Trucks' 2006 debut at 'Dega like a peaceful Sunday drive
The carnage was minimal when the Craftsman Truck Series made its Talladega debut in 2006. Don't expect an encore performance Saturday, writes John Schwarb.
Updated: October 3, 2007, 3:26 PM ETBy John Schwarb | Special to ESPN.com
AROUND THE GARAGEAs Talladega afternoons go, last year's was downright peaceful for the inaugural visit from the Craftsman Truck Series.
BODINE MAY STAY FOR 2008
WALLACE RUNNING THIRD GERMAIN TRUCKMike Wallace drove the first lap of the season opener at Daytona, crashed and thought he was probably done with trucks for the year, having a full Busch schedule to run.But his prowess on superspeedways makes him an attractive one-off candidate, so Germain Racing hired Wallace to drive its third Toyota Tundra at Talladega."It's a weekend off from my regular schedule in the Busch Series, but I'm not calling this a vacation. We're going to Talladega with the intention of winning," said Wallace, a four-time winner in Busch and Craftsman Truck, including one win at Daytona in each series.Wallace is reuniting with several men from his racing past. Mike Hillman Sr., Germain Racing's general manager, worked for the A.J. Foyt-owned team Wallace drove for in 2002. Wallace's best years in the truck series, 1999-2000, were with Ultra Motorsports, and one of its crewmen was Jason Overstreet, who will now serve as crew chief of Wallace's No. 03.Wallace drove a Billy Ballew Motorsports truck last year at Talladega, finishing 26th after being involved in the race's last-lap crash."For some reason, I seem to have some extra knowledge of racing at the superspeedways," Wallace said. "Last year in the truck series debut at Talladega, with the track repaved and smooth, we had a blast."
SPARE PARTSKen Schrader's Cup car is holding on to the precarious 35th and final exempt position in owner points, which is great news for Dennis Setzer in the truck series. The 17-time truck winner will drive Schrader's No. 18 Dodge for the second consecutive race at Talladega. "Schrader decided he wanted to concentrate on his Cup deal," said Setzer, who was seventh in the Bobby Hamilton Racing entry last time out at Las Vegas. Setzer said he will run the No. 18 at least two more times this season, at Texas and Homestead, Fla. Busch Series regular Jason Leffler will drive the Red Horse Racing No. 1 Toyota for five of the final six races starting at Talladega. David Green had previously piloted the No. 1, making seven starts following the suspension of Aaron Fike. Leffler last drove a truck in 2004 and has one win, in 2003. After Talladega, the series will have one more week off before finishing the year with five consecutive races, all at tracks hosting Chase for the Nextel Cup events.
It may not work out that way, then in the closing laps it's an all-you-can-eat. Last year's sudden last-lap yellow meant sorting out the field behind the winner via scoring loops, and Gaughan remembers arguing in the truck series hauler an hour after the checkered flag, poring over the video with tape measures in hand trying to figure whose bumper was inches ahead of another's at the moment the field was frozen.That was crazy, though long after the action on the track ended. Saturday, things could get much more interesting, much earlier.John Schwarb is a freelance journalist covering motorsports and a contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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