Last year's Las Vegas 350 winner fond of LVMS


By Amber Moody


            No matter what David Starr does in the rest of his racing career, few moments are likely to top taking the checkered flag last year in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

            It was truly a weekend of firsts for Starr and the Spears Motorsports team.  Not only did Starr get his very first pole and his first win, he brought Wayne and Connie Spears their first victory in eight years of racing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

            ¿Las Vegas Motor Speedway holds a special place in my heart because I got my first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win there.  We got so close to winning so many times last year and it felt so good to finally get that win behind us.  Doing it there at Las Vegas was even more special because I had won a Winston West race there before and it was the first win for Wayne and Connie Spears.  It was so special to be able to bring them into victory lane for the first time because they had given me such an amazing opportunity by asking me to drive the No. 75 Spears Chevrolet.¿

The Spears organization has fielded an entry in all but two races since the inception of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 1995. In addition to the victory in Las Vegas, Starr also accumulated eight top-five and 16 top-10 finishes on his way to fifth place in the final 2002 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series point standings. 

            ¿We had a great year last year,¿ said Starr. "We won a race, had two poles and were really consistent all year. It was just an honor when Wayne and Connie Spears asked me to come and drive the No. 75 Spears Chevrolet.  That was just a dream come true.¿

            As if his on-track performance in 2002 weren¿t enough, Starr also received an award for his performance off the track.  During the awards ceremony at the end of the season, it was announced that Starr had been voted the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' Most Popular Driver Award by his peers.

            ¿Anytime your peers vote you as most popular driver, that is such an honor,¿ said Starr.  ¿When you win an honor like that and you receive it from NASCAR, it¿s just hard to describe what that means to me.  I¿m a hard competitor on the racetrack just like everyone else. We race hard, we bang and sometimes our tempers flare but we¿re all professionals and we leave that aggression on the track.

¿It was just an honor to receive that award.  If it scares me a little, it¿s just living up to that honor. I¿m just going to do the same thing I know how to do and that¿s race hard on the racetrack and just be a normal guy off the racetrack.¿ 

            Starr attributes a lot of the team¿s success last season to the knowledge and leadership of crew chief, Dave McCarty.

            ¿It was great to be able to work with Dave McCarty, he¿s an awesome crew chief and he has a ton of knowledge,¿ said Starr.  ¿He doesn¿t like to lose and I like to work with people that hate to lose because I¿m that way too. I like the competitive edge of our race team.  If you would have asked me at the beginning of 2002 how I thought we were going to do, I would have probably said a top-10 finish in the points.¿

            The team had extremely high expectations heading into the 2003 season with a championship title squarely in their sights.  Things off to a rocky start when they were the first truck out of the race at Daytona but the Spears Motorsports team remained focused and by the time they finished third and sixth at Dover and Texas, things were turning around.

            Then it was time to go test in Milwaukee on an off week in Mid-June.  On the first day of the test, Starr was involved in a single truck incident that sent him to a local hospital.  He left Milwaukee with a broken collarbone and broken bones in his left hand and foot along with the doctor¿s word that it would be a few weeks before he would see the seat of a racetruck.

            Starr missed a total of four races while Busch Series driver Hank Parker Jr. took the wheel of the Spears Chevrolet.  While he realizes that he is no longer a competitor in the driver¿s points championship, he still believes the Spears Motorsports team can have a successful season.

            ¿Obviously, this year we¿re not going to win a championship. I got hurt, broke some bones and missed four races.  So now we¿re going to go to every racetrack and do the best we can do and hopefully at the end of the season, we¿ll have a few wins behind us. By the time we get to Las Vegas, if we haven¿t had a win yet, hopefully we can get our first win there.

¿It¿s always a great race anytime the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series goes to Vegas.  I really look forward to going back there and trying to win again.  I think this year it¿s going to be even tougher than it was last year to win.  The competition level of all the competitors has stepped up from last year and last year was really tough.  There are going to be a lot of tough people to beat: Ted Musgrave, Travis Kvapil, and Brendan Gaughan for sure, it¿s his home track.  It¿s one of my favorite tracks and I can¿t wait to go back.¿