NASCAR Camping World Truck Series News And Notes - O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis AAA Insurance 200 Lifts Curtain On Indy's Weekend Of Speed There have been many big moments since 1995 when the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series became...
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series News And Notes - O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis
AAA Insurance 200 Lifts Curtain On Indy's Weekend Of Speed
There have been many big moments since 1995 when the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series became part of NASCAR's mid-summer celebration of speed at O'Reilly Raceway Park and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Mike Skinner (No. 5 Exide Toyota) won the track's first two races leading all 350 laps - proof enough to then owner Richard Childress that the California native deserved promotion to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, his destination the following year.
The 1998 race was a slugfest between champions Jack Sprague and Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Georgia Boot Chevrolet). Sprague's victory, after his rival wound up in the wall, remains among the series' most controversial.
A 16-year-old high school student from Las Vegas, Nev., made his NASCAR national series debut at ORP in 2001. Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota) finished ninth. Check the record books for the rest of the story.
In 2004, the improbable appeared ready to happen. Johnny Sauter (No. 13 Curb Records Chevrolet) led nearly 150 laps in a backyard-built truck. The lap that counted -- No. 200 -- however, belonged to Chad Chaffin. It was the only lap Chaffin led.
Last year's race found two from ORP's inaugural race battling for the win once again. Hornaday and Skinner went nose-to-tailgate and occasionally side-by-side in a tense, final-laps duel that culminated in Hornaday's record-breaking fourth consecutive victory.
This year's 16th edition of the AAA 200 presented by J.D. Byrider figures to be equally distinguished.
Hornaday and Skinner, the series' top two short track winners, will match up yet again. Sauter, a winner earlier this spring at Kansas Speedway (at Hornaday's expense) has unfinished business. Busch is after his third win of the 2010 season locked in a tight, three-way owner championship struggle with Germain Racing and Kevin Harvick Inc.
Let the games begin!
ORP Means Opportunity To Double Down
At least six drivers, beginning with Busch, figure to do double duty this week as the NASCAR Camping World Trucks and NASCAR Nationwide Series join forces at O'Reilly Raceway Park.
Busch will be back in the No. 18 Toyota for the first time since June 12 when he finished third behind Aric Almirola (No. 51 Zyclara/Graceway Pharmaceuticals Toyota) and Todd Bodine (No. 30 Germain.com Toyota). Busch will be looking for NCWTS win No. 3 and NNS win No. 8.
Almirola will also be in Saturday's race in JR Motorsports' No. 88 GT Vodka Chevrolet.
Hornaday will make twin starts for Kevin Harvick Inc. Hornaday won the 2000 NNS Kroger 200.
NNS regular Shelby Howard (No. 2 Foretravel Chevrolet) will be NHornaday's CWTS teammate.
David Starr (No. 81Toyota) and Dennis Setzer (No. 92 FleetHQ.com-BTS Tire Chevrolet) also have entered both weekend races at ORP. Setzer won the 2005 AAA Insurance 200.
Wayne's Words: Fans Come Early For ORP's Best Viewing Spots
"We've always opened the garage early at O'Reilly Raceway Park because it's a challenge to inspect, practice, qualify and run a 200-lap race in a single day.
"But even though the sun is just coming up, fans already are putting out their blankets on the hill overlooking Turn 1. It's a prime viewing place and you've got to get there early for the best spots.
"There's always plenty of action in Turn 1 and especially so since the track's resurfacing some years ago. It's a multi-groove track now with great, side-by-side competition that goes on from the first lap until the last.
"We've been fortunate over the years to see many last-lap passes for wins. None were more dramatic than Chad Chaffin's pass of Johnny Sauter in 2004.
"Getting on pit road without making a mistake is one of a driver's biggest challenges at O'Reilly Raceway Park -- especially if it's a green flag pit stop. A great stop means great track position. The opposite is true and maybe more so.
"O'Reilly Raceway Park has been home to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series since 1995. It is one of just three tracks to host a race in each of 16 seasons. We've visited Martinsville and will go back in October. Phoenix, which staged the first and final races of the 1995 inaugural season, is on deck for November.
"This is the final race of a three-week Midwest swing. The racing has been great and the fans' enthusiasm just fantastic. We couldn't ask for anything better."
- Wayne Auton, Series Director
MPD Campaigns In High Gear
Voting for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' Most Popular Driver doesn't end until Nov. 13 but a pair of drivers who finished one-two in an earlier K&N Pro Series East balloting already are on the campaign trail.
Ricky Carmichael (No. 4 Monster Energy Chevrolet) and Austin Dillon (No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) are serious about winning the prestigious award.
Carmichael won last year's award in his freshman season. "It was pretty cool to get invited to the (Champion's) banquet because I was not going to be attending because of performance reasons," he said. "It's going to be hard going up against Austin. His results (a victory in Iowa) are definitely helping him and it helps he is such a great person."
Dillon, runner-up to Carmichael in the K&N series in 2008, wants to return the favor. "All drivers want to see how many fans they have and to become the Most Popular Driver," he said.
Fans can go to the NCWTS page on NASCAR com and vote once per day .
Harvick Scores No. 3; Bodine's Points Lead Increases
Kevin Harvick (No. 2 STUBBS Legendary Bar-B-Q Chevrolet) doesn't run many NASCAR Camping World Truck races.
But when he does: Saturday's Gateway victory was his third of the season, seventh since 2008 and 12th consecutive top-five finish.
And do those owner points add up.
Harvick's truck trails leader Todd Bodine's No 30 Germain entry by just. 10 points .
The economy may be tough but Harvick and his wife, DeLana, have managed to sell all of the remaining races for Hornaday's flagship No. 33 and the No. 2 as well.
"You just had to lower your overhead costs to make your company run more efficiently with the new (sponsorship) price point that everyone is willing to spend," said Harvick, who won his first NCWTS pole in his 105th start.
Bodine finished fourth on a brutally hot day in suburban St. Louis that left the 2006 champion with second-degree burns. He increased an 88- point lead over Aric Almirola to 101.
"The pit stop was the difference," said Bodine, who started 14th. "We got a little track position from great pit stops again this week.
Cobb Chases NCWTS History As Three Female Drivers Enter AAA Insurance 200
Three female drivers hope to take the green flag in Friday night's AAA Insurance 200 presented by J.D. Byrider -- two of them veterans of the series and a third making her first start.
Jennifer Jo Cobb (No. 10 DrivenMale.com Ford) is bidding to become the highest-ranked female in the points standings in the series' 16- year history.
Michelle Theriault (No. 48 Pro Gold Lubricants Chevrolet) has competed in four previous races. She most recently finished 36th at Iowa Speedway in 2009. Friday's race is the first of six the Connecticut native plans to run for Andy Hillenburg's Fast Track Racing.
Johanna Long (No. 15 Toyota) will be making her series debut and at age 18 become the youngest of her sex to compete in a NASCAR Camping World Truck event. Caitlin Shaw, then 19, finished 24th in last year's O'Reilly Raceway Park event to set a series youngest female driver mark.
Cobb, who posted her first top-15 finish earlier this season at Texas Motor Speedway, ranks 17th following her 20th-place finish at Gateway International Raceway. That matches the ranking achieved by Tammy Jo Kirk during the 1997 season. Kirk remains the only female driver to finish among the top 10 in final points ranking 20th in 1997.
Long, from Pensacola, Fla., enters the series with multiple late model victories, championships in Blizzard and Gulf Coast series and a pole position for the Snow Ball Derby, one of late model racing's preeminent post-season special events.
She follows Kelly Sutton into the cockpit of the Billy Ballew Motorsports truck. Sutton, the series' female leader with 54 starts, campaigned a Ballew truck three times in 2007 with a best finish of 20th at the Milwaukee Mile.
"She's extremely talented and has been very successful to this point," said Billy Ballew. "The series is a great venue for her to grow as a driver."
Long recently tested at Georgia's Gresham Motorsports Park and logged some of the fastest laps turned by a number of NASCAR Camping World Truck teams.
"This is a great opportunity," Long said. "Billy Ballew Motorsports has great people and great equipment. Billy's guys have been very successful helping other up and coming drivers transition into NASCAR."
Position Key To ORP Victory: Get 'Em When You, Can Preferably Early
Nowhere is qualifying as vital as it is at O'Reilly Raceway Park in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
The proof is in the numbers.
In 15 series races there, five race winners started on the Keystone Light Pole. Three more came from the outside pole. Another three started third, one from fourth and two from fifth. Add that all up, and 14 of the 15 race winners started in the top five.
Only one winner has started outside the top five -- Johnny Benson in 2008.
That race made the above stat even more telling. Quite possibly, Benson knew the secret was early track position. On the first lap, he drove like it was the last lap.
Starting eighth that event, Benson passed three trucks on the very first lap. So though he started lap No. 1 in eighth, he started lap No. 2 in fifth.
Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, the eventual winner vaulted to -- or near -- the lead early. Two of the past five winners (Dennis Setzer in 2005 and Rick Crawford in 2006) were first at the race's midpoint. All others were in the top four.
With 20 laps to go in the last five ORP races, four eventual race winners were in the lead. Only Setzer in 2005 came from behind to win with 20 laps to go. He was second beginning the races final 20 laps.
Chad Chaffin's last-lap pass of Johnny Sauter took place in 2004, the year before the inception of the Loop Scoring Data system. From a competitive standpoint, however, it remains the Gold Standard of NASCAR Camping World Truck racing at O'Reilly Raceway Park.
Kahne Bids To Extend Streak
Kasey Kahne is the only driver to win his first two NASCAR Camping World Truck starts doubling at Darlington Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2004. The streak remains intact, more than 5-1/2 years later and Kahne bids to extend it when he drives Kyle Busch Motorsports' No. 18 Toyota at Pocono Raceway on July 31.
Chicagoland Signs Sponsor
Chicagoland Speedway's Aug. 27 stop will be known as the EnjoyIllinois.com 200.
Hornaday, Cope Together At ORP
With hiring of a permanent crew chief to replace Doug George a week away, Kevin Harvick Inc. will put Ernie Cope on the box this week for the AAA Insurance 200. The two will pair for Saturday night's Kroger 200 as well. Hornaday is winless in his last 22 starts matching his second longest victory drought (1999). He has won 45 times with an unprecedented nine different crew chiefs. Cope picked up his seventh victory backing Harvick at Gateway International Raceway.
And Here's The Windup
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points leader Todd Bodine will throw out the first pitch Wednesday afternoon when the Triple A Indianapolis Indians square off against Lehigh Valley at Victory Field in Indianapolis.
Bodine, Ricky Carmichael, Austin Dillon, James Buescher (No. 31 Wolf Pack Rentals Chevrolet) and Daytona winner Timothy Peters (No. 17 Red Horse Racing Chevrolet) will sign autographs at the Indianapolis Camping World store from 5-8 p.m. Thursday. The fan festival will include interactive displays and giveaways.
A Newcomer And A Returnee
Florida late model and Bandolero veteran Ryan Rust will drive Rick Ware Racing's No. 6 Firestop Chevrolet in his NASCAR Camping World Series debut at ORP. Narain Karthikeyan (No. 60 SafeAuto Insurance Chevrolet) returns to the series after a month's absence. Karthikeyan, splitting the No. 60 with Stacy Compton, finished a career-high 11th-place in his last start on June 5 at Texas Motor Speedway. Compton recently expressed hope of fielding a second, full-time truck for Karthikeyan in 2011.
Up Next: Pocono Raceway
The inaugural Pocono Mountains 125 puts the punctuation mark on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' trip through the nation's major tracks.
Pocono Raceway remains the only track currently hosting a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on which the trucks have yet to compete.
That statistic will be erased on July 31 when the much anticipated 50-lap, 125-mile race is held at the triangle-shaped, 2.5-mile facility.
This won't be the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' initial visit to the Keystone State. Six races were held between 1996 and 2001 at the now defunct Nazareth Speedway.
Ron Hornaday Jr. is among Nazareth's four winners visiting Victory Lane in 1998. Hornaday won a pair of NASCAR Nationwide Series races at the one-mile, multi-turn track in 2000 and 2003. Dennis Setzer won the 2000 NCWTS race.
Next Race: AAA Insurance 200
presented by J.D. Byrider
The Place: O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis (.686-mile oval)
The Date: Friday, July 23
The Time: 8 p.m. ET
Race Distance: 200 laps /137.2 miles
TV: SPEED, 8 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS NASCAR Radio (Listen locally on WNDE-AM 1260.)
2009 Polesitter: Colin Braun
2009 Winner: Ron Hornaday Jr.
Schedule (All times ET):
Friday -- Practice, 11 a.m. -- 12:15 p.m. and 12:45-2 p.m. Qualifying -- 5:10 p.m.