Texas race notes

FORT WORTH, Tex. - The early-week rules addendum, mandating a 390 cfm carburetor for Friday's O'Reilly 400K, drew mixed reaction from the 37 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teams. Most of the negative reaction flowed from the Dodge camp - ...

FORT WORTH, Tex. - The early-week rules addendum, mandating a 390 cfm carburetor for Friday's O'Reilly 400K, drew mixed reaction from the 37 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teams. Most of the negative reaction flowed from the Dodge camp - understandable, since a Ram truck had won each of the previous eight events in 2001. The change, from 2001 specs, dropped engine rpms to around 8,200 and horsepower by an estimated 70.

Thursday practice saw the Ultra Motorsports Dodges of Ted Musgrave and Scott Riggs atop the time sheet, marginally quicker than top speeds for last June's race in which teams used a 9.5 to one engine with an 830 cfm carburetor. Inclement weather washed out Bud Pole qualifying with 14 times recorded, including Riggs' 177.344 mph run. In 2000, Greg Biffle took the No. 1 spot with a lap of 178.130.

The race, in which trucks utilized a 65-degree spoiler, was uneventful: not a lot of back-and-forth passing but, after a 30th lap incident unrelated to engines or handling, accident-free. Winner Jack Sprague was able to pass at will, running down a half-dozen trucks when it counted. "I was a little concerned about the new carburetor but it produced some great racing and it shows NASCAR knows what it's doing," commented Randy Tolsma, the eighth-place finisher.

NASCAR said it would study the results of Friday's race before deciding on any further use of the 390 cfm rule.

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Sprague's record 22-race winless streak began June 9, 2000 at Texas Motor Speedway and, appropriately, ended 364 days later on the same, 1.5-mile superspeedway. A check of the record book shows that the 36-year-old competitor won for the first time in his 22nd start in April 1996 at Phoenix, Ariz. His longest post-victory drought, prior to the latest streak, was 15 races - sandwiched between June 5, 1999 and Oct. 30, 1999 wins at Bristol, Tenn. and Los Angeles, Calif., respectively.

Sprague now has won on 14 of 36 tracks hosting NCTS events and 10 currently scheduling series events. Ron Hornaday is the all-time best in that category with wins at 20 different venues.

It might be noted that Sprague won his second series title in 1999 when he didn't lead until after race eight, gave it up after race 18 and traded the advantage three times over the final three races before edging Greg Biffle by eight points. He needs to win $75,294 to reach $4 million in career money.

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Hendrick Motorsports joins Ultra Motorsports as the only teams with victories in all seven seasons on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Crew chief Dennis Connor, like Sprague, now has won in six consecutive seasons, the only chief mechanic to have accomplished that feat.

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Chevrolet's 81st victory came on the same track that the manufacturer won its 80th on Oct. 13, 2000. Despite Dodge's fantastic record this season, the C/K 1500 and Silverado models still have won 52.3 percent of all NCTS races.

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Dennis Setzer, a winner in three consecutive seasons beginning in 1998, finished sixth in the O'Reilly 400K to post his best effort of the current campaign. "We should have had a better finish than this before now but we've had some driver errors and mechanical problems earlier in the season," said Setzer whose ACXIOM/Computer Associates Chevrolet team is on its third crew chief of the year, Danny Gill.

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Speaking of advances, David Starr had gone 43 starts without a top 10 finish before running a solid third in the O'Reilly 400K. Starr, who is attempting to land a sponsor to campaign a second A.J. Foyt-owned Chevrolet in the NASCAR Busch Series in 2002, teamed with uncle Mike Starr to field a Silverado recently purchased from John Menard - a truck previously owned by Richard Childress Racing. The truck has been an all-star at Texas Motor Speedway, winning from the Bud Pole in 1999 and 2000 for Jay Sauter and Bryan Reffner, respectively.

"I would have loved to have won this race (and) I was trying as hard as I could," said Starr, whose best previous effort, 11th, came in last year's O'Reilly 400K. "I'm excited for third but really wanted to win. We just put this team together two and one half weeks ago."

The Starr tandem plans to run another half-dozen series races in 2001.

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Brendan Gaughan, an off-roader who has made significant progress en route to winning last year's NASCAR Winston West Series championship, figures he's come far enough to covet the big prize. "I hate second-place. It means you're the first one to lose," said the Las Vegas driver after posting his best finish on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

Gaughan's team, TKO Motorsports based a few miles from Texas Motor Speedway, enjoyed its best finish on the series, bettering Jamie McMurray's third-place at Indianapolis Raceway Park on Aug. 3, 2000.

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Weather interfered with a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule for the fifth consecutive time and washed out qualifying for the second time in three events. The NASCAR rule book set the starting lineup for just the fourth time in history.

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An off weekend - Father's Day at that - gives at least five NCTS competitors the opportunity to sample the action at Kentucky Speedway. Joe Ruttman, Ted Musgrave and Travis Kvapil will attempt to qualify for the NASCAR Busch Series Outback Steakhouse 300 while Billy Bigley and Matt Crafton will give the accompanying Gatorade Slim Jim All Pro Series a go.

NASCAR

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers David Starr , Greg Biffle , Jay Sauter , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Ted Musgrave , Jack Sprague , Dennis Setzer , Jamie McMurray , Scott Riggs , Matt Crafton , Joe Ruttman , Billy Bigley , Bryan Reffner , Randy Tolsma , Brendan Gaughan , Travis Kvapil
Teams Richard Childress Racing , Hendrick Motorsports