Martinsville II: Series off-week notes

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series News And Notes Rick Crawford Ready To Pick Back Up At Martinsville DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 12, 2009) -- When the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to action next week at Martinsville Speedway, Rick...

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series News And Notes

Rick Crawford Ready To Pick Back Up At Martinsville

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 12, 2009) -- When the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to action next week at Martinsville Speedway, Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar/International Truck Engine Ford) will be ready to pick back up right where he left off at the track.

For the Kroger 250 in March, the veteran driver grabbed the pole - his second at Martinsville - then went on to lead 78 laps before finishing fifth. Crawford has a strong record at the .526-mile track. In 19 starts, he has one win (2004), eight top-five and three top-ten finishes.

"I've said it for years, Martinsville is like a box of chocolates because you never know what you're going to get," said Crawford. "The fans are sure to get a great show, but how the race plays out is always anyone's guess."

"We're taking a proven race truck and it's finished in the top five every time we've raced it at Martinsville. Besides the pole in the spring, we've had a string of five straight top-five finishes. Looking at the stats, Martinsville is probably one of our strongest tracks currently on the schedule for my Circle Bar Racing team."

After 20 races this season, Crawford is holding on to eighth in the standings. In the 12 previous seasons, he's finished among the top 10 six times, including a runner-up championship finish to Mike Bliss in 2002.

"We made up ground in the points during the six-week stretch of consecutive races that ended with Las Vegas, and I think those kinds of stretches show which teams are capable of winning on a consistent basis and contending for the championship," he said. "You have to be able to turn around your equipment in a short time period and maintain your focus and composure no matter what happened the week prior. We were able to do that."

Crawford has five career NCWTS wins. His last trip to Victory Lane was at ORP in 2006. "There's not one race in the last five that I'm not looking forward to and thinking that we have a chance to win. It just takes a perfect race to win one of these NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races."

Brian Scott Has His Eyes Set On A Short-Track Victory

Sophomore driver Brian Scott (No. 16 Albertson's Toyota) has proven this season that he has what it takes to compete with some of NASCAR's toughest veterans. The 21-year-old grabbed his first career win at Dover in May and has been in position to win races since then. With five to go, Scott finds himself sitting fourth in the championship standings and is eager to continue to show what he's made of.

"We can't have a good race here or a good race there. We need to be a factor each week. We need to show how consistently strong we can be over these next five races," said Scott.

With ever an eye on getting back to Victory Lane, the young driver is ready for Martinsville. In March, his team posted an eighth-place finish, his best in four starts. "It would be huge for us to win at Martinsville," he said. "With Jeff Hensley (crew chief) being from that area and with all the guys having friends and family attending the race, it is a really big deal. This is almost a home-track race for this whole team."

Not only does Scott want to win for his team, but he feels a win at the historic track would be an impressive addition to his resume. "There are some tracks that really put a stamp on your resume if you can win there and to me, Martinsville is one of those places. You gain a lot of respect if you can win there. It is such a storied track not only for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, but some of the greatest names in NASCAR history have had great success there. It makes it a very prestigious accomplishment to get to Victory Lane at Martinsville."

Loop Data: Hornaday Tops Short-Track Stats

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will run its sixth and final short-track race of the season next week at Martinsville Speedway.

The statistics from the first five are particularly telling. The top three drivers in short-track statistics also sit in the top three of the series points standings.

Tops among the short-track drivers is points leader Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 VFW Chevrolet). At those tracks under one mile in length (which include Martinsville, Iowa, O'Reilly Raceway Park, Bristol and Memphis), Hornaday leads the series with a Driver Rating of 130.3, an Average Running Position of 3.8 and 150 Fastest Laps Run. Along with two short-track wins (at ORP and Memphis), he is the only driver to finish in the top five in all five short-track races this season.

Ranking statistically second at the short tracks is Mike Skinner (No. 5 PC*MILER Toyota), who nabbed a victory at Iowa. In the five short-track races, Skinner has a Driver Rating of 117.1, an Average Running Position of 6.9, 144 Fastest Laps Run and a series-high 272 Laps Led.

Matt Crafton (No. 88 Menards Chevrolet) has compiled the third-best short track Driver Rating, with a 104.2. He also has four top 10s, an Average Running Position of 6.6 and 52 Fastest Laps Run.

Surprisingly, Aric Almirola (No. 15 Graceway Pharmaceuticals Toyota) ranks fourth in short track Driver Rating, and will likely be a factor next week at Martinsville. Almirola has a Driver Rating of 101.5, an Average Running Position of 9.0 and 30 Fastest Laps Run in four short track starts this season -- all of which resulted in top-10 finishes.

Eye On Owners' Battle

Ron Hornaday Jr.'s incredible season has his owner, DeLana Harvick, in the lead 168 points over Billy Ballew and the No. 51 Toyota for the owner's title. With five races to go, Hornaday and his No. 33 Chevrolet team won't be able to rest easy.

In the final four races of the season, Kyle Busch will be behind the wheel of the No. 51 Toyota. In his last three starts in the series, Busch has ended each in Victory Lane. Denny Hamlin will pilot the truck at Martinsville.

It could easily become a neck-and-neck battle. Hornaday has wins at Texas (swept both races in 2008), Phoenix (1998, 1999), and Homestead (2002). Busch has one win at Phoenix in 2007.

Better Hurry & Cast Your Vote

Be sure to cast your vote for the 2009 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Most Popular Driver. Polls will close Oct. 31. Since opening July 6, more than 20,000 votes have been cast.

Visit NASCAR.com to vote or to write in your favorite driver. If they're not among the nominees write to fanfeedback@nascar.com.

Manufacturers' Standings:

Only five races remain in the 2009 season. Toyota maintains its lead over Chevrolet. Looking to Martinsville though, it's Chevrolet that dominates with the most wins (6).

Up Next: Martinsville

Only one week remains before the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to action at the final short-track race of the season. The series will head to Martinsville Speedway for the Kroger 200 on Saturday, Oct. 24.

Martinsville is one of two tracks on the current schedule which hosts the series twice in the same season. The .526-mile track is also one of four tracks to host the series in all 15 seasons since 1995.

Only two drivers have managed to visit Martinsville's Victory Lane more than once: Mike Skinner and Dennis Setzer. The two veterans are tied for the most wins with three.

Fast Facts

Next Race: Kroger 200
The Place: Martinsville Speedway

The Date: Sat., October 24, 2009
The Time: 1 p.m. ET

Race Distance: 200 laps / 105.2 miles
Track Layout: .526-mile oval

TV: SPEED, 12:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM.

2008 Winner: Johnny Benson
2008 Polesitter: Ron Hornaday Jr.

Schedule:
Friday: Practice, 10-11:20 a.m. and 1:10-2:00 p.m.; Qualifying, 4:40 p.m.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Mike Skinner , Johnny Benson , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Dennis Setzer , Rick Crawford , Matt Crafton , Mike Bliss , Denny Hamlin , Aric Almirola , Brian Scott , DeLana Harvick , Kyle Busch