NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series News And Notes * Series Champion Back In Familiar Territory...Victory Lane * Veterans Control The Top, Leave Little Room For Others * Braun's Kansas Performance Shakes Up Rookie...
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series News And Notes
* Series Champion Back In Familiar Territory...Victory Lane
* Veterans Control The Top, Leave Little Room For Others
* Braun's Kansas Performance Shakes Up Rookie Standings
Reigning Champ Back In Victory Lane
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 28, 2008) -- It's pretty easy to say Ron Hornaday Jr. had a good weekend.
The reigning series champion kicked things off at Kansas Speedway with one of the fastest trucks in practice. He took qualifying, capturing his second Keystone Light Pole of the season.
The driver of the No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet then dominated the race.
After leading 136 of 167 laps -- most by a Kansas winner -- Hornaday won the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250. He's the first driver in eight editions of the race to win from the pole position.
Add another first to the mix. The win was Hornaday and crew chief Rick Ren's first win at the 1.5-mile track.
"I've got to thank Chevrolet, Camping World, the VFW, everybody at KHI and this whole Camping World team for giving me this awesome truck," he said. "I hadn't won at Kansas before so this is really cool."
The driver added, "What Kevin and DeLana (Harvick) are doing at KHI, just putting the right people in the right places, it's an honor to race equipment like this. To sit on the pole and win this race was amazing."
Ren echoed his driver's comments. "We unloaded and were fast. We had a really awesome truck," he said.
While the truck was good, it was a fuel gamble for the team as the cautions fell and the laps dwindled down. "I normally don't mention saving fuel to him (Ron), but I think he heard it more than ever this race," Ren said.
Hornaday has led laps in all five races so far this season. His Kansas win brings him to the top of the driver point standings, 61 points over Rick Crawford.
Series Veterans Meeting Challenge Of 'Young Guns'
It is clear there is up and coming talent in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series with young drivers like Roush Fenway Racing's Erik Darnell (No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford), Colin Braun (No. 6 Con-Way Freight Ford) and Germain Racing rookie Justin Marks (No. 9 crocs/Construct Corps Toyota) among them.
The almost 23-year-old Kyle Busch (No. 51 Toyota) is throwing his hat in the ring, too, throughout the season. Busch returns to the series at Lowe's Motor Speedway, where he's a double winner.
But don't count out the other competitors. A glance at the driver point standings and race finishes proves the veterans are holding their own.
Defending series champion Hornaday, with a dominating win at Kansas, has taken the points lead from the absent Busch.
Not far behind, Crawford, driver of the No. 14 Power Stroke Diesel by International Ford, has jumped to second.
Strong performances over the weekend helped other seasoned drivers break into the top of the pack. Three-time series champion Jack Sprague (No. 2 American Commercial Lines Chevrolet) weathered a rocky start to the season, but finished second to teammate Hornaday in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 and moved to ninth in the driver point standings.
Sprague is hungry for a win. "I am really proud of this team," he said. "To be able in just five races to come together and run as strong as we have says a lot about KHI and this team. I know we will get a win soon."
Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota), just shy of the top-10, is a three-time pole sitter at Lowe's. He finished fifth at Kansas. The former series champion is definitely not out of contention.
Etc. & Quotable
Speed Finding His Way ... Scott Speed (No. 22 Red Bull Toyota) is finding his way toward Victory Lane. The driver, who made his debut with Bill Davis Racing in Kansas, won the previous day's Kansas Lottery $150 Grand ARCA RE/MAX race.
The former Formula One driver started the race from the outside pole position but found himself a lap down after he had to make a pit stop to fix his window net which had fallen down.
Awarded the Aaron's Lucky Dog, he fought his way back to contention and took the checkered flag.
Speed continued his momentum in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 Saturday with an eighth-place finish.
A Return In Richmond ... Key Motorsports for the first time in 10 NASCAR seasons hopes to qualify for this Friday's NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Richmond International Raceway.
The team, which has competed in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series since 2004, will field the No. 31 Key Motorsports Chevrolet with veteran driver and former NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Jeff Green behind the wheel.
Owner's Championship Battle Heats Up ... Ron Hornaday's win at Kansas brought a lead change in the Owners' Championship point standings.
DeLana Harvick and the No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet now lead the battle by 21 points over Billy Ballew and his No. 51 Toyota. Not far behind in third, 61 points out from the No. 33 is Tom Mitchell with his No. 14 Power Stroke Diesel by International Ford team.
Kyle Busch is scheduled to return to the series at Lowe's Motor Speedway where he has two series wins to his credit. Points could swap again. In The Loop:
It's hard to have a better day than the one Ron Hornaday Jr. had during Saturday's O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas Speedway.
Statistically speaking, it's impossible.
Hornaday was perfect. The defending series champion won his first of 2008 in a truly dominating fashion, notching a perfect Driver Rating of 150.0.
He held race-best figures in Laps Led (136), Average Running Position (1.6), Fastest Laps Run (55) and was the only driver to run all 167 laps in the top 15. With the win, Hornaday took the series points lead, and is now 61 points ahead of second-place Rick Crawford.
Also notable during Saturday's race was the strong performance by rookie Colin Braun. The Roush-Fenway upstart scored a third-place finish and ran up front throughout the 250-mile race. Braun had a Driver Rating of 118.5, an Average Running Position of 5.2, seven Fastest Laps Run and spent 164 of the 167 laps running in the top 15.
Jack Sprague also chimed in with a season-best run. Sprague, finishing second, scored a Driver Rating of 121.0, an Average Running Position of 5.7, 20 Fastest Laps Run and spent 152 of the laps among the top 15.
Chad McCumbee was the only other driver to break the 100.0-point Driver Rating barrier -- he tallied a 103.1 Driver Rating in his seventh-place finish. He also earned a fourth-best Average Running Position of 7.4.
Rookie Shake Up
The rookie class has experienced a shake-up in points as Colin Braun moves from fourth to first in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year battle.
The rookie's third-place finish gives him a five-point advantage over Justin Marks (No. 9 crocs/Construct Corps Toyota). Marks posted an 11th-place finish in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250.
Braun's performance is the best by a Raybestos rookie since Roush Fenway Racing teammate Erik Darnell ran third in the 2005 season finale.
Donny Lia (No. 71 Autism Speaks/TRG Chevrolet) and Brian Scott (No. 16 Albertsons Chevrolet), likewise, had strong finishes among the top 15.
Coming off his performance at Kansas Speedway, Ron Hornaday Jr. looks to carry that momentum in defense of his 2007 win at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Mike Skinner, who has started from the pole position in the last three races at the track, will aim to visit Victory Lane for the first time this season.
Toyota remains on top after five races of the 2008 season. Last Saturday's victory was the first of the year for Chevrolet. Ford is the only one of the four truck makers without a win in 2008.
The Race: North Carolina Education Lottery 200
The Place: Lowe's Motor Speedway
The Date: May 16, 2008
The Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
TV: SPEED, 7:30 p.m. ET
Race Distance: 201 miles / 134 laps
Track Layout: 1.5-Mile Paved Oval
2007 Winner: Ron Hornaday Jr
2007 Pole: Mike Skinner
Schedule: Friday: Practice, 9-10:00 a.m. and 10:20 a.m.-11:50 a.m.; Qualifying, 3:35 p.m.