Daytona: News of note, schedule

Ten Tuned Up To Compete For Raybestos Rookie Honors NASCAR Craftsman Trucks Open In Florida For 12th Time Chevy Silverado HD 250 News & Notes Kevin Harvick Inc. Strengthens Sponsorship Portfolio ... What a difference a year makes for Kevin ...

Ten Tuned Up To Compete For Raybestos Rookie Honors
NASCAR Craftsman Trucks Open In Florida For 12th Time

Chevy Silverado HD 250 News & Notes

Kevin Harvick Inc. Strengthens Sponsorship Portfolio ... What a difference a year makes for Kevin Harvick Inc., whose No. 33 Chevrolet and driver Ron Hornaday Jr. came to Daytona in 2006 without sponsorship. All that changed when AES HR Solutions came aboard after mid-season, and last week KHI announced the signing of Camping World for 12 races with the team's No. 2 truck shared by Harvick, Cale Gale and Clint Bowyer. Gale gets the nod for Daytona.

Hooping It Up In Daytona ... Gaughan tipped off the new season with appearances at a pair of Daytona Beach area high schools -- Spruce Creek and Atlantic -- prior to each's appearance in district basketball tournament games. Gaughan spoke to the students about teamwork as well as the philosophy that former Georgetown coach John Thompson imparted.

SPEED Boosts Coverage ... Each of SPEED's 23 broadcasts will be preceded by 45 minutes of pre-race coverage hosted by Krista Voda. All of Daytona's activities -- practice and qualifying -- leading up to the Chevy Silverado HD 250 will be carried live by the series' cable home. Viewership has increased in each season since SPEED began series coverage in 2003. New pit road reporter Adam Alexander joins the team of Rick Allen, Phil Parsons, Michael Waltrip, Ray Dunlap and Voda. After A Season Away, Schrader Returns ... Believe it or not, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series was one of the few places where Ken Schrader (No. 18 Fastenal Dodge) didn't compete in 2006. His last start came on Nov. 11, 2005 at Phoenix. Schrader has gone the longest -- 11 years 10 months -- since his only win at the old Saugus (Calif.) Speedway.

Drivers On The Move

Five competitors among last year's final top 20 come to Daytona with different teams. They are:
David Starr (No. 10 MaxxForce Ford).
Terry Cook (No. 59 Harris Trucking/Melling Engine Parts Toyota).
Mike Bliss (No. 40 Key Motorsports Chevrolet).
Dennis Setzer, (No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet).
Bill Lester (No. 15 Billy Ballew Motorsports Chevrolet).

Starr was highest ranked (fourth) a year ago while Setzer becomes the 10th driver for a team that has competed in all but two of the series' 292 races.

Daytona Preseason Thunder Rewind

Three days of NASCAR Jackson-Hewitt Preseason Thunder established Ford -- in particular Roush Racing -- as the truck to beat in this year's Chevy Silverado HD 250.

New lead driver Travis Kvapil, behind the wheel of last year's race--winning No. 6 Ford, topped every session, followed by Roush teammates Peter Shepherd (No. 50 Roush Racing Ford and Erik Darnell (No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford).

The No. 50 will be driven this week by the race's 2004 winner Edwards.

Kvapil's best single truck lap was clocked at 50.180 seconds/179.354 mph.

Toyotas, led by AJ Allmendinger (No. 00 Red Bull Toyota), recorded the fourth through eighth fastest lap speeds.

Series Opens In The Sunshine State For 12th Straight Season

Just once -- in the series' inaugural season -- has the new year been kicked off outside the Sunshine State.

After the series' "birth" at Phoenix International Raceway in 1995, 12 season openers have been staged at three different Florida race tracks.

Drivers visited Homestead-Miami Speedway in 1996 and 1999 for a race that now serves as the season finale. Walt Disney World Speedway near Orlando opened the 1997-98 seasons. This week's Chevy Silverado HD 250 marks the eighth consecutive race at Daytona.

Two drivers -- Mike Wallace and Joe Ruttman -- are only double season-opening winners. Only Wallace has won back-to-back openers.

Raybestos Rookie Candidates

Class of '07
Willie Allen, Bon Aqua, Tenn.
Kelly Bires, Mauston, Wis.
Blake Bjorklund, Isanti, Minn.
Joey Clanton, Tyrone, Ga.
Aaron Fike, Galesburg, Ill.
Casey Kingsland, Las Vegas, Nev.
Matt McCall, Denver, N.C.
Peter Shepherd, Brampton, Ont. Can.
Tim Sauter, Nacedah, Wis.
Tyler Walker, Los Angeles, Calif.

Raybestos Rookie Class Tuned Up For 2007 Campaign

This year's Raybestos Rookie of the Year class may be smaller than last year's, but plenty of talent abounds among the 10 announced candidates.

Among the group are NASCAR national series veteran Tim Sauter (No. 07 Lester Buildings Chevrolet); open wheel stars Aaron Fike (No. 1 RFMS Toyota) and Tyler Walker (No. 36 360 OTC Toyota); and Canada's Peter Shepherd (No. 50 Roush Racing Ford).

The 2007 season marks the 12th time the rookie award has been contested. Roush Racing drivers have won the award five times -- including three out of the past four seasons.

Several series rookies of the year have gone on to stellar NASCAR NEXTEL Cup careers, including Greg Biffle (1998), Kurt Busch (2000) and Edwards (2003).

Darnell won the 2006 Raybestos Rookie of the Year title.

On The Right Track

Daytona Drama Produces Seven Winners In Seven Races

Odds are good that this year's Chevy Silverado HD 250 will produce Daytona International Speedway's eighth consecutive different series winner.

Of the 36 entered drivers, only three -- Mike Wallace (No. 46 DIRECTV Hot Pass Chevrolet), Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar/Power Stroke Diesel Ford) and Carl Edwards (No. 50 Roush Racing Ford) -- have visited Victory Lane at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

Daytona has featured a number of dramatic finishes -- beginning with the inaugural race in which Wallace overtook Andy Houston in the final lap's fourth turn.

In 2003, Crawford, Travos Kvapil and Robert Pressley swept under the checkered flag literally side-by-side in the series' closest three-way finish.

Two years ago, Bobby Hamilton led just a few feet of the final lap after starting 36th and last.

Daytona finishes have been measured in fractions of a second: Crawford's victory is the closest at 0.027 second. The race's widest finish (in 2001) was 0.318 seconds as Joe Ruttman defeated Ricky Hendrick.

Races have featured green-white-checker finishes on three occasions including a year ago.

Etc.

This year's Daytona race carries record posted awards of $865,783. The figure tops last year's $835,651. A year ago, Mark Martin's victory was worth a record $88,850. ... Several teams and drivers will extend records at Daytona. The race will be the 291st for Spears Motorsports and 275th consecutive start for Roush Racing. Crawford and Sprague will make their 248th starts while Cook will compete in his 223rd consecutive race in a streak that began Jan. 19, 1998 at Walt Disney World Speedway. ... Last year's 27 finishers was a Daytona high. Martin's winning speed of 146.622 mph also set a track record. ... Martin was the track's first pole winner to reach Victory Lane. The trophy, however, has gone to a front row starter on three of seven occasions. ... FOX carries two races live in 2006, the first time the series has appeared on national television since 2000; at Martinsville, March 31 and Mansfield Motorsports Park, May 26. In The Loop

In Todd Bodine's first visit to Daytona International Speedway as a Craftsman Truck Series driver in 2005, he finished third. Last season, in his second visit, he finished second. His third visit? Only time will tell, but the sequence -- and the Loop Data -- favors a trip to Victory Lane for the defending Craftsman Truck Series champion.

Bodine owns the second-best Driver Rating at Daytona with a 123.9, second only to Mark Martin, who won in his first and only series appearance at the track. He's also quick where it counts -- in Daytona's pivotal turns. In Turn 3, Bodine had a third-best average speed of 187.606 mph and in Turn 4, had a fourth-best average speed of 184.074 mph. Bodine also owns the top Green Flag Speed of anyone competing in the Chevy Silverado HD 250 with a 186.658 mph average.

Bodine's consistency at Daytona shows in the numbers. He has a second best average running position of 5.1 and he dominates the Laps in the Top 15 stats, logging a series-best 186 laps in the Top 15. In addition, Bodine has led 22 laps over the last two years, which is third-best overall.

Quotable

"This will be the first time I've ever had a teammate. There have been plenty of times I wished I had a teammate to work the draft with and now I have one." -- 2003 Daytona winner Rick Crawford, who'll team with David Starr this season.

"Talk about going from the outhouse to the penthouse! A few weeks ago I was looking for a job and didn't think I was even going to be in a truck at Daytona. -- David Starr, who'll work with three-time champion crew chief Dennis Connor in 2006.

"If there was another lap of racing last year, we might have given the Germains and Toyota a one-two Daytona finish." -- Todd Bodine reflecting upon his and teammate Ted Musgrave's race with winner Mark Martin.

"Daytona is my home track, and I love it. One of the reasons I love it so much is because we all start from zero, points-wise. Each driver has the chance to be a contender for the championship at Daytona." -- Mike Skinner, whose residence in New Smyrna is a few miles from Daytona International Speedway.

"It seems a little strange being called a rookie, but the way NASCAR's rules are set up I have to run the yellow (bumper) stripes, so we might as well run for the award." -- Tim Sauter, whose 116 NASCAR national series starts include only three in the Craftsman Truck Series.

"I was second at the white flag and first coming off the second turn. Things really got shuffled around and I wound up ninth. It's pretty tough to take when you have a win at Daytona swept away from you three-quarters of a lap short of Victory Lane." -- Terry Cook recalling the 2003 Chevy Silverado HD 250 and why fans find Daytona truck racing so compelling.

The Race: Chevy Silverado HD 250

The Place: Daytona International Speedway

The Date: Feb. 16, 2007
The Time: 8:00 p.m. (ET)

Race Distance: 250 miles/ 100 laps
Track Layout: 2.5-mile tri-oval

TV: SPEED, 7:30 p.m. (ET)

Race Purse: $865,733

2006 Winner: Mark Martin
2006 Pole: Mark Martin

Schedule: Wednesday -- Practice, 4:30 p.m. --5:30 p.m. Thursday -- Final Practice 11:45 a.m. --1:15 p.m. Qualifying, 7 p.m.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Michael Waltrip , Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , Ken Schrader , David Starr , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Mike Wallace , Andy Houston , Kurt Busch , Robert Pressley , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Ted Musgrave , Ricky Hendrick , Dennis Setzer , Terry Cook , Rick Crawford , Joe Ruttman , Tim Sauter , Bill Lester , Mike Bliss , Aaron Fike , Carl Edwards , Joey Clanton , Tyler Walker , Clint Bowyer , Willie Allen , Erik Darnell , Matt McCall , Cale Gale , Kelly Bires , Blake Bjorklund , Casey Kingsland , Peter Shepherd , Mark Martin , Travis Kvapil