Teams in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series have a special incentive to do well this racing season. Series sponsor Sears Craftsman will pay a $10,000 bonus to any team that can win both the pole position and the race at any of the 24 events on the 2001 schedule.
This renews a program started in 2000 to recognize the accomplishments of the talented mechanics who build and maintain the 750-horsepower racing pickups of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The bonus, paid 10 times last year, goes to the team for distribution among its pit crew members, the unsung heroes of racing.
"Craftsman Truck Series racing is truly a team effort," said John Lebbad, Sears director of Event Marketing and Sales Promotion. "For one driver and crew to qualify the fastest and go on to win the race demonstrates the ultimate in teamwork. When that happens, the driver gets a lot of credit. We give the win-from-the-pole bonus to make sure the crew is recognized, too."
In 2000, Sears and Craftsman put an extra $100,000 in the pockets of the Craftsman Truck Series crews. Roush Racing led the field, claiming the bonus five times, three with Series champion Greg Biffle and twice with Rookie of the Year Kurt Busch. Bobby Hamilton Racing and driver Joe Ruttman won from the pole three times; Ultra Motorsports (Mike Wallace) and Team Menard (Bryan Reffner) each claimed the prize once.
The first opportunity in 2001 for the Craftsman teams to claim the bonus will be Friday, Feb. 16, at the season opening Florida Dodge Dealers 250 at Daytona International Speedway.
At last season's inaugural race, Joe Ruttman sat on the pole -- his first of a series-record eight poles during the season -- but it was Mike Wallace in front at the checkered flag. The first Craftsman bonus of the year was earned by Ruttman and his Dana Dodge crew at Phoenix International Raceway in the third event of the 2000 tour.
With a garage full of seasoned-veteran drivers, crew chiefs and mechanics mixing with eager and talented newcomers, the fight for the Craftsman bonus will be fiercer than ever in 2001. But, as the level of competition rises, the value and prestige of the accomplishment goes far above the $10,000 prize.
Craftsman, the Official Tools of NASCAR, has sponsored the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series since it began in 1995. Sears sells more than 1,800 Craftsman hand tools, all made in America and guaranteed forever. Sears offers Craftsman tools, merchandise and related services through approximately 860 full-line department stores, approximately 2,100 specialized retail locations including Sears Hardware, Sears dealer stores and Orchard Supply Hardware stores as well as through specialty catalogs and online at http://www.sears.com/ .
SOURCE: Sears, Roebuck and Co.
Contact: Rick Gambill of Carrick PR for Sears, 704-664-3366, Lee Antonio
of Sears Roebuck and Co., 847-286-5569