Nazareth Chevy Silverado 200 report

NAZARETH, Pa. - Dennis Setzer, still sore from injuries received a week earlier in New Hampshire, used track position to hold off the late charge of Bud Pole starter Joe Ruttman and win Saturday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Chevy ...

NAZARETH, Pa. - Dennis Setzer, still sore from injuries received a week earlier in New Hampshire, used track position to hold off the late charge of Bud Pole starter Joe Ruttman and win Saturday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Chevy Silverado 200 at Nazareth Speedway. Setzer's victory, his fifth on the series, broke a near one-year absence from the winner's circle. Starting 19th, the furthest back of any 2000 winner, Setzer's Mopar Performance Dodge truck didn't lead the 200-mile race until the 161st time around the one mile speedway. He passed Steve Grissom following the race's ninth caution and paced the final 20 circuits. Ruttman, in Bobby Hamilton's DANA Corporation Dodge, pitted for tires on lap 165 when Wayne Edward's Chevrolet hit the wall in Turn 1. He returned to the track in ninth-place and by the time he could clear Biffle's Grainger Ford for second, on lap 195, Ruttman was too far back with too little time remaining. Setzer, who averaged 93.083 mph and won $49,735, held a 2.057-second advantage at the finish. He last pitted on 161st lap, under green, but elected to remain on the track when Ruttman and the majority of the fastest trucks took advantage of the race's eighth caution to visit pit road. "Track position is important here," said Setzer, whose last win - ironically - came Aug. 1, 1999 at New Hampshire International Speedway where he demolished a truck on the third lap of last week's event there. "You can keep someone behind you for three or four laps." He shrugged off the effects of a broken right scapula, noting, "I still have got big bruises and I can't scratch the top of my head. You work all your life to race so I won't cry about these injuries." The victory, breaking a 23-race winless drought, made Setzer the 14th driver to win more than $1 million in a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career. A somewhat disappointed Ruttman said, "The fastest truck didn't win but I wasn't in front at the end. Luck just didn't go our way." Biffle finished third for a series record 10th consecutive top-five finish. He also added to his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series point lead, which reached a season-high 178 over Mike Wallace. Grissom took fourth in the Petty Enterprises Dodge, followed by Jack Sprague's GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet. Terry Cook, Jimmy Hensley, Rick Carelli, Bryan Reffner and Wallace completed the top-10 among just 18 drivers running at the finish of the accident-filled event. Seven drivers were sidelined by accidents that triggered nine caution flags consuming 37 laps. None were injured, including Randy Tolsma whose single-truck accident on the fourth lap eliminated his CITGO SUPERGARD Dodge from further competition.. There were 11 lead changes among seven drivers. Ruttman, who headed the first 42 laps from his sixth pole position of the season, headed 108 circuits in all. Weather and the possibility of rain ending the race early figured in the early strategy. Ruttman disdained his first opportunity for a caution stop on lap 34, electing to stay out until the 43rd circuit after Coy Gibbs hit the wall in Turn 4. That stop put Setzer, among others, out of sequence, although all the lead lap drivers - save No. 2 qualifier Terry Cook -- hit pit road again on lap 85 when a piece of metal just past the start-finish stripe slowed competition. Cook held on until lap 92, when Biffle went to the front for the second of three times. Ruttman, however, showed muscle two circuits later to take command until the 160th lap when he pitted under the green for right side tires. Setzer followed a lap later giving crew chief Howard Comstock the opportunity to hit or stand pat when Edwards' accident produced yellow several minutes later. Standing proved to be the hot ticket. Biffle couldn't catch Setzer's Dodge and, in the end, neither could Ruttman who shrugged his shoulders over circumstances. In fairness, his left side tires were completely worn and it was questionable whether, before stopping a second time, he had anything for Setzer - track position or not. -I just ride the truck and Fred (Wanke, the team's new crew chief) tells me when to come in and what to do,- explained Ruttman, who thanked Biffle for giving him room to make a last-ditch run at Setzer. -He won't even let me look at the gauges.- The final two cautions aided Sprague who, a lap down to the leader before Ruttman pitted 40 laps from the end, out-raced Cook and Hensley and nearly caught Grissom's battered and smoking Dodge at the checkered flag. Next event is Saturday's Michigan 200 at Michigan Speedway where Biffle is the defending champion.

Owen Kearns

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Mike Wallace , Jack Sprague , Dennis Setzer , Coy Gibbs , Terry Cook , Joe Ruttman , Bryan Reffner , Randy Tolsma , Jimmy Hensley , Rick Carelli , Steve Grissom