Off-week news of note 2005-04-12

* Bobby Labonte makes Virginia, Martinsville Speedway history * Hamilton's stumble tightens 2005 championship battle DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 11, 2005) -- The Labonte brothers and the Commonwealth of Virginia will forever be linked in NASCAR...

* Bobby Labonte makes Virginia, Martinsville Speedway history
* Hamilton's stumble tightens 2005 championship battle

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 11, 2005) -- The Labonte brothers and the Commonwealth of Virginia will forever be linked in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series lore by Bobby Labonte's (No. 47 Rodeway/Econo Lodge/Trick Pony Chevrolet) victory in the April 9 Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway.

His older brother, Terry Labonte, won the series' Virginia debut on Sept. 5, 1995, edging Geoffrey Bodine by .006 of a second at Richmond International Raceway -- the second-closest finish in series history.

And Bobby -- like Terry, a former NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion -- rewrote this bit of history by out-dueling veterans Ricky Craven (No. 99 Super Chips Ford) and Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet) in last week's five-lap shoot-out. Bobby Labonte's win in the series' 26th and most recent Virginia appearance means the Labonte brothers are the first siblings to score NASCAR Craftsman Truck victories.

The fourth different winner of the 2005 season, Bobby Labonte also is the 50th driver to win a series race.

He also completes an unprecedented NASCAR national series sweep at the .526-mile Martinsville Speedway. Labonte previously won in the NASCAR Busch Series in 1992 and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series in 2002.

Finally, Labonte extends a streak of consecutive, different NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series short-track winners to 12. There hasn't been a repeat winner since Carl Edwards won races at Indianapolis Raceway Park and Bristol Motor Speedway in August 2003.

On a more personal note, the 40-year-old Labonte finally had something to smile about as he battled to overcome mechanical gremlins and just plain bad luck plaguing his No. 18 MBNA Chevrolet team in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.

"Things haven't been going so well for us on Sundays so coming over here and running really well is good for me," said Labonte. "Winning this trophy is good for me. That is the deal, not the prize money but running good."

Labonte won in his fourth start for Morgan-Dollar Motorsports and the General Motors promotional effort that matches selected NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers with country music performers. The truck carried the likenesses of Trick Pony, a Nashville trio that performed the National Anthem prior to the start of the Kroger 250.

Labonte definitely has a hit on his hands now having finished first, second and third in the truck owned by Oklahoman David Dollar, who becomes the first three-time winning owner at Martinsville Speedway.

"I ran two races so far and for sure we are running one more, but we want to get the money to do six if possible," said Labonte.

The victory also returned crew chief Randy Goss to Victory Lane following a nearly five-year absence. Goss directed his 20th win and the first since Greg Biffle's July 22, 2000 victory at Michigan International Speedway.

NEWS & NOTES

Martinsville bites Hamilton, tightens points ... Bobby Hamilton (No. 04 Bailey's Dodge) entered the Kroger 250 with a 65-point lead in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series standings but exited with four rivals within 53 points of the No. 1 spot. Craven, the runner-up, is 19 points back trailed by Ted Musgrave (No. 1 Mopar Dodge), Hornaday and Jimmy Spencer (No. 2 Team ASE Dodge). Hamilton's 20th-place finish after a late-race accident might appear significant, unless measured against 2004 when the Nashville native won the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series title despite Martinsville performances of 31st and 26th, respectively. Hamilton posted a record lap of 95.098 mph to win his second Bud Pole and fifth in the series.

ETC. ... A 12th-place finish ended Kevin Harvick's (No. 92 Yard-Man Chevrolet) bid for wins in consecutive starts in NASCAR's national series. ... The Kroger 250 marked the conclusion of the use of 2004 owner points to set starting fields. The field for the April 30 Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers Ram Tough 200 on April 30 at Gateway International Raceway will be set with the highest 30 eligible owners in this year's standings earning a spot in the top 35 starting positions, providing their teams are present and attempt to qualify. Gateway's race is the first stand-alone event of the season. ... Labonte's winning margin of .257 of a second over Craven is the closest in 13 races at Martinsville Speedway. There have been eight races in which the margin of victory is less than one second.

10 YEARS TOUGH
April 3, 1999 marked the 100th race on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The NAPACARD 200 at Evergreen (Wash.) Speedway was won by Ron Hornaday Jr., whose 2.509-second victory over Jack Sprague (No. 16 Chevy Trucks Chevrolet) qualified for a $100,000 bonus posted by Craftsman. Hornaday, Sprague and sixth-finishing Rick Carelli were eligible for the bonus by virtue of their participation in every series race. All remain active on the series; Hornaday and Sprague as drivers and Carelli as Hornaday's spotter and general manager of Harvick's truck team.

Fast Facts

What: Dodge Dealers Ram Tough 200 (Race 5 of 25).
Where: Gateway International Raceway.

When: 8:15 p.m. ET, Saturday, April 30.

Track layout: 1.25 -mile paved speedway.
Race length: 160 laps/200 miles.

Posted awards: $572,830.

TV: SPEED Channel, 8:15 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.

2004 winner: David Starr.
2004 polesitter: Jack Sprague.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Saturday -- Practice 9:15 a.m. -- 10:15 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. -- 12 p.m.. Qualifying 3:30 p.m. Trucks impounded after qualifying.

Top-10 drivers: 1. Bobby Hamilton 633. 2. Ricky Craven 614. 3. Ted Musgrave 606. 4. Ron Hornaday Jr. 587. 5. Jimmy Spencer 580. 6. Todd Bodine 532. 7. Matt Crafton 519. 8. Johnny Benson 513. 9. Jack Sprague 503. 10. Terry Cook 498.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte , Todd Bodine , Geoffrey Bodine , Jimmy Spencer , David Starr , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Johnny Benson , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Ted Musgrave , Ricky Craven , Jack Sprague , Terry Cook , Matt Crafton , Rick Carelli , Carl Edwards