BHR-VA's move to park No. 4 truck 'one of the hardest decisions ever'

Updated: September 4, 2008, 7:07 PM ET

AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

Dennis Setzer will drive the No. 18 truck for the remainder of the 2008 season -- and maybe beyond.

Bobby Hamilton Racing downsizes, looks toward one-truck future

Significant changes are under way for one of the iconic teams of the Craftsman Truck Series. Bobby Hamilton Racing-Virginia, a 20-time series winner, including the 2004 championship with the late Bobby Hamilton, began the season with a new home, two full-time trucks and boundless optimism.

But for the final nine races of the season, it will run only one of those trucks, and come next season, that truck likely won't be a Dodge for the first time since just after BHR started in CTS competition in the late 1990s.

Dennis Setzer, 10th in points, will continue driving the team's No. 18 the rest of this season, while Stacy Compton's No. 4 -- Hamilton's championship number -- was parked. Fifteen BHR-VA employees were laid off in the downsizing.

"This was one of the hardest decisions ever, parking the truck that Bobby won the championship in, but you've got to do what's best for the organization," co-owner Lori Hamilton said. "It's hard to let a lot of people go, especially with several races left in the season. They didn't do anything wrong. Unfortunately in racing we're faced with that all the time, the way the economy is. At some point you have to say it's business.

"We've got to focus on getting one truck really recognized, and the way to do that is to put all the focus on it."

Compton's truck was 19th in points with four top-10s, and its Dodge Dealers sponsorship will move to the No. 18. Setzer's truck had been sponsored by Tahoe, a tobacco company owned by BHR-VA part-owner Mac Bailey.

The Dodge livery brightly splashing the No. 18 for the remainder of the year belies the fact that the manufacturer is not renewing its support of the team at season's end. Hamilton said the team has been in talks with Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota for 2009.

"Dodge has been a good partner to us and they've built BHR with Bobby to what it is today, so there's a lot of loyalty there," Hamilton said. "I'm sure that another manufacturer would look at how long we've been with them, and that's attractive to them."

Setzer's season, highlighted by a win in March at the team's hometown Martinsville Speedway, has been impressive considering BHR-VA's almost lone-wolf status with Dodge. The only other full-time Dodge in the series is Jason White's No. 08 of SS-Green Light Racing.

"All the other manufacturers have more trucks in their camp than we've had at Dodge, [and] we feel like we'd have some new teammates to draw off and to give something back to," Setzer said. "This year, it's kind of been what our camp, [crew chief] Marcus Richmond, Stacy and I and everyone at BHR has come up with on our own."

Setzer, 48, is himself another question mark for next year, though he said he has not talked to any other teams and would welcome a return to BHR if the No. 18 has full sponsorship in '09.

To say it has been a hectic season at BHR-VA would be an understatement. Start with the name, a byproduct of the team's move from its original home in Nashville, Tenn., to Martinsville, Va. The team was still getting settled around the time of the opening race at Daytona, yet both its trucks finished in the top 10. Then, three races later, Setzer scored the emotional Martinsville win, the team's first since Hamilton won at Mansfield, Ohio, in 2005.

"Our team did an exceptional job of relocating," said Clay Campbell, a part-owner and president of Martinsville Speedway. "We had a lot of things to do in a short time to do it. They really did something that was almost not doable, and it accelerated our circumstances [financially] because we had a lot of costs that maybe other teams wouldn't. It added a lot of expense this year that we won't incur going forward."

Starting this weekend there will be only one BHR-VA truck on the track, but in taking a step back the team hopes it's solidifying its future.

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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History on Benson's side

Johnny Benson

Benson

Between his own fourth-place finish the previous time out at Bristol, Tenn., coupled with Ron Hornaday's 24th-place night, Bill Davis Racing's Johnny Benson left town with his biggest points cushion of the season: 119 ahead of the defending series champion.

If past is prologue, don't look for Benson to give much of that cushion back. He won last year on the 1.25-mile oval, ahead of Hornaday. The Kevin Harvick Inc. No. 33 Chevrolet led the most laps, but Benson made a late pass in the No. 23 Toyota and held on for the final 13 laps.

Gateway is one of only eight tracks on the schedule that Hornaday, the series' all-time wins leader, hasn't conquered, though he has two seconds.

"Racing at Gateway is like racing at two different tracks at the same time. The key to getting around Gateway is being able to brake in Turn 1, hit the gas in Turn 3 and not hit the fence in Turn 4," said Rick Ren, Hornaday's crew chief. "We are running a brand-new truck at Gateway, but we know how it needs to be set up in order to get a good run out of it."

Lia out of No. 71?

Donny Lia won at Mansfield, Ohio, in May, the first rookie to win in the Truck Series since Carl Edwards in 2003. He's 16th in points and second in rookie points behind Roush Fenway Racing's Colin Braun.

And he may have driven his last race for TRG Motorsports.

Lia's No. 71 Chevrolet was listed on the preliminary entry list for Saturday's race at Gateway International Raceway outside St. Louis, but the driver and sponsor are listed as "TBA." Lia declined comment, while TRG spokesperson Jamie Maynard said the team "could not confirm or deny" Lia's status with the team.

T.J. Bell will drive the team's No. 7 this weekend, making his ninth consecutive start with TRG. He finished a career-best sixth two weeks ago at Bristol, Tenn.

Scott moves to BDR

Brian Scott, 21st in points this season for Xpress Motorsports, will join Bill Davis Racing in 2009 with plans to run a full season.

Scott, 20, finished ninth in the season opener at Daytona, his best finish in a Trucks career that began with seven races last year. His No. 16 Chevrolet will become a Toyota later this season as Xpress has joined into an operating agreement with BDR for the final seven races on the schedule.

Spare parts

Germain Racing's appeal of points penalties and fines from postrace inspections at Nashville Speedway was denied. … Shane Sieg will drive the No. 51 Billy Ballew Motorsports Toyota at Gateway in place of Kyle Busch, as the Cup and Nationwide Series are at Richmond, Va. … One of the Truck Series' original sponsors, Team ASE, will not return next year. The company has sponsored Ted Musgrave's trucks since 2006, first with Germain and this year with HT Motorsports.

Standings