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O'Reilly 200 News and Notes
O'Reilly 200 News and Notes
Official Entry List for O'Reilly 200
0 Brandon Knupp
00 Ken Butler
1 Aaron Fike
4 Kevin Hamlin
5 Mike Skinner
6 Travis Kvapil
06 Johnny Chapman
7 Jason White
07 Tim Sauter
8 Blake Bjorklund
08 Chad McCumbee
9 Ted Musgrave
09 Joey Clanton
10 David Starr
13 Willie Allen
14 Rick Crawford
15 Bill Lester
16 Chris Fontaine
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 Peter Shepherd
51 Aric Almirola
53 Bradley Riethmeyer
59 Terry Cook
60 Jack Sprague
75 Dennis Setzer
77 Brendan Gaughan
88 Matt Crafton
99 Erik Darnell
Re: O'Reilly 200 News and Notes
Musgrave suspended for one race
NASCAR has suspended Craftsman Truck Series driver Ted Musgrave for one race for driving his battered truck into the truck driven by Kelly Bires while on the track under caution during the June 22 event at the Milwaukee Mile.
Musgrave was angry at Bires for the accident that heavily damaged their two trucks.
The 2005 series champion also was penalized 50 points, fined $10,000 and placed on probation through the end of the year. The team was also penalized 50 points.
Mike Hillman Sr., general manager of Germain Racing, says the team understands and supports NASCAR's decision. The team will not appeal, and Musgrave will miss the race this weekend at Memphis Motorsports Park, where he will be replaced by Brad Keselowski.
"We regret that the incident happened," Hillman said. "The Team ASE crew has had some excellent races this season, and we know Ted Musgrave still has the fire it takes to win races for us. We look forward to having him back in the Team ASE Tundra in Kentucky."
Re: O'Reilly 200 News and Notes
Craftsman Truck Series Preview for Memphis
Five former winners – Hornaday, Sprague, Setzer, Kvapil and Ted Musgrave (No. 9 Team ASE Toyota) – are among entered drivers for this week’s O’Reilly 200.
No winning competitor at Memphis Motorsports Park has started worse than fifth in the nine previous runnings of the O’Reilly 200. The Bud Pole qualifier has won three times including the last two races. “There’s a premium placed on two qualifying laps because they directly affect the 200 laps of racing,” said Bodine, who started 19th and finished 15th in last year’s race.
More on strategy: “This is a follow-the-leader race track,” said Rick Ren, Hornaday’s crew chief. “It can be very difficult to pass and pit stops are crucial. Even pit selection plays an important role at Memphis.”
Kraig Kinser (No. 47 Ginn Resorts Chevrolet) finished 36th in last year’s O’Reilly 200, liked what he saw of the track and is anxious to improve upon his rookie performance. “It is so unique, and there is really no other place like it,” said the former sprint car star. “There are little bumps all over the track, and it makes for some fun, exciting racing for the drivers and the fans.”
Skinner celebrates his 50th birthday on June 28 and obviously hopes to become the second 50-year-old to win a NASCAR Craftsman Truck race. He would join Joe Ruttman in that “senior” category. Also a year older this week is Benson, whose 44th birthday was observed on June 27.
There has not been a repeat owner winner at Memphis Motorsports Park, however, two – Teresa Earnhardt and Bill Davis – also have won NASCAR Busch Series races at the track. Earnhardt’s two drivers – Hornaday and Martin Truex Jr. – went on to win championships in the same seasons, 1998 and 2005, respectively.
Driver updates: Aric Almirola, whose first NASCAR Craftsman Truck start came at MMP in 2005, will be at the wheel of Billy Ballew’s No. 51 Chevrolet this week. Making his return to the series is Chad Chaffin, a two-time winner who will take the controls of the No. 40 Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet. Chaffin finished fourth in his first Memphis appearance in 2001.
Final word on Memphis’ degree of difficulty: 17 first-time drivers averaged a finish of 24.2 in 2006 – even with rookie Erik Darnell’s (No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford) ranking of second.
Toyota Regains Winning Ways In Milwaukee
Johnny Benson’s victory in the Toyota Tundra Milwaukee 200 was Toyota’s sixth of the season – the same number the truck maker had won through the first 11 races of 2006.
Bill Davis Racing counts four of the six victories, three by Mike Skinner and Benson’s latest score.
Germain Racing’s Todd Bodine and Wyler Racing’s Jack Sprague account for the other two.
Up Next: Kentucky Speedway
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series reaches the mid-point of the 2007 season on Saturday, July 14 with the eighth edition of the Built Ford Tough 225 presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers.
Two-time series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. won last year’s race – the first winner to qualify outside the top 20. Hornaday’s Kevin Harvick Inc.-owned Chevrolet came from a start of 22nd. That was 15 positions deeper in the field than the next-worst qualifying winner, Dennis Setzer in 2005.
Schedule: Friday – Practice 5 p.m. – 6 p.m.; 6 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. (rookies) and 7:45 p.m. – 8:45 p.m. Saturday - Qualifying 5 p.m.
Re: O'Reilly 200 News and Notes
TOYOTA REPORT: Memphis News and Notes
Toyota Tundras have made three starts at New Hampshire International Speedway, earning two wins (2004 and 2006) with Travis Kvapil and Johnny Benson, along with seven top-five finishes and one pole position (2006).
Tundra drivers have won from the pole each of the past two years at Memphis Motorsports Park in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) competition. Brandon Whitt earned his first career NCTS win at Memphis in 2005, while Jack Sprague made his way to victory lane last year for his second career win at the three-quarter mile speedway.
Mike Skinner will celebrate his 50th birthday on June 28. The current NCTS championship point leader has captured 22 NCTS wins and 39 NCTS poles during his career. This season Skinner has earned seven poles and three wins, as well as leading at least one lap in every race this season in his No. 5 Tundra for Bill Davis Racing.
“Memphis is just a little different track,” says Sprague, driver of the No. 60 Con-way Freight Tundra. “Turns one and two are certainly different corners than turns three and four. You have to compromise so you can get around both corners well, and that’s hard to do. The first time I won there -- it was quite a bit of luck. The second time I won there it wasn’t luck. We had a great truck last year, but it’s just a hard track to get a hold of because it eats tires. It gets real slippery and you’ve got to be handling well to stay in the groove. I think it favors drivers that have been there a few times before and know what to expect. If you haven’t -- it will certainly surprise you.”
Tundra drivers hold six of the top-10 spots in the NCTS championship point standings. After 11 races, Skinner continues to sit atop the point standings for Bill Davis Racing. Tundra drivers trailing Skinner in the standings are Bodine (third), Ted Musgrave (sixth), Johnny Benson (seventh), Sprague (eighth), and rookie Aaron Fike (ninth). Tundras have earned nine poles and six wins in the first 11 races this season.
Re: O'Reilly 200 News and Notes
CHEVY REPORT: Memphis News and Notes
Team Chevy Silverado drivers have a special affection for Memphis Motorsports Park (MMP). Since the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) began competing at the .75-mile flat track, the Bowtie Brigade has posted more wins; top-five and top-10 finishes than any other manufacturer.
The track, with its prominent Chevy presence, is one of the few stand-alone tracks Silverado drivers race on that is a "Chevy" track. They roll out the red carpet for not only the guys with the gold Bowtie on their uniforms, but all NCTS competitors with true Southern hospitality.
As much as adding another victory to their resume means to the Silverado drivers, taking home the "Elvis" trophy seems to have as much, if not more, meaning to them. The hardware is as unique a trophy as is available for the winner of a NCTS race.
Dennis Setzer, No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Silverado, heads the list of successful drivers at the facility just north of historic downtown Memphis, TN. With one win, seven top-five finishes and eight top-10 runs in eight starts, the Newton, NC native has clearly figured out his way around the track in a Silverado.
Last year, an incident on pit road involving the jack from another team instantly erased what was looking to be his second victory there.
"Last year at Memphis was definitely the one that got away," said Setzer. "It was just one of those racing things. I am looking forward to coming back this year and getting our Spears Silverado to victory lane.
"I really like the Memphis track and the fans there are just great! I really like that cool trophy too!"
Ron Hornaday, Jr., No. 33 Camping World Silverado, had also had a very late-race incident in 2005 that stole a second victory from his grasp.
"I have gone to victory lane before in Memphis," said Hornaday. "And have been very close a couple of other times. When that happens, it just drives me to want to go out there and win the next time.
"You know, Memphis is one of those tracks where it is a very prestigious deal to win. The trophy is an Elvis trophy, and it's just really cool. That's what we race for -- trophies."
Aric Almirola will make his first 2007 appearance in the NCTS behind the wheel of the No. 51 FedEx Express Silverado fielded by Billy Ballew Motorsports. Almirola, now competing in selected events in both NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) and NASCAR Nextel Cup Series (NNCS) for Joe Gibbs Racing, made his career-first NCTS start at MMP in 2005, also in a Chevy Silverado.
"I want to thank everyone at FedEx Express," said Almirola. "They have given me the opportunity to drive in the NASCAR Craftsman Trucks Series for the past three years. I appreciate their support and am thankful for the opportunity to drive for them.
"I am really excited to drive for Billy Ballew Motorsports this weekend. When Kyle (Busch) drives the truck, it is the truck to beat and we plan on going to Memphis with that same frame of mind that we will be the one to beat. Billy Ballew, Richie Wauters and the rest of the team does an awesome job on these trucks and look forward to putting the FedEx Express Chevrolet Silverado in Victory Lane in Memphis."
Matt Crafton, No. 88 Menards Silverado, has a great record at MMP, but wants to add one more turn in the race, the turn into victory lane. In six previous trips to the track, he has one top-five and five top-10 finishes.
"Memphis is not the easiest track we go to," said Crafton. "But once you get the right feel to your truck, you can get a good race rhythm and head to the front. We always fight the heat there so you have to be physically and mentally prepared to deal with that aspect. Short track racing is pretty intense in the NCTS so you have to be on your game. Of course having that Elvis trophy on my shelf would be awesome too."
Brendan Gaughan, No. 77 South Point Hotel Silverado, likes the trophy as well: "We all know the Memphis is home to Graceland and Elvis. But Vegas was like his second home. I would love to take that Elvis trophy to Las Vegas this year and make its home in the South Point Hotel & Casino."
But added that the racing at MMP isn't bad either: "I can't explain it, but I like that track, Amazingly enough, as much as I say I hate short tracks - if you are looking for a bright spot on my career as far as Craftsman Truck short track racing goes, it's Memphis.
"I've never done fantastic there, but I've never done really badly - even through my roughest year in 2005, we had a good finish there. We actually finished third, and it was one of the hottest races I have ever driven.
"It's not an easy track to drive. The back straight-away has a huge bump going into turn three. It's got that wall real close on the exit of four. Memphis is a pretty tough short track."
Kraig Kinser, No. 47 Ginn Resorts Silverado, was on his way to at least a top-10, but probably top-five finish at The Milwaukee Mile when he was called to pit road by the team late in the race for fuel under green. His 17th-place finish doesn't reflect at all how well the Morgan-Dollar Motorsports driver performed, so he and the team are looking to turn things around at Memphis.
"Memphis is a track that I am looking forward to heading back to this year," said Kinser. "It is so unique, and there is really no other place like it. There are little bumps all over the track, and it makes for some fun, exciting racing for the drivers and the fans. It is also usually extremely hot when we head to Memphis, but from what I have seen, the weather looks like it is going to be pretty cool, for Memphis anyways.
"I am just looking forward to getting to Memphis and get to a track that I have been to before, and we can jump right into the practices and get our Ginn Resorts Silverado tuned up and ready for the race. The past few weeks, the guys have been really upbeat and having some encouraging runs at Texas, Michigan, and Milwaukee have helped boost all of our confidence, and I am looking to have another strong showing at Memphis."
Tim Sauter, No. 07 Lester Buildings Silverado, fell victim to virtually the same scenario as Kinser at Milwaukee. After running in the top-10 throughout the majority of the race, a late-race green flag stop for fuel pushed him back to 16th in the finishing order.
"We're going to bring the same race truck we ran at Milwaukee," said Sauter. "It's a good piece. I think it will cut the corner and I'm hoping we can be as competitive at Memphis as we were last week."
Sauter's Green Light Racing teammate, Chad McCumbee, No. 08 TheGPSStore.com/Garmin Silverado is looking forward to another trip to Memphis.
"I am looking forward to going to Memphis," said McCumbee. "Our short track program has really picked up and I am hoping that we will be able to pick up where we left off at Mansfield where we came home 14th.
"I think Memphis is a place where it fits me a little better than a lot of the short tracks. It has a pretty wore out surface, similar to Myrtle Beach where I grew up racing. Anywhere that you get some tire wear and where the tires seem to fall off, I seem to really like racing there.
"I am really hoping that will be the case this year, and the softer tire will fall off and play in our favor. I expect if things go right, that our theGPSstore.com / Garmin Chevrolet will be a contender for the race win at Memphis."
Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender Willie Allen, No. 13 ThorSport Silverado, returns to MMP for the second time. The TN native made his first-ever NBS start in 2006.
"Memphis is a special track for me," said Allen. "I had my very first Busch race at Memphis Motorsports Park. It's also in my home state of Tennessee, so it will be great to go back and race in front of my friends and family. This is one of the few tracks on the schedule this year that I have raced at before and that makes a big difference. We can spend more time tuning the truck since I am familiar with the track. I look forward to getting back to my roots of short track racing and hope our Chevy Silverado has a good finish."
Chad Chaffin returns to NCTS competition in the No. 40 Curtis Key Plumbing Silverado, the team he ran part-time for in 2006.
"Even though we had some rough times early last year in trying to get into races and compete, I still enjoyed my relationship with Curtis and the team," Chaffin said. "The race team was a young one last year and worked through motor and personnel issues before finally righting the ship and actually qualified for and raced in the final 17 races.
"Now the No. 40 is solidly in the group of trucks racing every weekend in 2007, and some new people are now in place on the competition side. I'm looking forward to getting back in the truck and finally making something good happen for them."
Chevy Memphis Motorsports Park Notes:
* Chevrolet Silverado drivers have four victories in nine previous NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) at Memphis Motorsports Park (MMP), more than any other manufacturer
* Two current Team Chevy Silverado drivers have wins at Memphis
- Ron Hornaday, Jr., No. 33 Camping World Silverado, 1998
- Dennis Setzer, No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Silverado, 2001
- Has most top-five finishes at MMP of any active driver - Seven
- Has most top-10 finishes at MMP of any active driver - Eight
Re: O'Reilly 200 News and Notes
Driver to win the OReilly 200
1101 Ron Hornaday +450
1102 Mike Skinner +500
1103 Todd Bodine +500
1104 Johnny Benson +600
1105 Travis Kvapil +600
1106 Jack Sprague +600
1107 Erik Darnell +1000
1108 Rick Crawford +1200
1109 Aric Amarola +1200
1110 Ted Musgrave +1500
1111 Matt Crafton +2000
1112 Dennis Setzer +2500
1113 Brendan Gaughan +3500
1114 David Starr +4000
1115 Terry Cook +4000
1116 Field +1000
Re: O'Reilly 200 News and Notes
Who to Watch: Memphis
The scoring tower at Memphis Motorsports Park shows the top ten drivers following the 202 laps of the O'Reilly 200, June 15, 2006. (David M. Vaughn Photo)
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series heads to Memphis Motorsports Park for what could be another classic short track shootout in this Saturday's O'Reilly 200. The twelfth race of the 2007 season will see 36 trucks take to the three-quarter mile Memphis layout for 200 hard fought laps, and the warm summer Memphis weather is sure to not only add a level of difficulty for the drivers in the cockpit but help raise tempers as well.
Here are our driver capsules for the O'Reilly 200:
Wayne Edwards, No. 0 Green Light Racing Chevrolet: Edwards gets the call to start the No. 0 Chevrolet this week. With the entry list not quite at 36 trucks, Green Light Racing filed the entry to fill out the field. Look for this truck to make a couple of laps and then pull in.
Ken Butler III, No. 00 Aarons Lucky Dog Toyota: Butler climbs back in for his first race since Mansfield. This team has been on a roller coaster all season, with good runs punctuated by runs where they struggle. Butler is on an accelerated learning curve, and that could mean another long night for the Waltrip team.
Aaron Fike, No. 1 RFMS/Red Horse Racing Toyota: Fike has a 14.4 average finish so far in 2007. In two previous short track starts, he ran in the top ten at Martinsville and was running second with two laps to go at Mansfield before running out of fuel. If the truck stays under him all night long, Fike should again run in the top ten.
Kevin Hamlin, No. 4 Dodge Motorsports/Open Joist Dodge: Hamlin has only four series starts to this point, with the only short track start coming at Mansfield. He did come home in the top ten and teammate Ken Schrader credited the work Hamlin did in testing the truck prior to the race for his third-place finish in the same race. Hamlin's run was the first of a series of top ten finishes for this team, and look for him to battle for another in Memphis.
Mike Skinner, No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota: Skinner earned another pole at Milwaukee, and his fourth-place run - steady and consistent all night - are exactly what he needs to earn his second series championship. Skinner has three starts at Memphis, but the only time he's finished higher than 26th was his ninth-place finish last season. Skinner can give away some of his points lead, but he needs to keep racking up those Milwaukee-type runs to keep momentum on his side.
Travis Kvapil, No. 6 K&N Engineering Ford: Kvapil has charged from eighth to fourth in the championship standings since the late spring/early summer run of consecutive races started at Charlotte. That run should continue at Memphis where he's a former winner (2002) and runner-up finisher (2003). The worst finish he has at Memphis is 13th coming in his last run at MMP in 2004.
Johnny Chapman, No. 06 Green Light Racing Chevrolet: Just like Edwards, Chapman gets the call to help fill the field in a fourth Green Light Racing truck. Look for him to pull off after a few laps.
Jason White, No. 7 Hooters Energy Drink Chevrolet: White only has one start-and-park to his credit at Memphis, coming in a Busch race a few years back. He'll need to get up to speed relatively quick on the tricky MMP layout if he hopes to be competitive. A top-20 would be a good result for this team after a rocky couple of weeks.
Tim Sauter, No. 07 Lester Buildings Chevrolet: Sauter had his best run of the season last week in Milwaukee, running in the top ten before a caution after he made a green flag pit stop trapped him a lap down. He still ended up with his fifth top-20 finish of the season, and that helps give him some momentum as he heads back to the short tracks. Sauter picked up his best career Busch finish, sixth, at Memphis in 2002.
Blake Bjorklund, No. 8 Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Chevrolet: Bjorklund has been steady so far in his rookie season, but has struggled somewhat on the short tracks. He's averaged a 25.5 finish in two previous short track runs, so he'll be looking for better results at Memphis. This team would like to get back up and run in the top 20, and with the Memphis event being one with little Cup involvement, they have a shot at getting back up there.
Chad McCumbee, No. 08 TheGPSStore.com/Garmin Chevrolet: In eight previous short track races in the Truck Series, McCumbee has a 22.6 average finish. His only previous Memphis start was right on that average as he rolled home 22nd last summer. McCumbee's streak of four consecutive top-20 finishes ended last week at Milwaukee, but he was challenging for a top-15 before bad luck befell him. Look for this team to finish above their average at Memphis.
Brad Keselowski, No. 9 Team ASE Toyota: With Ted Musgrave on the sidelines this week, Germain Racing has called upon Keselowski to fill his seat this week. Based on his past Memphis results, he should do just fine. He's scored two top-20 finishes in the last two races there, and was very competitive in the underfunded Sutton Motorsports truck subbing for an injured Kelly Sutton last year. It's his first chance to drive a truck capable of winning, so Keselowski will need to keep his enthusiasm and emotions in check. He should be a contender for his first career top-ten, and if things go his way he could do more.
Joey Clanton, No. 09 Zaxby's Ford: Clanton had three starts at MMP in the defunct ASA series, with two wins and a fourth-place finish on his resume. Clanton has only one career start during his Truck Series career, that resulting in an eleventh-place finish earlier this year at Mansfield. Look for this combination to race at the top ten.
David Starr, No. 10 International MaxxForce Diesel Ford: In 51 short track starts, Starr has racked up 18 top tens with one win, that coming at Martinsville last spring. Since 2000, Starr has finished no worse than eleventh at Memphis, with three top tens and a best finish of fifth. If this team has a little good fortune - or better yet, no bad fortune - look for Starr to challenge for a top ten finish.
Willie Allen, No. 13 ThorSport Racing Chevrolet: Some might think a green truck numbered 13 is tempting the racing gods somewhat, but not ThorSport team owner Duke Thorson. Unfortunately, this team has had a lot of bad luck this season, with last week's engine failure and crash another in a long line of engine problems. This team hasn't had a top-20 finish since Dover, but hasn't qualified worse than 13th in that time. A solid run on the lead lap would be a nice way to change the momentum for this team.
Rick Crawford, No. 14 Power Stroke Diesel by International Ford: Crawford finished fifth in the inaugural Truck Series race at Memphis in 1998, and has averaged a 12.4 finish since. He has three top-ten runs at MMP, but nothing higher than eleventh since 2002. Crawford has been one of the guys to beat on the short tracks all season, but has not had the luck to get it done. Look for this team to be among the group challenging for the win over the final 25 laps.
Bill Lester, No. 15 Christian Debt Consolidation Chevrolet: Lester has only one top-20 finish at Memphis, a 17th coming in his first start in 2002. Since then, the best he's been able to do is a 23rd in 2004. Billy Ballew's team challenged for the win here in 2004, so look for an improvement in Lester's performance this time around.
Chris Fontaine, No. 16 Xpress Motorsports Chevrolet: Xpress has had a revolving door on the driver's seat this year, with various drivers renting out the truck and keeping team owner Dave Fuge in business. Fuge is still one of the best chassis men in the garage, and with the right funding this team can run up front. Hopefully the funding is there to allow them to race in Memphis; Fuge has two top five finishes at MMP, a second in 2003 with Travis Kvapil and a fifth last year with Mike Bliss.
Ken Schrader, No. 18 Fastenal Dodge: With all of the hundreds of tracks at which he's competed throughout the years, Schrader has never raced at Memphis. BHR has had considerable success, with the late Bobby Hamilton winning there in 2004 and picking up three top-ten finishes there. The O'Reilly 200 is being dedicated to Hamilton's memory, so another top-five run like Schrader scored in Mansfield would be emotional to say the least.
Keven Wood, No. 21 Wood/jtg Racing Ford: Wood is the cousin of former series regular Jon Wood, and the son of Wood/jtg Racing co-owner Len Wood. He will be making a huge leap to race in the Truck Series, so the goal for the weekend is to complete as many laps as he can and be around at the checkered flag. With John Monsam calling the shots, he could coach Wood to a top-20 in his series debut.
Johnny Benson, No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota: Benson comes in as the winner of the most recent race at Milwaukee. Benson was running near the front at Memphis last year when a bout with the wall slowed his pace, resulting in a 32nd place finish. This team is on the upswing, so look for Benson to better his career-best ninth from 2005.
Todd Bodine, No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota: Surprisingly, Bodine is still looking for his first career Truck Series win on a short track. He finished 15th last year at Memphis, which is a career best. Bodine hadn't scored a top ten run at Milwaukee before last week and ended up third; look for a similar result this week at Memphis.
Ron Hornaday, No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet: Hornaday is one of the best ever when it comes to rumbling on the short tracks in the Truck Series. He's picked up 16 wins, including the first Truck race run at Memphis in 1998. He has two other top-ten finishes, including a fourth-place finish last year. Hornaday is among the favorites, and will be tough to beat over the final 50 laps.
Ryan Mathews, No. 36 Bill Davis Racing Toyota: Mathews' learning curve continues as he makes his way to Memphis for the first time. Mathews has been steady and hasn't made many true "rookie mistakes". If he can make it through Memphis clean, he could score another top-15 run.
Chad Chaffin, No. 40 Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet: Chaffin makes his return to the series, but faces some logistical challenges coming from New Hampshire where he's attempting the Cup race as well. Chaffin picked up his first top-five in the series at Memphis in 2001 with the Long Bros. Racing team, another under-funded, independent team. It will be a very difficult task to do that again, but Chaffin could give this truck a solid ride if he makes it back. If not, Stacy Compton will get the call, and he too could run this truck to the verge of a top ten run.
Kraig Kinser, No. 47 Ginn Resorts Chevrolet: Kinser has struggled in his seven previous short track starts; he averages a 27.3 finish, and has only one finish inside the top-20: 13th at Indianapolis last summer. He was 27th at Memphis last year. Kinser has been gaining on it in recent weeks and that momentum could give him another top 20 this weekend.
Peter Shepherd, No. 50 Roush Fenway Racing Ford: Shepherd made his series debut here last year and raced to a 23rd-place finish. He's only made three more starts since, but returning to a track where he has some previous experience will be a help. Shepherd is auditioning for a ride in 2008, so look for him to race as hard as he can all night long.
Aric Almirola, No. 51 FedEx Express Chevrolet: Almirola was credited with winning last week's Busch race although he wasn't even at the track when Denny Hamlin crossed the line to take the checkered. A solid run at Memphis would ease the frustration he felt, and teaming with short track ace Richie Wauters is a great way to do that. Almirola will have a truck capable of running in the top ten, and likely the top five.
Bradley Riethmeyer, No. 53 Blackwater USA Dodge: Riethmeyer makes his second series start, following his debut at Mansfield in May. His goal will be to run all day and make as many laps as possible, and having a chance to race with the veterans and learn as much as he can along the way.
Terry Cook, No. 59 Harris Trucking Toyota: Cook had pit strategy working in his favor last year until a late race caution allowed several drivers to come to the pits for fresh tires and fuel, ruining his chances for a win. Cook has four top ten finishes at Memphis, including a second in 2002; but he also has three finishes of 25th or worse. If he can match his average finish, 15.3, he'll keep on his march to the top ten in the standings.
Jack Sprague, No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota: With 13 wins on short tracks, Sprague is also one of the best in the series when it comes to racing on tracks under a mile in length. He held off Erik Darnell to win last year, one of two wins at Memphis. Sprague is the only two-time winner at MMP, and he could use another win to right the ship after struggling with Lady Luck since finishing second at Mansfield in May.
Dennis Setzer, No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet: One of Setzer's nine career short track wins came at Memphis, coming back in 2001. Setzer's worst Memphis finish, 10th in 2006, is his only finish outside the top five. This team continues to look for some positive momentum, but did win the last time the series raced on a short track at Mansfield in May. Another win may be a lot to ask, but a top-ten finish would go a long way to getting things back on track.
Brendan Gaughan, No. 77 South Point Hotel Chevrolet: Gaughan has two top-ten finishes at Memphis, with a third-place in 2005 his best. He's never been worse than 17th, and has completed every possible lap in his four previous starts. This team has had some misfortune lately, and if they match their average Memphis finish, 10.2, it will help solidify what's been a roller coaster ride throughout the past six weeks.
Dana White, No. 86 888Karport.com Chevrolet: White is another driver entered to help fill the field. He might run longer than the other field fillers, but don't expect to see them on the track past lap 15 unless there is a spate of early cautions and retirements.
Matt Crafton, No. 88 Menards Chevrolet: Half of Crafton's 41 short track starts have turned into top ten finishes. Only a 21st in 2002 keeps Crafton from having six top tens in six starts at MMP. He was third last year, and after a disappointing end at Mansfield in the last short track tussle, Crafton and his team are looking for vindication.
Erik Darnell, No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford: Darnell finished an impressive second to Jack Sprague last year and earned big praise from the three-time series champion along the way. Setups that worked last year for everyone have rarely given similar results throughout the 2007 season, so John Quinn and crew will have to make some tweaks to keep them in the hunt. Darnell finally had another top-ten after his win at Kansas last week in Milwaukee, so that positive momentum should help give him an added advantage this week.
* Pole: Matt Crafton. Something tells me this team is going to be out for revenge after disappointment at Mansfield.
* Winner: Rick Crawford. Crawford dominated Mansfield until a cut tire ended his chances late. He wants to close the deal and erase all memories of some bad luck that's chased him since.
* Rest of the top five behind the winner, in no particular order: Matt Crafton, Jack Sprague, Mike Bliss, Johnny Benson
* Rest of the top ten, behind the top five, in no particular order: Todd Bodine, Aric Almirola, Erik Darnell, Brad Keselowski, Mike Skinner.
TruckSeries.com will have complete event coverage, starting with TrackSideLive! practice updates starting at 3 P.M. Eastern on Friday, Live! Bud Pole Qualifying updates at 6 P.M. Eastern on Saturday, and complete race coverage of the O'Reilly 200 starting at 9 P.M. Eastern that evening.
Next Up Live! on SPEED... O'Reilly 200 - Memphis Motorsports Park - June 30th at 9 p.m. (ET) with TV coverage on SPEED starting at 8:30 p.m. (ET).
Live! on SPEED... Bud Pole Qualifying coverage televised on SPEED this Saturday at 6 pm ET.
Live! on TruckSeries.com... Bud Pole Qualifying online this Saturday at 6:00 pm ET
Memphis Event Schedule on Local Central Time (CDT): Friday - Practice 5 p.m. - 6:00 pm; 6:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. (rookies) and 7:45 p.m. - 8:45 p.m. Saturday - Qualifying 5:00 p.m
Re: O'Reilly 200 News and Notes
Keselowski wins truck pole
June 30th, 2007
Memphis, TN (Sports Network) - Driving Ted Musgrave's No.9 Germain Toyota, Brad Keselowski captured the pole for Saturday night's O'Reilly 200 at the Memphis Motorsports Park. The substitute driver circled the 0.750-mile short track in 22.543 seconds (119.771 m.p.h.).
The pole victory was the first of Keselowski's Craftsman Truck Series career.
Keselowski was in the car because Musgrave was suspended one race for his actions in last week's Toyota Tundra Milwaukee 200. The 2005 Craftsman Series champion was involved in an incident with Kelly Bires and he intentionally hit Bires driving him further into the wall as they were headed back to the pits.
Starting alongside Keselowski will be Ron Hornaday Jr. who posted a second- best time of 22.743 seconds.
Series points leader Mike Skinner (22.799) and Willie Allen (22.819) will make up the second row.
Skinner has started first in seven of 11 events. He has won three and holds a 108-point edge over Ron Hornaday Jr. The No.5 Toyota driver leads the series not only in points, but in driver rating (123.5), winnings ($370,775), laps led (638), top-fives (9) and top-10s (11). He has led at least one lap in every race this year.
The race is set to drop the green flag at 9 p.m. (et).
Re: O'Reilly 200 News and Notes
Kvapil wins in Memphis
June 30th, 2007
Millington, TN (Sports Network) - Travis Kvapil beat and bumped his competition into submission and captured Saturday night's O'Reilly 200 Craftsman Truck Series race. The No.6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford driver crossed the finish line well ahead of Jack Sprague.
The victory was Kvapil's second of the season and seventh of his truck career.
Brad Keselowski, driving the suspended Ted Musgrave's Toyota, led the field to the green flag for 200 laps of racing. Despite having veterans Ron Hornaday Jr. and Mike Skinner right behind him, the first-time pole winner maintained his lead through the first caution flag on lap seven.
However, on the restart Hornaday Jr. got into the back of Keselowski, he fishtailed, and by the time he gathered himself he was relegated to third place.
The three leaders settled into line as the field passed the 50-lap mark. Erik Darnell, who started seventh, was moving up and threatening to join the lead group. He was fourth and just one and-a-half seconds behind Keselowski.
Then on lap 61 Hornaday Jr. slid high and Skinner slipped underneath him for the lead. The No.33 just couldn't keep his truck at the bottom and Keselowski also slid by him for second place.
Another caution flag and Skinner beat Hornaday Jr. back onto the track. With a veteran at the controls, Hornaday Jr. couldn't get the big restart and he was relegated to second place. But he refused to stay there, beating on Skinner's rear bumper until he got loose and sliding underneath him for the lead.
Skinner was unhappy with the move and retaliated by popping Hornaday Jr.'s rear bumper a couple of times. While playing games with Hornaday Jr., Skinner ended up losing his second-place spot to Kvapil.
As the field hit the 93-lap mark, Hornaday Jr. again started to get loose, go high on the track and it opened up an opportunity for Kvapil. He didn't hesitate and the No.6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford grabbed the lead. Kvapil didn't stop there, building his lead to 1.846 seconds at the mid-point of the 200-lap event.
Ken Butler III brought out the third caution flag of the evening and it sent everyone scurrying down pit lane for a final stop of the night. Kvapil's pit crew did its job and got him out first. Skinner's pit crew also did a good job and he beat Hornaday Jr. out for second place.
The top-five all got single file and tried to pull away from the pack. Then Keselowski pulled out of line and made a move around Skinner for second place. Keselowski could stay with Kvapil and the two built almost a three-second lead on Skinner.
Skinner continued to drop as Hornaday Jr. slid under him for third place, but they were both in need of a caution flag to get back up with the two leaders.
As they worked their way through lapped traffic on lap 151, Keselowski found a hole and shot through it for the lead. Within five laps the lead was more than one second.
More lapped traffic and this time Kvapil took advantage to close in on Keselowski. Kvapil got side-by-side on two occasions, but each time Keselowski fought him off. With 25 laps to go they held more than four seconds on the field, it looked to be a two-truck race.
Kvapil started to get frustrated and put the "chrome horn" to Keselowski. He tried high, he tried low, but he couldn't find a way around the No.9 Toyota. Ten laps to go and Kvapil was still in Keselowski's shadow.
On the next lap, Kvapil sent Keselowski spinning. He didn't hit anything, but it brought out the caution flag and when he restarted Keselowski was in 14th place. The caution set up a shootout to the checkered flag between Kvapil, Hornaday Jr., Jack Sprague and Skinner.
On the restart Kvapil got a great start while Hornaday Jr had his hands full with Sprague. It allowed Kvapil to get a huge lead and he cruised to the checkered flag unchallenged.
The next race is set for Saturday, July 14th at the Kentucky Speedway.
Re: O'Reilly 200 News and Notes
Tracking the Trucks : O'Reilly 200
In a Nutshell: Travis Kvapil returned to victory lane at Memphis Motorsports Park Saturday night. He held off Ron Hornaday on a restart and ran away from Jack Sprague with just five laps remaining to win the O’Reilly 200. Ron Hornaday, Mike Skinner and rookie Aaron Fike rounded out the Top 5.
Who Should Have Won: Brad Keselowski. Keselowski started on the pole in Ted Musgrave’s Toyota Tundra, led the first 20 laps and remained in the Top 10 for the majority of the night. Late in the race, Travis Kvapil had the stronger truck and made contact with the No. 9 sending him spinning. In a race that should have been capped by a win for Keselowski, he was left to settle for a 17th place finish.
Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race
1. Was NASCAR’s suspension of Ted Musgrave too harsh of a penalty?
Following an accident with Kelly Bires at the Milwaukee Mile, Ted Musgrave ran into the driver’s side of Bires’ truck shoving him into the outside wall. In response, NASCAR handed down the Craftsman Truck Series’ first driver suspension ever to Musgrave for this week’s race at Memphis along with a 50 point and $10,000 penalty. Just a few weeks ago in the Nextel Cup Series, Kurt Busch intentionally ran into Tony Stewart’s car on pit road, but Busch, who was parked for the remainder of the race was only handed a 100 point penalty and allowed to race the following week. Musgrave did deserve the penalty for his on track actions, but NASCAR should have either taken points or suspended him; not both.
2. Where did Brad Keselowski come from?
In only his third truck series race this season, Brad Keselowski sat in for Ted Musgrave, and he sure made a name for himself. He came out Saturday afternoon and put the No. 9 Team ASE Toyota Tundra on the pole ahead of Ron Hornaday and Mike Skinner. That front row starting position turned into a very strong run all evening. Unfortunately, late in the race, contact with Travis Kvapil sent him spinning out of the lead. Keselowski’s performance Saturday night showed his ability to run well when he has good equipment.
Truck Rookie Report
2007 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
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: 7
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 1
Rookie Of The Race: Aaron Fike
Current Rookie Point Leader: Aaron Fike
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle
Tennessee governor Bill Bredesen named Saturday “Bobby Hamilton Day” in honor of Bobby Hamilton. Memphis Motorsports Park renamed one road leading into the track’s property Bobby Hamilton Blvd in remembrance of the 2004 champion.
The Top 5 remain unchanged for the second week in a row. Mike Skinner still leads Ron Hornaday. Todd Bodine sits in third, 228 points out of the lead. Travis Kvapil and Rick Crawford round out the Top 5.
The big change in the Top 10 saw Ted Musgrave drop from seventh to tenth. Johnny Benson remains in sixth followied by Jack Sprague who moved up a spot to seventh. Aaron Fike and Matt Crafton each moved up a spot to eighth and ninth.
“First things first, I’m a huge Brad Keselowski fan. It’s definitely not how I wanted to make that pass. Man I just feel terrible. I’m really proud of my Roush Fenway team. We just made the perfect adjustments tonight.” Travis Kvapil
“I’m not really sure without seeing a replay what happened, but the end result was we got hit from behind and spun out. As to whether it was my fault, I don’t know. We did all we could do. It’s still a great run for the Team ASE Toyota Tundra. It’s pretty hard to look past tonight, but hopefully we’ll get alot more opportunities like this.” Brad Keselowski
“The guys had great pits stops for me. And at the end there I was ten times faster than Travis. I was hoping for the O’ Reilly 225 but we ran great. Just like to thank everyone.” Jack Sprague
“All the guys at Red Horse Racing did a good job. Our Toyota Tundra was really good tonight. Special thanks to my dad. He’s the reason I’m here and I love him to death.” Aaron Fike
The Craftsman Truck Series heads to Kentucky Speedway in two weeks for the Built Ford Tough 225 presented by the Greater Cincinatti Ford Dealers. The qualifying record was set in 2000 and is held by Bryan Reffner with a speed of 168.460 mph. The defending race winner is Ron Hornaday. Coverage begins Saturday night at 7:30 pm EST on Speed. The race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.