St. Louis: News of note, schedule

Pace of schedule picks up; Musgrave closes in on $3 million plateau NEWS & NOTES Bringing it back up to speed ... The blossoming of spring weather also adds growth to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck schedule. Series competitors, who've raced just...

Pace of schedule picks up; Musgrave closes in on $3 million plateau


Bringing it back up to speed ... The blossoming of spring weather also adds growth to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck schedule. Series competitors, who've raced just three times since the Feb. 18 opener at Daytona International Speedway, will be in action over 12 of the next 15 weeks. Hamilton holds a slim championship lead of 19 points over Craven with 53 points covering the top-five positions.

Musgrave closes on money mark ... Ted Musgrave (No. 1 Mopar Dodge) can become just the sixth competitor in series history to win $3 million with a victory in this week's race. Musgrave enters the Gateway event with $2,959,431 and needs $40,569 to join a select group that includes Hornaday, Sprague, Dennis Setzer (No. 46 Chevrolet Silverado Chevrolet), Joe Ruttman and Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Truck Corral Ford). Musgrave won the Dodge Ram Tough 200 in 2001.

2005 owner points set the field at Gateway ... Current owner championship points will determine the eligible 30 teams guaranteed a starting position in Gateway International Raceway's 36-truck field. All three past champions drive trucks among the 30 eligible entered owners, leaving six spots up for grabs. Among those non-exempt drivers is 2003 Gateway winner Gaughan and Indianapolis 500 veterans Shige Hattori (No. 9 AISIN/AISIN AW Toyota) and Jimmy Kite (No. 06 MRD Racing Chevrolet). Forty-one teams have entered this week's race, the most at the St. Louis-area facility since 2000.

Truck figures enter hall of fame ... Two figures with early NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series ties will be inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame on July 22. Marion Collins, owner-operator of Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif., was among the first to host a series race in 1995. His son, Gary Collins, built the prototype pickup truck. Daytona 500 winner Ernie Irvan, co-owner of Irvan-Simo Racing, also enters the hall. Irvan's driver, Joe Ruttman, scored Ford's first series victory at Bristol Motor Speedway in 1995 and finished second in the championship standings.

ETC. ... Sprague is the most dominant winner at Gateway leading 145 of 160 laps in 2000. A year ago, David Starr (No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet) headed only the last lap en route to his second NASCAR Craftsman Truck victory. ... The 2004 race produced the most leaders (nine) and lead changes (15) in the event's history. ... Gateway's widest victory margin of 10.428 seconds -- Musgrave over then Ultra Motorsports teammate Scott Riggs -- remains fifth-greatest in series history. There have been only five double-digit margins of victory in 246 series races. ... St. Louis Rams center Andy McCollum will be an honorary pit crew member for Starr. The team's long snapper, Chris Massey, will be in Gaughan's pit with former Ram Chris Perez joining Crawford. ... The May 20 event at Lowe's Motor Speedway will be sponsored by Quaker Steak & Lube, a regional restaurant chain. The race accompanies the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge taking place the following evening.


Five dominate stats at Gateway ... Crawford, Setzer and Terry Cook (No. 10 Power Stroke Diesel by International Ford) have competed in all seven Dodge Ram Tough 200 races at Gateway. Cook won in 2002. Crawford and Sprague have posted the most top-five finishes -- three -- while Crawford and Setzer have finished in the top 10 on five of seven occasions.


"I've never been there before (in a truck), so I am looking forward to seeing what the track is like. But it's a racetrack just like any other; it has four corners and two straightaways." -- Jimmy Spencer, a 40th-place finisher in Gateway's inaugural, 1997 NASCAR Busch Series event.

"As first, second and third were knocking themselves out, before you knew it, me and Chad (Chaffin) were racing for the lead. It was a wild night. It was exciting. I was racing for fourth, and then we ended up racing for the lead and ended up winning the race." -- David Starr, on last year's Gateway event that featured an unprecedented four green-white-checker restarts and 14 laps of "overtime".


April 25, 1998 marked the end of national touring series competition at the old Portland (Ore.) Speedway which the following season became a dirt track and later was closed when its lease expired. Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) won the series first race at the half-mile oval and Stacy Compton the last. The one-time combination racetrack and drive-in movie theater reputedly hosted the first race held at the conclusion of World War II in September 1945. NASCAR Craftsman trucks appeared two more times in the Rose City, in 1999 and 2000 at Portland International Raceway, a 1.95-mile road course.


Three NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champions led 1998's inaugural race at Gateway but it was Rick Carelli who collected the victory. Carelli, now general manager of Kevin Harvick Inc.'s truck teams, passed Ron Hornaday and Jay Sauter on the final lap to score a .441-second victory. Jack Sprague and Biffle also led with Biffle -- the 2000 series champion -- winning the Bud Pole at 131.218 mph.

Fast Facts

Next Event: Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers Ram Tough 200 (Race 5 of 25).

Where: Gateway International Raceway.
When: 8:15 p.m. ET, Saturday, April 30.

Track layout: 1.25 -mile paved speedway.
Race length: 200 miles/160 laps.

Posted awards: $572,830.

TV: SPEED Channel, 8:15 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.

2004 winner: David Starr.
2004 polesitter: Jack Sprague.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Saturday -- Practice 9:15 a.m. -- 10:15 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. -- 12 noon. Qualifying 3:30 p.m. Trucks impounded after qualifying.

Top 10 drivers: 1. Bobby Hamilton 633. 2. Ricky Craven 614. 3. Ted Musgrave 606. 4. Ron Hornaday Jr. 587. 5. Jimmy Spencer 580. 6. Todd Bodine 532. 7. Matt Crafton 519. 8. Johnny Benson 513. 9. Jack Sprague 503. 10. Terry Cook 498.


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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Ernie Irvan , Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , Jimmy Spencer , David Starr , Kevin Harvick , Jay Sauter , Jimmy Kite , Johnny Benson , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Ted Musgrave , Ricky Craven , Jack Sprague , Terry Cook , Rick Crawford , Scott Riggs , Matt Crafton , Joe Ruttman , Rick Carelli