CHARLOTTE, N.C., (June 11, 2001) - NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Joe Ruttman will pilot the ...
CHARLOTTE, N.C., (June 11, 2001) - NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Joe Ruttman will pilot the #1 Yellow Racing Chevrolet in Saturday night's Outback Steakhouse 300 NASCAR Busch Grand National Series event at Kentucky Speedway.
Ruttman is filling in for driver Jimmy Spencer, who has a NASCAR Winston Cup Series commitment in Pocono (Pa.) this weekend. Ruttman will also drive the #1 Yellow Racing Chevy in the GNC Live Well 250 at The Milwaukee Mile and in the NAPA AutoCare 250 at Pikes Peak (Colo.) International Raceway later this season. Ruttman runs the #18 Dodge truck for Bobby Hamilton Racing, and currently stands second in the Craftsman Series point standings (1,417 points).
"I definitely worked for this deal," said Ruttman, who tested race cars for Phoenix Racing at Talladega (Ala.) and Daytona (Fla.) earlier this season. "Ever since March, I've been talking to James (Finch, Phoenix Racing owner) to get a chance to drive the #1 Yellow Racing Chevy. I probably had some inside information because I have handled some of their testing over the past couple of years. That's how I got some dialog going with the team.
"James has always kidded me that he would never let anyone older than himself drive his race cars," joked the 56-year-old Ruttman. "Now's my chance to prove him wrong."
Not only does Ruttman have experience working with Phoenix Racing; he is also a good friend of Yellow Racing crew chief Marc Reno.
"Marc and I go a long ways back," said Ruttman. "We're both from the Southern California area. He, his brother and another fellow owned a stock car in the late '70s that I used to drive on Saturday nights at the local dirt tracks.
"We won some races together and we've been friends ever since," said Ruttman with a smile. "It's amazing how winning races can make people such good friends."
Ruttman finished 13th in his last Busch race which was at Lowe's (N.C.) Motor Speedway on May 29, 1993. He joins a race team that has won two of its last four races and posted five top 10s in its last six events. Spencer wheeled the Yellow Racing Chevy into victory lane at Dover on June 2 and at Richmond on May 4.
"One of my major concerns is that I have to follow Jimmy 'Big Shoes' Spencer," laughed Ruttman. "It would have been easier to impress someone before Spencer got on that tear. He's really on a roll. Mr. Excitement has given me some big shoes to fill.
"I know I have the horse to ride this weekend," said Ruttman. "I just have to get the riding crop out and find out how good of a race car driver I am. Spencer has proved over the last six or seven races that the Yellow Racing Team is doing their part. The pressure is definitely on me this weekend." <pre> Joe Ruttman's Career BGN Statistics