St. Louis: News of note, schedule

St. Louis Rams players are honorary pit crew members this week NEWS AND NOTES NFL players will "perform" pitside duties ... Four members of the National Football League's St. Louis Rams will be honorary pit crew members at this week's race,...

St. Louis Rams players are honorary pit crew members this week


NFL players will "perform" pitside duties ... Four members of the National Football League's St. Louis Rams will be honorary pit crew members at this week's race, continuing a traditional begun several years ago. Center Andy McCollom out of Toledo University will join the No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet team and driver Aric Almirola. Rod Trafford, an offensive tackle from the University of South Carolina, will back up 2003 Gateway winner Brendan Gaughan (No. 77 The Orleans Dodge). Rice University products Jeremy Calahan (defensive tackle) and Brandon Green (defensive end) will be part of Rick Crawford's Circle Bar Truck Corral Ford unit.

ETC. ... Chad Chaffin's No. 40 Russell E. Garwood Electrical Contractor Chevrolet will be powered by Fischer Engineering engines beginning with this week's race at Gateway. The team added veteran crew chief Barry Dodson earlier this month. ... Gaughan's truck will carry the decal of the U.S. Air Force's 422 Squadron (A-10 aircraft school) headquartered at Nellis Air Force Base near the team's Las Vegas shops. ... As many as 18 drivers -- half the starting field -- never have turned a lap in a NASCAR Craftsman Truck at Gateway. Fourteen of 16 Raybestos Rookie of the Year contenders are among a preliminary entry list of 39 competitors. Gateway's highest-finishing official rookie candidate is Carl Edwards, who finished fourth in 2003. ...Sprague's Wyler Racing Toyota will debut a new paint scheme and logo for sponsor Con-Way Freight this week. ... Kevin Harvick's weekend wins at Phoenix International Raceway made him the third competitor to win NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series races at the same track. Harvick won back-to-back NASCAR Craftsman Truck races at Phoenix in 2002-03. Martin accomplished the feat earlier this year at California Speedway. Bobby Labonte completed his triple in April 2005 at Martinsville Speedway. ... NASCAR Craftsman Truck drivers will sign autographs for season ticket holders from 5 to 6 p.m. Friday in Gateway's Turn 4 hospitality area.


Crawford, Setzer have Gateway combination ... Crawford and Dennis Setzer (No. 85 GM FlexFuel E85 Chevrolet) count six of eight Gateway starts among the top-10 finishers. Four of Crawford's finishes have been top fives -- the most by any competitor. Setzer, meanwhile, is the leading money winner at Gateway with $169,245 and has completed the most laps/miles -- 1,290/1,612.5 of a possible 1,294/1,617.5.


"I really like Turns 1 and 2 because they are high gear and involve a lot of braking. It reminds me of the corners at Martinsville. I really enjoy a track that involves a lot of braking." -- Dennis Setzer, the event's second-place finisher in 1999, 2004 and 2005 a year ago.

"The thing I like most about Gateway is that it's not the same as everything else. I like this track because it's shorter and because you have to factor more of the driver and setup into it." -- Joey Miller, No. 12 Curb Records Toyota, winner of the track's ARCA RE/MAX Series race in 2005.

"It's like two completely different race tracks that you are racing on at the same time. It makes a pretty unique and exciting race," -- David Reutimann, No. 17 Team Tundra Toyota.

"Gateway reminds me of a combination of Martinsville (Turns 1 and 2) and Phoenix (Turns 3 and 4). All three of the tracks have been good to me with wins." -- David Starr, No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota, the 2004 Gateway winner and winner of the season's most recent race at Martinsville.

"We definitely go there with a little more confidence (as a former Gateway winner) but this is a team that is still rebuilding. Our guns have been loaded but we're not ready to fire off a hundred rounds yet." -- Brendan Gaughan, whose sixth-place finish at Martinsville was the team's first top 10 since last September in New Hampshire.


With two distinctly different sets of corners linking Gateway International Raceway's straightaways, a team must compromise on chassis setup. In 2005, winner Musgrave's Dodge was perfect at both ends of the racetrack. Musgrave led 158 of 160 laps and here's why: The winner was the Fastest in Turns 1 and 2 at 104.558 mph, in Turn 3 at 131.066 and in Turn 4 at 126.742. Musgrave didn't record the fastest lap of the race, but he posted the next six quickest laps and seven of the top-10 best lap times.


Musgrave is the only driver to win at Gateway International Raceway in his championship season, although two other series champions have victories at the 1.25-mile facility. Greg Biffle's victory was one of a record nine wins in 1999. Three-time champion Jack Sprague was the winner in 2000. With a third victory, Musgrave would become the first series driver to win three times at two different racetracks. The 2005 champion won back-to-back-to-back at California Speedway in 2001-03.


What: Missouri/Illinois Dodge Dealers Ram Tough 200 (Race 5 of 25).

Where: Gateway International Raceway.

When: 8:15 p.m. ET Saturday, April 29.

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

Posted awards: $596,350.

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

2005 winner: Ted Musgrave.
2005 polesitter: Ted Musgrave

Top 10 drivers: 1. Mark Martin 720. 2. Ted Musgrave 665. 3. Todd Bodine 662. 4. David Reutimann 576. 5. David Starr 556. 6. Erik Darnell 552. 7. Jack Sprague 544. 8. Mike Bliss 544. 9. Dennis Setzer 531. 10. Rick Crawford 508.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Saturday -- Practice 9:05 a.m. -- 10:05 a.m.. Rookie Practice 10:30 a.m. -- 11 a.m. Final Practice 11 a.m. to 12 noon. Qualifying 4 p.m. Trucks impounded after qualifying.


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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Todd Bodine , David Starr , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Ted Musgrave , Jack Sprague , Dennis Setzer , Rick Crawford , Brendan Gaughan , Chad Chaffin , Mike Bliss , David Reutimann , Carl Edwards , Aric Almirola , Joey Miller , Erik Darnell , Mark Martin
Teams Red Horse Racing