Off-week news of note 2008-07-08

* It's Official: Randy Moss Motorsports Debut Set For July 19 Colin * Braun: Rookie Season Complicated By Left Turns Only Anyone's Trophy: * Points Historically Close As Season Nears Halfway Point Moss Motorsports Readies For Kentucky Speedway...

* It's Official: Randy Moss Motorsports Debut Set For July 19 Colin
* Braun: Rookie Season Complicated By Left Turns Only Anyone's Trophy:
* Points Historically Close As Season Nears Halfway Point

Moss Motorsports Readies For Kentucky Speedway Debut

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 7, 2008) -- What has been discussed and rumored from early on this season is now reality. Teaming with David Dollar and Morgan-Dollar Motorsports, NFL All-Pro wide receiver Randy Moss now is an owner in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

In the heat at Daytona International Speedway, the new team was unveiled. The newly-formed Randy Moss Motorsports will make its debut at Kentucky Speedway with series' 2007 Rookie of the Year Willie Allen behind the wheel of the No. 81 truck.

Both Moss and Dollar are excited about the new partnership. "It's been a long time coming," Moss said. "It's something I've wanted to do for a long time. It's really a dream come true because maybe the last five or six years I have been really interested in joining NASCAR, but didn't know what steps to take. It's going to be a lot of fun to see that truck out on the track and know that I own it."

"I was so taken away after visiting with Randy and his passion for winning and understanding of competition and most importantly the dedication that it takes to be successful," Dollar said. "It's going to be a great partnership."

When it came down to how he would get involved in the series, the NFL star did his homework. "We looked at a lot of different options and we decided to align with David Dollar's team rather than build an operation from scratch," added Moss.

Moss has aligned himself with a proven operation. The team, as Morgan-Dollar Motorsports, is fourth among active owners with 237 starts, 232 of them consecutive .

The team has brought home 13 wins with drivers Dennis Setzer, Bobby Labonte and Clint Bowyer. With Setzer, the team finished second in the series standings from 2003 through 2005.

Colin Braun, You Can Only Turn Left Here

Rookie Colin Braun (No. 6 Con-way Freight Ford) isn't new just to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. He's new only to turning left.

The young driver, who cut his racing teeth traveling around the world in karting and on the road courses driving Daytona Prototypes in the Grand-Am Rolex Series, says he's had a lot to learn this year.

"It's quite a bit different, I'm not going to lie," he said. "A lot of the race tracks that we've raced at in the prototype car we'll use the oval part, and then we'll use the sports car infield road course. It's weird coming back to some of these race tracks and going straight and not turning down the road course. It took a bit to get used to."

While he admits the racing is quite different, from the trucks to the tracks, the young driver is having fun learning it all.

"It's a fantastic opportunity for me to have a chance to come and drive this truck and certainly something I'm really enjoying," he said.

For his rookie year, Braun has shown success on the track. In 12 races he's scored one top-five finish, a third at Kansas Speedway, and three top-10 finishes.

Braun credits his fast success to his team and those around him. "I think it just comes down to driving for a team like Roush Fenway Racing. They have so much experience there," he said. "Luckily for me, I have a great crew chief in Mike Beam, who has a lot of experience himself."

He realizes, too, the series is a good place to learn. "It's great racing in this series," said Braun. "There are so many good veteran drivers that have so much experience and you can learn a lot from those guys."

At Halfway, Tight Points Race Harkens Back To 2003

In 13 of 14 seasons, the battle for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Championship title has gone down to the wire. As the series heads towards the midpoint of the season, it looks like it'll be no less than the same once again.

While the series can boast its share of close points battles, it's never been quite this close at this point in the season.

Only 27 points separate points leader Ron Hornaday, Jr. (No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet) and second-place driver Matt Crafton (No. 88 Menard's Chevrolet). From first to fifth place, the spread is 74 and from first to 10th it is a difference of 212.

At this point last season, the margins were 103 from first to second, 385 first to fifth and 612 from first the 10th.

This year's title could be anyone's at this point. Maybe a little dejà vu?

In 2003 after race 12, the points leader had a 34-point cushion over Isecond. t was 86 points from first to fifth and 233 from first to 10th.

As the trucks entered Miami-Homestead Speedway to close out the season, four drivers were viable candidates for the trophy. Brendan Gaughan led the point standings but by only 26 over Ted Musgrave. Travis Kvapil sat in third and Dennis Setzer (No. 18 Dodge) in fourth, 34 and 39 points respectively behind Gaughan.

Each driver had the title in hand at one point of the race but in the end, Kvapil won the championship by a mere nine points over Setzer.

Talk about close. Yet, it's shaping up to be even tighter in 2008.

Manufacturers' Battle

Looks like the hunt for the distinguished manufacturers' title is heating up. Chevy is back on top, but won't rest easy in that spot. Toyota drivers like Johnny Benson (No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota) have been on a roll and are also the defending winner at Kentucky.

And don't count out Ford and Dodge. Both count wins at Kentucky.

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series 2008 Manufacturers' Championship Point Standings following race 17 of 25 at Memphis Motorsports Park:

Chevrolet 82 Toyota 78 Ford 60 Dodge 44

In The Loop: Crafton Quietly Dominant

Matt Crafton is enjoying arguably his best season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series -- and he's doing it very quietly.

Despite a career-first win (Lowe's Motor Speedway) and a second-place points position, Crafton hasn't drawn as much ink as the Ron Hornadays and Johnny Bensons of the world.

But if he keeps up this success, he'll get what's coming to him.

Crafton, who is only 27 points behind leader Hornaday, has already matched his career-high in top-five finishes with six. He had one all of last season.

Crafton ranks in the top 10 in practically all Loop Data statistics this season. He has a Driver Rating of 89.6 (sixth-best), an Average Running Position of 12.1 (seventh), 67 Fastest Laps Run (sixth) and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 74.1 percent (fifth).

But the key to Crafton's success lies in his ability to make a pass, especially important ones. Crafton leads the series in Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green) with 319, and ranks second in Green Flag Passes with 494.

He also owns one of the best Pass Differential numbers (passes minus times passed). Crafton has Pass Differential of 116, which is third-best of those who have raced in all 12 races this season.

Up Next:

The series will head to the Blue Grass State for the Built Ford Tough 225 presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers on July 19.

Last year's winner Mike Skinner is still chasing his first win of the 2008 season.

FAST FACTS

The Race: Built Ford Tough 225 presented by the 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 Matthews

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Mike Skinner , Johnny Benson , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Ted Musgrave , Colin Braun , Dennis Setzer , Matt Crafton , Brendan Gaughan , Clint Bowyer , Willie Allen , Travis Kvapil
Teams Roush Fenway Racing