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Chrysler's history in the Nascar Truck series

Discussion in 'Historical' started by Beentherebefore, Mar 29, 2014.

  1. Beentherebefore

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    Lots of discussion about Chrysler's former efforts in the Nascar Truck series on several other threads the last few days so I thought that I would start this thread to give them a home.

    Here's an autographed publicity card that Mrs BTB picked up in the pits after the Bakersfield truck race in 1997 while I was snooping around in the tech area watching the top 5 finishers going through inspection. I believe this driver needs no further introduction.





    [​IMG]
     
  2. Beentherebefore

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    Back of the handout. Lot's of additional marketing opportunities for the company besides just the publicity from the race itself.





    [​IMG]






    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Publicity card from another Dodge truck driver at the same Bakersfield, CA race in 1997. IIRC, Norick's truck was owned by Walker Evans.




    [​IMG]
     
  3. CudaPete

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    I remember when that series started. I think it was the NASCAR Craftsman truck series at that time. Walker Evans and Bob Keselowski were the lone Dodges. It was a great series to watch back then. Saw them run at New Hampshire in '96.
     
  4. Beentherebefore

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    Even before them, I remember watching the very first televised Nascar truck race and there was a very competitive Dodge truck owned by somebody named Grier Lackey. I had never heard of him and still don't know who he was or anything about him. The truck was driven in that race by Joe Bessey and later in the year by Dennis Setzer.
     
  5. CudaPete

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    I think Greer Lackey came a little later. Red truck with no sponsor on the hood. Dennis Setzer almost won at Milwaukee.
     
  6. MoparNorm

    MoparNorm Active Jeeper
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    It was Joe Rutman.
    However the very first race saw only Bob Keselowski and Walker Evans in Dodges.
     
  7. CudaPete

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    I think Rutman was in a Ford.......
     
  8. MoparNorm

    MoparNorm Active Jeeper
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    The next race saw Jimmy Hensley, join Dodge along with Lance Norick and Rick Bickle for Petty.
    Part of the first seasons he was. Evans switched to Chevy when sponsored by the Orleans, in season 3.
    Bessel DID run one race in a Dodge finishing 5th. Rutman drove for Bobby Hamilton Racing in the 18 and won Daytona in 2001, in a Dodge.
     
  9. Beentherebefore

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    I remember that red truck in that race - it was like a cool refreshing drink of water for Mopar Nascar fans that had been wandering around in the wilderness for over 20 years. It showed that their last Nascar 355" package from the 80s was still competitive.
     
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  10. CudaPete

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    That is what was so cool about the trucks early on. With minimal sponsorship, Setzer was able to go nose to nose with eventual season champion Mike Skinner in that race. Also, if I remember correctly, the first truck race at Daytona did not have restrictor plates.
     
  11. MoparNorm

    MoparNorm Active Jeeper
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    I don't think the trucks had restrictors until Bodine went airborne into the Daytona Catch Fence.
     
  12. Beentherebefore

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    I just researched old Nascar truck race results Pete, to see how bad my memory has really gotten and if I need to start taking Ginko-Biloba :lol:,

    The very first race of 1995 (the first full season for NCTS - a few exhibition races were held in 1994) was held @ Phoenix. The Grier Lackey truck (#30), driven by Joe Bessey, finished 4th and I remember it in the middle of the lead pack battle right up to the checkered flag. There were 2 other Mopars in that race - Bob Keselowski (finished 22nd) and Walker Evans (finished 29th).

    Lackey's truck did not run the entire circuit in 1995 (he skipped the Northwest swing), only entering 11 races. The best finish for his truck that year was indeed Setzer's 2nd @ Milwaukee in July.

    In 1996, Lackey entered his truck in all 24 races with Jimmy Hensley as his driver. They got some very good finishes (but no wins) specifically;

    2nd @ Nazareth, 3rd @ Colorado, and 4th places @ Tuscon and Milwaukee.

    The Grier Lackey truck was actually the first one in the series with Mopar Performance as the sponsor, starting in 1996. Bob Keselowski's sponsor at that time was Winnebago. In 1997, Mopar Performance switched their sponsorship to Keselowski.
     
  13. Beentherebefore

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    Hey Norm,

    Check out this writer's displeasure over the way Mopar treated Bob Keselowski after his many years of loyalty to their brand.

    The article came from the historic news section on the Allpar main page and you didn't write it! ;)


    http://www.allpar.com/racing/nascar-truck.html
     
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  14. dyslexic teddybear

    dyslexic teddybear Active Member

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    [sigh]

    You know, it really is.......easier to be a fan of other brands.

    When will the people that decide such things......remember what loyalty means?

    [sigh]
     
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  15. MoparNorm

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    Ha! Ha! That isn't a pen name! But yes, the writer is right-on, and many of us die-hards felt the same way about Keselowski's treatment by Dodge. When Brad won the Championship for Dodge, Bob was right there supporting Dodge to the end, displaying more loyalty than Dodge had ever shown him.

    It goes hand and hand with the attitude many owners have about moving to a Dodge, they know they cannot count on Dodge's loyalty.
    One of the excuses made by Chrysler Management regarding the worth of NASCAR, was that there is more attention given to the drivers than the Brand. It's a specious argument as the vehicle can't operate or win on it's own without a driver and time after time both driver and fans have shown more loyalty to the Brand, than the Brand has shown to us.
    PS: I still have a first year Bob Keselowski "Dodge Proven Winner" t-shirt that I wear on occasion. ;)
     
  16. Dave Z

    Dave Z It's me, Dave
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    We have a lot more info on that era from the inside, if I ever get permission to run with it (not from Mr. Cole). However those images will be handy if BTB provides permission to use them in the articles....?
     
  17. MoparNorm

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    Just a sad note to add, Linda Petty, wife of King Richard, mother of Kyle, grandmother of Adam, died this week. Hard to believe how fast time flys, she was 17 when she married Richard.
     
  18. md80891

    md80891 Active Member

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    IIRC Joe was sponsored by Dana who ended up in chapter 11 and with a new CEO who cut sponsorship. Ford cut factory support back 2001sh and GM did the same. Dodge upped participation and as result just went tearing through the series. Riggs, Ruttman. Ted Musgrave, Jason Leffler set pole and win records. Joe did do some start and parks for Finch on the cup side 2003ish IIRC. Joe was a great racer, Those Ruttman boys must have driven their folks crazy.

    Nascar then to protect GM and Sprague cut the carb down from 850cfm to 390cfm which is like a restrictor plate and completely changed the power band of the motor, During this time some cup drivers started to migrate back to CTS as CTS whackers and if NASCAR had just left well enough alone Ford and GM would have come back to compete.

    BDR meanwhile takes Dodge tech to Toyota so they can compete in CTS, Brian France brings common template to CTS (fore runner to COT) and bends over backwards to get Toyota in CTS and make them succesfull, Dodge eventually pulls factory support, GM pulls out its marginal support. Series destroyed. Sears drops the series and NASCAR had a figure for series sponsorship in mind and could not find anything close, Same thing happened in the Busch series Also at Daytona for the fourth of july event. Nascar marketing value had peaked and started to decline.

    Upgrading to established teams is industry practice, its motus operendi for Toyota who starts with small teams with development then signs big teams. Kesloski should have never been left behind but that should not have prevented the Smith deal. They should have been in Daytona/media fighting all the rules changes. But a two or three volume book series could be written on Chrysler racing/marketing mistakes

    My personal belief is CTS helped Ram sales substantially
     
  19. CudaPete

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    Yes, I was thinking of the Winter Heat series in '94.
     
  20. Beentherebefore

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    Check you e-mails for permission (mine - I obviously can't give "insider" permission :lol:). It'd be great to hear from some who actually were behind some of those decisions that still puzzle many Mopar fans today. The Nascar Truck series is 20 years old this year so whatever happened is "old" history by now and probably not that sensitive anymore.
     

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