Trucks Return To Bristol

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Most of the names have changed since the last time the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series raced at Bristol Motor Speedway, but the racing promises to be just as good. Experience may be a factor in this race, with only seven drivers entered having raced on the track, none of whom are former winners at "The World’s Fastest Half Mile."

One driver who possesses that essential experience is NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick (No. 6 KHI Chevrolet) , who competed in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series full-time in 1998-’99 and is entered in Wednesday’s race.

"Usually the aggressive types run well there," said Harvick, who finished sixth in the last NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Bristol. "It’s the kind of racetrack that you can be as aggressive as you want to be but you risk getting in trouble. It’s still a racetrack that you have to be aggressive in order to win. There’s a fine line."

He believes his success on the track, which includes two NASCAR Busch Series wins, is a direct result of the early years of his career at a similar track.

"I grew up racing at Mesa Marin," Harvick said. "It’s not high-banked and concrete, but it’s still got the same kind of feel from the way you approach it."

Harvick has wins in two of NASCAR’s national series this year, including last week at the Cabela’s 250 NASCAR Busch Series race at Michigan.

"There’s always excitement no matter where you look (at Bristol)," said Harvick, who has one NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career win. "There are 36 trucks on a half-mile racetrack so anywhere you look there is action."

On the opposite end of the spectrum sit Roush Racing’s Jon Wood (No. 50 Bob Graham for President Ford) and Carl Edwards (No. 99 Roush Racing Ford), both of whom will be seeing the track as drivers for the first time. Both agree that Bristol isn’t like any other track they’ve raced on.

"I’ve been going to Bristol for years, watching the NASCAR Winston Cup races and those are fun to watch," said Wood. "People are saying that the trucks might be a half-second faster than they were in 1999. The qualifying record is already 15.8 seconds."

"I’m going to approach this track with extreme caution and our goal is just to finish," said Edwards, who had three DNF’s in his first four races earlier this year. Considering Wood and Edwards have won four of the last six races in the series, perhaps they have the experience they need for Bristol after all.

Christian Fittipaldi will attempt to make his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race this weekend. Fittipaldi, will compete at Bristol in a truck owned by Ballew Motorsports. Fittipaldi, who will also compete for a spot in Saturday night’s NASCAR Winston Cup race, is in his first season as a NASCAR Winston Cup driver. Petty Enterprises CEO Kyle Petty suggested the idea.

"Bristol is just an awesome place," said Fittipaldi. "Just to look up at the grandstands and know they will be full of fans for this race is exciting. And, any seat time is good seat time - especially at a track like Bristol."

Terry Cook and Rick Crawford have the most starts at Bristol - three apiece. Setzer has the best finish - fifth - among scheduled drivers.

"We are excited to see Bristol back on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule," said Cook. "Bristol is a very demanding track and track position is essential there. Bristol is rigorous and it's a track where you never catch your breath."

The O’Reilly 200 is scheduled to take the green flag at 8:30 p.m. ET, Wed., Aug. 20 live on SPEED.

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