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NCTS Drivers Cover the Country

NCTS Drivers Cover the Country
May 8, 1998, 12:19 PM

NASCAR truckers cover the country DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 25, 1998) Chances are good, at sometime during the 1998 season, virtually half of the nation's states will be represented in the starting field of a NASCAR ...

NASCAR truckers cover the country DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 25, 1998)

Chances are good, at sometime during the 1998 season, virtually half of the nation's states will be represented in the starting field of a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race.

A survey of competitors who plan to contest a majority of the tour's 27-race schedule reveals that their origins are as varied and widespread as the 26 venues on which they'll be racing.

Forty-six leading NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitors represent 25 different states and one province of Canada. Another half-dozen states likely will send a competitor to at least one event during the coming year.

Drivers from Japan and South America also have competed in the series since its inception in 1995.

All four corners of the nation can boast at least one NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitor this year, including Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Washington, California and Florida. In between, there are drivers from Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri and, from the north, Minnesota.

The geographical mix makes perfect sense for a $7 million series which claims racing venues near Loudon, N.H.; Miami, Fla.; Louisville, Ky.; St. Louis, Mo.; Topeka, Kan.; Seattle, Wash.; Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

NASCAR may have had its origins in the Carolinas, and many NASCAR Winston Cup, Busch Series Grand National Division and Craftsman Truck Series teams are based in the Charlotte area, yet only two among the above drivers, Andy Houston and Ron Barfield, honed their early racing careers in North and South Carolina, respectively.

Another half-dozen drivers hail from Alabama, Georgia and Virginia, making Southeast United States natives a decided minority on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Southeast U.S. drivers still await their first NCTS victory when the 1998 season resumes April 4 with the Florida Dodge Dealers 400 at the Miami-Dade Homestead (Fla.) Motorsports Complex. The race will be broadcast by TNN: The Nashville Network and the radio affiliates of the NASCAR Truck Network.

Ironically, these Southeasterners are outnumbered by competitors from both the West and upper Midwest sections of the U.S. California, Wisconsin and Michigan seem to be the most popular jumping off spot for a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career. Seven of this year's mostly-regulars come from southern California. Another five, including defending series champion Jack Sprague, migrated from Michigan, while Wisconsin supplies a trio of top competitors.

Mike Skinner and Ron Hornaday, the tour's first two champions, are native Californians. They've also won 34 of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' first 71 races.

Joe Ruttman also began his racing career in the Golden State. Other previous winners include Mike Bliss (Oregon), Randy Tolsma (Idaho), Rick Carelli (Colorado), Butch Miller and Sprague (Michigan), Rich Bickle and Jay Sauter (Michigan), Kenny Irwin (Indiana), Dave Rezendes (Massachusetts) and Ron Fellows (Canada).

The competitors' origins are as varied as their racing backgrounds: Traditional NASCAR, road racing, motocross and motorcycle flat track, open-wheel Midgets and Sprint Cars and the Indianapolis 500.

Like all professional athletes, NASCAR competitors relocate to meet the needs of their teams. In that sense, virtually all have become adopted Southeasterners, residing with their families in Charlotte, Concord, Kannapolis, Mooresville and other communities whose names are familiar to the millions of fans who follow NASCAR racing.

Carelli is the rare exception but then, so is the Chesrown Racing RE/MAX Chevrolet team. They remain wedded to the Denver area, closer to about half the circuit's venues than their Mid-Atlantic rivals. Source: NASCAR Online

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