Concord, N.C.--There are two ways to look at Dennis Setzer's threestraight runner-up finishes in the Craftsman Truck Series points race.Falling just short of the title for so long can be viewed as a source offrustration or as a source of encouragement.
The frustration part would be easy, as Setzer fell 55 points short ofchampion Ted Musgrave in 2005, 46 points shy of Bobby Hamilton in 2004,and was nine points behind Travis Kvapil in 2003.
The motivation side of the issue, well, that part comes natural to aracer, especially one as successful as Setzer, who was present for aCraftsman Truck Series press conference Thursday on the final day of theNASCAR Nextel Media Tour hosted by Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Setzer said he has looked at the situation both ways, but the motivationpart of the equation is what keeps the team focused.
"It's very encouraging to be that consistent," said Setzer. "We've donethat with a couple of different crew chiefs. At times we've been good onthe speedways and good on the short tracks and good on different things,so we've covered the whole band of everything. We've got to get it allput together and we could be really dominant if it all happened at onetime during one year."
Even without a title, Setzer's career in the Truck Series has been ahallmark of consistency. He's the only driver in the 11-season historyof the series to win in eight consecutive seasons, dating to 1998. Sincehe joined the circuit full-time in 1999, he's finished 3rd, 7th, 9th,6th, and runner-up the last three seasons, in points. Setzer hasaccumulated 16 wins to tie Musgrave and Greg Biffle for fourth on theall-time series win list, and he got his first win in 1998 while runninghalf the races. During his 192 starts in the Truck Series, he hasfinished in the top five in 70 races, or 37 percent of the time. Hisfour wins last season were a career high.
Setzer has raced primarily for just two teams during his Truck Seriescareer. He raced for the K Automotive Racing team owned by Bob and KayKeselowski before joining Morgan-Dollar Motorsports in 2001 and givingthat team its first win in the series.
"I've been very fortunate to have been with good teams," said Setzer."They've provided me with good equipment. David Dollar has strived tomake his team as good as possible all the way through the years."
Setzer and his teammates on the Morgan-Dollar Chevrolet team will have anew sponsor as they enter the 2006 season. Shell ROTELLA T, a dieselmotor oil, will be the primary sponsor for the team for seven raceswhile Shell will be an associate sponsor for the other 18 races.
LATE MODEL ROOTS
Setzer got his start in racing on the short tracks in North Carolina andstill competes in Late Models on occasion. He said he's consideringbuying a Late Model for his son, Brandon, a 12-year-old sixth grader whohas become an accomplished go-kart racer. The Setzer family lives only amile from Hickory Motor Speedway.
"I'll probably take him to Hickory about once a month and just let himburn off a set of tires," said Setzer. "I won't let him compete in aLate Model yet but just let him burn off a set of tires. I think gettinghim in a Late Model is the avenue I need to go down. I'll get him in agood, safe rollcage and car, and I can make adjustments on it and sendhim out and let him feel those things."
Setzer maintains a lot of respect for Late Model racers and says runningat that level was a lot of fun.
"You just you could have made a living doing that," he said. "There aresome of the best racers in the world out there still doing that andgiving up everything they make during the week to go race on Friday andSaturday night. It's great that a lot of these young guys get theopportunity they get to race in the Craftsman Truck Series at such ayoung age. But they miss some stuff, the heartaches, the joys, andeverything else those guys go through down through the years at thoseLate Model tracks at Hickory, at Caraway, at Tri-County Speedway andthose places. I've seen those guys cry on their shoulders and everythingelse. It's a pretty tough deal."