Setzer hoping return to Lone Star state invigorates championship bid DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 6, 2004) -- Celebrating in Texas Motor Speedway's Victory Lane following his second win in three races, Dennis Setzer (No. 46 Chevrolet Silverado ...
Setzer hoping return to Lone Star state invigorates championship bid
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 6, 2004) -- Celebrating in Texas Motor Speedway's Victory Lane following his second win in three races, Dennis Setzer (No. 46 Chevrolet Silverado Chevrolet) had every reason to feel on top of the world.
Setzer's June 11 triumph, by nearly 12 seconds over Ted Musgrave (No. 1 Mopar Dodge), made the North Carolina native just the second NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitor to claim multiple victories at the 1.5-mile superspeedway.
And equally important, the win extended Setzer's championship lead over Carl Edwards (No. 99 Superchips Ford) to 40 points.
But in the next four months, several things happened to significantly change the landscape -- for both Setzer and the series.
Setzer hasn't won another race. And when teams return to Texas for the Oct. 16 Silverado 350K, the roles have been reversed: Setzer is the pursuer rather than the pursued.
Bobby Hamilton (No. 4 Square D Dodge) continues as the championship leader, 56 points ahead of Setzer with Edwards third and Musgrave fourth. The points spread between first and second is the second-closest margin in series history with five races remaining.
Setzer and Oklahoma-based Morgan-Dollar Motorsports see next week's race as a golden opportunity to regain their winning edge.
"We ran really good in the early part of the year and then we kind of went through a little slump but I think things are starting to come back together now," said Setzer, a top-10 finisher in his most recent three starts. "We're just getting everything lined up (again) and hope to make a run for the championship."
Both of Setzer's previous Texas Motor Speedway wins have come in night races. The Silverado 350K, however, will be run in early afternoon.
That doesn't concern Setzer, who hasn't finished outside the top 10 in any of the track's five fall events. Setzer has a top performance of third place in 1999 and an average finish of 6.4. He's completed all 730 laps and 1,090 miles.
"We did most of our practice and qualifying for the June race during the daytime so that will translate over," he said. "I don't see much change."
But, Setzer also points out that past success is no guarantee he or any other competitor is a lock to finish well at Texas or any other track. The level of competition has increased dramatically over the past year. Eleven different drivers have won races and there hasn't been a repeat winner over the past seven events.
"It's just unbelievable," Setzer said. "Last year, we had (23) top 10s. This year, you can actually race hard and not finish in the top 10 -- not really have any problems that day and just, unfortunately, not run well enough to do it. It speaks highly of the competition."