Sam's Town 400 News and Notes

Sam's Town 400 News and Notes

Entry List: Sam's Town 400 at Texas Motor Speedway

00 Josh Wise      
1 Aaron Fike
4 Joe Ruttman    
5 Mike Skinner    
6 Travis Kvapil    
7 Jason White
07 Tim Sauter
8 Blake Bjorklund
08 Eric Norris    
9 Ted Musgrave    
09 Joey Clanton
10 David Starr    
13 Willie Allen
14 Rick Crawford    
15 Bill Lester    
16 Matt McCall
18 Ken Schrader    
21 Kelly Bires
23 Johnny Benson    
30 Todd Bodine    
33 Ron Hornaday Jr.    
36 Ryan Mathews    
40 Clay Rogers    
47 Kraig Kinser    
50 T.J. Bell    
51 Kelly Sutton    
59 Terry Cook    
60 Jack Sprague    
75 Dennis Setzer
76 Chris Wimmer    
77 Brendan Gaughan    
88 Matt Crafton    
99 Erik Darnell

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Ruttman Takes Over the No. 4 Dodge at Texas
TruckSeries.com Report

Ruttman climbs behind the wheel of the No. 4 Open Joist Dodge this weekend. It will be his second start for BHR this season and his first in the No. 4 Dodge. Ruttman drove the No. 18 Dodge earlier this season in Kansas. He finished in the 25th position.

He will be making his 10th NCTS start at Texas on Friday. In nine previous races Ruttman has scored two top-five finishes and five top-10 finishes.

Ruttman will pilot "Demon" Friday night at Texas. This particular chassis has raced four times this season.

The Open Joist Racing team heads into Texas this weekend with a renewed confidence. The team scored their first top-five finish of the season last week at Dover.

Ruttman On Driving At Texas: "Well, Schrader's schedule changed which allowed him to run the Fastenal Dodge this weekend and it just so happened the No. 4 Open Joist Dodge seat was open. I am glad to get another opportunity to drive a BHR entry at Texas. I really like Texas. I have raced there several times in the past and have always had success. I have nine starts under my belt and have finished in the top 10 five times and finished 11th three times. I don't think that is too bad of a record heading into this weekend's race. Also, Schrader and I went to the Charlotte test back in May. He and I learned a lot from each other during that test and I know they learned more during the race. This team is coming off two great finishes and I just plan to add to that this weekend."

Marcus Richmond on Momentum: "You always hear a good run can do wonders for a race team, but I didn't quite understand how true that was until recently. At Mansfield we scored our first top 10 with Kevin (Hamlin) and then at Dover we scored our first top five with Mike (Bliss). That is back to back top 10 finishes. I am not sure the last time we did that. It is like working with an entirely different race team. They have always been a hard working group, but now they have confidence in themselves. It makes such a difference. This weekend we will have our third different driver in three weeks, but it doesn't wavier my confidence in our race team. I think the last two weeks have shown just how strong our race team is."

Joe Ruttman NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Stats

Career NCTS Starts: 169
NCTS Wins: 13
NCTS Pole: 17
NCTS Top five finishes: 68
Top 10 finishes: 111

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NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series News Preview: Texas
TruckSeries.com Report

Several Drivers Looking To Break Victory Drought At Texas
With McCumbee Subbing For Petty, Norris Gets TMS Seat

Hornaday, Ren And KHI Take Momentum To Texas: Victory at Texas Motor Speedway has eluded Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet);
it's one of the few tracks on which the 1996 and 1998 champion has failed to win. Coming off last week's victory at Dover International Speedway - Hornaday's second in three races - crew chief Rick Ren hopes to help fill the vacant line in his driver's resume. Ren won at TMS in 2001 with Travis Kvapil (No. 6 K&N Filters Ford). "My job is to make the driver happy," said Ren. "Before we won at Lowe's, Ron said he always hated the place. It's the same thing with Texas. I'm planning on bringing the same truck as Lowe's. So I don't see any big deal going to Texas.

NCTS Notebook:

Norris Subs For McCumbee Who Subs For Petty
… Chad McCumbee got his big break in last year's Sam's Town 400 when a one-off ride in Gene Christensen's No. 08 TheGPSStore.com Chevrolet ended in a ninth-place finish and a contract for the remainder of 2006 and the 2007 season. McCumbee won't be at the wheel of the truck this time - instead heading to Pocono Raceway where he'll make his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series debut substituting for Kyle Petty. That's opened the door for veteran Eric Norris, a former NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series champion and TV-film director. Norris has driven for Christensen before and has six starts at Texas Motor Speedway. His best TMS finish is 17th in the 2001 Sam's Town 400. Although Norris, son of action star Chuck Norris, is a California native, he considers Texas Motor Speedway a hometown track. Norris and his father filmed "Walker Texas Ranger" in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for many years. He's currently stunt director for FOX's "Prison Break" which begins filming for the 2007-08 season next week - also in Dallas-Ft. Worth. Norris would like to compete fulltime in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series but so far hasn't been able to find the resources to do so. Recently, he completed work on the film "Rush Hour 3." As a stunt coordinator and second unit director, Walker gets to do in his words "the fun stuff. If it's a car chase or a fight scene, I get a chance to get out from behind the camera," he said. Norris hasn't been in a race vehicle in a year and figures TMS is the best place for his return. "I really want to do this more than once or twice a year," he said.

Odds And Ends:

AAA Insurance 200 Gives Skinner, Hornaday Breathing Room
… Ron Hornaday cut Mike Skinner's (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) championship lead to 77 points with a third of the 2007 complete. The next-closest rival, Todd Bodine, is 196 points behind the leader and 119 behind Hornaday.

Series Makes 19th Trip To Lone Star State … Beginning in 1997 with Kenny Irwin's victory in the Pronto Auto Parts 400, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has visited Texas Motor Speedway 18 times - most at any track. There have been 11 different winners, five of who will compete in the Sam's Town 400.

Wood Brothers/JTG Making An Impact … Stacy Compton's (No. 09 Zaxby's Ford) runnerup finish at Dover International Speedway marked the team's best performance since joining the series at the beginning of the 2006 season.

Hornaday Makes Milestones Count … Ron Hornaday now has three significant entries in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck record book: 300th win (at Dover), 200th win and first Bud Pole.

Skinner's Bud Pole Streak Continues ... Mike Skinner sat on the Bud Pole for the sixth consecutive time at Dover. That's two poles shy of Skinner's 1995 record of eight. How does No. seven look? Until Clint Bowyer snapped the string last November, Bill Davis Racing's Skinner had won four consecutive poles at TMS. Skinner finished second in last year's Sam's Town 400. He has finished second, second and third in his last two starts in Fort Worth.

Schedule:
Thursday-Practice 11 a.m.-12 noon.; 12:15-12:45 p.m. (rookies) and  1-2 p.m. Qualifying, 6 p.m.

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Darnell Brings Favorite Truck to Texas
TruckSeries.com

Erik Darnell will make his third career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series start at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday in the No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford F-150.

Darnell enters Texas 12th in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series points, 26 markers outside the top-10.

The No. 99 team will be bringing chassis RK303-41 to Texas. This chassis last raced at Kansas Speedway in April, where Darnell started 10th and scored his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win.

Erik Darnell on Texas Motor Speedway: “Texas is one of my favorite places to race. We had a tough finish in this race last year, but rebounded well in the fall race. I always look forward to racing at the mile-and-a-half tracks. We’re bringing my favorite truck, the one we scored the win with at Kansas. We’ve not had much luck since then, hopefully we can end that streak in Texas this week.”

John Quinn on Texas Motor Speedway: “The last few weeks, it seems like nothing can go our way. We’ve been wrecked the last three races in a row. Texas could not come at a better time for us. We had a great run there last fall, so we know we’ve got something to go off. We’ve run very well at these intermediate tracks, so we’re all looking forward to getting back to where we feel most confident.”

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Schrader Returns to the No. 18 Dodge at Texas
TruckSeries.com 

Ken Schrader will be making his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series start at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday night.

Schrader has 13 NASCAR Nextel Cup starts and two NASCAR Busch Series starts at Texas Motor Speedway. He has one top 10 in both series.

The Sam’s Town 400 will mark Schrader’s 76th NCTS start. In his previous 75 races Schrader has an average starting position of 15th and finishing of 17th.

Schrader will pilot “Timmy” this weekend at Texas. He scored a 12th place finish with this particular chassis at Charlotte last month.

Schrader will pilot the No. 99 Red Baron Frozen Pizza car in the NEXTEL Prelude to the Dream presented by Old Spice on Wednesday night at Eldora Speedway. HBO Pay-Per-View will present the event live to the entire nation.

A Dirt Tracking Machine: “It is about this time of the season that my dirt schedule really picks up. I was running third in DesMoines on Monday night and blew a motor. I am racing in Macon on Tuesday and then going to Eldora on Wednesday night. The event at Eldora is going to be really neat. It will definitely be worth watching. I mean who would have ever thought a dirt race would be aired on Pay-Per-View. It’s got all the elements of a good show. When you put that many race car drivers on one track and add in the dirt it could get wild very fast. It will be interesting to see who will walk away with bragging rights.”

Minor Change in Plans: “I wasn’t planning on running Texas because of the Nextel Cup Schedule, but with Bill Elliot in the car it allows me to run the truck race this weekend. As long as I am in a race car I am a happy camper no matter where it is. The truck team is really gelling right now so I think it’s a good thing for me to stay in the seat as long as I can. We are getting better and better ever week. It’s hard to climb out of something when you are running well. Dover was a disaster last week but we had nowhere to go.  We will have to put it behind us and bounce back from that. It was unfortunate we did not even make it one lap.  I knew the truck was going to be good as soon as I entered into turn one so it was disappointing to not get two more top 10 finishes. That is what motivates us all though, so this week should be good.”

Ken Schrader Career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Stats

Career NCTS Starts: 75
NCTS Wins: 1
NCTS Pole: 1
NCTS Top five finishes: 7
Top 10 finishes: 26

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Driver to win the Sams Town 400

801 Mike Skinner +350
802 Todd Bodine +450
803 Jack Sprague +500
804 Ron Hornaday +600
805 Johnny Benson +800
806 Travis Kvapil +800
807 Rick Crawford +1000
808 Erik Darnell +1200
809 Ted Musgrave +1500
810 Dennis Setzer +2000
811 Brendan Gaughan +2500
812 Matt Crafton +2500
813 Terry Cook +3000
814 David Starr +3500
815 Field +2000

@TheGreek

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NCTS NOTES


Champion Bodine: Time To Break The Drought In Texas

Todd Bodine (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota) won last year’s championship despite failing to visit Victory Lane after the June 9 Sam’s Town 400 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Bodine, who had victory in a headlock from late 2005 through mid-2006, hopes to break a 24-race drought when the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series returns to Fort Worth on Friday.

If having an affinity for a certain layout counts for anything, the defending champ will pick up a fourthTexas-sized hat from TMS’s Eddie Gossage.

“I love Texas,” said Bodine, who also won the track’s fall race in 2004-05. “It’s a momentum track; you’ve really got to get up on top of the wheel.

“It is the perfect place for us to get back on it (a victory).”

Bodine isn’t the only series winner looking to break a streak in Texas. Brendan Gaughan (No. 77 South Point Hotel Chevrolet) has gone 59 starts since putting the finishing touches on his fourth consecutive victory at TMS in 2003 (see below).

Bodine’s teammate at Germain Racing, Ted Musgrave (No. 9 Team ASE Toyota), is without a victory in 53 races since winning at Gateway International Raceway more than two years ago.

The “perfect” end to a non-winning streak – at least if you’re a Texan – would be a first TMS score for David Starr (No. 10 International MAXX Force Ford).

The Houston native’s best Texas finish is third – three times.

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Most Starts Since Last Victory* Driver Starts Last Win 1. B. Gaughan 59 Texas - 2003 2. T. Musgrave 53 Gateway – 2005 3. S. Compton 49 Topeka – 1998 4. D. Starr 29 Martinsville – 2006 5. T. Bodine 24 Texas – 2006 * Active Drivers 2007

He Did It Once But Gaughan Doubts It Will Happen Again

Brendan Gaughan remains a bit mystified as to how and why he was able to win a record, four consecutive races at Texas Motor Speedway.

Knowing that would put an end to the frustration that dogged the 31-year-old Gaughan since the championship slipped through the team’s fingers in the final race of 2003.

“We were a very prepared team with lots of testing and a little bit of luck,” he said.

Gaughan knows this: the Las Vegas native accomplished something special to put in his scrapbook, along with his time on Georgetown University’s basketball and football teams and off-road championships

He doubts anyone else will win four straight races at Texas – or maybe any other series track.

“With the competition the way it is now, it would be hard,” he said, adding, “If it does, more power to the team and driver who ties the record or beats it.”

NCTS Notebook:

* Norris Subs For McCumbee Who Subs For Petty … Chad McCumbee got his big break in last year’s Sam’s Town 400 when a one-off ride in Gene Christensen’s No. 08 TheGPSStore.com Chevrolet ended in a ninth-place finish and a contract for the remainder of 2006 and the 2007 season. McCumbee won’t be at the wheel of the truck this time – instead heading to Pocono Raceway where he’ll make his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series debut substituting for Kyle Petty. That’s opened the door for veteran Eric Norris, a former NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series champion and TV-film director. Norris has driven for Christensen before and has six starts at Texas Motor Speedway. His best TMS finish is 17th in the 2001 Sam’s Town 400. Although Norris, son of action star Chuck Norris, is a California native, he considers Texas Motor Speedway a hometown track. Norris and his father filmed “Walker Texas Ranger” in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for many years. He’s currently stunt director for FOX’s “Prison Break” which begins filming for the 2007-08 season next week – also in Dallas-Ft. Worth. Norris would like to compete fulltime in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series but so far hasn’t been able to find the resources to do so. Recently, he completed work on the film “Rush Hour 3.” As a stunt coordinator and second unit director, Walker gets to do in his words “the fun stuff. If it’s a car chase or a fight scene, I get a chance to get out from behind the camera,” he said. Norris hasn’t been in a race vehicle in a year and figures TMS is the best place for his return. “I really want to do this more than once or twice a year,” he said. * Hornaday, Ren And KHI Take Momentum To Texas … Victory at Texas Motor Speedway has eluded Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet); it’s one of the few tracks on which the 1996 and 1998 champion has failed to win. Coming off last week’s victory at Dover International Speedway – Hornaday’s second in three races – crew chief Rick Ren hopes to help fill the vacant line in his driver’s resume. Ren won at TMS in 2001 with Travis Kvapil (No. 6 K&N Filters Ford). “My job is to make the driver happy,” said Ren. “Before we won at Lowe’s, Ron said he always hated the place. It’s the same thing with Texas. I’m planning on bringing the same truck as Lowe’s. So I don’t see any big deal going to Texas.

Crew Chief Wauters Rooting For The Ducks

Growing up in Green Bay, Wis., Richie Wauters, crew chief for Billy Ballew Motorsports’ pair of Chevrolets driven by Bill Lester, Kyle Busch and Kelly Sutton, had plenty of time to spend in the local hockey rink.

When not skating himself, he worked at the local rink and did everything from prying up chunks of ice to sharpening skates.

Oh, and also playing hockey. Wauters still laces up the skates and competes in several recreational leagues.

With the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup finals underway, Wauters is cheering for the Anaheim Ducks – which jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the Ottawa Senators returned home to win game No. 3. His favorite player is hard-nosed defenseman Chris Pronger.

One thing Wauters hasn’t done is drive a Zamboni. “That would be fun,” he said. “I’d like to try it once.”


In The Loop

There’s more bad news for those NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers chasing standings leader Mike Skinner.

Not only does Skinner have a large lead, but after this weekend’s Texas race, that lead may be even tougher to overcome.

With two runner-up finishes in the past two years, Skinner loves the 1.5-mile Fort Worth terrain. One problem for Skinner – and a bright side for his competitors – Skinner has yet to win there in six career races.

Though he has not visited Victory Lane, Skinner has amassed impressive stats at Texas. He has the top Driver Rating (139.3) of anyone running in Friday’s race, the top Average Running Position (2.192), the most Fastest Laps Run (136) and the most Laps in the Top 15 (624).

Of those chasing Skinner, Todd Bodine and Johnny Benson (No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Cars Toyota) might be the best bets at Texas. Bodine has two wins here in the past two years (and three overall) and has a solid Driver Rating of 101.3. Benson, who like Skinner has yet to win at Texas, has the second-best Average Running Position (6.460) and the second-best Driver Rating (108.7).

Additionally, Benson and Bodine rank 2-3 behind Skinner in the Fastest Laps Run category. Benson has turned the fastest lap at Texas 71 times over the past two years, while Bodine has done it 68 times.

Odds And Ends:

* AAA Insurance 200 Gives Skinner, Hornaday Breathing Room … Ron Hornaday cut Mike Skinner’s (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) championship lead to 77 points with a third of the 2007 complete. The next-closest rival, Todd Bodine, is 196 points behind the leader and 119 behind Hornaday.

* Series Makes 19th Trip To Lone Star State … Beginning in 1997 with Kenny Irwin’s victory in the Pronto Auto Parts 400, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has visited Texas Motor Speedway 18 times – most at any track. There have been 11 different winners, five of who will compete in the Sam’s Town 400. * Wood Brothers/JTG Making An Impact … Stacy Compton’s (No. 09 Zaxby’s Ford) runnerup finish at Dover International Speedway marked the team’s best performance since joining the series at the beginning of the 2006 season.

* Hornaday Makes Milestones Count … Ron Hornaday now has three significant entries in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck record book: 300th win (at Dover), 200th win and first Bud Pole. * Skinner’s Bud Pole Streak Continues ... Mike Skinner sat on the Bud Pole for the sixth consecutive time at Dover. That’s two poles shy of Skinner’s 1995 record of eight. How does No. seven look? Until Clint Bowyer snapped the string last November, Bill Davis Racing’s Skinner had won four consecutive poles at TMS. Skinner finished second in last year’s Sam’s Town 400. He has finished second, second and third in his last two starts in Fort Worth.


FAST FACTS

The Race: Sam’s Town 400 The Place: Texas Motor Speedway The Date: June 8, 2007 The Time: 9 p.m. (ET) TV: SPEED, 8:30 p.m. (ET) Track Layout: 1.5-mile paved oval Race Purse: $692,880 2006 Winner: Todd Bodine 2006 Pole: Mike Skinner

Pos. Driver Points 1 Skinner 1,368 2 Hornaday 1,291 3 Bodine 1,172 4 Musgrave 1,127 5 Crawford 1,109 6 Kvapil 1,098 7 Benson 1,050 8 Sprague 1,044 9 Fike 990 10 Crafton 977

Schedule: Thursday–Practice 11 a.m.-12 noon.; 12:15-12:45 p.m. (rookies) and 1-2 p.m. Qualifying, 6 p.m.

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By the Numbers: Texas
NASCAR.COM
June 7, 2007

The Craftsman Truck Series is only in its 13th year, but there is already a record in the books that could stand the test of time and it took place in the Lone Star State.

Back in 2002, Brendan Gaughan won the first of four consecutive races at Texas Motor Speedway. As the Truck Series returns to the 1.5-mile track for the Sam's Town 400 on Friday (8:30 p.m. ET, SPEED), Gaughan doesn't think the record will fall anytime soon.

"With the competition the way it is now, it would be hard," Gaughan said. "If it does, more power to the team and driver who ties the record or beats it."

Right now, no one is even close. Cup star Kyle Busch had an opportunity to win his third consecutive race at Lowe's a couple weeks ago in the Quaker Steak and Lube 200, but he ended up finishing 11th.

There isn't a streak longer than one race in the Truck Series at this time.

To put it in perspective, the Cup Series record for consecutive wins at a one track is seven. Richard Petty won seven in a row at Martinsville back in 1970-73. Darrell Waltrip also won seven in a row at Bristol from 1981-84.

The Busch Series record for consecutive wins at a track is five set by Jack Ingram at South Boston in 1986 and matched by Dale Earnhardt, who won five Busch Series races in a row at Daytona from 1990-94.

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Who to Watch: Texas
TruckSeries.com

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is just one of four major racing series that graces the highbanks of Texas Motor Speedway. The Trucks share the stage with the Indy Cars in June, then are the opening act of a tripleheader weekend with the NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch Series cars in November. Even with all of the racing action that takes place at the "Great American Speedway," the Texas fans continue to turn out and support the Truck Series in what is always one of the biggest crowds of the season.

The 60,000-plus people in attendance on Friday night for the Sam's Town 400 can expect some of the hardest racing at some of the highest speeds the series will turn all season long. Texas is a track that demands a lot of horsepower, an aerodynamic truck with a lot of downforce, and a chassis that handles through the long, sweeping corners at sustained speeds. The draft doesn't come into play like it will at Daytona or Talladega, but the driver that goes to victory lane after 167 laps will likely be the one that keeps the pedal to the mat constantly throughout the final segment of the race.

Here are our driver capsules for the Sam's Town 400:

Brandon Knupp, No. 0 Lester Buildings Chevrolet: A late addition to the entry list, Knupp will look to make his second career series start at Texas. He performed admirably earlier in the season at Daytona, and if he gets a chance to run all night could raise some eyebrows. He's been a solid performer in the ARCA RE/MAX Series.

Josh Wise, No. 00 Aaron's Lucky Dog Toyota: Wise made his series debut earlier this year at Kansas and stayed out of trouble and came home 17th at the end. If he can stay out of trouble at Texas, Wise could find himself racing for a top-ten finish at the end of the night. This team has been strong in recent weeks despite having four drivers in the seat in the past five races.

Aaron Fike, No. 1 RFMS/Red Horse Racing Toyota: Fike continues to impress with a solid season and a climb up the championship standings. Fike ran two Busch Series races at Texas and never was able to finish higher than 29th, although he's never had the quality ride he's in now. He was strong at Kansas and could again challenge for a top-five at TMS.

Joe Ruttman, No. 4 Open Joist/Dodge Motorsports Dodge: Ruttman was expected to run seven races with the team truck out of the BHR stables, but with Mike Bliss and Kevin Hamlin bother otherwise occupied this weekend, Ruttman gets the call to slide over to the No. 4 truck. This team has been on the rise since Chase Miller's departure, and Ruttman could have a chance to race into the top-15.

Mike Skinner, No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota: Skinner will again be the guy to beat in qualifying. He's never started outside the top ten, and racked up four straight poles before being relegated to the second spot in qualifying last fall. He will also be the guy to beat in the race, as he led until the final circuit last year until Todd Bodine - on new tires - was able to sneak past for the win. Four straight top five finishes but no wins means Skinner will be hungry to go to victory lane.

Travis Kvapil, No. 6 K&N Filters Ford: Kvapil started to get his year back on track with a third-place finish at Dover, and is returning to the site of his first ever series win in 2001. He scored five straight top five finishes from 2001 through 2003, but finished outside the top-20 in his last two Texas races in 2004.

Blake Mallory , No. 06 Engine Parts Plus Chevrolet: Mallory gets the call to start the third Green Light Racing truck. Don't look for Mallory to go past the first caution, unless the caution again comes out on the first lap.

Jason White, No. 7 Hooters Energy Drink Chevrolet: White finished 22nd in his only Truck Series start at Texas back on 2002. Although he's been involved in the series since 2001, he's still gaining experience and confidence. That confidence had to take a hit last week after a practice crash destroyed the primary truck and he was involved in a spin during the race in the backup truck.

Tim Sauter, No. 07 Lester Buildings Chevrolet: Three Busch Series starts at Texas have resulted in an average finish of 31.0 for Sauter. The Green Light team is starting to gain momentum after a couple of solid, trouble-free runs. If Sauter stays out of trouble, which is often tough at Texas, he could contend for a top-20 run and might sneak into the top-15.

Blake Bjorklund, No. 8 MRD Motorsports Chevrolet: Bjorklund has racked up two of his four top-20 finishes on 1.5-mile ovals this season, and should be a contender to do that again this weekend. His best finish of the season came last week at Dover, 16th, but he'd like to be closer to the top ten.

Eric Norris, No. 08 Pavestone Chevrolet: Norris hasn't made a start in the Truck Series since Fontana in February 2006. Of his 18 career starts, seven have come at Texas, with a best finish of 12th in the fall of 2005. Norris is subbing for Chad McCumbee, who is making his Cup debut at Pocono this weekend. A top 15 run isn't out of the question.

Ted Musgrave, No. 9 Team ASE Toyota: Musgrave was off the pace last week, but was fast before a practice crash destroyed his primary truck. Musgrave is winless at Texas, but was within sight of the checkered flag when a tire went down ending a winning run in October 2005. He has seven top ten finishes in 12 starts, and should add to those totals this weekend.

Joey Clanton, No. 09 Zaxby's Ford: Clanton has been on a wild elevator ride this season. He's finished in the top ten twice with a best finish of sixth, but also has two 31st-place finishes too. He was eleventh last time out, but this truck finished second last week at Dover with Stacy Compton driving. Compton should be fast but will need to avoid trouble to get back into the top ten.

David Starr, No. 10 International MaxxForce Diesel Ford: Before getting a full-time ride, Starr would make infrequent series starts but always found a competitive ride for Texas. He's scored six top-five runs and eight top-ten runs in 17 starts, with a trio of third-place runs as his best. A home state favorite, a good run at Texas would get Starr back on track after a miserable start to the season.

Willie Allen, No. 13 ThorSport Racing Chevrolet: Allen continued his steady season at Dover with a 14th-place run. He finished 13th at Atlanta and 18th at Kansas, and this team has been getting stronger as the driver has gained experience and confidence. Lance Hooper returns as crew chief this weekend and that should help them step it up and contend for their first top ten.

Rick Crawford, No. 14 Power Stroke Diesel by International Ford:
Crawford has had two straight strong runs end prematurely due to tire problems. He finished third in his first Texas start in 1997, and since has added four more top-fives and a total of eight top-ten finishes. He was third again last June, but finished a career worst 33rd at Texas last fall after a crash.

Bill Lester, No. 15 Christian Debt Consolidation Chevrolet: Lester was furious after being taken out on lap one last week in Dover, and rightfully so. He's been consistent this year, but the No. 15 looked to be a front runner last week and he never had a chance to show it. He's finished 11th twice and 12th twice at Texas, but is still looking for that first top ten.

Derrike Cope, No. 16 Xpress Motorsports Ford: Cope's only previous Truck Series start at Texas ended with him flying over Jack Sprague on his side along the inside backstretch wall in a spectacular crash in September 2000. Cope was up to speed in the Charlotte test earlier in the year, and his Cup experience should allow him to run towards the front. The 16 has had a rotation of drivers in the seat, but ran well with Mike Bliss at the wheel at Charlotte.

Ken Schrader, No. 18 Fastenal Dodge: Schrader was wiped out on the first lap at Dover, not able to carry on the momentum from a well-earned third place finish at Mansfield. Schrader has never run a Truck race at Texas, and in 16 previous races - 14 Cup and 2 Busch - has only one top ten finish.

Stacy Compton, No. 21 Bush's Beans Ford: With Jon Wood out of action in the Wood/jtg Racing Busch car, Kelly Bires gets the call to sub and that gives Compton a chance to drive the No. 21 this week. He was impressive last week at Dover, finishing a strong second. Compton's never finished lower that 16th in four Truck starts at Dover, including a fifth-place run in 1998.

Johnny Benson, No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota: Benson has only started outside the top ten once in five starts, and has three top five finishes in those five races. He finished second in his first two Truck races at TMS, and added a fifth place run here last June. Engine failure sidelined him early last fall, leaving him 31st. Benson should be a top-five runner, and could make his first appearance in Victory Lane this year.

Todd Bodine, No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota: Bodine was awful here the first half of this race last year, actually getting lapped on the track by leader Mike Skinner. But a caution allowed him to get back on the lead lap, and a late race stop for tires catapaulted him to victory. It was the last win of the year for Bodine, and he's looking to end the longest winless drought of his career this weekend.

Ron Hornaday, No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet: He has two wins in the last three races, but if not for a couple of incidents at Mansfield he could be riding a three race win streak. He has five top-ten finishes in eight starts, but his best previous finish is a fifth last fall.

Ryan Mathews, No. 36 Bill Davis Racing Toyota: Mathews performed well last week at Dover, keeping his nose clean and finishing 15th. He has no previous experience at Texas, and every lap he completes will be a learning experience. This truck has run well in qualifying with Tyler Walker at the wheel, and a good qualifying run here will get Mathews some laps up front and a chance to learn from the guys who run well week in and week out.

Clay Rogers, No. 40 Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet: Rogers finished eighth here in 2005, and this team finished eighth with Mike Bliss at the wheel at Atlanta earlier in the year. It might be an uphill climb to repeat that performance this week, but Rogers will give this truck a good ride.

Kraig Kinser, No. 47 Ginn Resorts Chevrolet: Kinser has only one finish better than 24th this season, that being a 17th at California. He averages a 16th place start, but trouble seems to find him no matter how well he's running in the race, leaving him with a 27.9 average finish. He started third last June at Texas, but finished last after being involved in an early crash.

T.J. Bell, No. 50 Heathcliff's Cat Litter Ford: Bell just about knocked the fence down last week at Dover. His only Truck start at Texas resulted in a 27th-place finish after a crash in the fall race in 2003. Bell was strong at Charlotte, and that could boost this team's performance after a couple of rough outings in a row.

Kelly Sutton, No. 51 Team Copaxone Chevrolet: Sutton practiced in the top ten at Mansfield, but missed the field after being the first out to qualify in a slippery track surface. In four starts, she's never finished higher that 24th, but the Billy Ballew Motorsports team should give her a truck that can run into the top 15.

Terry Cook, No. 59 Harris Trucking Toyota: Cook has started all 18 Truck races at Texas, and has collected top ten finishes in a third of them. His best finish is sixth, and he was eighth here last fall. The HT Motorsports team finished 21st with Steve Park in June and 19th with Chad Chaffin last fall. Cook and this team have learned to walk together, now they're starting to show they can run. Look for them to be near the top ten at the end.

Jack Sprague, No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota: Sprague's season has been up and down, and the last two races are a perfect example. Sprague played strategy just right and finished second at Mansfield, but was an innocent victim at Dover and finished 29th. Sprague has two wins at Texas, and has been in the top five in half of his 14 starts here. If the pattern follows, he'll stay out of other people's trouble this week and come away with a strong finish and possibly the victory.

Dennis Setzer, No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet: Setzer was hoping the win at Mansfield would propel him back up the ladder and start a run of strong performances for this team. Unfortunately, he soldiered on to a 19th-place finish at Dover a whopping six laps off the pace. Setzer scored a popular win here in 1999 and followed it up with another in 2004. It might be a stretch to get a third win this weekend, but a top-ten would be nice for this team right now.

Chris Wimmer, No. 76 Automotive Fabrication Chevrolet: Wimmer has made two previous Truck starts at Texas with a best finish of 27th in 2004. With just 35 trucks on the entry list, this team can concentrate on race setups instead of worrying about a qualifying setup. That could benefit Wimmer once the race starts. Just being around at the finish and completing as many laps as possible are what this team is focused on.

Brendan Gaughan, No. 77 South Point Hotel Chevrolet: Gaughan was another innocent victim last week at Dover, wasting a strong qualifying run. Gaughan holds the series record with four consecutive wins at the same track, that being here at Texas. This team's 1.5-mile program has been coming around, and they were second last fall at Homestead. They've yet to recapture that magic, but coming back to Gaughan's most successful track surely can't hurt.

Matt Crafton, No. 88 Menards Chevrolet: Crafton has been strong the last two weeks, but problems have sidelined him before the checkered both times. Crafton finished fifth here in June 2005, but has been no higher than 12th since. He needs to get back into the top ten to stop the slide in the standings. This team's mile-and-a-half program has been strong, with Crafton finishing a strong third at Atlanta earlier in the year. He could use a run like that this week.

Erik Darnell, No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford: Darnell has been strong this season, but only has one top ten to show for it. Of course, that top ten was a win at Kansas. But bad luck has given him grief, last week being a perfect example. Darnell avoided most of the big crash on the first lap, but damage to the nose left him 18th. A good run at Texas will give this team added momentum, and start to move Darnell up in the championship standings.

Predictions, just for the pure entertainment value of it:

Pole: I'm staying on this horse until it stops running. Mike Skinner will pick up the pole for the seventh week in a row.

Winner: Jack Sprague will make a strong recovery from last week's disappointment and get his second win of the season.

Top five, behind the winner, in no particular order: Ron Hornaday, Todd Bodine, Travis Kvapil, Rick Crawford.

Positions six through ten, in no particular order: Matt Crafton, Terry Cook, Ted Musgrave, Aaron Fike, Brendan Gaughan.

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Re: Sam's Town 400 News and Notes

The Pocono 500 fantasy racing preview
By Gerry Powers


This weekend the Nextel Cup Series will head out to Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. Pocono Raceway known as the "Tricky Triangle" provides a real challenge for drivers as the track demands a great deal of skill and patience from the drivers. The track consists of three differently banked turns and has the longest straightaway on the series schedule.

Jeff Gordon made up for his 41st place finish at Lowe's last week, with a 9th place finish at the Monster Mile; increasing his lead in the standings to 152 markers over Jimmie Johnson. Although the points are pretty spread out from 1st to 8th, the real race seems to be from 9th place in the standings all the way back to 16th. In 16th place, Ryan Newman is only 46 points out from the 12th position and 129 out from 9th place. With the standings being as close as they are, the race at Pocono could really shift the Nextel Cup standings when all is said and done on Sunday.

Pocono is a track were most seasoned veterans run well at, although in the past we have have seen younger drivers have some success at Pocono. Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards have run very well at the 2.5 mile track. This weekend I will list the favorites, dark horses and drivers to avoid this weekend at Pocono.

Favorites:

Denny Hamlin: Considering that his average start and finish at this track is 1.0, I think he would be a safe bet to consider that he may end up in victory lane on Sunday

Jimmie Johnson: You can never not consider him a favorite to win any race, he swept the track back in 2004, and with an average finish of 8.1 look for him to run strong.

Kurt Busch: After a dismal 2006 season Kurt did collect two 2nd place efforts at Pocono last year. Look for him to rebound after a controversial race at Dover.

Ryan Newman: Although he only has a 15.4 average finish, he has been running really strong in 2007; collecting 4 Top 10s's and 2 Top 5's in just the past 4 races. He also claimed a victory at Pocono in 2003. This just may be the race that Ryan finally climbs back into victory lane.


Dark Horses:

Bobby Labonte:
Although he hasn't had the finishes he has hoped for while racing for Petty Enterprises, Bobby does have 3 wins and an average finish of 12.1 at this track.

JJ Yeley: JJ struggled a lot in his 2006 rookie campaign but he posted 1 Top 10 and an average finish of 13.0 at the "Tricky Triangle".

Brian Vickers: He struggles with Toyota may come to and end in the near future, with strong runs in the past two weeks at Lowe's and Dover. Brian Vickers has the 3rd highest of average finish (8.5) among all active drivers.

Drivers to Avoid:

Clint Bowyer: Last year Clint managed to finish 21st and 41st, giving him an average finish of 31.

Casey Mears: Even though his last two finishes are 1st and 13th. Casey has only managed to finish inside the Top 10 once out of his 8 starts at the 2.5 mile track.

Reed Sorenson: He failed to finish better than 26th in his two attempts last year. He also isn't having the year he expected, sitting 25th in the standings.

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Re: Sam's Town 400 News and Notes

Bodine Snaps Skinner's Pole Streak
RacingOne Staff

With a fast lap of 181.763 mph around Texas Motor Speedway, Todd Bodine snapped Mike Skinner's streak of six consecutive Bud Pole Awards after taking the top spot for Friday night's Sam’s Town 400.

While Bodine is the defending winner of this particular event, his performance was a bit of a surprise on Thursday night as it is only his second career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series pole. His only previous pole came in the 2006 spring race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

"We unloaded good and just made minor adjustments all through practice, just tuning on it. I think it will be pretty good for the race," said Bodine, the 2006 series champion. "We were really good on old tires during practice and obviously our starting spot for the race tomorrow is good, so we’ll have to see. Hopefully, we can put ourselves in a situation near the end of the race where we can compete for the win."

However, championship leader Skinner was not far behind. The driver of the No. 5 Toyota Tundra from the Bill Davis Racing stable will start on the outside pole, finishing a mere half mile per hour behind.

"If a Bill Davis Racing truck couldn’t be on the pole, Todd is the perfect person for it," said Skinner, who started on the pole last season and finished second to Bodine in the race.

Travis Kvapil was the only driver standing between Toyota sweeping the first two rows on Thursday evening, setting the third quickest lap in the session with Johnny Benson and rookie Aaron Fike rounding out the top five.

Ron Hornaday Jr., Josh Wise, Bill Lester, T.J. Bell and Willie Allen complete the top 10.

Friday night’s Sam’s Town 400 at Texas Motor Speedway is slated to begin at 8:30 p.m. (ET) with live coverage available on SPEED (TV) and MRN Radio.

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Re: Sam's Town 400 News and Notes

NASCAR-Craftsman Trucks-Sam's Town 400 Lineup
June 7, 2007


1. (30) Todd Bodine, Toyota, 181.763 mph.

2. (5) Mike Skinner, Toyota, 181.269.

3. (6) Travis Kvapil, Ford, 180.947.

4. (23) Johnny Benson, Toyota, 180.802.

5. (1) Aaron Fike, Toyota, 180.802.

6. (33) Ron Hornaday Jr., Chevrolet, 180.463.

7. (00) Josh Wise, Toyota, 180.379.

8. (15) Bill Lester, Chevrolet, 180.240.

9. (50) T.J. Bell, Ford, 180.174.

10. (13) Willie Allen, Chevrolet, 180.066.

11. (75) Dennis Setzer, Chevrolet, 180.000.

12. (18) Ken Schrader, Dodge, 179.886.

13. (36) Ryan Mathews, Toyota, 179.474.

14. (14) Rick Crawford, Ford, 179.414.

15. (99) Erik Darnell, Ford, 179.313.

16. (08) Eric Norris, Chevrolet, 179.247.

17. (09) Joey Clanton, Ford, 178.915.

18. (77) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 178.743.

19. (21) Stacy Compton, Ford, 178.701.

20. (10) David Starr, Ford, 178.159.

21. (51) Kelly Sutton, Chevrolet, 178.094.

22. (59) Terry Cook, Toyota, 178.077 mph

23. (40) Clay Rogers, Chevrolet, 178.030.

24. (9) Ted Musgrave, Toyota, 177.995.

25. (60) Jack Sprague, Toyota, 177.965.

26. (8) Blake Bjorklund, Chevrolet, 177.959.

27. (88) Matt Crafton, Chevrolet, 177.889.

28. (4) Joe Ruttman, Dodge, 177.678.

29. (07) Tim Sauter, Chevrolet, 176.476.

30. (47) Kraig Kinser, Chevrolet, 175.724.

31. (76) Chris Wimmer, Chevrolet, 174.740.

32. (16) Derrike Cope, Ford, 174.565.

33. (7) Jason White, Chevrolet, 169.673.

34. (06) Blake Mallory, Chevrolet, 169.199.

35. (0) Brandon Knupp, Chevrolet, 168.345.

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Hornaday building momentum
Sporting News.com

Ron Hornaday and Kevin Harvick Inc. are hitting their stride in 2007, their third season together in the Craftsman Truck Series. With a new sponsor that has brought the former two-time series champion his old colors, blue and gold, the team broke through with a dominating performance last month at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

It was a track where Hornaday was winless, which sets up an interesting scenario for him in Friday night's Sam's Town 400 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

"I won Lowe's; never won there. And I won Dover; never won there," Hornaday said. "Texas is a track I've never won at, either. I'm waiting for that big ol' 10-gallon hat (trophy) to put on my mantle."

The wins have given the team a huge confidence boost the past three weeks. But Hornaday's crew chief, Rick Ren, sees a bigger picture. "We've actually ran good all year," Ren said. "It's just that things are starting to come together."

Hornaday has finished outside the top 10 once in eight races, 11th in Atlanta in March. Since Atlanta, Hornaday has finished sixth three times to go with his two victories.

"It goes back to Daytona," said Hornaday of his seventh-place finish in the first race of the season. "We've been putting ourselves in position to win, we just hadn't done it. Lowe's really took a lot of pressure off."

"(Team's) starting to learn each other and learn me," Red said. "This whole business is still about people striving to just make this happen. I have started to figure out what Ron Hornaday wants … and he's starting to understand my decisions on pit road."

That success has Hornaday second in points, 77 behind Mike Skinner, who won the first truck championship in 1995. Hornaday, who finished third in '95 and won titles in '96 and '98, says he will worry about the points race when there are five races left in the 25-race season.

"Mike and I go back to 1995," Hornaday said. "But, we're only a third through the season. There's a lot of other drivers who can get up there with us. So we'll see how it plays out."

Regardless of the championship outcome, Hornaday is at home - in the series and at KHI.

"This truck series is tougher every year," he said. "Every time that green flag drops these guys race every lap like it's the last lap and they race hard.

"I'm very satisfied where I'm at. These guys, as long as they want me, I'm going to stay up there and run that truck as hard as I can every week."

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Bodine beats Skinner at Texas again
June 8, 2007

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -Todd Bodine beat Mike Skinner to the checkered flag again at Texas, holding on to win after another green-white-checker finish in the NASCAR Craftsman Trucks Series on Friday night.

Bodine edged Skinner by 0.188 seconds for his 11th victory in the series, the first since Bodine made a last-lap pass and beat Skinner by 0.116 seconds - the closest finish in series history - last June at the 1 1/2-mile track.

The defending series champion has won four times in six starts at Texas.

Bodine, the polesitter who overcame a fuel problem that dropped his Toyota to 17th midway through the race, took the lead on the 163rd of the scheduled 167-lap race after making contact with Travis Kvapil going into the first turn.

``I hate that. That's not how I wanted to win. Travis is a great kid,'' Bodine said. ``You can only block one direction. ... That's the nature of the beast. I had fresh tires. I was going to go high, he blocked me. We went to the bottom, he was still down there. It's a shame.''

Kvapil had stayed out when the rest of the lead-lap trucks went in for tires on a late caution. He was trying desperately to stay out in front and was bumped while trying to block Bodine on the second lap after the restart.

``That's just truck racing. I saw him moving around,'' Kvapil said. ``I'm disappointed our shot at winning got wiped away at the end.''

It was the third straight green-white-checker finish at Texas.

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Tracking the Trucks : Sam's Town 400

In a Nutshell: Todd Bodine held onto the lead during a green-white-checkered finish at Texas Motor Speedway Friday night in the Sam’s Town 400. Bodine beat runner-up Mike Skinner by 0.188 seconds. Rick Crawford, Ron Hornaday and David Starr rounded out the Top 5. Travis Kvapil finished 6th and was the last truck to finish on the lead lap.

Who Should Have Won: Ron Hornaday. Hornaday had the truck to beat Friday night. He dominated much of the race, leading 117 laps and at times having a more than five second lead over second. Hornaday lapped all but six trucks, but on lap 149 he was forced to give up a six second lead when he had to pit for fuel. He was relegated to a 4th place finish, his best ever at Texas.

Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race:

1. How did Todd Bodine come back to win?


Todd Bodine started on the pole when suddenly his truck slowed considerably. He dropped back to 17th and was in danger of losing a lap when Joe Ruttman crashed on lap 78. He had a carburetor problem that somehow corrected itself, and slowly but surely Bodine picked off position after position during a long green flag run. With less than 20 laps remaining, Bodine planned to stop when T.J. Bell and Brendan Guaghan brought out a caution.

2. What has gotten into Mike Skinner and the No. 5 team?

This has been the story of the entire season. Mike Skinner and his No. 5 Toyota Tundra team have been unbelievably strong this season. Skinner went a lap down during the middle of the race and was able to rally back to nearly win. Had Skinner not gotten loose on the final lap, he could have easily passed Bodine and been the one in victory lane. Instead, he left with his third runner-up finish in his last four races at Texas.

3. Should Travis Kvapil be upset with how Bodine took the lead?

The field restarted on lap 161 following the Gaughan/Bell accident, and Kvapil, in an attempt to block Todd Bodine’s strong run, ended up getting spun out. Kvapil went high and then low to block the No. 30 truck, but Bodine was committed to the bottom line and made contact with Kvapil. The contact sent Kvapil into the turn one wall and sent him home with a wrecked truck. It was just a racing deal where Bodine had the stronger truck, and Kvapil was lucky to have been able to finish in 6th on the lead lap.

Truck Rookie Report
2007 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Willie Allen
Blake Bjorklund
Aaron Fike
Matt McCall
Tim Sauter
Tyler Walker ( suspended indefinitely )
Kelly Bires ( 19 races in the No. 21 and 1 race in the No. 16 )
Joey Clanton ( 16 races )
Casey Kingsland ( 24 races )
Peter Shepherd ( 22 races )

No. of Rookies in the Race: 6
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 0
No. of Rookies to Finish the Race: 5
No. of Rookies to Finish on the Lead Lap: 0

Rookie Of The Race: Aaron Fike
Current Rookie Point Leader: Aaron Fike

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle

Stacy Compton became a daddy for the second time this week. Izzabella Reese was born Sunday, June 3. She was 9lb 5oz and 22 inches long; mom Vickie and Izzabella are doing great.

The Top 5 in points remained virtually unchanged. Mike Skinner still leads Ron Hornaday and Todd Bodine. Rick Crawford is up one spot to forth, and Ted Musgrave dropped one spot to fifth.

Travis Kvapil remains in sixth, 290 points out of first. Jack Sprague and Matt Crafton each moved up a spot to 7th and 9th. Both Johnny Benson and Aaron Fike each dropped a position to 8th and 10th respectively.

Quotable:

“It’s pretty incredible. The motto of this team is to ‘Never Give Up’ and we don’t. Even when we were having problems tonight, I was running as hard as I could, running wide open with all I had. The Lumber Liquidators Toyota Tundra was just incredible and I just can’t say enough about this team. They work hard every week, every day and every hour. This is what the payoff is.” Todd Bodine

“We ran out of gas at the start-finish line. We knew everyone else had pitted and we were coming. It’s just one of those things that happens. It doesn’t matter. This truck was fast again, and we get to take the same one to Michigan next week.” Ron Hornaday

“The thing I’m upset about the most is we have a wrecked truck. Earlier in the race we came from dead last to fourth. I knew we had a good truck and wanted clean air. We were running wide open on two tires, so I knew we were out front and we could run wide open again on the restart. I had it flat on the mat, but he got a good suck on me in the draft. As soon as I saw him go high, I went high. Then he went low and I don’t know what happened but he just barely clipped me. I tried blocking him and it just worked out wrong and he got into the back of me. I really thought I had it saved. That’s what bums me out the most is our K&N Filters Ford is tore up.” Travis Kvapil

Up Next:
The Craftsman Truck Series heads north to Brooklyn, Michigan for the Michigan 200 at Michigan International Speedway. The qualifying record was set in 2005 and is held by Kyle Busch with a speed of 181.612 mph. The defending race winner is Johnny Benson. Coverage begins Saturday afternoon at 2:30 pm EST on Speed. The race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.

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