Off-week news 2010-06-21

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series News And Notes - Open Week Summer Stretch Proven Successful for Hornaday Once the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series resumes action after three open weekends, four guys will be gunning for bragging rights ...

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series News And Notes - Open Week

Summer Stretch Proven Successful for Hornaday

Once the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series resumes action after three open weekends, four guys will be gunning for bragging rights heading into the series' 10-week long stretch beginning at Iowa Speedway in July and ending at Kentucky Speedway in September.

Currently, Todd Bodine (No. 30 Germain Racing Toyota) leads the way with a 55 point lead over Aric Almirola (No. 51. Graceway Pharmaceuticals Toyota). Timothy Peters (No. 17 Red Horse Racing Toyota) is quietly in third only 165 points back. Together the trio combines for only one victory at the 10 upcoming tracks on the circuit. The nod going to Bodine who scored his ninth NCWTS win at Gateway International Raceway during his 2006 championship season.

The sleeper of the bunch could be defending champion Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet) who is just 170 points out of the lead. Traditionally, Hornaday owns the summer stretch. Yes, he is winless so far in 2010, but last summer he won five straight races last season during the months of June, July and August.

Good news for the other competitors is two of the race tracks (Memphis & Milwaukee) he won on are no longer on the schedule. Bad news is he has 12 combined wins on the next 10 tracks the series visits.

First third of the season Bodine and Almirola have proven to be the ones to beat and have the momentum heading into Iowa in three weeks. Hornaday, on the other hand, has been mired back in the series standings due to two finishes outside the top 25 in the series' first two events.

If Hornaday Jr. can make a run at his prestigious fifth series title -- a feat no one has yet to achieve -- chances are it will happen in the next 10 races. But first he will have to beat Bodine who has finished in the top five for six straight races.

Almirola, Billy Ballew Motorsports Running Strong In 2010

Aric Almirola had big shoes to fill when he took over the reins of the No. 51 Toyota fielded by Billy Ballew Motorsports at the beginning of the season. Its previous driver -- Kyle Busch -- got 13 of his 18 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victories behind the wheel of that particular race truck before embarking on owning Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Nine races into the 2010 season it is safe to say the shoes fit. Almirola has two victories, seven top-10 finishes and sits second in the series standings. His worse finishes of the season have been 12th-place finishes at Daytona in February and Texas last month.

"I remember when everyone in the media center was surprised I ran third in Atlanta," said Almirola during his post-victory press conference at Michigan International Speedway.

"Not taking anything away from Kyle, but everyone keeps asking the same questions. Kyle is the pronominal race car driver. But it's a team sport. The guys at our race shop build great trucks. That is where it starts." Team owner, Billy Ballew, never questioned Almirola's ability to replace Busch in the vehicle.

"When Aric drove the No. 15 Toyota last year and I think he finished second five or six times," said Ballew.

"There was never a question or debate. When Kyle was going his direction, we were fortunate enough to have Graceway Pharmaceuticals come on as a sponsor and Toyota. There was never anything to discuss, it was a given."

Almirola -- who has won two of the last four races -- is poised to add another victory to his resume. He has four top-five and 10 top-10 finishes combined at the next 10 tracks on the schedule.

Championship Could Be Determined In Next 10 Races

The upcoming marathon 10-race stretch might be where the championship is won or lost for Ron Hornaday Jr.

He has three drivers to leapfrog in his eventual goal of taking the points lead: Todd Bodine, Aric Almirola and Timothy Peters.

The 10 races feature a varied slate of unique tracks. They're short: ORP, Iowa, Gateway, Bristol. They're long: Nashville, Chicagoland, Kentucky. They're in between: New Hampshire. And they're new: Pocono and Darlington (the series has raced there, but not since 2004).

A versatile driver will likely come out of that stretch on top. All signs point to Hornaday. Consider this: Hornaday has 12 wins at those tracks. Bodine has one. Almirola and Peters are winless at the 10 venues.

The overall Loop Data statistics -- taken since 2005, so it does not include Darlington -- are even more telling. They make Hornaday's 170-point deficit to points leader Bodine look miniscule.

At the upcoming tracks, Hornaday has a Driver Rating of 115.4, an Average Running Position of 6.8, 549 Fastest Laps Run, a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 87.6% and a Pass Differential (passes minus times passed) of plus-137 in 33 races.

Bodine's stats are strong, but fall short of Hornaday's. His numbers at the upcoming track: a Driver Rating of 98.2 and an Average Running Position of 9.5.

In 24 races at the upcoming 10 tracks, Peters has a Driver Rating of 75.8, with an Average Running Position of 17.5. Almirola has a rating of 79.7 and an Average Running Position of 14.8 in his 18 races at the upcoming 10 tracks.

Series Regulars Stay Busy During Open Weekends

Austin Dillon (No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) will make his seventh NASCAR Nationwide Series start this weekend at New Hampshire. Dillon will pilot the No. 21 Richard Childress Racing entry. His NCWTS crew chief, Danny Stockman, will call the shots for therookie.

Aric Almirola has been tabbed as the fillin driver for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitor Jimmie Johnson if he should have to miss a race due to the birth of his daughter. Almirola tested with the Hendrick Motorsports team last week and will start traveling with the team this weekend at New Hampshire.

Narain Karthikeyan (No. 60 Chevrolet) returned home to India during the recent break in the schedule to visit with family and friends.

NC State University has launched a new program -- Lean Performance U -- to local businesses. The two-day program uses elements of a NASCAR pit crew for team building.

Ricky Carmichael (No. 4 Monster Energy Chevrolet) and Austin Dillon are both visiting series tracks this week promoting upcoming events on the schedule. Dillon heads to Iowa Speedway on Tuesday and Carmichael will visit Talladega Superspeedway later this week.

Up Next: Iowa

On Sunday, July 11, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to Iowa Speedway for the second time in series history.

The .875-mile Newton, Iowa, track was conquered last season by Mike Skinner (No. 5 International Trucks / Monaco RV Toyota) who is still searching for his first victory in 2010.

Come race day all eyes will be on Raybestos rookie Austin Dillon ( No. 3 Chevrolet), who is fresh off two straight pole awards and top-five finishes following Michigan.

Dillon has one NASCAR Nationwide Series start and two NASCAR K&N Pro Series East starts at Iowa. He has one pole (2008) and two top-10 finishes at the speedway in the East Series division.

Fast Facts

Next Race: Lucas Oil 200 presented by SPEED on Mediacom
The Place: Iowa Speedway (.875-mile oval)

The Date: Sunday, July 11
The Time: 2 p.m. ET

Race Distance: 200 laps/175 miles

TV: SPEED, 1 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS NASCAR Radio. (Listen locally on KXIA-AM 101.1)

2009 Polesitter: Mike Skinner
2009 Winner: Mike Skinner

Schedule prior to race:

Saturday
Practice, 11:45 a.m.-- 12:50 p.m. and 2-3:30 p.m. Qualifying-- 6:30 p.m.

-source: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , Kevin Harvick , Narain Karthikeyan , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Jimmie Johnson , Ricky Carmichael , Timothy Peters , Aric Almirola , Austin Dillon , Kyle Busch
Teams Richard Childress Racing , Germain Racing , Hendrick Motorsports , Kyle Busch Motorsports , Red Horse Racing