Moss gets red-carpet treatment from Morgan-Dollar Motorsports

Updated: July 18, 2008, 6:58 PM ET

AP Photo/Terry Renna

Randy Moss says his new truck team -- co-owned by David Dollar -- can be competitive right away.

Moss' partnership with Morgan-Dollar a boon to truck series

Randy Moss didn't have to take this route to a racing career, getting in at the ground level in the Craftsman Truck Series. Plenty of his peers from professional sports thought "car" when entering NASCAR.

Whether it was Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach with Hall of Fame Racing in Sprint Cup or Julius Erving and Dan Marino in separate tries at the Nationwide level several years ago, notable athletes went either straight to the top or to Triple-A, so to speak, to try to break into racing.

Truck racing was never on the radar until David Dollar started getting calls in February from a sports marketing company working for a then-secret client.

"There was a brief meeting with me to see if I would be interested, what my plans were. They asked would I be interested in taking a partner?" said Dollar, an owner exclusively in the truck series since 1997 with his Morgan-Dollar Motorsports team. "I'm a racer first and foremost, but at this level, you better have your business hat on most of the time. I said 'definitely,' though I didn't know who it was. It took off from there.

"I didn't hear anything for a while, then by the time we got to Atlanta [in March], that's when they said who it was."

It was Moss, the All-Pro New England Patriots receiver, looking to break into racing. With cash in hand, he could have gone to Cup or Nationwide and have been welcomed with open arms. But he thought the best way to get to the top wasn't just to buy in there, but to climb the ladder, starting in the truck series.

"We looked at a lot of different options, and we've decided to align with David Dollar's team rather than build an operation from scratch," Moss said at a July 3 news conference announcing the creation of Randy Moss Motorsports. "He has an existing team with a state-of-the-art shop, all the parts and pieces it takes to do this and do it well, and some of the best people in the Craftsman Truck Series garage area.

"The team has contended for championships in the past and has won a lot of races. We really believe that we'll come out of the gate competitive with a chance to win."

Morgan-Dollar had been staying afloat as a one-vehicle operation, an increasingly difficult proposition in NASCAR. It enjoyed tremendous success over its history, with at least one win each season from 1998 to 2005 and three consecutive second-place points finishes from 2003 to 2005 with Dennis Setzer, but for the past two seasons, the team has fought harder for sponsorship dollars than for wins.

This year, the team has used six drivers in its No. 46 Chevrolet, with three top-10s.

"We didn't have a full-time sponsor lined up. We've had very good groups that have allowed us to do driver development, some great alliances and partnerships with Cup programs," Dollar said. "The way the rules are, you're rewarded by going to every event, being allowed to keep working.

"We were set for the remainder of this year, then hoping this would turn around and be better going forward for '09."

Moss' investment has removed the doubt. His exact investment hasn't been disclosed -- "I can say that Randy's got real skin in the game," Dollar said -- but it amounted to a 50 percent ownership stake and enough for Dollar to willingly change the team name and even the truck number. The erstwhile No. 46 will race Saturday night at Kentucky and beyond as the No. 81, matching Moss' football number.

"You get to know Randy as a person and his beliefs and philosophies … it was glaringly obvious that he's very serious, it's all about winning, and what comes with that is he understands what kind of commitment it takes to become a winner," Dollar said. "That makes it exciting, to have that passion in a partner."

Dollar said the team is now looking forward to the possibility of running two trucks next year, one with a veteran focused on a points chase and the other with developmental drivers in conjunction with Cup teams.

"David had some really big things under way and kind of put some of that stuff off to the side," said Setzer, who has remained close to his former owner. "It's nice to see Dollar back where Dollar was three, four years ago when we ran really well."

The team might not be all the way back there yet on the track, but when 2007 rookie of the year Willie Allen makes the start at Kentucky, it will mark a new era for one of the truck series' longtime operations.

Not to mention the start of a partnership new to the truck series.

"That's what this sport definitely needs, Randy taking it to next level. In the truck series, he's a superstar," said Allen, making his second start of the season and under his own pressure to perform well enough to keep the seat for future races. "There's so many teams hurting on funding and all that -- hopefully, he'll attract sponsors. I can't imagine him not. I think it's a cool deal for everyone involved.

John Schwarb is a freelance journalist covering motorsports and a contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at johnschwarb@yahoo.com.

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Hensley lands at Bobby Hamilton Racing-Virginia

In the wake of his abrupt removal as crew chief of Mike Skinner's No. 5 Toyota at Bill Davis Racing three weeks ago, Jeff Hensley's cell phone rang with offers from a half-dozen other teams.

The offer closest to home turned out to be the best.

Hensley accepted a job with Bobby Hamilton Racing-Virginia to serve as its director of competition, overseeing the Dodges of Dennis Setzer and Stacy Compton.

"The shop's only about 10 miles from where I live in Martinsville (Va.). It's a lot of work to be done to get everything up and going, but there's a lot of potential here," Hensley said. "There always has been."

Hensley almost joined the team this past winter when it moved from its longtime home in Tennessee to Virginia but returned to Bill Davis Racing for what he called "unfinished business." Hensley and Skinner teamed up for a series-high five wins and a record 11 poles last season but finished an agonizing second in the standings to Ron Hornaday and Kevin Harvick Inc. after a seesaw battle the second half of the season.

The No. 5 failed to match that success in the first half of this season, with zero wins and a position outside the top five in the standings. Hensley was removed as crew chief before last month's Memphis race and replaced by BDR ARCA crew chief Joe Lax.

BDR made Hensley an offer to stay in the organization, but the 45-year-old traded in a 90-minute commute to the team's North Carolina shop for a fresh start closer to home.

"I just couldn't see me staying there, especially when an opportunity like this came up," said Hensley, who worked with BHR co-owner Joey Arrington from 2001 to 2003 with Arrington Manufacturers. "I've got to be in a position where I think I can make a difference. I didn't feel that in the position I was offered [at BDR] I could really contribute like I can do here. There's no hard feelings; they felt like they needed a change. When this deal came available, it worked out real good."

Hensley has been busy during the break in the schedule. Earlier this week, he was at Richmond testing with BHR's two teams, which are sitting 11th and 19th in points, with Setzer in front.

"Not that Stacy and I are far apart, but we've got to get a good baseline and say that we're all going to charge down this one route together. Jeff's strong enough to pull that all together," said Setzer, who picked up career win No. 18 in March at Martinsville in the No. 18 Dodge. "We have two great crew chiefs with Marcus Richmond and Bryant Frazier, and to pull another guy that's been a crew chief, that can't be anything but a positive. The way they're working together excites me."

Chrissy Wallace back at Kentucky

Chrissy Wallace's development in the truck series continues at Kentucky with her first race on an intermediate oval. The 21-year-old, competing part time for Germain Racing this season with the plan to go full time next season, last ran at the Milwaukee Mile on June 20, finishing 20th.

"I tested at Kentucky Speedway in an ARCA car, and I really liked the racetrack. I think that out of all the mile-and-a-half tracks, Kentucky is probably the one with the fastest learning curve," said Wallace, who recently tested a Germain Toyota at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.

Record race for Roush

Roush Fenway Racing will set a record for series starts Saturday at Kentucky, making its 316th appearance, which eclipses Spears Motorsports' run.

Roush won a title with Greg Biffle in 2000 and has fielded Fords for five rookies of the year, most recently Erik Darnell in 2006. The team's first race was in 1995, with Todd Bodine finishing fourth at Topeka, Kan.

Its 49 wins are a series record. Twenty-eight drivers have competed in Roush trucks, with 10 of them winning at least once.

Standings