News of note 2007-09-25

* Kvapil Wins No. 4 But Wishes He Could Have One Back * Skinner Retakes Points Lead From Hornaday * Villeneuve Finishes 21st In Successful NASCAR Debut * Accident Ends Bodine's 54-Race Finishing Streak Las Vegas Winner Kvapil Laments Lost ...

* Kvapil Wins No. 4 But Wishes He Could Have One Back
* Skinner Retakes Points Lead From Hornaday
* Villeneuve Finishes 21st In Successful NASCAR Debut
* Accident Ends Bodine's 54-Race Finishing Streak

Las Vegas Winner Kvapil Laments Lost Opportunity To Close

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 24, 2007) -- With Saturday's victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Travis Kvapil (No. 6 K&N Filters Ford) joined Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet) and Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) as a four-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series winner in 2007.

Kvapil, however, still is scratching his head over his performance a week earlier in New Hampshire.

It might be a case of "woulda, coulda, shoulda" but his 181-point deficit in the race for the 2007 title might be much smaller.

Kvapil and Roush Fenway Racing teammate Erik Darnell (No. 99 Northern Tool+Equipment Ford) ran identical setups at New Hampshire International Speedway.

Darnell finished second; Kvapil 18th -- a difference of 57 points.

Kvapil must concentrate on finding a way to make the Skinner-Hornaday title race a three-way struggle. Each leader has suffered a mechanical failure over the past three races.

"I tell you what, coming into tonight, I didn't think we had much of a shot. You never give up hope and you never know what can happen in six or seven races," said Kvapil, who's 108 points and four positions closer to the lead since reeling off four wins among seven top-five finishes since May 26.

"We're going to continue to run up front and try to win races. If they have a bad day here and there, I think we'll be right there in the hunt by the time we get to Homestead."

Skinner Regains Lead As Rival Hornaday Stumbles At LVMS

Pressure -- as in air pressure -- has made the 2007 title race a topsy-turvy proposition.

At Gateway International Raceway on Sept. 1, Skinner's near-perfect season was jolted by a cut tire that cost the Bill Davis Racing team its championship lead.

Fast-forward three weeks to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where Hornaday's right-front tire went down with 12 laps remaining, sending his Chevrolet into the wall and to a 22nd-place finish.

Skinner, who trailed the 1996 and 1998 champion by 29 points coming in, left Las Vegas leading by three. The margin is the closest in series history with six races remaining.

Hornaday's misfortune ended his run of lead lap finishes. The 49-year-old Californian entered the race as the only competitor to complete all 3,066 laps -- one more than Kvapil.

Despite leading his 18th (of 19) race, Skinner was remarkably uncompetitive as the defending Smith's Las Vegas 350 winner.

"We just struggled all night," said the 13th-place finisher and 1995 champion. "Whatever it is, we didn't capitalize on our night very well.

"It was just one of those deals. Ronnie had bad luck. We tightened it up some so I guess we can't complain."

Villeneuve Pleased With Initial NASCAR Performance

A 21st-place finish doesn't seem like much after you've won the World Formula One championship and the Indianapolis 500, but Jacques Villeneuve (No. 27 Sonax Toyota) pronounced his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut a success.

Villeneuve qualified seventh and couldn't find a way to join a pack of 20 lead-lap rivals after damaging his truck when another competitor spun out on Lap 47.

"It was a great experience," said Villeneuve, surrounded by a large contingent of Canadian reporters covering the Smith's Las Vegas 350.

"We learned a lot tonight; we had a lot of pit stops."

Villeneuve exercised what amounted to caution, dropping back to a comfortable position in the second 10 laps after the green flag fell. He was working his way to the front when he couldn't avoid the backstretch incident.

"The truck was running really strong in the first part of the race and the lap times showed that," he said. "After (the accident) I lost all the downforce. The truck got really tight and it was just a matter of trying to patch it up and trying to run to the end."

NCTS, Etc:

Lazier Runs 24th. ... Buddy Lazier (No. 15 Flanders Beef Patties Chevrolet) finished three laps behind Kvapil in his first NASCAR race but the 1996 Indianapolis 500 champion hopes to return for a better ranking. "I can't say we have any rock solid plans but we have a lot of irons in the fire trying to make things happen," he said. "So I'd like to do it."

Wood Brothers/JTG Racing Hits High Water Mark. ... For the first time, both of the team's drivers led the same race as Jon Wood (No. 21 Smith's/Air Force Ford) finished third and Stacy Compton (No. 09 Zaxby's Ford) was eighth. Wood led 49 laps and won the WIX Filters Lap Leader Award. "We definitely had a good truck and we do, week in and week out," said Wood. "My results (three top 10s in five races) show that but our qualifying doesn't," he said after starting 14th. "Qualifying doesn't really pay anything but the race does." Compton, meanwhile, posted his third top 10 of the season as he became the 23rd different driver to compete in 100 NASCAR Craftsman Truck races.

Skinner Pole Bid Foiled. ... When Skinner took his Toyota to the top of the qualifying order it appeared he would match a pair of series records -- his 10-pole season of 1995 and four consecutive poles at Texas Motor Speedway. Kvapil, however, might have said "not so fast," relegating Skinner to the second spot in the starting order with a lap of 175.387 mph. The pole was Kvapil's third of the year. Pole starters have won the last two races and seven of the season's 19.

Roush Fenway Nearing Half Century Mark. ... Kvapil's victory was the 48th by a Roush Fenway entered truck raising the possibility that the team, with three entries in each of the season's six races, could reach a milestone 50 victories. The team holds the record by 12 wins over Ultra Motorsports. The closest currently active team -- Bill Davis Racing -- has won 15 times. Cook, Wise, McCumbee Post Best '07 Finishes

It's taken awhile but HT Motorsports' Toyota program finally is hitting on all eight cylinders.

Celebrating its one year anniversary with Toyota a week late, the team logged its first top-five finish as crew chief Danny Rollins' call for a two-tire stop gave veteran Terry Cook (No. 59 Harris Trucking Toyota) the fourth-place position he held to the finish of the Smith's Las Vegas 350.

"Our program keeps getting better and better," said Cook, who joined the team over the winter. His last top five was a second-place finish last October in Atlanta.

Josh Wise (No. 00 Aaron's Lucky Dog Toyota) finished sixth, bettering his eighth place, career bested the previous week in New Hampshire.

"We are making progress," said the 25-year-old open wheel graduate, who is sharing the Darrell Waltrip Motorsports truck with AJ Allmendinger and Ken Butler III.

McCumbee's 10th-place finish was his first top 10 of the season -- as well as the first ever for MRD Motorsports' No. 8 TheGPSStore.com/Garmin Chevrolet.

"I tell you what, we had a truck that could win at times," said McCumbee. "We definitely needed this and I am really looking forward to going to Atlanta with these guys."

Manufacturers' Standings: Ford Wins No. 5

Travis Kvapil's victory ended a six-race drought for the manufacturer at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In fact, Ford had not won since 1999 -- the season before the series took a one-year hiatus from LVMS competition.

Toyota continues to enjoy a 19-point lead over rival Chevrolet in the race for the 2007 Manufacturers' Championship.

Manufacturers' Championship 2007 Point Standings
Toyota 133
Chevrolet 114
Ford 112
Dodge 59

In The Loop:

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series standings got a bit more interesting after the Smith's Las Vegas 350 last Saturday night.

The standings shuffled and tightened, thanks to a cut tire for Ron Hornaday Jr., and workman's effort by Mike Skinner and a victory by Travis Kvapil.

Kvapil, in joining Skinner and Hornaday as four-time winners this season, never fell below fourth place in a race that saw a record-number of 18 green flag passes for the lead (since the stat's inception in 2005). With the win, Kvapil closed to within 181 points of new points leader Skinner.

Skinner finished 13th last Sunday, besting Hornday's finish of 22nd to take a three-point lead in the standings.

Skinner now has a season-to-date Driver Rating of 118.7, an Average Running Position of 5.5, 398 Fastest Laps Run and 2,972 Laps in the Top 15. All those numbers are best of any driver.

Only five drivers have a Driver Rating above 100: Skinner (118.7), Hornaday (113.6), Kvapil (107.8), Todd Bodine (101.3) and Johnny Benson (101.1).

One other notable performance from Saturday was that of Jon Wood. Wood, who finished third, had a Driver Rating of 128.4 (second-best), an Average Running Position of 4.5 (second-best), 28 Fastest Laps Run (tied for the top spot), 18 laps where he improved his position (fourth-most) and 137 Laps in the Top 15 (fifth-most).

Bodine's Finish Streak Ends

Todd Bodine's (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota) 54-race streak without a DNF abruptly ended at Las Vegas Motor Speedway when the defending series champion's truck was too damaged to continue following a Lap 97 accident triggered by a cut tire.

Bodine had finished every race since being sidelined by an accident at Memphis Motorsports Park on July 23, 2005.

The streak was within sight of the late Bobby Hamilton's series record of 65 straight finishes between 2003 and 2005.

"We had the truck to win the race and it's a shame we have to end like this," said Bodine, who led 45 of the event's first 70 laps.

Raybestos Rookie of the Year

Although no Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate was able to generate a top-10 finish in the Smith's Las Vegas 350, standings leader Tim Sauter (No. 07 Lester Buildings Chevrolet) maintained his four-point lead as one of 20 drivers completing all 146 laps of the race.

On Deck: Talladega Superspeedway

More than 80,000 fans turned out on a perfect autumn afternoon last year to see the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series tackle the legendary high banks of Talladega Superspeedway.

None left unsatisfied with the sometimes five-wide competition that ended with Mark Martin coasting under the checkered and caution flags after a Turn 3 melee on the race's final lap spoiled what could have been the closest, multi-truck finish in series history.

Judged by the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway -- where a similar rules package is employed -- Talladega's Mountain Dew 250 should be even more dramatic the second time around. Jack Sprague, Johnny Benson (No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota) and Travis Kvapil (No. 6 K&N Filters Ford) finished virtually side-by-side-by-side.

FAST FACTS

Next Race: Mountain Dew 250

The Place: Talladega Superspeedway
The Date: Oct. 6

The Time: 4:00 p.m. (ET)
TV: SPEED 3:30 p.m. (ET)

Track Layout: 2.66-mile speedway

Race Purse: $780,490

2006 Winner: Mark Martin
2006 Pole: Mark Martin

Schedule: Thursday: Practice 12:10-1:10 p.m.; Rookie practice 1:50-2:20 p.m.; Final practice 2:20-3:20 p.m. Friday: Qualifying 12:10 p.m.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Darrell Waltrip , Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , Jacques Villeneuve , Stacy Compton , Buddy Lazier , Johnny Benson , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Jack Sprague , Terry Cook , Jon Wood , Tim Sauter , Josh Wise , Erik Darnell , Mark Martin , Travis Kvapil
Teams Roush Fenway Racing , Bill Davis Racing