* Finale Settles Championship For 12th Time * Homestead Primed To Crown 12th Different Winner * Ford 200 Will See 2007 Raybestos Rookie Crowned 2007 Last Call: Ford 200 Will Determine The Champion -- Again DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 10, 2007)...
* Finale Settles Championship For 12th Time
* Homestead Primed To Crown 12th Different Winner
* Ford 200 Will See 2007 Raybestos Rookie Crowned
2007 Last Call: Ford 200 Will Determine The Champion -- Again
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 10, 2007) -- Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) hopes history repeats itself for the 10th time.
Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet) hopes he'll be the third to score a come-from-behind victory.
Skinner, following an eighth-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway, enters the 2007 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series finale leading rival Hornaday by 29 points.
The margin is the fourth-closest in series history and marks the 12th time in 13 seasons the championship has gone down to the final race.
Just twice -- Jack Sprague (No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota) in 1999 and Travis Kvapil (No. 6 K&N Filters Ford) in 2003 -- has the leader entering the final race failed to win the title.
Sprague came from 13 points down to bypass Greg Biffle. Kvapil, 23 points behind in third place, overtook Brendan Gaughan (No. 77 South Point Chevrolet).
Skinner can clinch his second championship by finishing second or third with a lap led. Hornaday can clinch by winning, leading the most laps and having Skinner finish third with zero laps led.
"We've run awfully well this year -- we've won five races," said Skinner. "If they would have told me I'd win five races this year and run eighth in the points, I would have said 'okay, I'll take that.' Anything after that is a bonus."
"All we can do is keep doing what we are doing and racing hard," said Hornaday.
#@No Repeat Winners At Homestead-Miami Speedway
When Ron Hornaday Jr. won September's New Hampshire 200, it left Homestead-Miami Speedway as the last track standing, so to speak.
Both speedways joined the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 1996 and each boasted a log of 11 consecutive different winners -- a streak Hornaday ended at NHIS.
Now, the South Florida facility will take its turn at collecting an even dozen winners.
Who among those entered hasn't won at Homestead?
For starters, standings leader Mike Skinner, whose best finish of fourth came in Homestead's 1996 inaugural race.
Interestingly, no driver has won at Homestead in his championship season although the winners' roster includes Hornaday (2002), Ted Musgrave (2001), Bobby Hamilton (2003) and Todd Bodine (2005).
Rick Crawford (1998) is the only other Homestead winner expected to compete in the Ford 200.
That leaves six who have won in 2007 in line to visit Homestead's Victory Lane.
They are Travis Kvapil, Johnny Benson, Jack Sprague, Erik Darnell, Dennis Setzer and Kyle Busch. Busch would seem to be the hottest of the sextet coming off his victory in Phoenix -- the 22-year-old Las Vegas driver's second in his past three starts.
Two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series regulars have won at Homestead: Kasey Kahne in 2004 and Mark Martin a year ago.
Raybestos Award Goes Down To The Wire
It's too close to call.
The 2007 Raybestos Rookie of the Year battle -- like the overall series championship -- appears to be headed for a final-lap, last-turn conclusion.
Nashville's Willie Allen (No. 13 ThorSport Chevrolet) has a seven-point lead over Tim Sauter (No. 07 Lester Buildings Chevrolet) on the eve of the Ford 200 but there's plenty of competition left on and off the track.
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Rookie of the Year Committee will meet at Homestead and award up to 30 bonus points to each freshman competitor.
There's also an overall finish bonus of 10 points with a drop of one-point increments. Allen is 15th in series points but Sauter is just 78 back in 16th.
Allen admits to looking in his mirror and listening to his spotter for positioning of his rivals. "It's in the back of your mind where they're running," he said. "I definitely want to stay ahead of them."
"All in all, the season's gone pretty well but we've had some good runs get away from us," said Sauter. "We've just got to keep the pressure on and do the best we can."
The "wild card" in the mix is Joey Clanton (No. 09 Zaxby's Ford). Nine points behind Allen, Clanton has competed in only 15 of 24 races and has the worst finish of the three contenders -- five points -- to discard.
"We have to make the best of it at Homestead and go get a top 10 and let the cards fall where they may," he said.
Top 10 Up For Grabs
As they say, "Do the math."
Every spot in the current top 10 could change with the results of Friday night's Ford 200.
The tightest battles are for positions third and 10th. Four drivers have a shot at the No. 3 position that Travis Kvapil has held since his victory in Nashville.
Tenth -- the final spot on-stage at the awards banquet -- is tighter yet. Erik Darnell faces three challengers within 13 points.