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NASCAR Trucks: Joe Ruttman Ready to Attack Daytona Again

Posted By Terry Callahan
Motorsports Editor, The Auto Channel
Unfinished Business: Over the winter, there has been one theme that has echoed throughout Bobby Hamilton Racing's new race shop in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, the unfinished business at Daytona and during the season. Last year, Ruttman and the team had the trucks to beat in the race before an accident took both Ruttman and Bobby Hamilton out of competition simultaneously on lap 36. Ruttman soldiered on only to have the engine give way due to damage from the wreck.

"Last year was a big disappointment," said Ruttman. "We had the field covered between both trucks and had it taken away from us. Hopefully, this year will be different."

This year, Ruttman will have a new teammate in the race, Willy T. Ribbs, and last year's teammate/owner, Bobby Hamilton, will be on top of the grandstand spotting.

"Bobby said he would spot for me during the event, so we may have a little advantage," said Ruttman. "The other deal is Willy and I have talked a lot about what we need to do to stay with each our in the draft. But as always, it really depends on the circumstances of the race."

The only other change for the Dana Team for the 2001 season is a change of crew chiefs. Danny Rollins took over the position in December, but in reality, he was calling a lot of the shots late last year as Fred Wanke was being phased out.

"Danny will be fine," said Ruttman. "Most people didn't know that he was doing most of the setup work on the truck late last year, so it won't be that big of a change for the team."

With all the additions and improvements within the organization, it is very hard not to understand why everyone at Bobby Hamilton Racing has good feelings about their chances in the race at Daytona and in the season-long points battle.

Number 50: When the green flag falls to start the Daytona 250, Bobby Hamilton Racing will have fielded an entry in 50 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events. During the first 49 races, the team has won four races, 10 poles and recorded 15 top fives and 27 top tens.

Freak: Ruttman and the No. 18 Dana Dodge Bobby Hamilton Racing Team will not be racing the same truck that won the pole at Daytona in 2000. Over the winter, they built a new truck, "Freak," to do battle at the Speedway this year. The team named the truck Freak because most everything about the truck's construction is a little different.

Ruttman's Quotes

"I'll just be glad to get back to racing. It's been a long winter, and I'm itching to get back to the racetrack. We've had a good off-season of testing, and the new crew members are up to speed and everything is really looking good this year."

"It's going to be interesting having a teammate week-in and week-out again. I teamed with Biffle back in 1998, so I'm pretty familiar in how the dynamics of the team work. Willy should be fine to work with. He and I see eye to eye on a lot of things about racing, so I think everything will run smoothly."

"I think we have a good chance at running for the championship this year, but so do 15 other teams. Right now I would have to say there really isn't an early favorite for the title, just because of all the driver and team changes during the off-season. It will take some time to sort everything out."

Text Provided By David Pepper

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