COMPETITIVE SPIRIT FUELS TOUGH RACING ACTION, ENTICES NEXTEL CUP DRIVERS TO RACE IN CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. -- More and more Nextel Cup drivers are trying their hand behind the wheel of a pickup truck. Already this year...
COMPETITIVE SPIRIT FUELS TOUGH RACING ACTION, ENTICES NEXTEL CUP DRIVERS TO RACE IN CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES
HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. -- More and more Nextel Cup drivers are trying their hand behind the wheel of a pickup truck. Already this year drivers Bobby Labonte, Kenny Schrader, Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch, among others, have competed in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
Just what is it about the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series that brings the NASCAR Nextel Cup drivers out to race and leaves the fans begging for more?
Maybe it's the intensity of the competition -- the fender-to-fender, close racing action that dominates the race from the drop of the green flag.
"The trucks are a lot of fun to drive and the atmosphere is a lot like the old Friday and Saturday night racing that a lot of us used to do when we started," said Labonte, who has competed in two Craftsman Truck Series races this year. "You've got a lot of drivers and crew members who love working on their trucks and race because they want trophies.
"I think that scenario ultimately leads to great racing for the fans, as well as the drivers and teams."
Both Labonte and Busch have logged victories in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series this season (at Martinsville for Labonte and Charlotte and Dover for Busch) -- but Cup drivers winning behind the wheel of a truck is not a common occurrence.
In 251 races (through Texas on June10), active Cup competitors have entered 106 events. Active Cup drivers have won only 16 events -- 15 percent. NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitors came out on top the rest of the time.
In fact, one streak from late 1996 through the early 2000 season failed to produce a single Cup driver in victory lane.
"It probably has a lot to do with chemistry and the differences between the cars and the trucks. They are not that much alike aerodynamically and the trucks can be a handful," said Busch, the youngest winner in Series history.
While the design of a race truck and Nextel Cup car are similar, the taller and wider box-like trucks don't enjoy the aerodynamic downforce of the car, making them more difficult to handle.
"Winning in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is an accomplishment and those guys who go out there each week deserve a ton of credit -- they are every bit as good as the drivers in the Busch and Cup series," Busch continued.
Labonte (No. 47 Chevrolet) along with Busch (No. 15 Chevrolet), Schrader (No. 11 Toyota) and Kevin Harvick (No. 92 Chevrolet) will attempt to qualify for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Michigan this weekend.
"It's just a fun series," Labonte said. "I'm looking forward to racing against all the guys again."
As for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers, they say â^a^Øbring on' the competition from Nextel the Cup regulars.
"It makes it more fun for us as drivers to race wheel-to-wheel with these Cup guys and it is great that more fans become interested in the Series because they tune in to watch their favorite Cup drivers and see the great racing in the series," said three-time Series champion Jack Sprague.
"Besides, when the Cup guys come over to run a race with us, it isn't a gimme that they are going to win. There are a tough group of regulars that want to have something to say about that."
Craftsman, the Official Tools of NASCAR, has sponsored the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series since it began in 1995. According to a 2004 EquiTrend survey, Craftsman is rated the No. 1 brand in the nation for overall quality. Over 1,600 Craftsman hand tools are made in the USA and guaranteed forever. If any Craftsman hand tool ever fails to give complete satisfaction, return it for free repair or replacement. Sears offers Craftsman tools, merchandise and related services nationwide through its Full-line stores, Sears Hardware stores, Sears Dealer stores and Orchard Supply Hardware stores, as well as through specialty catalogs and online at www.sears.com and www.craftsman.com.