St. Louis Jimmy Hensley preview

ST. LOUIS, MO (April 28, 2000) - Over the years, veteran NASCAR driver Jimmy Hensley has tackled some of the toughest tracks in all of motorsports. According to the driver of the ...

ST. LOUIS, MO (April 28, 2000) - Over the years, veteran NASCAR driver Jimmy Hensley has tackled some of the toughest tracks in all of motorsports. According to the driver of the #16 Team Rensi Chevrolet, the next track on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series tour, Gateway International Raceway, is among the toughest. "You can compare Gateway to Darlington Raceway because they both have kind of an egg-shape to them," said Hensley. "The call Darlington the 'Lady in Black' for good reason. It's a tough, tough place. Gateway is a lot like that too." Last year, Hensley steered the Richard Petty Dodge to a 10th-place finish in the Gateway NCTS event. The 54-year-old veteran started 20th and had his work cut out for him winding his way through the field and the four wrecks that punctuated the race. "I don't think we had too much trouble last year," said Hensley. "We had a couple of accidents, but nothing like you would see at Darlington. You run right up against the wall at Darlington and there's no margin for error. If you get into the corner a half a truck length too far, you're going to be in the wall at Darlington. At Gateway, the track is more forgiving. You can run the outside groove but you're nowhere near the wall. The fast way around Gateway is on the bottom, no matter what end of the racetrack you're on." So, exactly what is the key to getting around the 1.25-mile Gateway oval? "You have to compromise one end of the race track," said Hensley, who scored a season-best sixth-place finish in the most recent NCTS race two weeks ago at Portland, OR. "At Gateway, you have a small tight corner in Turns 1-2 before you hit the long backstretch. Turns 3-4 are long and sweeping, a lot like they are at New Hampshire International Speedway. Turns 3-4 at Gateway are a lot faster turns than 1-2. You have to get really good on one end and somewhat sacrifice the other. It's a hard thing sometimes to figure out exactly where you need to be there." With everything that goes on during a race, you'd think Hensley would have little time for sightseeing, but according to the 25-year NASCAR pilot, you can do just that at the St. Louis area track. "One of the things I like about racing at Gateway is coming off of Turn 4, you can see the Gateway Arch across the river in St. Louis," said Hensley. "Most of the time, you don't notice things like that when you're driving, but the Arch is so big and it's so close. You can't help but notice it each time you take that corner. That's a neat deal." Hensley and the rest of the NCTS regulars will take the green flag in the Ram Tough 200 at Gateway International Raceway Sunday, May 7, at 1:30 p.m. (Eastern Time). The race will be telecast live on ESPN. "We finished 10th at Gateway last year, so we made some quality gains in the race," said Hensley. "We had a pretty decent truck. Hopefully, we can go back and improve on that this time around."

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Richard Petty , Jimmy Hensley