Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway News and Notes

Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway News and Notes

Entry List: Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway

00 AJ Allmendinger    
1 Aaron Fike    
2 Kevin Harvick    
4 Chase Miller    
5 Mike Skinner    
6 Travis Kvapil    
7 Brad Keselowski    
07 Tim Sauter    
08 Chad McCumbee    
8 Blake Bjorkland    
9 Ted Musgrave    
09 Joey Clanton    
10 David Starr    
13 Willie Allen    
14 Rick Crawford    
15 Bill Lester    
16 Stacy Compton    
18 Ken Schrader    
21 Kelly Bires    
23 Johnny Benson Jr    
28 Shane Seig    
30 Todd Bodine    
33 Ron Hornaday Jr    
36 Tyler Walker    
40 Mike Bliss    
42 Tim Cowen    
44 Frank Kreyer    
46 Timothy Peters    
47 Kraig Kinser    
49 Bradley Riethmeyer    
50 T.J. Bell    
51 Paul Menard    
53 Kerry Roseman    
54 Brian Sockwell    
59 Terry Cook    
60 Jack Sprague    
64 Jimmy Simpson    
75 Dennis Setzer    
77 Brendan Gaughan    
87 Chris Jones    
88 Matt Crafton    
95 Wayne Edwards    
99 Erik Darnell    

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Re: Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway News and Notes

Martinsville Plays Pivotal Role In Series History
TruckSeries.com Report

Martinsville Speedway Hosts 17th Series Race - Martinsville Speedway has played an important role in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series since the series' inception in 1995.

In the first race at the track, Joe Ruttman edged Mike Skinner, who currently drives the No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota, by one second to take the victory. Skinner eventually got the last laugh, winning the season's final two races to take the first series championship.

Twelve years later, Martinsville is one of four tracks that has hosted the series each season (along with The Milwaukee Mile, O'Reilly Raceway Park and Phoenix International Raceway). When the track was awarded a second date in 2003, it became the second track (with Texas Motor Speedway) to have two races. Atlanta Motor Speedway became the third track with two races in 2005.

There have been 15 different winners in the 16 races at the track. Dennis Setzer in this year's No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet, is the track's only repeat winner.

Skinner, who won the 1996 race, is hoping to join him this weekend. Skinner currently is the standings leader and has won the last two races at California Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway. A third consecutive win would make him the only driver in series history to win three consecutive races on two different occasions. He first accomplished the feat in 1996 with wins at Tucson, Denver and Topeka - three tracks no longer on the schedule.

The only other drivers to win three in a row are Ron Hornaday Jr., No. 33 AES Chevrolet in 1997, Greg Biffle in 2000 and reigning NCTS Champion Todd Bodine in the No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota in 2005.

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Re: Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway News and Notes

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Preview: Martinsville

TruckSeries.com Report

Each race at Martinsville Speedway has added significance to HT Motorsports, which is based in Martinsville, Va. The team is the only full-time team in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series that calls Virginia home.

The team has been successful in its six years in the series, finishing in the top 10 in 40 percent of its races, but has yet to post a victory. The team added veteran Terry Cook (No. 59 Harris Trucking Toyota) in the offseason.

"The key is - you have to have a good manufacturer, a good crew chief and that third part is a good driver, and I think we went out and got the best one available," said team owner Jim Harris.

Cook has six career wins and has started a series-record 225 consecutive races. He has had mixed results at Martinsville, compiling two top fives and five top 10s in 13 starts. His best finish was third in 2001.

This and That ... No driver has competed in all 16 races at Martinsville.  Rick Crawford and Dennis Setzer lead all drivers with 14 starts. ... The winner of the Kroger 250 has never won that season's championship. ... A record-matching seven former series champions boasting 10 titles and 122 victories will compete in this week's race. They are Mike Skinner (1995), Ron Hornaday Jr. (1996, 98), Jack Sprague (1997, 99, 01), Mike Bliss (2002), Travis Kvapil (2003), Ted Musgrave (2005) and Todd Bodine (2006).

A long-time national series competitor, Joe Ruttman (No. 18 Fastenal Dodge) will return to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for seven races in 2007 beginning with the April 28 O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas Speedway.

Ruttman will handle driving duties for Bobby Hamilton Racing when Ken Schrader is unable to race due to his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series commitments.

"I can't wait to climb into the Fastenal Dodge," Ruttman said. "Bobby Hamilton and I had a great friendship. I am not here to fill Bobby Sr.'s seat; I don't think anyone can do that justice as he did."

Ruttman is no stranger to BHR - he spent two and a half years with the organization from 1999-2001.

"To have this opportunity to come back home to work with his organization and Dodge again is a real dream come true," Ruttman said. "All of the core people who were here the first time I raced with them are still there."

Team employees should be glad Ruttman is returning, as well. Ruttman won at Phoenix International Raceway in 2000 season - the first  win for BHR. He opened the 2000 season with three straight poles, including one at Phoenix (the third race of the season).

Ruttman has 13 career wins, tied for seventh all-time with Mike Bliss. Five of his wins came during his tenure at BHR. He also posted 12 poles while with the team.

Ruttman, who was born in 1944, is the oldest pole and race winner in series history. His most recent win came at Pikes Peak in May 2001 when he was age 56 years, 6 months. His most recent start came in 2002.

Ted Musgrave has to feel good about this weekend.

In fifth place in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series standings, Musgrave sits a manageable 110 points behind leader Mike Skinner. He's battled his way to a top-10 finish in each of this season's three races.  And now he gets to race at a track where he has excelled in the past.

In 10 races at NASCAR's oldest track, Musgrave has an impressive average finish of 10.6. Though he's never won at Martinsville, Musgrave does have two runner-up finishes and four top fives.

Over the past two years - four races total - Musgrave has some of the best stats in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. He has a Driver Rating of 114.7, which is the best of any driver competing in Saturday's Kroger 250.

Musgrave rarely finds himself running out side the top 10. He has an Average Running Position of 7.744 at Martinsville - which is also top among drivers competing this Saturday - and has accumulated 734 Laps in the Top 15, which is second only to reigning series champion Todd Bodine.

And not only is Musgrave consistent, he's fast.  His 62 Fastest Laps Run over the last two years are second only to Jack Sprague at Martinsville, and among the drivers competing on Saturday, Musgrave is the Fastest on the Frontstretch, Turn 1 and Turn 3.

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Re: Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway News and Notes

Menard to Drive No. 51 Chevy at Martinsville
TruckSeries.com Report

Billy Ballew Motorsports announced today a joint venture with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. for the running of Saturday’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Kroger 250 at the Martinsville Speedway. The No. 51 Menards Chevrolet Silverado will be piloted by NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch Series driver, Paul Menard.

Menard has five starts in the NASCAR Craftsman Series to his credit during the 2003 season with a best starting position of 15th and a best finish of eighth both posted at the Kansas Speedway. Although he has not raced a Craftsman Truck in Martinsville, Menard does have experience driving one after testing in 2003 for Andy Petree Racing.

Billy Ballew Motorsports has posted two top-five finishes (Kyle Busch 2005, Rich Bickle 1998) and four top-ten finishes in 11 starts in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at the famed short track. Menard, a 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup Rookie of the Year contender, has one previous race start at the .526-mile race track in Martinsville, VA. Menard competed in the fall 2006 NASCAR Busch Series race where he started 15th and finished in the 12th place position.

“Martinsville is such a cool track and the Trucks put on a good show there,” Paul Menard said. “The last time I raced a truck was at South Boston in 2003, which is actually a lot like Martinsville. I don’t have a ton of experience at the track, so it will be good to get in some laps before the Cup race. We ran the Busch race here last year and stayed in or around the top ten all day so I’m definitely excited about this weekend.”

Menard’s will serve as the primary sponsor with Moen Faucets and Pittsburgh Paints serving as primary associate sponsors on the No. 51 Chevrolet Silverado.

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Trucks Return To Network TV For First Time Since 2000
TruckSeries.com Report

Trucks Return To Network TV For First Time Since 2000

After a nearly seven-year hiatus, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will return to network television this weekend.

Saturday's Kroger 250 will air live on FOX, the first time the series has appeared on the network. The series will make another apperarance on FOX May 26 at Mansfield Motorsports Park. The remaining 23 races on the schedule are broadcast live by SPEED.

The last time the series was seen on network television was July 15, 2000. CBS broadcast the Chevy Silverado 200 from Nazareth Speedway, which was won by Dennis Setzer.

The first broadcast of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series was the Ford Credit 125 at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif. on April 22, 1995. ABC's Wide World of Sports aired the race, the fourth race in series history, which was won by Ron Hornaday Jr.

Saturday's telecast will feature the regular SPEED broadcast team - Rick Allen with the play-by-play, Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip analyzing the action, and Adam Alexander, Ray Dunlap and Krista Voda as pit road analysts. Joining them will be FOX's Darrell Waltrip (FOX booth analyst), Chris Myers (FOX prerace host) and Jeff Hammond (FOX prerace analyst).

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Re: Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway News and Notes

Driver to win the Kroger 250

601 Kevin Harvick     +415     
602 Mike Skinner      +600     
603 Todd Bodine      +650     
604 Travis Kvapil      +715     
605 Johnny Benson   +785     
606 Jack Sprague     +825     
607 Ted Musgrave     +875     
608 Ron Hornaday     +1150     
609 Paul Menard      +1250     
610 Dennis Setzer     +1750     
611 David Starr       +1750     
612 Rick Crawford    +1875     
613 Erik Darnell      +2650     
614 Matt Crafton      +3000     
615 Field (All Others) +1250     



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Schedule forces driver change in KHI's Big Chance promotion
Wed, Mar 28, 2007
By Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Kevin Harvick will be driving his own truck Saturday at Martinsville. The man who had won the chance to drive one of Harvick's trucks has been replaced by a younger driver.

The promotion was called Operation Big Chance and sponsored by Dollar General to give the 2006 points winner at Music City Motorplex a shot at driving Harvick's truck in Martinsville. Mark Day won with the most points by a late model or trucks driver. He visited Kevin Harvick Inc. last year.

But Day, 45, learned Wednesday night that he had been replaced by Nicholas Formosa, a 21-year-old trucks racer at the local short track.

''Obviously, I feel like I was probably done a little wrong,'' Day said from his race shop in Clarksville.

Day was not able to take part in a test session earlier this month, and he said he understands if KHI did not feel comfortable with putting him in the truck without testing.

''It's not my fault they only had one date and waited too late to schedule this,'' he said.

Day had been working with KHI, trying to find a short-track race that would fit his schedule. Memphis and Milwaukee wouldn't work. He suggested Nashville Superspeedway in August, a 1.33-mile track, because he has raced Busch cars there and at Talladega.

He received a fax Tuesday of a rough draft of a release announcing Day wouldn't be racing at Martinsville but was not contacted before a new version was released Wednesday.

Joe Mattioli, president of the motorplex, said scheduling was the reason for the change.

''Mark had earned the ride. Because his schedule prevented him from practicing, Martinsville couldn't happen. Then we looked at some other options. Most of those would have entailed him missing an event at the fairgrounds,'' Mattioli said.

''We could not find an event that would work for him as much as we wanted to.''

Next on the points race in the racing-based reality contest was Willie Allen, but he already has a job on the Craftsman Truck series. Mattioli said Formosa, a third-generation driver, was next.

Formosa now is scheduled to race in Harvick's truck on May 26 in Mansfield, Ohio.

DeLana Harvick, owner of KHI's No. 2 truck, said the driver approval process has been started with NASCAR.

''Once that process is complete and we have received confirmation of his approval, KHI will work with Nicholas to make sure he is prepared and ready to attempt to qualify for his first NASCAR Truck Series race,'' she said in a statement.

Day said he still believes the promotion is a great opportunity for a short-track racer.

''That's a super thing to me or anybody else that may never get another opportunity to drive a Craftsman truck at that level for KHI or somebody,'' he said.

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Re: Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway News and Notes

Hometown Advantage for Cook
Rachael West
Assistant Editor

Truck Series Returns to Network TV

One driver in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is hoping his team's hometown advantage pays off this weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

As the only Craftsman Truck Series race team based in Virginia, Terry Cook knows exactly what a hometown win in Saturday's Kroger 250 would mean to his No. 59 HT Motorsports team.

"I drive to the race shop at least once a week from Charlotte and each time I drive right by Martinsville Speedway," said Cook. "Every time I drive by, I think about winning there. There's a lot of NASCAR history at Martinsville dating all the way back to the 1940s. So many great drivers have competed and won there. They give away a lot of special trophies there. It's a great tradition.

"Throw in the fact that our shop is in Martinsville, just 15 minutes from the Speedway, and winning there would be very, very special," Cook continued. "That truly would be a hometown win. It would be great to celebrate after completing the winning truck teardown with a party all night long back at our shop."

Cook joined the six-year old, winless team in the offseason. He has posted six career wins and has started a series-record 225 consecutive races. At Martinsville, Cook has posted two top fives and five top 10s in 13 starts.

"The key is – you have to have a good manufacturer, a good crew chief and that third part is a good driver, and I think we went out and got the best one available," said team owner Jim Harris.

In addition to having a good driver, the team also has a proven Martinsville winning manufacturer in Toyota.

Toyota won both 2006 Martinsville races, just two of that season's series-leading 12 wins for the manufacturer. In 2007, Toyota has won the first three races of the season.

But of any track on the schedule, Martinsville has the strong trait of leveling out the playing field. With two victories back-to-back in 2002 and 2003, Dennis Setzer is the only repeat winner in 16 races at the track.

"A place like Martinsville tends to even everyone out because it's good old short-track style racing," said Cook. "It's not a 1.5- or two-mile racetrack where a team might not be competitive because they don't have the best aero package. Teams know that a truck with good, mechanical grip is going to be the hot tip at Martinsville."

Historically, Martinsville is also a place where there's plenty of opportunity to get in trouble. Last year's spring event saw the race field caught up in 16 caution flags for a record 87 of its 250 laps.

"There's a lot of bumping and rooting around in the corners and if you have a bad truck, you're the one who is going to be on the wrong end of a lot of that," said Cook. "You understand that is going to happen at almost any short track, but at Martinsville, it's hard to keep that to a minimum. As the race goes on, there seems to be plenty of cautions that keep a lot of trucks on the lead lap. Unfortunately, a lot of brains become unattached in the last 50 laps and then it really gets wild. People start pushing the envelope and that's when tempers really get to flaring."

Cook and the hometown team need to post a good finish to remain competitive in the point standings. They are currently 25th in the standings, 91 points out of the top 10 and 283 points behind leader Mike Skinner.

"You can make up a lot of positions in the standings early in the season with a good run," Cook said. "Like I said – Martinsville is home for the team – so jump starting our season there would be great for us."

The Kroger 250 takes the green flag Saturday at Martinsville Speedway at 3:00 p.m. (ET). The event will be telecast live on FOX and broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio.

www.racingone.com

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Re: Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway News and Notes

Who to Watch: Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway
Charles Krall, Associate Editor

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series descends on the Martinsville Speedway for the first short track race of 2007, and as the gates swing open there is the largest entry so far this season as numerous drivers attempt to start the approval process to compete in the series on the larger tracks. There are 43 teams on the entry list, many of which are totally unknown entities in Truck Series competition. The usual suspects will run strong, but pit strategy will be more important here than anywhere so far this year. The caution flag should fly in abundance, so getting up front and staying there throughout the many caution periods is what each team is looking to do.

A.J. Allmendinger, No. 00 Red Bull Toyota: Allmendinger made his first ever short track start last week in the Cup race at Bristol. To no one's surprise, he found the going tough. He took a year to learn the ropes in Champ Car and then became one the series elite. He should have a competitive truck, but lack of experience will be the biggest factor. If he plays pit strategy right and earns respect he could sneak away with a top-15.

Aaron Fike, No. 1 RFMS/Red Horse Racing Toyota: Fike comes in driving the truck that went to victory lane last year with David Starr driving. He's shown more competitiveness each week, but his first short track race in a Truck should be a challenge. He too needs to earn respect early if he wants to be there at the end.

Kevin Harvick, No. 2 Kevin Harvick, Inc. Chevrolet: Harvick once earned a one-race Cup suspension by playing rough in a Saturday Truck race at Martinsville. That was many moons ago and Harvick is now one of the premier drivers in the league. He could have a serious shot at victory.

Chase Miller, No. 4 Open Joist Dodge: Miller's biggest challenge is learning the patience needed to bring his truck home in one piece. A 250-lap race at Martinsville will be the biggest test of his patience so far. Look for Miller to knock some fenders, but also to be fast.

Mike Skinner, No. 5 Toyota Tundra Tundra: Skinner comes in with a two-race win streak and a 1996 win at Martinsville. Crew chief Jeff Hensley has been successful at Martinsville as a driver and a crew chief. If pit strategy puts them up front at the right time, Skinner could make it a hat trick.

Travis Kvapil, No. 6 K&N Filters Ford: Kvapil is making his 100th series start at Martinsville. He nearly pulled off the win at Daytona, but struggled at California and Atlanta. He's had some good runs at Martinsville, but he's also had his share of bad luck too. No question this team wants to turn the ship around and a good run will go a long way to doing that. Kvapil should be back among the top ten at Martinsville.

Brad Keselowski, No. 7 Hooters Energy Drink Chevrolet: Keselowski gets the call for the second consecutive race to replace young Casey Kingsland. He was strong in his Busch car at Bristol, and has always shown skill on the short tracks. If Gary Showalter and crew give him a good truck he could repeat his top-20 performance at Atlanta.

Tim Sauter, No. 07 Lester Buildings Chevrolet: Sauter is a short track ace, and Green Light Racing's best ever finish came here in 2002 with Bobby Dotter when he picked up a fourth-place finish. They've had a rough start to the season, but if he keeps his nose clean a top-15 isn't out of the question.

Chad McCumbee, No. 08 TheGPSStore.com/Garmin Chevrolet: Like his Green Light Racing teammate, McCumbee's season hasn't started the way he has wanted. But Martinsville has a way of allowing the dark horse to find a way to the front. If the mechanical gremlins stay away and McCumbee can keep the fenders on it, he could challenge for a top-10 at the end.

Blake Bjorklund, No. 8 HaasCNC/MRD Motorsports Chevrolet: Bjorklund showed his short track prowess last season in ARCA with several strong runs and a win at Salem, one of the toughest tracks in the country. Martinsville is a different animal than anything he's run, but he's proven to be a quick learner. A career best finish could happen if he stays out of trouble.

Ted Musgrave, No. 9 Team ASE Toyota: Musgrave had one stolen from him last year when NASCAR penalized him for a restart violation. He's hungry and wanting to end a long winless streak. What better place to end it than where he should have ended it last fall? Look for Musgrave to be strong, and if it comes down to it, he could use the chrome horn to get back into Victory Lane.

Joey Clanton, No. 09 Zaxby's Ford: Clanton has scored top-10 runs in both Truck Series races he's started so far in 2007. That yellow stripe on his bumper won't do him any favors at Martinsville, particularly late in the race.

David Starr, No. 10 MaxxForce Diesel Ford: Starr won this race last season, but he and the Circle Bar team are still looking for that magic to get them up front in 2007. Dennis Connor has a long and detailed short track notebook. Look for that magic to arrive this weekend.

Willie Allen, No. 13 ThorSport Racing Chevrolet: Allen arrived on the scene here at Martinsville in 2005 with a solid sixth-place finish in his series debut. ThorSport's program has been strong, and its second team is finally in a position to challenge for top tens on a regular basis. If they play the strategy right, Allen could again score a solid finish.

Rick Crawford, No. 14 Power Stroke Diesel by International Ford: Crawford won at Martinsville in 2004, and had success at the Virginia paperclip going back to his Late Model days. Crawford was close enough to victory he could taste it in Atlanta. Look for him to do his best to close the deal at Martinsville.

Bill Lester, No. 15 Billy Ballew Motorsports Chevrolet: Lester has found Martinsville to be a challenge, although the tight corners are as close to anything he encountered in his road racing days as anything else on the circuit. Richie Wauters is one of the most successful short track crew chiefs and driver coaches in the business. Look for marked improvement from Lester this weekend.

Stacy Compton, No. 16 Melling Ford: Compton was a Virginia short tracker back in 1996 when he came to Martinsville with a low-dollar Cup car and qualified and ran among the top ten. It's been since 1998 that he's tasted victory. Dave Fuge is one of those short track wizards that everyone wishes they could have in their corner. Good things could be on the horizon this weekend for this team.

Ken Schrader, No. 18 Fastenal Dodge: This truck qualified on the pole last season, and the Martinsville short track is a real equalizer when it comes to aerodynamics and even horsepower. If this team finds the handling package that suits Schrader's style, we could be in store for an emotional victory celebration.

Kelly Bires, No. 21 Wood Bros./jtg Racing Ford: Bires is a short track ace with success in the ASA Late Model Series. He's never seen the competition quite like he will see at Martinsville. He's going to need to qualify well and have flawless, well-timed pit stops or that yellow bumper will end up causing him frustration.

Johnny Benson, No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota: Benson has been expected to be up front every week, and he has - he just has had rotten luck spoil good runs. This team was expected to be a championship threat, so they need to turn it around this weekend. Conventional wisdom says Benson will be back at the front and challenging for the win in the late stages.

Shane Seig, No. 28 Kissin' Kuzzins Construction Chevrolet: Sieg hasn't been in a Truck since 2004. This team was the underdog story of Daytona with Brandon Knupp at the wheel, but faces a much tougher challenge to make the field at Martinsville. With 15 teams vying for just eight available positions, Seig's biggest challenge will be getting the truck in the show.

Todd Bodine, No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota: Bodine has always run strong at Martinsville. He showed last week in Atlanta that his team hasn't lost any of the luster that propelled them to the series championship in 2006. If he's near the lead late in the race, keep an eye on him because he should make it exciting.

Ron Hornaday, Jr., No. 33 AES HR Solutions Chevrolet: Hornaday and Rick Ren have been solid, but haven't found victory lane just yet. Martinsville suits them both very well. Well timed pit stops could put the two-time champ near the front late, and if he is, look for some of that hard-nosed racing that made him the guy to beat in his championship runs.

Tyler Walker, No. 36 360 OTC Toyota: Walker has been star-crossed so far in 2007. With luck on his side, he could be among the top 10 at the end. Look for a strong qualifying effort from this team.

Mike Bliss, No. 40 Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet: Bliss and Barry Dodson shocked everyone with a win at North Wilkesboro back in 1995. They scored a top ten at California and looked strong before problems befell them in Atlanta. Pit stops will be critical for this team at Martinsville.

Tim Cowen, No. 42 Cowen Truck Line Ford: One of the many new-comers to the series for Martinsville, Cowen will be fighting an uphill battle to make the field.

Frank Kreyer, No. 44 Culver's Restaurant Chevrolet: Kreyer is another driver looking to make his first series start. Qualifying will be the biggest hurdle.

Timothy Peters, No. 46 Bailey's Chevrolet: Peters comes back to the Truck Series with support from Richard Childress Racing. He's had some very big days at Martinsville in the past, and made his series debut here in 2005. There's nothing he'd like more than a solid run, and with the pieces he has in place, a top-five is a good possibility.

Kraig Kinser, No. 47 Ginn Clubs and Resorts Chevrolet: Kinser has been strong each week but has been struck with rotten luck at each event so far. If Lady Luck decides to smile on them this week, Kinser could rack up a top-15.

Bradley Riethmeyer, No. 49 All-American Driver Challenge Dodge: Riethmeyer was quick enough to make the race in practice last fall, but lost his brakes in qualifying and ended up on the trailer. If he's quick in practice, he'll need to rein in his emotions in qualifying.

T.J. Bell, No. 50 Heathcliff's Cat Litter Ford: Bell is looking for his sea legs in his new ride with Roush. After a tough go at Atlanta, this team needs a solid finish.

Paul Menard, No. 51 Menards Chevrolet: Menard is looking for more laps at Martinsville to help with his Cup effort. Hooking up with the Ballew team should allow him to get those laps and be competitive to boot. He should easily be one of the eight drivers to time in on speed in qualifying.

Kerry Roseman, No. 53 Blankenbaker Motorsports Dodge: Roseman is another of the first-timers looking to make his series debut. Just like with the others, qualifying will be the biggest challenge.

Brian Sockwell, No. 54 Reary Racing Dodge: Sockwell makes his return to the series after a long hiatus. He faces the same challenge as the others in qualifying, but has previous experience and laps at Martinsville to fall back on.

Terry Cook, No. 59 Harris Trucking Toyota: Michigan, Indy, Mansfield, and Charlotte. All are considered Cook's "home" tracks. Now he's hooked up with HT Motorsports, and can add Martinsville to that list. Cook has had a tough start to the season and he and this team look for a solid performance at home. He's run well in the past, so if things go their way a top-10 could get them back on track.

Jack Sprague, No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota: Last fall's surprise winner - and no one was more surprised than Sprague himself - will be debuting a new paint job at Martinsville. Now that the Martinsville monkey is off his back, could back-to-back wins be in the cards?

Jimmy Simpson, No. 64 Prime Development Group Chevrolet: Simpson tried to make the race at Martinsville last fall, but popped the fence in qualifying ending his hopes. He's facing a serious challenge in qualifying, but no doubt after last fall's frustrations he's going to give it all he has.

Dennis Setzer, No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet: Setzer is the only two-time Truck Series winner at Martinsville. He and new crew chief Tom Ackerman seemed to have hit it off at Atlanta, and being back on familiar turf is exactly what this team needs. Look for Setzer to be up front and challenging for the win.

Brendan Gaughan, No. 77 South Point Hotel Chevrolet: Gaughan's mind will be on his beloved Georgetown Hoyas' run through the NCAA Final Four in Atlanta, but all of his effort will be on getting his truck into the top ten at Martinsville. Maybe his alma mater's string of success will give his team some added momentum too.

Chris Jones, No. 87 Chevrolet: Jones is going to attempt to make his first ever series appearance. He is fighting long odds in qualifying.

Matt Crafton, No. 88 Menards Chevrolet: Crafton is off to the best start in his career. He finished third in this race last spring. He wants to score that first career win, and everything points to that being a strong possibility. But in the big picture, a solid day and a top-five would do this team wonders.

Wayne Edwards, No. 95 NRG Ford: Edwards has had a hard time the past two races, but with the short fields hasn't had to worry about making the show. This week, he and this team will have their work cut out for them.

Erik Darnell, No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford: Darnell has not had the start to the season that he wanted, but it hasn't been for lack of effort. Roush Fenway Racing has been strong at Martinsville, and Darnell came to prominence with the "Driver X" competition at the track. You have to walk before you run, and Darnell learned to walk at Martinsville. Is it time to run?

Look for these drivers to make the race in qualifying: Harvick, Keselowski, Bjorklund, Peters, Bell, Menard, Sockwell, Simpson.

Look for these drivers most likely to go home following qualifying: Seig, Cowen, Kreyer, Riethmeyer, Roseman, Jones and  Edwards.

www.truckseries.com

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Re: Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway News and Notes

Skinner on top at Martinsville
March 31st, 2007

Martinsville, VA (Sports Network) - Mike Skinner captured the pole for Saturday afternoon's Kroger 250 Craftsman Truck Series race at the Martinsville Speedway. It was his second consecutive pole win and a record 34th of his truck career.

The No.5 Toyota circled the 0.528-mile short track in a track record 19.728 seconds (95.985 m.p.h.). The old mark was 19.732 seconds set in October 2005 by Rick Crawford.

Starting next to Skinner will be Travis Kvapil in the No.6 Roush Fenway Ford who posted a time of 19.771 seconds.

Ted Musgrave (19.792) and Crawford (19.803) will make up row two.

David Starr won last year's race in the No.15 Toyota, edging Musgrave by 0.942 seconds. The race was marred by a record 16 caution flags, the last of which set up an eight-lap shootout between Starr and Musgrave. Starr jumped out quickly to a six-length lead and Musgrave could never challenge him down the stretch.

Starr will be in the No.10 Ford this time instead of a Toyota and will start deep in the field (23rd). To date, Starr is tied for 23rd overall and his best finish is a 20th at Daytona.

He will be hard pressed to stay up with points leader Skinner (550 points) or the other Toyota-powered cars that sit near the top of the standings. Defending champion Todd Bodine (481) is second in the No.30 Germain Toyota and is followed by Ron Hornaday Jr. (451) in a Chevrolet and the Toyotas of Jack Sprague (449) and Musgrave (440).

The race is set to drop the green flag at 3 p.m. (et).

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Re: Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway News and Notes

Skinner dominates for third-straight victory
By JIM UTTER

Saturday.MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Mike Skinner had just secured his third consecutive NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory when his crew chief Jeff Hensley boomed over the radio:

“We’re going for No. 4 at Kansas,” he said.

No rest for the dominating.

Skinner, who started on the pole, led all but seven laps of the 253 in Saturday’s Kroger 250, holding off fellow Toyota driver and reigning series champion Todd Bodine by 0.527 seconds at Martinsville Speedway.

The win is Skinner’s third of season and 22nd of his career. Ironically, Bodine was the last series driver to win three in a row, earning victories in the final three races of the 2005 season.

“That was cool, wasn’t it? The thing just hauled butt all day,” said Skinner, who leads the series standings by 94 points over Bodine. “I remember a couple years ago these Toyotas wouldn’t run on short race tracks.”

The only time Skinner didn’t lead was during a round of pit stops early in the race. Even when Bodine used pit strategy to get better track position, he moved into second but couldn’t close on Skinner.

“We didn’t have anything for Mike. We did the best we could with what we had,” Bodine said. “That truck could roll through the center (of the turns) and he could stop the gas and go.

“I could stop the gas and go, but I couldn’t roll the center like he could. I got us in a real hole in qualifying, but good pit strategy got us up to the front. Track position at Martinsville is so critical.”

Skinner said he was getting aggravated with the number of cautions as the race went on. The race was slowed 15 times by caution for 85 laps.

“I wasn’t too happy with some of those guys. I was like, ‘You’re not going to win today, quit trying to take it from me.’ But it worked out good,” Skinner said.

“If it was a bunch of other guys behind me, we wouldn’t have won. But Todd Bodine was a gentleman and it will come back. He’s shown a lot of professionalism. That’s why he’s the champion because he’s smart.”

Rick Crawford finished third, Kevin Harvick was fourth and Ted Musgrave completed the top five. Toyotas took three of the top five positions.

www.thatsracin.com

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