Off-week news of note 2005-05-24

* Toyota, Bill Davis Racing builds momentum at Lowe's Motor Speedway * Kyle Busch becomes series' youngest race winner DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 23, 2005) -- Toyota, shut out of Victory Lane since October, appears on the verge of ending a...

* Toyota, Bill Davis Racing builds momentum at Lowe's Motor Speedway
* Kyle Busch becomes series' youngest race winner

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 23, 2005) -- Toyota, shut out of Victory Lane since October, appears on the verge of ending a sophomore mini slump.

Likewise, Bill Davis Racing seems more than ready to join the list of winning teams.

Both events almost happened simultaneously at Lowe's Motor Speedway on May 20.

Mike Skinner, driving Davis' No. 5 Toyota Tundra, won his second Bud Pole of the season and led 40 laps before a late accident sent the 1995 series champion to the garage. Johnny Benson (No. 23 Toyota West Toyota) and Bill Lester (No. 22 Checkers Toyota), however, gave Davis plenty of reason to smile following the Quaker Steak & Lube 200 by Ticket or Click It. Benson edged California Speedway winner Steve Park (No. 62 Orleans Racing Dodge) for fourth place in a photo finish while Lester, the 2003 Bud Pole winner at Lowe's, posted a career-best, sixth-place performance.

At one point, Davis' three drivers occupied the top three positions.

Benson's finish matched the team's best effort in 2005; Skinner finished fourth at California Speedway after winning the pole.

"I'm really excited about our performance on Friday night," said Davis. "Mike didn't get the finish that we were looking for but he really dominated the late portion of the race. Our Toyotas were really strong all night and hopefully we can build on this with this stretch of races coming up."

Benson claims the team's best finish, a second at Texas Motor Speedway last October. At Lowe's, the Grand Rapids, Mich. veteran was forced to start at the rear of the field after damaging his truck during the previous evening's qualifying run.

"Once we started moving forward it got better," said Benson a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series veteran and SPEED Channel commentator. "We just didn't have enough to take the lead."

"Johnny always seems to get to the front," Davis said.

Benson is seventh in the current point standings -- the highest ranked Toyota driver.

Davis, however, reserved his greatest praise for Lester, a fourth-year series competitor with 85 career appearances.

"(Bill) really showed everyone in the garage that he is capable of running up front," Davis said. "He really impressed me with his patience on the track. He did not try and push his truck and raced hard on old tires."

In addition to posting his best career finish -- he'd finished 10th on two occasions - Lester added to his place in the record book as the best-performing African-American driver in NASCAR's modern era. The finish was the best since Wendell Scott, NASCAR's only African-American race winner, finished fifth at Dog Track Speedway, a .333-mile paved oval in Moyock, N.C., on May 29, 1966.

"I'm pretty proud. It was pretty much a good night," said Lester, who stands $68,944 short of becoming the series' next $1 million career winner. "We definitely have the momentum going and everyone at Bill Davis Racing is pumped up. I'm excited."

NEWS & NOTES

Youth's side served by Kyle Busch ... The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has a broad demographic when it comes to winning competitors, as the last three races have proved. Ted Musgrave (No. 1 Mopar Dodge), at age 49 years and four months, became the oldest winner in five years last month at St. Louis. Musgrave is nearly 30 years older than Kyle Busch (No. 15 ditech.com Chevrolet), who is the series' youngest winner with his May 20 victory at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Busch celebrated his 20th birthday on May 2, just 18 days before defeating veterans Terry Cook (No. 10 Power Stroke Diesel by International Ford) and Musgrave in the track's closest NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series finish (.149 second). Ricky Hendrick was the series' previous youngest winner -- 21 years and three months -- at Kansas Speedway on July 7, 2001. Kyle and elder brother Kurt Busch are the second set of siblings to win in the series, joining Bobby and Terry Labonte.

Kelly Sutton closes on money mark ... Following a career-best, 15th-place finish at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Kelly Sutton (No. 02 Team Copaxone Chevrolet) is poised to become the No. 1 female money winner in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series history. Sutton, with winnings of $249,752, will break Tammy Jo Kirk's mark of $257,545 by taking the green flag in the June 3 MBNA NASCAR RacePoints 200 at Dover International Speedway. With 30 starts, Sutton is projected to eclipse Kirk's career appearance record (32) on June 18 at Michigan International Speedway.

ETC. ... Officials at The Milwaukee Mile will announce the title sponsor of its June 25 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race during the track's Thursday Toyota test. ... The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series point lead has changed for the third time in as many races. Musgrave, who entered the season's seventh event trailing Bobby Hamilton (No. 04 Bailey's Dodge) by 45 points, will carry a lead of 41 points to Dover. Hamilton was 28th at Lowe's Motor Speedway, the defending champion's worst finish since April 2004 at Martinsville Speedway. ... Busch is the third different competitor to drive the Billy Ballew Motorsports entry in 2005. Ballew, an Atlanta resident, now ranks ninth in series owner point standings. ... Michael Gaughan's No. 77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Dodge cracked the top 30 in owner points as Brendan Gaughan finished eighth at Lowe's.

10 YEARS TOUGH

The Memorial Day weekend traditionally is three days at home for NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitors -- but not always. I-70 Speedway, a .543-mile short track located just east of Kansas City, occupied a Memorial Day weekend (Saturday) spot on the inaugural schedule in 1995. Inclement weather, however, canceled time trials and postponed the race to the following day with Mike Skinner winning from the No. 3 starting position. Five races were held at the high-banked facility before the series moved to Kansas Speedway in 2001.

Fast Facts

Next Event: MBNA NASCAR RacePoints 200 (Race 8 of 25).
Where: Dover International Speedway.
When: 4:45 p.m. ET, Friday, June 3.

Track layout: 1- mile concrete banked oval.
Race length: 200 Miles/200 Laps.

Posted awards: $618,610.

TV: SPEED Channel, 4:45 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.

2004 winner: Chad Chaffin.
2004 polesitter: Carl Edwards.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Thursday -- Practice 11:30 a.m. -- 12:40 p.m. and 1 p.m. -- 1:45 p.m. Qualifying 5:10 p.m. Trucks impounded after qualifying.

Top 10 drivers: 1. Ted Musgrave 1,088. 2. Bobby Hamilton 1,047. 3. Ricky Craven 1,029. 4. Jimmy Spencer 993. 5. Dennis Setzer 940. 6. Ron Hornaday Jr. 930 7. Johnny Benson 897. 8. Matt Crafton 880. 9. Todd Bodine 863. 10. Jack Sprague 853.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Terry Labonte , Todd Bodine , Steve Park , Mike Skinner , Jimmy Spencer , Kurt Busch , Johnny Benson , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Ted Musgrave , Ricky Hendrick , Jack Sprague , Dennis Setzer , Terry Cook , Matt Crafton , Kelly Sutton , Bill Lester , Brendan Gaughan , Chad Chaffin , Carl Edwards , Tammy Jo Kirk , Kyle Busch , Wendell Scott
Teams Bill Davis Racing