Kansas: Round 12 preview

Kansas Speedway doesn't play favorites based upon age or experience DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 26, 2006) -- Kansas Speedway is a welcoming track for NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers regardless of age, experience or competitive...

Kansas Speedway doesn't play favorites based upon age or experience

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 26, 2006) -- Kansas Speedway is a welcoming track for NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers regardless of age, experience or competitive status.

When the late Ricky Hendrick won the inaugural running of Saturday's O'Reilly Auto Parts 250, the 21-year-old became the then youngest to win a series race.

Two more competitors in their 20s -- Jon Wood and Carl Edwards -- also won at the 1.5-mile paved speedway in 2003 and 2004, respectively.

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Mike Bliss (No. 16 IWX Motor Freight Chevrolet) used his 2002 victory as springboard to the title.

And for last year's winner Todd Bodine (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota), the victory was the beginning of a second-half rampage in which his Germain Motorsports team won eight times and racked up 10 top-five finishes.

Kansas victories have come in all circumstances. To say Hendick's win was surprising would be an understatement. Edwards recovered from a first-lap accident to climb from 36th place to Victory Lane.

Bliss triumphed when leader Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Truck Corral Ford) suffered mechanical failure four laps short of the checkered flag -- after Crawford had led 127 of 167 laps.

Bliss, 41, thinks weather has something to do with the track's unpredictable nature.

"The heat is always an added challenge this time of year and it is always especially hot in Kansas," said the Milwaukie, Ore. veteran who reunited this season with his championship team owned by Dave Fuge. "It is tough on drivers just because of the amount of fluid you use; same thing for the crews.

"It is hard on the trucks as well because (of the length) of these races. You run hard from the time the green flag drops."

Bliss, whose last win came 20 starts and nearly four years ago at South Boston Speedway in fall 2002, has been the season's surprise. The lightly-backed Xpress Motorsports team was a question mark among title contenders, but the consistent Bliss climbed to sixth place standings at The Milwaukee Mile with his eighth top-10 finish of the year.

"I would say the next two races we have -- Kansas and Kentucky -- are probably two of the better tracks for us," said the former NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series veteran. "I have won at both of them and Dave has run good at both of them as well."

Erik Darnell (No. 99 Woolrich Ford), the current Raybestos Rookie of the Year leader, who has thumbed through the media guide, likes what the Kansas Speedway pages suggest.

"Jon Wood and Carl Edwards ran well here years ago as relatively new drivers," said Darnell, who opened the season with a top-10 finish at Daytona International Speedway. "Roush Racing ran really well here last year with Todd Kluever, so I think we'll be able to draw off that and that will obviously help our effort."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Todd Bodine , Ricky Hendrick , Rick Crawford , Jon Wood , Mike Bliss , Carl Edwards , Todd Kluever , Erik Darnell