FOUNTAIN, Colo. - Dodge didn't win a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race until 1997 - more than two years into the competition - but, in 2001, the truck maker is as dominant as Chevrolet which won a record eight ...
FOUNTAIN, Colo. - Dodge didn't win a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race until 1997 - more than two years into the competition - but, in 2001, the truck maker is as dominant as Chevrolet which won a record eight consecutive times to begin the circuit's 1995 inaugural season. Joe Ruttman's victory in Sunday's Jelly Belly 200 at Pikes Peak International Raceway was Dodge's seventh in succession, the most ever in a season by a Ram truck. Two rule changes in three races haven't stopped the Dodge juggernaut but Chevrolet drivers, who led 101 of the 204 laps, think they're back in the ballgame. "I knew when I changed four tires I could have beat (Ruttman)," said Silverado-mounted Jack Sprague whose shot at victory was blunted by a pit road miscue. "I knew when I changed tires I could have beat him." Added teammate Ricky Hendrick, "I thought we had a chance for the win on the last restart. We're never satisfied when we don't win. Once they (the Dodges) stop winning, we'll feel better."
Ruttman led 74 miles to become just the sixth competitor to lead 1,000 miles in NCTS competition.
The winner's teammate, Willy T. Ribbs, has struggled in NASCAR competition but appeared headed for a top 10 finish until a cut tire on lap 149 relegated the 42-year-old Raybestos rookie to a 13th-place - but career best - posting. "Our crew and I are starting to work together real well," said Ribbs. "I feel that we learned something this week."
Scott Riggs now has led the championship a standings after six consecutive events and has strung seven consecutive top five finishes - not bad for a largely unheralded sophomore. Pikes Peak International Raceway proved the Waterloo for Mike Wallace, the driver Riggs replaced at Ultra Motorsports, but a second-place finish Sunday erased those memories for the Tim Kohuth-coached unit.
Inclement weather cancelled Bud Pole qualifying for just the fourth time in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series history and the first since April 1999 when the lineup for the 100th event was set by owner points. Ron Hornaday won that race from the No. 1 position - his 25th and last on the tour. The other two washed out qualifying sessions both came in 1995, at I-70 Speedway near Kansas City and at Martinsville Speedway.
Danny Rollins and his wife, Marli, celebrated 10 years of marriage during the Jelly Belly 200 weekend. Gill is the crew chief for the DANA Corporation Dodge team and driver Joe Ruttman. Team Rensi Motorsports front tire changer Donnie Tarantino, who had served as a crew member in 152 consecutive NCTS events - all of them - remained in North Carolina with fiancee Shelly who gave birth Saturday to an eight pound seven ounce son, Nicholas Anthony.
Trent Owens and the Covenant Racing Team made their NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Owens, 26, and his Doug Thompson-owned, Dickies-sponsored team competed in a Ford F-150 provided by Billy Ballew Motorsports. Covenant plans to run four more events in 2001 with its own Chevrolets as Owens, a Gatorade Slim Jim All Pro Series veteran and Richard Petty Driving Experience instructor, planning for a Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year campaign next season.
Raybestos Rookie contender Matt Crafton did double duty at PPIR, competing in the accompanying Featherlite Southwest Series Sunstate Equipment Company 100 as well. Crafton, the 2000 champion of the NASCAR Touring late model circuit, finished sixth in both events.
PPIR hosted a start-finish line wedding prior to competition. The KKFM Radio promotion saw Scott and Joette Layman tying the knot for the second time. End Courtesy of NASCAR Public Relations, 661-663-8770