2007 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Preview

2007 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Preview

Gunning for two 
AutoWeek

It took three years for Toyota Racing Development to help the parent company win its first NASCAR manufacturers’ championship. It shouldn’t take nearly that long for Toyota to win its second.

If things go as expected, Tundras again will dominate the Craftsman Truck Series. Last year, Toyota’s full-schedule teams won 14 poles and 12 of 25 races and placed its drivers 1-2-3-4-5-6-10 in the championship. This, mind you, was just three full seasons after the company debuted with a second-place finish in 2004’s opener at Daytona.

Toyota spent ’03 doing its homework. It started slowly enough, winning only four races in ’04 before taking nine in ’05. It was obvious from early last year that Toyota was the class of the field. Ford won eight races. Roush Racing star Mark Martin won six. Chevrolet won five races, and Dodge didn’t come close. As for Toyota, six of its full-schedule drivers won poles, and five won races. Ironically, the only driver without a pole or a win was ’05 series champion Ted Musgrave.

The odds heavily favor defending champion Todd Bodine to repeat and help Toyota win another manufacturers’ title. He and crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. return to the Stephen Germaine-owned team, where they won a pole and three races last year and took the title by 127 points.

Johnny Benson, ’06 runner-up, returns to Bill Davis Racing. New crew chief Trip Bruce replaces Rick Ren, who helped Benson win a pole and five races last year. They were title contenders until a late-season swoon cost them any chance of snatching the title. Bruce is the only unknown for this solid Tundra team.

David Reutimann, winless but third in ’06 points with Darrell Waltrip Motorsports, moves to a full-schedule Cup ride with Michael Waltrip Racing. David Starr, fourth in points with one win in his Ford, moves to Tom Mitchell’s organization, where he teams with veteran Rick Crawford.

Fifth-ranked Jack Sprague, the ’97, ’99 and ’01 truck champion, returns to Wyler Racing with crew chief Tony Furr. Sixth-ranked Musgrave is also back at Germain Motorsports with crew chief Rick Gay. The other major Toyota player is ’95 champion Mike Skinner, back at Bill Davis Racing with crew chief Jeff Hensley. Rookie Tyler Walker also will drive for BDR but won’t be a title contender. Like-wise, rookie Aaron Fike will learn the ropes with the Jeff Hammond-Thomas DeLoach team. And Tundra driver Terry Cook likely won’t challenge with owner Jim Harris.

If not a Toyota driver, who? The full-schedule Ford lineup has some possibilities. Former champion (’03) Travis Kvapil returns, this time with Roush Racing, after washing out of Cup. Roush also will field F-150s for rookie Peter Shepherd and Erik Darnell. The Wood Brothers/JTG team will field limited-schedule F-150s for Martin and Stacy Compton, plus rookies Kelly Bires and Joey Clanton. The Mitchell lineup of Starr and Crawford will more than hold its own.

The best chance for a Chevrolet champion appears to be two-timer (’96 and ’98) Ron Hornaday, doing the full schedule for Kevin Harvick Inc. Tim Sauter, Chad McCumbee, Brendan Gaughan, Matt Crafton, Dennis Setzer, Bill Lester and rookie Willie Allen also will run the 25-race schedule in Silverados. Only one full-schedule Dodge team was listed for this year (with Chase Miller), but the recent death of team owner Bobby Hamilton (Competition, Jan. 15) leaves that plan very much in doubt.

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Re: 2007 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Preview

mvbski wrote:



If not a Toyota driver, who? The full-schedule Ford lineup has some possibilities. Former champion (’03) Travis Kvapil returns, this time with Roush Racing, after washing out of Cup.

I don't think Kvapil washed out at all in the cup series since most of the cars he drove were junk but still managed some decent runs.

wink

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Re: 2007 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Preview

Cup races for Kvapil ?

Travis Kvapil, the 2003 Craftsman Truck Series champion, is back in the Truck Series this year after a brief, frustrating stint in Nextel Cup. Kvapil is now driving for Roush Racing and is expected to contend for the NCTS title this year. He also could end up doing a few Busch and/or Cup races for Roush this season, too. “I said to him (Roush Racing President Geoff Smith), ‘What am I going to do with all my off-weekends?’ And he said, ‘Hopefully, we can find something to run you part-time, if we can find a sponsor, you can run some races here and there. If nothing else, you can come along and be a part of it.’ I told him anytime he’s ready for me, I’m ready, but there’s nothing set in stone and no promises made or anything like that. First things first, is go out and win races and win the (NCTS) championship.

www.jayski.com

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