Richmond: News of note, schedule

Hamilton increases his points lead with nine races remaining Hamilton increases his points lead over Setzer ... Heading into tonight's race, Bobby Hamilton (No. 4 Square D Dodge) has a 96-point lead over Dennis Setzer (No. 46 AXCIOM Chevrolet)...

Hamilton increases his points lead with nine races remaining

Hamilton increases his points lead over Setzer ... Heading into tonight's race, Bobby Hamilton (No. 4 Square D Dodge) has a 96-point lead over Dennis Setzer (No. 46 AXCIOM Chevrolet) in the race for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series title with only nine races remaining. Carl Edwards (No. 99 Superchips Ford) regained some momentum with his win at Bristol to move up to third in the standings, 146 points behind Hamilton. These three drivers have nine wins between them this season.

Parker Jr. gets sponsor for remainder of year ... Hank Parker Jr.'s No. 21 Toyota will have a new sponsor, AirVest for the remainder of the season. The company joined Parker Jr.'s team starting at Bristol. AirVest is an innovation in high-quality safety gear that acts as a wearable airbag in the event of an accident, helping to protect a rider's chest and back from impact.

Etc. ... Matt Crafton (No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet) will have a different look this week, as he carries a special paint scheme featuring KISS. ... Edwards became the first series driver to win at Daytona International Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway in the same season. ... A Chevrolet has won the last three races at Richmond and six of nine. ... The record for lead changes on a short track, 17, was set at Richmond in 1999. ... A Kroger 200 winner has averaged 100 or more miles per hour just once. Bob Keselowski's winning speed in 1997 was 104.167 mph. The first Richmond race also was the slowest with Terry Labonte averaging just 78.595 mph. ... Rick Crawford (No.14 Circle Bar Motel & RV Park Ford) and Sprague, among entered drivers, have started the most series races at Richmond -- seven. One hundred sixty four different drivers have started at least one Kroger 200. ... No Virginia driver has won the Kroger 200, but Jon Wood (No. 50 Roush Racing Ford) has come the closest. The Stuart native finished fourth in 2003. ... Three competitors accounting for five of nine victories at Richmond expect to compete in the Kroger 200. Sprague was the first double winner -- in 1998 and 2001. Tony Stewart (No. 47 ACXIOM Chevrolet) won back-to-back in 2002-03 and will attempt to become just the second driver in series history to win the same event three consecutive times. Ted Musgrave's (No. 1 Mopar Dodge) ongoing California Speedway streak began in 2001. Mike Skinner (No. 42 Toyota Tundra Toyota), winner of the 1996 event, also has entered the Kroger 200. ... The Kroger 200 will be the 24th NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event to be held in the Commonwealth of Virginia, one more than the 23 run in Tennessee. The Kroger 200 is the second of three races scheduled in Virginia this season. Martinsville Speedway will stage its second race of 2004 on Oct. 23. ... The Bud Pole winner has won the Kroger 200 just once. Terry Labonte won both pole and race in 1995, the series' inaugural season. Craftsman's win-from-the-pole bonus -- unclaimed since Milwaukee on June 25 -- stands at $16,000. Front-row starters, however, have won four Richmond races. Stewart's two wins don't quite fit the norm: he started 25th in 2001 and 27th a year ago when inclement weather caused the field to be set via the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series rule book. There have been no repeat winners of the Bud Pole at Richmond International Raceway. ... Sprague is the only driver to win at Richmond in his championship season (2001), but three second-place finishers have gone on to claim the title: Ron Hornaday Jr. (1996), Sprague (1997) and Greg Biffle (2000). Defending champion Travis Kvapil (No. 24 Toyota/Buckle Up for Safety Toyota) is the only competitor failing to garner at least a top-five finish at Richmond in his championship season. Kvapil finished ninth a year ago.


Setzer hopes to take advantage of Richmond success ... Dennis Setzer is the only current top-five championship contender with a top-five finish at Richmond. Setzer finished third in 1999 and 2001 and fifth in 2003. Setzer and Bobby Hamilton each have posted four top-10 finishes, two fewer than Jack Sprague.


"Richmond is a pretty special place for me and I feel like we will do really well." -- David Reutimann (No. 17 NTN Bearings Toyota).

"We have been in contention to win just about every time we have been to Richmond. Some of my worst finishes were my best races, which is pretty darn close to the way we have been running lately." -- Dennis Setzer.

"There is so much competition in the Craftsman Truck Series. It's anybody's championship at this point. A lot can happen with nine races to go." -- Carl Edwards.

"With nine races to go, Bobby Hamilton and Danny Rollins are definitely the team to beat. Setzer and Gill will have something for them at the short tracks, but consistency will pay off for Hamilton. Speaking of consistency, Matt Crafton is well on his way to finishing this season in the top three. A podium finish for this first-year Kevin Harvick team will be extremely impressive. The only guy that could keep Matt out of the top three is BHR driver Chad Chaffin. It has taken him (Chaffin) a while to figure out that he drives for one of the best shoes in NASCAR. Watch, learn and ask a few questions and viola you bring a lot more experience to the track." -- Rick Allen, SPEED Channel play-by-play commentator for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.


The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series made its first trip to the Richmond International Raceway on Sept. 7, 1995 during the series' inaugural season. The race featured several drivers from NASCAR's premier series with Terry Labonte winning the pole. Labonte, Geoffrey Bodine and Ron Hornaday Jr. traded the front spot eight times with Labonte winning by only 0.006 of a second over Bodine for one of the closest finishes in series history.

Fast Facts

What:  Kroger 200 (Race No. 17 of 25).

Where: Richmond International Raceway, Richmond, VA.
When: 8:45 p.m. ET, Thursday, Sept. 9.

Track layout: .75-mile paved.
Race length: 150 miles/200 laps.

TV: SPEED Channel, 8:30 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Thursday -- Practice 10:00 a.m. -- 11:55 a.m. Qualifying 2:05 p.m. Trucks impounded after qualifying.


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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Tony Stewart , Mike Skinner , Geoffrey Bodine , Kevin Harvick , Hank Parker Jr. , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Ted Musgrave , Jack Sprague , Dennis Setzer , Rick Crawford , Jon Wood , Matt Crafton , Chad Chaffin , David Reutimann , Carl Edwards , Travis Kvapil