Richmond event notes

RICHMOND, Va. - Phelon Motorsports, which had gone 100 starts without a victory prior to Thursday night's score by Rick Carelli, gave Ford its second consecutive NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series manufacturer championship. The South Carolina-based ...

RICHMOND, Va. - Phelon Motorsports, which had gone 100 starts without a victory prior to Thursday night's score by Rick Carelli, gave Ford its second consecutive NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series manufacturer championship. The South Carolina-based team, the first without an out-of-house sponsor to win on the series since August 1998, also became the first non-NASCAR Winston Cup Series outfit to clinch a truck maker's title.

The clincher followed a pattern established in the first five years of the circuit in which the winning points were contributed by a team finishing no worse than second.

Ford's first championship also was notched with three races remaining. Carelli's victory was a landmark 50th for the truck maker.

Chevrolet's misfortunes continued in 2000 as the four-time NCTS champion went a record-setting 11th successive race outside victory circle. It trails Dodge by three points for No. 2 bragging rights.

Carelli now has won with three different crew chiefs: John Monsam (Richmond), Rodney Haygood (Mesa Marin, 1999 and Gateway International, 1998) and Rick Ren (Bristol, 1996). That's nowhere near the series record held by Ron Hornaday whose 25 NCTS victories were guided by five chief mechanics including Monsam's March 1, 1997 win at Tucson Raceway Park.

Every previous series championship has gone down to the season's final race but that won't happen in 2000. Biffle, with a record 252-point cushion, can wrap up Roush Racing's first NASCAR championship at Dover Downs International Speedway on Sept. 22. It's more likely, however, that he'll clinch at Texas Motor Speedway on Oct. 13.

Biffle did fail to lead a lap at Richmond International Raceway, where he won in 1999, and finished the season's short track log heading just two of seven events. He needs to lead each of the final three races to reach 19 and break the single-season win record jointly held by Mike Skinner and Hornaday.

Ultra Motorsports, owned by Jim and Marlene Smith, will become a Dodge team in 2000 and campaign a pair of trucks with yet-unnamed drivers. The announcement came a few hours before the start of Thursday's Kroger 200 in which Wallace finished 15th.

Jim Smith is the remaining member of the quartet of off-road owners credited with suggesting the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series concept to the sanctioning body. He has campaigned at least one Ford truck in each of the circuit's 143 races.

Longtime sponsor ASE returns for the 2000 season to be joined by Mopar Performance, being shifted by DaimlerChrysler from K Automotive to Ultra. "Dodge is looking forward ... to the 2001 season with only one goal and that is winning a championship," said Ray Richard, Program Manager for Dodge Motorsports.

Also moving in 2000 is Randy Tolsma, to the No. 16 Team Rensi Chevrolet currently driven by Jimmy Hensley. Tolsma, winner of the Aug. 12 event at Nashville, drives the CITGO SUPERGARD Dodge of Impact Motorsports. Motient Corporation and its eLink email service will continue to sponsor the Rensi team.

Tolsma's current crew chief, Gary Showalter, also joins the team with current crew chief, Troy Selberg, being promoted to manager of race operations.

"Randy adapts well and is a perfect fit for our team," said co-owner Sam Rensi. "He is someone who can and will adapt well as we challenge him with new opportunities."

Another member of the Impact stable, rookie Scott Riggs, teamed with new crew chief Kenny Majors to land his first top-five finish on the series. Riggs started from a provisional slot of 30th but, through superlative pit strategy and some hard racing, wound up in fifth-place.

"I was so discouraged all day and qualified bad because I could just never get hold of the race track," said Riggs. "All the guys had confidence in each other and had confidence in me." Majors replaced Charlie Long who resigned because of business needs of Long Brothers Racing, a builder of NASCAR Late Model engines for many mid-Atlantic states campaigners.

Nineteen among the current top-20 drivers have led at least one race in 2000.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Ron Hornaday Jr. , Scott Riggs , Randy Tolsma , Jimmy Hensley , Rick Carelli , Jim Smith