Daytona: Round one preview

Split Second Determines Every Chevy Silverado 250 Winner Roush Fenway Racing Team To Make 300th Consecutive Start Multi-Discipline Drivers Comprise 2008 Raybestos Rookie Class At Daytona, Everybody Stands On The Final Lap DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.

Split Second Determines Every Chevy Silverado 250 Winner
Roush Fenway Racing Team To Make 300th Consecutive Start
Multi-Discipline Drivers Comprise 2008 Raybestos Rookie Class

At Daytona, Everybody Stands On The Final Lap

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 11, 2008) -- It's pretty much a given that nobody will be seated when the final lap of Friday's Chevy Silverado 250 is run at Daytona International Speedway.

That's because every one of the previous eight races has been decided by split seconds.

One -- the late Bobby Hamilton's 2004 victory -- was decided by a matter of inches. And that was the only lap the 36th-place starting Hamilton led.

The track's first series race in 2000 saw Mike Wallace overtake Andy Houston between turns three and four of the final lap.

Travis Kvapil was last year's victim of the slingshot exiting Turn 4 with the lead and finishing third to Jack Sprague (No. 2 American Commercial Lines Chevrolet) and Johnny Benson (No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota).

The Chevy Silverado 250 has produced not one but two three-wide finishes.

Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Racing Ford) edged Kvapil in 2003 with Robert Pressley finishing third.

Winning Isn't Everything But A Good Daytona Finish Means A Lot

A competitor doesn't have to win the Chevy Silverado 250 to capture the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship.

In fact, none ever has.

Travis Kvapil (2003) and Todd Bodine (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota, 2006) came the closest finishing in the runner-up position.

A driver will tell you that a win would be nice but a solid finish and a good point total will suffice.

A cliche, perhaps, but history confirms it.

The champion in each of the past three seasons has finished seventh or higher.

Last year's titleholder, Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet) was seventh -- the Palmdale, Calif., competitor's first top-10 finish in four trips to the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

Mike Bliss (No. 71 TRG Chevrolet), whose team was undecided about running the full, 2000 season proved to be the exception to the rule. He suffered engine failure, finished 33rd and trailed winner Pressley by a whopping 121 points, a margin he ultimately overcame with 21 consecutive races without a DNF.

The next largest post-Daytona deficit for a past champion is the 55 points by which Hamilton trailed in 2004. Ironically, Hamilton came back to win the race the following year.

Jack Roush And Roush Fenway Organization To Run 300th Consecutive Race

A rival now, Todd Bodine began a run of 299 consecutive starts by trucks owned by Jack Roush that dates to his eighth-place finish on Oct. 15, 1995 at the old Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif.

The streak reaches a record 300 races with the running of Friday's Chevy Silverado 250 at Daytona International Speedway.

Along the way, Roush Fenway Racing drivers have amassed one championship, 48 victories and five rookie of the year crowns.

One -- Kurt Busch -- won the NASCAR Sprint Cup title in 2004.

"The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is a great series to develop a driver and get him ready for the Nationwide Series or the Sprint Cup Series," said Roush, who is looking for his third Daytona winner.

Roush Fenway is fielding three teams in 2008.

Circle Bar No. 2 Alone

The Chevy Silverado 250 will mark the 274th consecutive time a Circle Bar Racing Ford has competed in a NASCAR Craftsman Truck race.

The team, which fields entries for Rick Crawford and Brendan Gaughan (No. 10 MAXX Force Diesel Ford), tied Ultra Motorsports for No. 2 in consecutive starts last November at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The streak began Jan. 19, 1997.

2008 Season Boasts Solid Crop Of Raybestos Rookie Of The Year Candidates

At least seven drivers from a number of different motorsports disciplines will compete for the 2008 Raybestos Rookie of the Year crown.

The class is solid -- perhaps more so than in a number of years.

A Raybestos rookie has not won a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race since 2003 when that season's rookie of the year (and now NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star) Carl Edwards posted three victories.

That drought well may end this year given the caliber of candidates and the equipment in which each will be competing.

Handicapping the class, it would seem unrealistic to pick a favorite but history falls squarely on the side of Colin Braun, a 19-year-old road racing graduate.

Braun will drive the No. 6 Con-way Trucking Ford. The Roush Fenway Racing entry went to Victory Lane four times in 2007 with Travis Kvapil at the wheel. Crew chief Mike Beam, a 10-time series winner, again will oversee the operation.

Roush Fenway drivers have won a record five series rookie of the year titles.

TRG Motorsports, a powerhouse Grand American Series team, will field two candidates in its first full season. Andy Lally (No. 7 LINE-X Toyota), a three-time Grand Am champion, will be paired with 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Donny Lia (No. 71 Chevrolet).

Also members of this year's class are Justin Marks (No. 9 crocs/Construct Corps Toyota; Phillip McGilton (No. 22 Bill Davis Racing Toyota); Marc Mitchell (No. 15 Ergon Chevrolet) and Brian Scott (No. 16 Shark Energy Drink/Albertsons Chevrolet).

The class ranges in age from 19 (Braun) to Lally, who celebrated his 33rd birthday the Monday of this week.

Clash Of The Titans: Round 2

Five NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers who battled for last year's championship return to renew rivalries in 2008.

The five -- Todd Bodine, Ron Hornaday Jr., Ted Musgrave, Jack Sprague and Mike Skinner -- have rung up eight championships, 114 victories and more than $24 million in winnings.

As good as they are overall, only Sprague has won at Daytona International Speedway.

Hornaday and Sprague comprise Kevin Harvick Inc.'s "dream team" in 2008.

Skinner, last year's championship runner-up, returns to the No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota in which he led an unprecedented 24 of 25 races.

Bodine will begin his fourth full season with Germain Racing where he's won 12 races and finished third, first and fourth in series points.

Musgrave, seventh a year ago, moves to the No. 59 Team ASE/Harris Trucking Toyota. The 2005 champion snapped a lengthy winless streak last fall at Texas Motor Speedway.

Musgrave will make his 501st start in NASCAR's three national series at Daytona.

"It shows that, as a driver, I've been around the sport for a long time. It's a great milestone to hit," he said. Skinner, a Californian who has lived in the Daytona Beach area for seven years, is excited about getting the new season started.

"I think the race is going to be just as interesting as it was last year" when the 50-year-old competitor finished fourth.

Terry Cook, one of only four drivers to start all eight races at Daytona, arguably made the biggest stride over the off-season -- at least insofar as the Chevy Silverado 250 is concerned.

With Sprague's departure, Cook fills the seat in the No. 60 Wyler Racing Toyota, the winner of last year's Daytona race.

Cook's ninth Daytona start will be his series leading 248th consecutive start, a streak that dates to Jan. 18, 1998 at Walt Disney World Speedway.

"I have very high expectations for our team this year," said Cook, who has won six times for four different owners.

Cook's best Daytona finish of fourth came in 2000. He counts six top-10 finishes.

In The Loop: The Data Says This May Be Todd's Year At Daytona

One of the most go-to terms in all of sports is "due," usually attached to any athlete or team who consistently steps to the brink of glory only to fall short.

That's Todd Bodine at Daytona International Speedway in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. He has an incredible Daytona resume, but has yet to visit Victory Lane in any of his three races at the historic track.

Bodine has raced in each of the last three NCTS races with results of third, second and fifth. He has led laps in all three. He has an Average Running Position of 5.4, a Driver Rating of 116.2 (best among drivers with two or more starts), nine Fastest Laps Run (which is second only to Dennis Setzer's 11) and has spent 281 Laps in the Top 15 -- which, at 93 percent of the laps run, is best of any driver.

In other words, Bodine is due.

One of Bodine's key obstacles to victory is last year's winner, Jack Sprague. Sprague, now with new team Kevin Harvick Inc., has remarkable stats at Daytona: a 101.6 Driver Rating, an Average Running Position of 9.0 and 241 Laps in the Top 15.

One driver who has had surprising struggles at DIS is defending series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. In four races, Hornaday has only one top 10, an Average Running Position of 14.3 and a Driver Rating of 83.7.

NCTS: Etc.

Chevy 250 Sponsor Yet To Win ... Daytona's race is sponsored by Chevrolet, however, a Silverado truck has yet to win on the 2.5-mile superspeedway. Ford has been the dominant brand winning four -- 50 percent -- of the races held. Dodge has three wins while Toyota, the 2006-07 series manufacturers' champion, won last year's race.

Smaller Fuel Cells ... The 22-gallon fuel cell is history. The Chevy Silverado 250 is the first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race to utilize a 17.75-gallon cell that's now standard in all three of NASCAR's national series. It is anticipated the change will result in shorter fuel windows and more pit stops.

Same Spacer Rule In Effect ... As in 2007, a one-inch tapered spacer (1-11/16th inch to 1-1/16th inch) between carburetor and intake manifold is required.

Keystone New Pole Sponsor ... Keystone Light beer is the series' pole sponsor in 2008 posting a $1,900 award to the driver with the fastest qualifying time eligible to participate in the program. Pole winners have won the Chevy Silverado 250 three times including the past two events.

Age Does Make A Difference At Daytona ... Only one previous winner, Carl Edwards, 26, has failed to celebrate his 40th birthday before winning the Chevy Silverado 250. Joe Ruttman was age 56 years three months when he won the race in 2001.

Three Wins For BHR-VA ... While no driver has won at Daytona more than once, one team -- Bobby Hamilton Racing-VA -- has three victories, the most by any one team. Current drivers Dennis Setzer and Stacy Compton hope to convert best finishes of sixth and 17th into win No. 4.

Quotable:

"I don't think we're going to set any land speed records next week but we should race well and that's what we need right now." -- Scott Lagasse, No. 20 JTG Racing Ford.

"I like the way they both are going to drive and so hopefully when it comes down to the end (of the race), they can race each other and keep it in the family." -- Kevin Harvick on KHI drivers Ron Hornaday Jr. and Jack Sprague.

"I think we've got a shot if things go our way." -- Erik Darnell, No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford, who led by single-truck practice practices last month at 178.547 mph.

"It really feels like I came home. They showed last year that they can put a top-10 truck on the track every race no matter what the driver." -- David Starr, who returns to the No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota team he drove for in 2006.

"I've been with that my whole career really. (In Las Vegas) there were guys I was racing against who were 45 and 50 years old that had grandkids older than I was." -- Kyle Busch, No. 51 Toyota, the youngest driver to win a series race at age 20.

"There's no other team in the series that can say they've had one driver, one owner and one sponsor for that long and we take pride in that as an organization." -- Rick Crawford, who has driven the No. 14 Circle Bar Ford in 246 of the team's 247 races. He failed to start one race due to injury in 2005.

FAST FACTS

The Race: Chevy Silverado 250

The Place: Daytona International Speedway

The Date: Feb. 15, 2008
The Time: 8 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: $875,448

2007 Winner: Jack Sprague
2007 Pole: Jack Sprague

Schedule:
Wednesday -- Practice, 4:30--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 , Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , Kevin Harvick , Mike Wallace , Andy Houston , Kurt Busch , Robert Pressley , Stacy Compton , Johnny Benson , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Ted Musgrave , Colin Braun , Jack Sprague , Dennis Setzer , Terry Cook , Rick Crawford , Joe Ruttman , Andy Lally , Brendan Gaughan , Mike Bliss , Justin Marks , Carl Edwards , Scott Lagasse Jr. , Jack Roush , Erik Darnell , Phillip McGilton , Brian Scott , Donny Lia , Kyle Busch , Travis Kvapil
Teams Germain Racing , Roush Fenway Racing , TRG Motorsports , Bill Davis Racing , Red Horse Racing