Off-week news and notes 2008-07-28

*For Stacy Compton, A Part Of 2008 Looks A Lot Like 1999 *Benson Wins At ORP; Doubles Up For The Third Time *ThorSport, TRG Finding Mid-Season Strength Compton: We May Be Older But We Haven't Forgotten How To Race DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July...

*For Stacy Compton, A Part Of 2008 Looks A Lot Like 1999
*Benson Wins At ORP; Doubles Up For The Third Time
*ThorSport, TRG Finding Mid-Season Strength

Compton: We May Be Older But We Haven't Forgotten How To Race

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 28, 2008) -- Stacy Compton (No. 4 Dodge), like a number of drivers, returned to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series after several recent seasons in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Compton departed after the 1999 season during which he finished fourth in the point standings.

Then, he had to beat the likes of Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet), Jack Sprague (No. 2 American Commercial Lines Chevrolet) and Dennis Setzer (No. 18 Dodge).

When Compton returned this year, it was a case of NASCAR dejà vu. Same series; same rivals.

"It proves just because we are getting older, doesn't mean we can no longer drive," said Compton, now age 41. "You take me, Ron, Jack and (BHR-VA teammate) Setzer. We've seen this sport go through a lot. We are who we are as race car drivers because of the ups and downs of the sport.

"The older you get you realize that everything comes full circle."

Compton, however, believes that dynamic helps younger drivers -- several in grade school in 1999.

"We don't cut them any slack," he said. "It is a process for them to learn -- when to give and take -- and I have gotten caught up in the learning process several times. They don't always listen but in time, they will learn."

'Triple Double' For ORP Winner Johnny Benson

Victories, like grapes, come in bunches for Johnny Benson (No. 23 Vemma Toyota).

Benson "doubled up" for the third time in his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career when he won the July 25 Power Stroke Diesel 200 at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis.

He won six days earlier at Kentucky Speedway.

Benson also won consecutive races in 2006 and 2007.

The latest victory -- the 45-year-old Michigan driver's 12th overall and third of 2008 -- preserved his standings lead for the fourth time in the past five races. Benson, however, doesn't have much breathing room after the 14th of 25 scheduled events.

Defending champion Ron Hornaday Jr. , led 153 of the race's 200 laps and chased Benson to the checkered flag.

Hornaday trails Benson by 15 points as Matt Crafton (No. 88 Menards Chevrolet) slipped from second to third in the standings, 31 points back.

"We're hoping we're one of the guys to beat but we no way have our hands around this thing," said Benson, who counts three wins and a second in his last five races. "We've been 50 points ahead and fell to fourth (place) in one race."

Etc.: Firsts For ThorSport, The Racers Group

Two In The Top Five For ThorSport. ... Shelby Howard's (No. 13 FarmPaint.com Chevrolet) fifth-place finish at ORP underscored the fact that ThorSport Racing, indeed, is a serious player in the 2008 championship picture. Coupled with teammate Matt Crafton's fourth place, the pair logged their first top-five finishes together.

Redemption For TRG, Lia And Bell. ... Excepting Donny Lia's (No. 71 NationRides Chevrolet) last-lap victory at Mansfield in May, The Racers Group and owner Kevin Buckler haven't had much to cheer in the team's first full season. That changed at ORP where Lia came home ninth, two positions behind partner T.J. Bell (No. 7 Iams/Home 4 The Holidays Chevrolet). It was Bell's career-best performance. Lia hadn't finished among the top 10 since his Mansfield victory. "Both drivers drove their hearts out and really showed their stuff," Buckler said. I'll tell you what, these guys can drive."

Two Headed North This Week. ... Ron Hornaday Jr. and Justin Marks (No. 9 crocs Toyota) will compete in Saturday's NAPA Auto Parts 200 presented by Dodge at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. Hornaday, who finished 13th a year ago, will drive KHI's No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet backed by NCTS crew chief Rick Ren. Marks is ticketed for the No. 10 Furniture Electronics Toyota owned by Todd Braun. In addition, Colin Braun on Friday will practice the No. 60 CitiFinancial Ford for Roush Fenway Racing teammate Carl Edwards, who will be qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Pocono Raceway. Speaking of Braun. ... The 19-year-old Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings leader moonlighted in last Saturday's Kroger 200 at O'Reilly Raceway Park. He collected his second NASCAR Nationwide Series pole and scored a NASCAR-best runner-up finish behind winner Kyle Busch.

Manufacturers' Battle

The back-and-forth battle for Manufacturers' Championship honors swung back in Toyota's favor as the truck maker won for the seventh time in 2008.

Toyota posted its 45th series victory as it reached 1,001 total entries since entering competition in 2004.

Toyota hopes to become the second manufacturer to win three consecutive titles. Chevrolet won four straight between 1995 and 1998.

In The Loop:

During his impressive run of three wins in four races, Johnny Benson has statistically improved in practically every category.

The most dramatic -- and most telling -- move came in the key Average Running Position and Driver Rating stats.

Prior to Milwaukee -- the start of his three-of-four stretch -- Benson had an Average Running Position of 10.2 and a Driver Rating of 100.2. Currently, those numbers have improved to 9.2 and 109.1, respectively. Benson has also seen an increase in the percentage of laps he has run among the top 15. Prior to Milwaukee, Benson had a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 76.4. Now, that number is 78.8 percent.

Another key number that Benson has improved over the stretch is Fastest Laps Run. Prior to Milwaukee, Benson sat in third place with 89 Fastest Laps Run -- 133 laps behind then-leader Kyle Busch and 99 behind second-place Ron Hornaday Jr. Currently, Benson has 263 Fastest Laps Run, which puts him second in the series behind Hornaday's 316 (a difference of 53).

Up Next:

Teams will spend the month of August competing on concrete surfaces with stops at Nashville Superspeedway and Bristol Motor Speedway.

The Aug. 9 Toyota 200 in Music City follows a one-week break in the schedule.

FAST FACTS

The Race: Toyota Tundra 200

The Place: Nashville Superspeedway
The Date: August 9, 2008

The Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: SPEED, 7 p.m. ET

Race Distance: 200 miles / 150 laps
Track Layout: 1.333-Mile Concrete Oval

2007 Winner: Travis Kvapil
2007 Pole: Mike Skinner

Schedule:
Friday: Practice, 5-6:15 p.m. and 6:45-8 p.m.; Saturday: Qualifying, 1:45 p.m.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Mike Skinner , Stacy Compton , Johnny Benson , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Colin Braun , Jack Sprague , Dennis Setzer , T.J. Bell , Matt Crafton , Kevin Buckler , Shelby Howard , Gilles Villeneuve , Justin Marks , Carl Edwards , Donny Lia , Kyle Busch , Travis Kvapil
Teams Roush Fenway Racing