Richmond: Dennis Setzer - NASCAR spotlight

Short track ace Dennis Setzer could make gains at Richmond DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 2, 2003) -- No matter what history might say, Dennis Setzer (No. 46 AXCIOM/Computer Associates Chevrolet) believes he's got a legitimate shot at winning the ...

Short track ace Dennis Setzer could make gains at Richmond

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 2, 2003) -- No matter what history might say, Dennis Setzer (No. 46 AXCIOM/Computer Associates Chevrolet) believes he's got a legitimate shot at winning the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship.

Setzer, fourth in the standings, trails Travis Kvapil (No. 16 IWX Motor Freight Chevrolet) by 123 points entering Thursday night's Virginia Is For Lovers 200 at Richmond International Raceway.

The championship, with nine races remaining, is hardly decided as Kvapil clings to an eight-point advantage over Brendan Gaughan (No. 62 Orleans Hotel Dodge).

But the record book has good news for Kvapil and the opposite for his pursuers. In all eight previous seasons, the competitor who led with nine races to go was crowned NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion.

Setzer, however, thinks he's got a good shot at ending that streak, beginning with this week's 150-mile event. The 43-year-old veteran has been the class of the series on short tracks in 2003. And considering three of nine races remaining this season are on short tracks, that's good news for Setzer.

In other words, the Newton, N.C. driver, who has won the most races and scored the most points on short tracks this year, figures to make up ground on his rivals beginning this week on Richmond's .75-mile oval.

"It's good that there are a lot more short tracks left on the schedule," said Setzer, whose average short track finish this season is 3.6. "I feel at this stage of the season, our team is in as good of shape as any.

"I know we have concentrated our efforts on the short tracks ... and it's really paid off."

Looking at the numbers, Setzer has scored 832 points in five short track races, winning back-to-back events at Mesa Marin Raceway and Martinsville Speedway. Kvapil, conversely, counts 78 fewer points while Gaughan is 80 points behind.

Third-place Ted Musgrave (No. 1 Mopar Performance Dodge), winner at Memphis Motorsports Park in June, counts 39 fewer points than Setzer. Two short track races -- South Boston Speedway on Oct. 4 and Martinsville on Oct. 18 -- follow this week's Richmond contest.

Setzer needs a victory at Richmond -- something he has yet to accomplish in five NASCAR Craftsman Truck appearances. He's been third twice, in 1999 and 2001, but had his best shot at victory a year ago, when Tony Stewart (No. 33 Monaco Coach/Diamond Rio Chevrolet) hoisted the winner's trophy. "I felt we probably had our best race truck of the entire year," said Setzer, whose 20th-place finish hardly reflected the team's overall performance. "We got spun coming back through the field after a pit stop and hit the wall."

Setzer and crew chief Danny Gill in effect held back at Bristol on Aug. 20, preferring to save their best equipment for this week's race. They still finished fifth -- but behind winner Kvapil and Gaughan.

"We decided to save our best short track truck for Richmond," said Setzer. "I think we should be pretty good there this year."

-nascar-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Tony Stewart , Ted Musgrave , Dennis Setzer , Brendan Gaughan , Travis Kvapil