McMurray's truck win caps hat trick
MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Jamie McMurray held off Dennis Setzer on a restart with 12 laps to go Saturday and won for the first time in the NASCAR Craftsman Trucks Series, completing a career hat trick.
The Nextel Cup driver, making only his third start in a truck this season, became only the eighth in NASCAR history to win in the premier series, the Busch series and in a truck.
Setzer didn't win, but he did erase a 79-point deficit to Bobby Hamilton in the series point standings, going ahead by one with three races left. Hamilton had multiple problems and finished 26th.
With two victories and two third-place finishes in his last four races at Martinsville Speedway, Setzer didn't lament being second in a race that featured 10 cautions for 68 laps and many near misses.
"There was a lot of beating and banging behind me, but we were able to stay out of it,'' he said. "This is going to be a tight race all the way to Homestead. We just have to focus on our program and do what we need to do.''
Hamilton doesn't expect to be down in the championship race long.
"It was a heck of a race for the fans, but I've always said it's easier to be chased,'' Hamilton said. "Now I've got to chase and they've got to worry about it. We're going to win this thing.''
The race appeared to be shaping up as a battle between Travis Kvapil and Jack Sprague, who were running 1-2 until Sprague tried to change it with 27 laps to go. Heading into the second turn, Sprague saw Kvapil's truck wiggle, tried to nose underneath it and hit him in the left rear.
Both trucks lost control and spun into the backstretch wall, allowing McMurray to grab a lead he'd been thinking was already out of reach.
"I could see that I could catch those guys, but I really didn't know if I was going to be able to pass them,'' McMurray said. When the leaders tangled, his spotters told him "go low and you're leading the race.''
He joined Greg Biffle, Hamilton, Kevin Harvick, Terry Labonte, Mark Martin, Ken Schrader and Jimmy Spencer as a winner in all three series.
"It's so hard to get to win in all three of those,'' McMurray said. "Honestly, that's what I was thinking about with 20 laps to go -- 15 laps to go. I thought, 'I'm going to finally win in all these series.'''
Bobby Labonte finished third, giving Chevrolet the top two spots behind McMurray's Dodge. Defending race champion John Wood was fourth in a Ford, and early leader Ted Musgrave was fifth in a Dodge.
Musgrave remained third in the points race, 91 behind Setzer, and Carl Edwards remained fourth, 122 back and the only other driver close.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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