MARTINSVILLE, Va. - Saturday's Advance Auto Parts 250 for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series had star quality, even if most of them finished the race in the garage area.
The race that featured the return of former three-time Winston Cup Series champion Darrell Waltrip, car owner Andy Petree and defending Busch Series champion Kevin Harvick was won by a driver who started 33rd of 36 trucks.
Dennis Setzer, who originally qualified fifth but was sent to the back of the pack for an illegal right-front suspension spring, rallied to win the race.
Mike Bliss finished second, followed by Rick Crawford in third, Bobby Dotter in fourth and Terry Cook in fifth.
Waltrip survived a spin on the fourth lap and was running 13th when he was forced to park his Melling Racing Dodge on the 102nd lap with a leaking rear end. He wound up 34th.
Petree, who owns Bobby Hamilton's Chevrolet that will start today's Virginia 500 from the outside pole, crashed on the 176th lap and finished 32nd.
And Harvick, who had an early-race run-in with Coy Gibbs, was ordered off the track by NASCAR when the sanctioning body feared he would retaliate. He finished 29th.
Ted Musgrave and Robert Pressley, who shared the points lead before the race, also had problems. Musgrave crashed and finished 24th, while Pressley was two laps down in 14th.
DOUBLE DUTY: Stacy Compton, who is attempting to run every race on the Winston Cup Series for car owner A.J. Foyt and every race on the Busch Series for car owner Tad Geschickter, got a helping hand Saturday from Waltrip.
After qualifying Foyt's Pontiac in 16th place for the Virginia 500 on Friday, Compton flew to the Nashville Superspeedway Saturday for the Pepsi 300.
Since Compton was at Nashville, Waltrip put Foyt's car through a workout in the final practice session.
"Only having 45 minutes and never having been in the car before, I was just trying to give them information based on what the track is going to be like tomorrow," said Waltrip, an 11-time winner at the .526-mile short track. "After this truck race, it's going to be a little bit different. I was just trying to give them information to give them a direction to go in for (today). The car was way too tight, sliding the nose in the middle of the corner. That's Martinsville. They've got to get that out of there. But, I think it'll be pretty good."
Compton was scheduled to return to Martinsville late Saturday and return to the driver's seat in time for today's 1 p.m. start (FX). Waltrip then will move back to his full-time job as commentator for Fox Sports.
STEWART HAPPIEST IN FINALE: Tony Stewart had the fastest car in Happy Hour, the final practice session leading into this afternoon's main event.
His Pontiac was clocked at 93.061 mph around the small, .526-mile short track.
Hamilton was second-quickest at 92.783 mph, followed by Sterling Marlin in third at 92.642, Bobby Labonte in fourth at 92.601, Kurt Busch in fifth at 92.583, Rusty Wallace in sixth at 92.565, Hermie Sadler in seventh at 92.551, Dale Jarrett in eighth at 92.547, Jimmy Spencer in ninth at 92.524 and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 10th at 92.506.
Pole-sitter Jeff Gordon was 15th-fastest at 92.380 mph.
Happy Hour is considered the best gauge for picking a favorite in today's race since all the cars were in their race trims.
PIT STOPS: Pontiac has submitted its version of the 2003 Grand Prix to NASCAR and hopes to have a final version approved in the next six weeks. "NASCAR has seen it; they've been in the wind tunnel with it," said crew chief Jimmy Maker, who works on Bobby Labonte's Pontiac. "They've told us the things they want to change on it. I think they're fairly happy with what we've got now." Following the improvements ordered by NASCAR, the car, which has a unique nose but the same basic rounded-shape of the Dodge, Ford and Chevrolet currently on the circuit, likely will be tested at the Atlanta Motor Speedway ... NASCAR president Mike Helton said soft walls may be added to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in time for the Brickyard 400 on Aug. 4. Soft walls are energy-absorbing cushions that can deflect some of the severity of impact in a crash.
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