*So Far So Good For Billy Ballew Motorsports
*San Bernardino County 200 Was 'All-Ages' Affair
*Raybestos Rookies Continue To Fashion Top 10s
For Billy Ballew Motorsports, It's One (Good) Race At A Time
Atlanta businessman Billy Ballew has his team exactly where he hopes it will be at the conclusion of the season -- atop the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Owners Championship standings.
It won't be easy despite having the services, at least for part of the season, of Auto Club Speedway winner Kyle Busch (No. 51 San Bernardino County 200).
Busch won for the seventh time in a Ballew truck and in just the team's second start with a Toyota.
Ballew is what in another era would be called an independent. He puts together sponsorship on a race-by-race basis and pays Busch out of his own pocket.
To win a title against the giants of the series would be the classic David defeating Goliath.
Ballew, however, believes it can be done.
"Our guys have proven over and over that they can be competitive anywhere they race," said Ballew of the team headed by crew chief Richie Wauters.
"I am fortunate to be surrounded by people that have so much talent and who work so well together."
Up next is Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 7 where Busch has won twice including last fall's race.
NASCAR Craftsman Trucks A Series For All Ages
Experience may pay dividends in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in which each of the past four champions had passed their 40th birthdays.
But don't look now: Youth is gaining. Three members of the current top 10 -- including championship leader Busch -- are in their twenties.
Todd Bodine (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota) won the Daytona season opener at age 43. Busch turned the tables in Fontana at age 22.
Consider that drivers representing five different decades of age placed among the top 10 of Saturday's San Bernardino County 200.
Colin Braun (No. 6 Con-way Freight Toyota) was the youngest at age 19 and is believed to be the first teenager to record a top-10 finish in the series since Busch -- at age 16 years four months -- placed ninth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in October 2001.
Two competitors who have celebrated their 50th birthdays had solid days, as well. Ted Musgrave (No. 59 Team ASE Toyota) finished sixth to record his seventh consecutive top 10 at Auto Club Speedway.
Musgrave is 52.
Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) finished eighth.
Among the top 10, teens had one finisher; 20s two; thirties, one; forties four and fifties two.
Etc. & Quotable
Kvapil Snaps Streak ... Perhaps it was fitting that Travis Kvapil (No. 09 Zaxby's Ford) would finish seventh to end a six-race streak during which no Roush Fenway Racing entry had finished among the top 10. Kvapil had posted the organization's last top 10, a victory in September at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Tapered Spacer Gets A-OK ... The San Bernardino County 200 marked the first time that a tapered spacer between carburetor and intake manifold had been required in a non-Daytona/Talladega event. Ron Hornaday Jr., who finished fourth in the No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet, had praise for the device that reduces horsepower as a cost-cutting initiative. "These things are fun to drive," said the 2007 champion. "It's back in the driver's hands again." Busch Sets Several Records ... The Busch brothers, Kyle and Kurt, now are the only siblings to win series races at two tracks. The pair previously counted victories at Dover International Speedway. Busch's seventh victory matched Mark Martin's record for series wins by a current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver.
Billy Ballew On Kyle Busch ... "I am just awed by his ability. He has accomplished so much in his 22 young years and to think that he has only just begun to show behind the wheel is incredible."
Cook Clicks With Wylers. ... Terry Cook had gone seven races without a top five but finished fourth at Fontana in his second ride in the No. 60 Wyler.com Toyota. His best Auto Club Speedway finish, sixth, came in 200l.
In The Loop
Thus far in the young NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season, two drivers stand out among the rest -- Kyle Busch and Todd Bodine. The two flip-flopped first and second positions in the first two races of the season with Busch turning in a dominating performance last Saturday at the Auto Club Speedway.
Busch scored a near-perfect Driver Rating of 148.6, an Average Running Position of 2.7, had 39 Fastest Laps Run and ran 98 of the 100 laps in the top 15.
With the dominating performance, Busch took the overall series points lead.
But statistically, NASCAR Craftsman Truck mainstay Todd Bodine has been a shade better than the NASCAR Sprint Cup regular.
Bodine holds the top marks in Driver Rating (130.6), Average Running Position (2.7) and Laps Led (74).
Busch holds the edge in Fastest Laps Run (44) and Laps in the Top 15 (197 for a percentage of 98.5).
Busch's season Average Running Position is 4.9 and his Driver Rating is 124.2.
Within striking distance of the season's first two winners is Johnny Benson (No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota). Benson, who leads the series with 109 Green Flag Passes, has an Average Running Position of 7.6 (third best), a Driver Rating of 101.8 (third), eight Fastest Laps Run (third) and has run 85 percent of the laps in the top 15.
Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidates occupied two spots in the top 10 at Auto Club Speedway as they did the previous week in Daytona.
This time it was Colin Braun and Phillip McGilton (No. 22 3Wide Life Toyota) leading the way.
Braun, ninth, bounced back from an accident-related 31st-place finish while McGilton, 10th, posted his second performance of 12th or better.
Both drivers and Justin Marks (No. 9 Crocs Toyota) trail Raybestos leader Brian Scott (No. 16 Shark Energy Drink/Albertsons Chevrolet) by a single point.
Seven drivers comprise the current rookie of the year field. Donny Lia (No. 71 TRG Racing Chevrolet) joined the field at Auto Club Speedway.
Atlanta Motor Speedway hosts the first of two 2008 events on March 7. The race kicks off the third NASCAR national series "tripleheader" of the season.
Mike Skinner is the defending winner of last year's American Commercial Lines 200, the second leg of a three-victory streak to begin the 2007 season.
Atlanta is one of the series' fastest tracks with Rick Crawford holding the one-lap record at 182.735 mph.
Two-For-Two For Toyota
Toyota won back-to-back for the first time at Auto Club Speedway and for the second time in 2008. The truck maker holds an eight point lead over Ford in a quest for a third Manufacturers' Championship.
Next Race: American Commercial Lines 200
The Place: Atlanta Motor Speedway
The Date: March 7, 2008
The Time: 9 p.m. ET
The Distance: 202.2 miles / 130 laps
TV: SPEED, 8:30 p.m. ET
Track Layout: 1.54-mile banked paved speedway
2007 Winner: Mike Skinner
2007 Polesitter: Mike Skinner
Friday -- Practice, 9-10 a.m. and 11:20 a.m.-12:50 p.m. Qualifying, 4:45 p.m.