Off-week news and notes 2007-08-14

* Monsam's Challenge: Different Race, Different Driver * Nashville Continues Run Of New Winners * Bodine Says Top Fives Won't Get It Done In '07 * Roush Fenway Racing Has 50th Victory In Sight John Monsam: Check The Line-Up Card On A Weekly ...

* Monsam's Challenge: Different Race, Different Driver
* Nashville Continues Run Of New Winners
* Bodine Says Top Fives Won't Get It Done In '07
* Roush Fenway Racing Has 50th Victory In Sight

John Monsam: Check The Line-Up Card On A Weekly Basis

Daytona Beach, Fla. (Aug. 13, 2007) -- If you think your job changes day-to-day, consider that of Wood Brothers/JTG Racing crew chief John Monsam.

Monsam, a seven-time winner in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, backs not one driver, but so far in 2007 has fielded entries for five different competitors.

The task is daunting but Monsam has proved up to the challenge. Four of his five charges have posted top-10 finishes and the No. 21 Ford, owned by Eddie Wood, is 20th in Owner Point Standings.

"Their styles are different," said Monsam.

Recently, Monsam was asked to describe in a few words his charges.

Mark Martin -- "Succint; directly to the point. He's here to win and he's intense."

Stacy Compton -- "Rejuvenated. He enjoys the NASCAR Crafsman Truck Series and his spirit is happy to be here."

Kelly Bires (who has moved to the NASCAR Busch Series): "Enthusiastic. He wants to experience everything right now."

Jon Wood: "I know what he's thinking and he knows what I'm thinking."

Monsam is particularly excited about reuniting with Wood. The pair won twice in 2003 with Roush Fenway Racing and has two top 10s in three starts.

Fun Fact: Monsam shares series record (with Rick Ren) for wins with five different drivers.

It's Difficult, If Not Impossible, To Become A Repeat Winner

Based on his 2006 finish, Johnny Benson (No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota) entered the Toyota Tundra 200 as the pre-race favorite.

Like so many before him in the series, Benson came away disappointed. He not only failed to win, but exited early due to an accident and finished 30th.

Travis Kvapil (No. 6 K&N Filters Ford) became Nashville Superspeedway's seventh consecutive different winner as the 1.333-mile track continued as one of 10 series tracks without a repeat winner.

Homestead-Miami Speedway and New Hampshire International Speedway have held 11 races since 1996 without the same driver hoisting the winner's trophy. Each looks for a 12th different winner later this year.

Nashville is one of seven tracks adding a new winner in 2007. Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) became Atlanta Motor Speedway's sixth different winner in March. The track hosts its seventh race in October.

Waiting For Someone To Make A Mistake

It certainly wasn't this way in 2006 when Todd Bodine (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota) and Johnny Benson effectively staggered to the finish.

Bodine won the title by building an early lead and held off Benson, who failed to take advantage of Bodine's late season slump.

That's not going to be the case this year, says Bodine, who currently ranks fourth in the standings to leader Mike Skinner.

There are just too many good teams -- and former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champions -- in the mix to win a title by picking up a point here and a point there.

"I've said all along that the only way any of us are going to gain points is if somebody has a bad race and wrecks and finishes at the back," said Bodine following his fifth-place finish at Nashville Superspeedway.

"We're all going to be top-five trucks every week and when that's the way it is, you don't gain points; you just move around a little bit. It's going to take a big mistake on somebody's part to change that."

So far, neither Skinner nor current runner-up Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet) show any signs of blinking.

Skinner added five points to his lead at Nashville, despite finishing third to Hornaday's second. The margin stands at 82.

Skinner has led every race, accumulating 45 more bonus points than Hornaday. He leads the series with 13 top-five finishes. Skinner and Hornaday have finished outside the top 10 just once each.

Skinner Nabs First Lap 80 Award

Appropriately enough -- he's led every race - Mike Skinner headed lap 80 of Nashville Superspeedway's Toyota Tundra 200 and collected the first of two $8,000 bonus awards posted by Craftsman in honor of the brand's 80th year.

It didn't come easy as Skinner and Ted Musgrave (No. 9 Team ASE Toyota) dueled for the lead from lap 70. Skinner, who led his record-extending 19th series race, edged Musgrave by about a truck length on the money lap.

"Craftsman does a great job of supporting the series," said Skinner. "All of us drivers really appreciate that."

Teams will have one more shot at the $8,000 prize that will be posted for the lap 80 leader of the August 22 O'Reilly 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Race winner Mark Martin led Bristol's 80th lap in 2006.

NCTS Etc.

Can 50 be far away? That's the question for Roush Fenway Racing after the team captured its 47th NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race in Nashville. With 10 races remaining, it's possible based on the team having won slightly more than a quarter -- four -- of the year's first 15 races.

The Featherlite Award, based on a driver's improvement from one race to the next, can be considered consolation for a bad finish. So far, 15 different drivers have won the $1,800 award. That's right, there have been no repeat winners. Jon Wood prevailed at Nashville, following up a 28th place at O'Reilly Raceway Park with a finish of sixth.

Series crew chief leader Dennis Connor has yet to score a victory with Circle Bar Racing but David Starr's fourth-place finish in the No. 10 International/MAXXForce Diesel Ford proves that Connor has lost none of the savvy with which he has collected 26 victories. He ordered a two-tire change on the team's final pit stop that advanced Starr from ninth to second. "Dennis made a great call," said Starr, who enjoyed his best finish with the team. "We knew if we had track position that we'd have a shot at (a top five)."

Former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champions have won 12 of the season's first 15 races. All six past champions running a full schedule rank among the top 10 with Skinner, Hornaday and Kvapil first through third. Skinner's eighth Bud Pole of the season at Nashville was his record-extending 40th pole. The 50-year-old veteran holds the single-season record of 10 set in his 1995 championship season. Skinner fast qualified on eight occasions in 2006.

Bodine's Germain Racing team will enter Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series Carfax 250 at Michigan International Speedway. The team's Camry led in its debut last month at Gateway.

Quotable:
"We're not going to run Skinner or Hornaday down finishing in the top five. We know we've got to go out there and win races." -- Travis Kvapil after his Toyota Tundra 200 victory. Kvapil's third win was a single-season personal best.

Ford Takes Fourth '07 Victory At Nashville

Ford climbed to within a single point of the runnerup spot in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Manufacturers' Championship standings with its fourth victory of the year in Nashville.

Chevrolet, which trails leader Toyota by 15 points, also has won four times.

Toyota ranked third among finishers for only the third time in 2007. The last time Toyota last third truck maker at Michigan in mid-June.

In The Loop:

Ron Hornaday Jr. finished ahead of Mike Skinner at Nashville last weekend, yet still lost ground on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series points leader.

That's because Skinner had one of the most dominating performances of a non-winner ever. Skinner led a race-high 102 of 150 laps, yet finished behind both Hornaday and eventual victor Travis Kvapil. Skinner padded his points cushion to 82 points over second-place Hornaday.

Skinner's statistics at Nashville were phenomenal -- the only thing missing was a trip to Victory Lane.

He had the top Driver Rating (141.7), the top Average Running Position (1.7) and the fastest average Green Flag Speed (154.988 mph).

Kvapil did surpass Skinner in Fastest Laps Run. Kvapil turned the fastest lap 41 times; Skinner did it 26 times.

In the win, Kvapil had a Driver Rating of 133.7, an Average Running Position of 4.8, an average Green Flag Speed of 154.883 mph and spent all 150 laps in the top 15. (Four drivers ran the entire race in the top 15 -- Kvapil, Skinner, Hornaday and Todd Bodine.)

With the strong performance, Skinner added to his series-leading season-to-date Loop Data stats. He now has a Driver Rating of 123.1, an Average Running Position of 4.4, 357 Fastest Laps Run and has run 2,377 of 2,506 Laps in the Top 15.

Raybestos Rookie of the Year Standings

Joey Clanton (No. 09 Zaxby's Ford) trails Raybestos Rookie of the Year leader Tim Sauter (No. 07 Lester Buildings/ASI Limited Chevrolet) by 31 points but don't count the Georgia competitor out of the run for the title.

That's because Clanton hasn't competed in 14 races yet and likely will accumulate points at a greater rate than Sauter, who can only add to his total by improving on previous finishes.

Clanton qualified fourth at Nashville Superspeedway, a season-best, and finished 10th to lead Raybestos candidates competing in the Toyota Tundra 200.

One of the biggest mid-week attractions in motorsports will be staged for the fifth time August 22 when the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series invades the reconfigured Bristol Motor Speedway. Upwards of 60,000 fans will head for Thunder Valley to witness what has become a "can't miss" event on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck schedule.

This year's race -- the 10th at the East Tennessee facility -- will be the first for NASCAR on Bristol's new, compound banking. The previous concrete surface was removed after March's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Food City 500. Two days of testing several weeks ago found 2003 O'Reilly 200 winner Travis Kvapil atop the speed charts with a lap of 119.626 mph, closely followed by fellow NASCAR Craftsman Truck champion Ted Musgrave at 119.321.

Mark Martin is the defending winner of the O'Reilly 200 and is expected to compete in this year's race.

FAST FACTS

Next Race: O'Reilly 200

The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway
The Date: August 221

The Time: 8:00 p.m. (ET)
TV: SPEED 7:30 p.m. (ET)

Track Layout: .533-mile oval

Race Purse: $501,074

2006 Winner: Mark Martin
2006 Pole: Mark Martin

Schedule:
Tuesday -- Practice 1:00 -- 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday -- Practice 10:00 a.m. -- 11:00 a.m. and 12 noon -- 1:00 p.m. Qualifying 4:00 p.m.

-credit: nascar

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