Martinsville II: GM Racing preview

Martinsville, Va. - Ron Hornaday, Jr., No. 33 Camping World Silverado, is no stranger to battling for championships in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS). With five races remaining in the season in each of his previous championship winning...

Martinsville, Va. - Ron Hornaday, Jr., No. 33 Camping World Silverado, is no stranger to battling for championships in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS). With five races remaining in the season in each of his previous championship winning years, Hornaday was involved in a see-saw battle that saw the crown come down to virtually the last lap of the final race.

This season is playing out no differently as the Team Chevy Silverado driver heads to Martinsville Speedway (MS) this weekend with his Kevin Harvick, Inc. (KHI) team. Hornaday currently is sitting on a 14-point lead with five-to-go on the schedule. But, Hornaday is only focusing on each race as they come up on the schedule. Paying attention to the details necessary to run and finish well is the philosophy that has gotten him and his Rick Ren-led team this far and they aren't letting distractions alter their course.

In 10 previous MS starts, the 1996 and 1998 NCTS champion has three top-five and five top-10 finishes. The No. 33 Silverado that Hornaday took to victory lane earlier this season at O'Reilly Raceway Park is the same truck he will pilot Saturday at Martinsville.

"We are taking a really good truck to Martinsville," said Hornaday. "It is the same truck we won with at ORP and it has been a great truck. It has not finished outside the top 10 so far this year. Rick Ren and the guys have really been on it this year. They give me great trucks week in and week out. We have a really great group of guys."

Clint Bowyer will pilot the second KHI entry, No. 2 Camping World Silverado, at MS. It will be Bowyer's fourth NCTS start for KHI this season, notching one top-five finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the Spring race.

"Martinsville is a unique track and I like racing there," said Bowyer. "Martinsville is one of those tracks where it is important to get track time. I have some experience there, so that will help. I am very excited to race the No. 2 truck again for Kevin and DeLana and everyone at KHI. Charlie Wilson and those guys do a great job and I really enjoy working with them. I love racing in the truck series."

Billy Ballew Motorsports (BBM) will also field two entries at Martinsville with Team Chevy's NASCAR Nextel Cup Series (NNCS) regulars Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin taking on the .526-mile paperclip-shaped race track.

The Kroger 200 will mark Busch's seventh start for BBM this season. Uncharacteristic for Busch and this team, they have yet to visit victory lane in the No. 51 Flanders Beef Patties Silverado.

"It's going to be pretty cool to be race against Denny (Hamlin) in the Truck Series," said Busch. We're going to be teammates next year but we're great friends off the track so it will be kind of the first time that we will be comparing notes and actually on the same team. It's going to be awesome fun. "

Hamlin will drive the No. 15 Flanders Beef Patties Silverado and is equally as excited about teaming with Busch: ""I am very excited about running the truck race this week in Martinsville. I normally run one at least one a year and this is my first opportunity to run Billy Ballew's equipment which is the best out there.

"This is my first opportunity to work with Kyle (Busch) in a teammate capacity and we've already started trash talking about who is going to do better. I would really like to be able to race around each other out there and bring home a Truck Series victory for Billy Ballew."

Looking forward to Sunday's NNCS behind the wheel of his No. 11 Impala SS, Hamlin believes there is much to be gained in running the NCTS race at Martinsville: "I think the truck race will be valuable for us in the Cup race on Sunday due to the COT and the Craftsman Trucks being very similar in draft. On the competition side it will be valuable for both Kyle and me as we can learn a lot on pit strategy and the draft with a vehicle that doesn't turn real well like the trucks because if the long wheel base. I know this race will be more of a learning experience for me from last year's truck race because of the COT in the Cup Series. It should be a lot of fun mixing it up out there and I hope to walk away with a solid finish and valuable information for Sunday."

Brendan Gaughan, No. 77 South Point Hotel Silverado, is looking to Saturday's Kroger 200 as the race to turn around a disappointing run in the spring MS event that has haunted him and his Las Vegas-based team. In his usual candid and humorous manner, Gaughan said: "Martinsville as we all know is the South Point Racing team's and my absolute favorite race track - not.

"My record is better at Martinsville than people give me credit for. The last race at Martinsville was probably the best short track truck I've ever had and I screwed that way up. It's probably the best short track truck this team has ever given me. It was phenomenal, and I screwed up. I'm not going to put the blame on anybody else but myself. I just did a bad job qualifying. I did a bad job in the race. It kind of stunk because I mean it - we had the best short track truck I've ever had. We just finished testing the Bull Ring and that truck that went to Martinsville that we race we tested the Bull Ring with too - we are actually faster now than we were then. We got the truck that we just tested to be the fastest truck we have ever had at the Bull Ring. So we really look forward now to going to Martinsville and proving that I am not that bad there."

Willie Allen, No. 13 ThorSport Racing Silverado, is currently sitting in the lead for the 2007 Raybestos Rookie of the Year title. Allen has one top-10 finish in two career starts at Martinsville

"I always look forward to coming back to Martinsville," said Allen. "We had a really strong finish at Talladega and hope to keep the momentum going. The crew has been working really hard and we hope we can finish strong in these last few races and bring home the Rookie of the Year title. Tim Sauter is a great driver and a great guy. I think it will come down to the wire between us. I want to thank everyone at Chevy, The National Pork Board, and Nashville Music City for their support this year. "

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Ron Hornaday Jr. , Tim Sauter , Brendan Gaughan , Clint Bowyer , Denny Hamlin , Willie Allen , Kyle Busch