Michigan: News of note, schedule

Benson, Yeley in Michigan International Speedway's Line-X 200 field Season's second half historically determines champion ... The points lead after the halfway race hasn't been a very good predictor of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series ...

Benson, Yeley in Michigan International Speedway's Line-X 200 field

Season's second half historically determines champion ... The points lead after the halfway race hasn't been a very good predictor of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship. In fact, that leader has failed to wear the crown on six of nine occasions. The last time the mid-point advantage translated into a championship effort was in 2000 when Greg Biffle became the only series driver to clinch the title before the season's final race. Biffle led for 14 consecutive races, a series record. Jack Sprague was both mid-year leader and champion in 1999 as was Ron Hornaday Jr. in 1996. Kvapil led entering last year's 13th event but trailed Brendan Gaughan afterwards. Etc. ... Grand Rapids native Johnny Benson (No. 23 Toyota Tundra Toyota) returns to the series at Michigan. Benson, a Bud Pole winner in September 1996 at North Wilkesboro Speedway, last competed on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in September 1997 at Martinsville Speedway. ... Making his series debut this week is 2003 U.S. Auto Club Triple Crown champion J.J. Yeley (No. 47 ACXIOM Chevrolet). His crew chief, Randy Goss, is a double Michigan winner with Biffle in 1999-2000. ... Deborah Renshaw (No. 29 K Automotive Ford) and Kelly Sutton (No. 02 Team Copaxone Chevrolet) would be the first female drivers to compete in a NASCAR Craftsman Truck race at Michigan International Speedway. ... Gaughan's 154.044 mph winning speed in 2003 remains the fastest in series history. The previous year's 142.208 mph by Robert Pressley, ranks No. 7 on the all-time list. ... This week's race marks the 70th NASCAR Craftsman Truck appearance by Orleans Racing. Steve Park (No. 62 Orleans Dodge) now drives the defending race winning truck. ... Ten of 26 different race leaders at Michigan will compete in this year's event. Ted Musgrave (No. 1 Mopar Dodge) is the only entered driver to lead in two different years -- 2002-03. ... Every top-five finisher at Michigan has won at least one series race. Those 17 different drivers have won a combined 130 races or 56.8 percent of 229 series events.

ON THE RIGHT TRACK

Cook, Setzer are Michigan masters ... Setzer and Terry Cook (No. 10 Power Stroke Diesel by International Ford) have completed all 400 laps/600 miles contested by the series at Michigan International Speedway. They are the only competitors to post three top-10 finishes at the 2-mile venue.

QUOTEBOOK

"I think we are a lot closer to winning than we were a few weeks ago. Hopefully Michigan can provide us with a great finish." -- Andy Houston, whose No. 2 Team ASE/Carquest Dodge boasts a Bud Pole and three top-four finishes in the past three Michigan events. Houston finished fourth in 2000 in his only series appearance.

"I've thought about it about three races this year. You get so close and think 'man I can get this one!' and you lose it. I am done thinking about that. You'll know when I win. When the smoke is done boiling off the tires, you'll know I've won." -- Shane Hmiel (No. 15 Billy Ballew Motorsports Chevrolet), looking for series win No. 1 after coming oh-so-close at Memphis, Kansas and St. Louis.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Michigan International Speedway has been a track of extremes for competitors on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Robert Pressley's 2002 winning margin over Jason Leffler was .102 second, 10th closest in series history. Last year, Brendan Gaughan held an 11.477 second advantage over Ted Musgrave to mark the fourth widest victory margin.

Fast Facts

What: Line-X Spray-On Truck Bedliners 200 (Race No. 13 of 25).

Where:  Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, Mich.

When: 1 p.m. ET, Saturday, July 31.

Track layout: 2-mile banked speedway.
Race length: 200 miles/100 laps.

Posted awards: $557,694.

TV: SPEED Channel, 1 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.

2003 winner: Brendan Gaughan.
2003 polesitter: Jason Leffler.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday, Practice 10:35 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Qualifying 3:10 p.m. Final practice 5:15 to 6:15 p.m., time permitting.

Top 10 in Points: 1. Dennis Setzer 1,837. 2. Bobby Hamilton 1,773. 3. Carl Edwards 1,671. 4. Matt Crafton 1,651. 5. Chad Chaffin 1,650. 6. Ted Musgrave 1,610. 7. Rick Crawford 1,603. 8. Travis Kvapil 1,564. 9. Jack Sprague 1,544. 10. Jon Wood 1,527.

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Steve Park , Jason Leffler , Greg Biffle , Andy Houston , Robert Pressley , Johnny Benson , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Ted Musgrave , Jack Sprague , Dennis Setzer , Terry Cook , Rick Crawford , Jon Wood , Matt Crafton , Shane Hmiel , Kelly Sutton , Brendan Gaughan , Chad Chaffin , J.J. Yeley , Deborah Renshaw , Travis Kvapil