little contact along the way on a short and intermediate track. It is just racing. Many times we come off the track without damage, but sometimes we have plenty. I think it is just part of racing in the NCTS, part of the action. We aren't afraid of messing our fenders up a little bit, not nearly as much as they are in Busch and Cup. But more and more, the aero is becoming more important, and we are all learning how important it is."
MUSGRAVE: "I have to agree with that also. The trucks can take a little more beating and banging. Aerodynamically wise, we're stuck to the race track a lot better than the Cup cars. We can slide them around and run into somebody and maintain control a little bit. I agree that we have a vehicle that we can be more aggressive with and that's why you see that contact."
(Question to Musgrave/Setzer) Bobby Hamilton took points lead last week, and he is the defending champion in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. What makes him so tough? What's the challenge in taking on Bobby Hamilton?
MUSGRAVE: " I think it is just a lot of consistency. As a matter of fact, I just threw away three races. The whole month of June has been just a tremendous blow to our points system right now for me. I think just being there each and every week. As it shows, Dennis (Setzer), myself and Bobby (Hamilton) are veterans that know consistency. Being there at the end is what's going to be the guy that wins the championship and the guy that can accumulate the most points. I think that's what you're going to see all along. Those type of drivers are going to be battling for the championship, and Bobby (Hamilton) just happens to be one of those guys."
SETZER: "Consistency is the key. The level of competition has risen so much this year and will continue to go up by all accounts. Everyone is going to have a bad race here or there but the one who is the most consistent is the one who will get paid big dividends at the end of the season."
(Question to Setzer) Looking forward to Kansas, Dennis Setzer you have done everything but won here. You've finished second, third, won a pole here, what's it going to take to get you over the hump?
SETZER: "I am thinking this could be the year for us at Kansas. We have been close before. We are bringing the red No. 46 we won with at Michigan. I think it will perform very well for us. I have never driven a truck that performed that well in my career. It cornered like nothing I have ever driven before. I am excited to be able to drive it again. I sat on the pole last year because of weather but crashed out early going under Carl Edwards. We were really go there in practice but never got to show what we had. I love that track. It is a fun track. It is like Chicagoland, we don't go there yet but there is a possibility that could be added which would be good being the home of Craftsman. The two resemble each other and we tested good at Chicagoland so I think we should be good at Kansas and have fun racing there."
(Question to Musgrave) Ted, Kansas hasn't been a favorite of yours, has it?
MUSGRAVE: "Well, it has and it hasn't. I think the first year we went out there, we run second. Last year, we did get involved, same thing as Dennis, we got involved in a wreck while running real well. I love the place, don't get me wrong. I can't wait to get out there. I love those types of race tracks, and I've got a truck that runs really good at those types of race tracks. It just so happens Kansas really hasn't been my cup of tea as far as the luck goes. For my driving style, I love those places and can't wait to get there."
(Question) The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has three races coming up. Talk a little bit about your thoughts on the upcoming events at Milwaukee (Friday), Kansas (July 2) and Kentucky (July 9).
SETZER: "Milwaukee has always been a fun place. I was fortunate enough to be able to run there back in 1995 and had a great race with Mike Skinner which helped some people take notice of me and my career moved forward from there. I guess it kind of helped me get on the map and I was offered some rides because of that race.
"Kansas is special because I do have a pole there. I don't get many poles but I got one there a couple years ago. It is just a fun place to race, it is wide and you can race side-by-side and it is just awesome.
"Kentucky is also awesome. The owners have done great things there and it is one of the nicest places we get to go race, it is one of the nicest garage areas we have anywhere in the sport. It is a great great facility. There is great passing and close racing."
MUSGRAVE: "I'll pretty much echo the words of Dennis. Milwaukee is a race track that historically there's so many legends of motorsports have raced at that place, so it's always good to go there. Hometown crowd, my family, friends, everybody will be there, so I've go to perform well at Milwaukee. We're bringing the same truck that we had at St. Louis. That truck was really dominant there, so hopefully it'll repeat itself out here at Milwaukee.
"Going to Kansas City, we're going to run the same truck that we had at the Michigan International Speedway. As Dennis alluded to at Kansas City, it could either be 103 degrees or it could be 80 degrees out there and you could slip and slide a little bit. But you've got plenty of room there at Kansas to make moves and do things on the race track. It's a nice and smooth race track. You can race around there very well. It always puts on a pretty good show because you can always have a situation where you have a strategy of fuel mileage and things like that and tire wear. That can come into effect as far as the winner at Kansas City.
"When we head over to Kentucky, there's a race track that is a great facility, but you never know about the race track as far as 'Is it going to be bumpy,' 'Are they going to grind it,' 'Did they patch it?'. There's always that question mark if you never went and tested there during the year or hear of anybody that's been there. You're not really sure what to expect down in turns one and two until you get out there and see just how well the race track is as far as smoothness or how bumpy it could be."