Off-week news of note 2008-06-30

*No Post-50 Let-Down For O'Reilly 200 Winner Ron Hornaday Jr. *Points Lead Continues To Be Proverbial 'Hot Potato' *Chevrolet, Toyota Waging See-Saw Battle For Manufacturers' Crown Three-Peat For Hornaday In Memphis And 2008 Season DAYTONA ...

*No Post-50 Let-Down For O'Reilly 200 Winner Ron Hornaday Jr.
*Points Lead Continues To Be Proverbial 'Hot Potato'
*Chevrolet, Toyota Waging See-Saw Battle For Manufacturers' Crown

Three-Peat For Hornaday In Memphis And 2008 Season

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 30, 2008) -- Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet) celebrated his 50th birthday June 20 but reaching that milestone didn't slow down the three-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion in the least.

Hornaday needed two starts to reach Victory Lane and join Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) as drivers with wins in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

There are four members of the winners 50 and over club: Joe Ruttman, Ted Musgrave (No. 59 Team ASE/Harris Trucking Toyota), Hornaday and Skinner.

Hornaday was the dominant driver last week at Memphis Motorsports Park leading 139 of 204 laps around the 3/4-mile oval to win for the third time in the Home of Blues.

In fact, Hornaday is no less dominant now than he ever was -- even when he collected three titles for Dale Earnhardt Inc. and 19 wins.

He's led 11 of 12 races this year and tops the table in both miles (731.068) and laps (561) led.

Hornaday's third victory of the year matches the series record of most seasons with three or more wins -- six -- set a year ago by now-Kevin Harvick Inc. teammate Jack Sprague (No. 2 American Commercial Lines Chevrolet).

Fact: Age No Barrier For These Drivers

Drivers age 50 and over have won 17 times in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

Revolving Door For Championship Contenders

The 2008 season is fast approaching its mid-point and the championship picture is just as hazy as on Feb. 15 before the first green flag of the year flew at Daytona International Speedway.

Hornaday, in search of title No. 4, is on top -- but just barely. After winning at Kansas Speedway in April, Hornaday carried a 61-point lead into seven consecutive weeks of racing.

That segment is over and Hornaday is up by 27 over the season's most surprising driver, Matt Crafton (No. 88 Menards Chevrolet).

During those seven races, four different drivers took turns atop the standings.

How tough has it been to hold the top spot? Very.

Leads of 45 and 50 points vanished twice.

Hornaday dropped from first to third after a finish of 23rd at Michigan.

Benson had a 50-point cushion entering last week's O'Reilly 200. Engine failure left Keystone Light pole winner Benson 33rd in the final rundown, dropping the Grand Rapids, Mich., driver to fourth.

Etc.:

Moss Motorsports Unveils Plans. ... NFL All-Pro wide receiver Randy Moss has scheduled a 2 p.m. ET Thursday press conference at Daytona International Speedway to announce plans to campaign his No. 81 truck in this season's remaining 13 races.

Germain Patriarch Passes. ... Robert L. Germain Sr. died June 27 in Naples, Fla., at the age of 85. He was the founder of the Germain Motor Co. and father of Bob, Rick and Steve Germain, owners of Germain Racing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The team won the 2006 title with Todd Bodine.

Former Series Crew Member Dies. ... Both Memphis winner Hornaday and second-place finisher Erik Darnell (No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford) paid emotional tributes to John Arden, who was killed in a Charlotte-area traffic accident May 25. Arden, an Illinois native, shared a house with Darnell and had worked for the series' Green Light Racing.

Crew Chief Change At BDR. ... Joe Lax was atop the pit box in Memphis directing the No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota and driver Mike Skinner. Lax held a similar position with Bill Davis Racing's ARCA RE/MAX team that was folded when Michael Arnett (No. 22 Pilot Travel Centers Toyota) moved into the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Jeff Hensley, who guided Skinner to eight wins, remains a BDR employee.

Speaking Of Skinner. ... No driver has been more consistent this year than the 1995 series champion. In any other year, his title hopes would literally have been nil after two finishes of 29th in the season's first four races. Skinner came alive after failing to defend his Martinsville victory and hasn't finished outside the top 10 since -- a run of eight races. Four races in, he ranked 14th in points, facing a deficit of 176. He's now sixth, 113 points back, after finishing seventh at Memphis Motorsports Park.

Chevrolet Regains Lead

All indicators show the 2008 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Manufacturers' Championship going down to the wire.

Chevrolet's fifth victory matched the total of rival Toyota and gives the GM Silverado brand a four-point lead as the season reaches its mid-point July 19 at Kentucky Speedway.

Each truck maker has held the lead six times in the season's first 12 races.

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series 2008 Manufacturers' Championship Point Standings after Race 12 of 25 at Memphis Motorsports Park

In The Loop

Ron Hornaday Jr. makes his wins count.

The defending series champion and current points leader has won three races this season, and according to the statistics, has left little to chance.

In his first two wins (Kansas and Texas), Hornaday scored a perfect Driver Rating of 150.0, and in his victory at Memphis this past weekend, he earned a near-perfect 149.8.

During his three wins, Hornaday has an Average Running Position of 1.5, 159 Fastest Laps Run and has run all 543 Laps in the Top 15.

Those numbers have propelled him to the top of most of the season-to-date statistical rankings.

Hornaday ranks first in Average Running Position (7.7), Driver Rating (113.9), Fastest Laps Run (255) and Laps Led (561). He has been passed fewer times than any other driver -- 222 times. Second-best in that category among drivers who have competed in every race is Jack Sprague with 255.

Also noteworthy this season is the gradual climb by Mike Skinner. Though without a win this season, Skinner has chipped away at his points deficit since falling to 14th after Martinsville, the fourth race of the season.

Skinner is now in sixth, 113 points out of first. His stats this season have likewise improved as the season wore on. He has Driver Rating of 98.0 (fourth-best), an Average Running Position of 9.5 (third) and a series-high Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 87.7 percent.

Memphis Takes Its Toll -- Again

Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidates had an "off" night at Memphis Motorsports Park.

After placing candidates among the top five in the past two editions of the O'Reilly 200, the freshman class was shut out of the top 10.

Brian Scott (No. 16 Albertsons Chevrolet) was the Raybestos rookie leader. His 13th-place finish came within a position of matching his career best.

Up Next:

Teams take the next two weeks off before heading to Kentucky Speedway for the July 19 Built Ford Tough 225.

FAST FACTS

The Race: Built Ford Tough 225 by Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers
The Place: Kentucky Speedway

The Date: July 19, 2008
The Time: 7 p.m. ET

Race Distance: 225 miles / 150 laps
Track Layout: 1.5-Mile Oval

TV: SPEED, 6:30 p.m. ET

2007 Winner: Mike Skinner
2007 Pole: Ryan Mathews

Schedule: Friday: Practice, 2:45 --4:20 p.m. and 6:30-7:30 p.m.. Saturday: Qualifying, 3:30 p.m.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , Kevin Harvick , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Jack Sprague , Matt Crafton , Joe Ruttman , Erik Darnell , Brian Scott , Ryan Mathews
Teams Germain Racing , Bill Davis Racing