Elated Dennis Setzer finds victory is a damp experience at Michigan International Speedway after he won the Paramount Health Insurance 200 Craftsman Truck Series race yesterday.
BROOKLYN, Mich. - With just a couple of laps to go in yesterday's Paramount Health Insurance 200 Craftsman Truck Series race at Michigan International Speedway, Dennis Setzer had Ted Musgrave stuck on his tail.
An anticipated battle to the checkered flag never materialized, however, after Musgrave blew an engine and the drama ended. Setzer cruised to his first win of the season under caution, and claimed the 13th victory of his career, while Musgrave limped in 28th.
"We put ourselves in position to win, but I blew up big time," Musgrave said. "I kept it wound up on the high side and I was catching up with Dennis, and I had been playing cat and mouse with him.
``I had a plan, and I don't know if it was going to work or not, but you can't win if the motor isn't running."
Musgrave's breakdown left Kevin Harvick, who was running in a group right behind the front two at the time, blinded as oil splattered all over his windshield. Harvick had started 24th, quickly moved up 20 positions, took the lead on lap 28 and led again with less than 25 to go. He finished fourth, while pole-sitter Kyle Busch was second and Bobby Hamilton third.
"I didn't think I needed to be leading coming to the white flag," Harvick said, "but I just felt like I needed to get to second. Then Ted blew up right in front of us and when it all came apart I couldn't see a thing. Ted's bottom just fell out, and my windshield was just instantly covered in oil. Fortunately, everybody slowed up or it could have been a big pileup."
Setzer, who now has five top-10 finishes in six truck races at MIS, started 10th, bounced around in the back a while, but remained patient. He took the lead on lap 82, and when the final caution period ended, Setzer kept his focus on the end of the race when he saw the green flag with two laps left.
"I never even looked in the mirror after I crossed the start-finish line with two to go," Setzer said. "I didn't know Ted had blown his engine until my spotter told me. I kind of had a plan going for the end. I felt like I could get two or three truck-lengths on him and then all he could do was catch back up on the straightaway."
Busch was part of a pack of trucks chasing Setzer in the final sprint. Busch had won the previous two Craftsman Truck Series races, at Dover and Lowe's.
"I think I had something for Dennis if we could have been able to run the last laps," Busch said. "Coming to the white flag, I think I was going to come down to a last-corner pass, if I had anything for him. It was a shame the caution flag came out."
Setzer was confident in his ability to maintain the lead if the race had finished without an eighth caution period.
"We unloaded and that thing was fast from the start," he said. "We raced wide open most of the way. I've never seen a truck that fast, all day long. I probably would have been in trouble if I hadn't kept the lead."
Sylvania native Terry Cook, who started 19th but pushed to the front and led early in the race, finished 13th after a mechanical problem slowed him with about 20 laps to go.
"The truck was absolutely perfect; it was awesome," Cook said. "This was the best truck I have ever had at Michigan International Speedway and it was going to be an easy win.
``We had our tire and pit strategies all set to win the race but unfortunately a lower radiator pan broke and it created a push to the handling of the truck and I couldn't get back to the front."
Hamilton, the defending series champion who has had a run of bad luck recently, led the race with 20 laps to go and finished third, allowing him to reclaim the points lead by five over Setzer.
"After the last two or three weeks, I'm real satisfied with fourth place," Hamilton said. "We've had a loose wheel, a bad wheel, a flat tire, and we got in a crash one time.
"You can't control stuff like that - it's just part of racing."