Off-week notes 2009-04-07

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series News And Notes Familiar Rivalry, Hornaday Vs. Skinner, Continues Four races into the 2009 season, Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Longhorn/VFW Chevrolet) and Mike Skinner (No. 5 Bad Boy Mower Toyota) sit third ...

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series News And Notes

Familiar Rivalry, Hornaday Vs. Skinner, Continues

Four races into the 2009 season, Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Longhorn/VFW Chevrolet) and Mike Skinner (No. 5 Bad Boy Mower Toyota) sit third and fourth in the standings with a mere five points separating the two.

This isn't anything new.

These two have been here before, battling for wins and titles in 155 races over the past 15 seasons in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Hornaday easily appears to be an early contender for this year's title. His lowest finish in four races was seventh at Atlanta in March.

Although with a new team, Skinner is off to a strong start after what was an up and down 2008. So far, he has finished outside the top 10 only once -- coming in 11th at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., On Feb. 21.

The pair hold four titles between the them. Skinner was the inaugural series champion in 1995 with Hornaday finishing third. The drivers swapped places the following season as Hornaday grabbed his first title. They went on to finish one-two in 2007, with Hornaday beating rival Skinner by 52 points in a down-to-the- wire title battle.

As the season unfolds, these are two to keep your eye on.

No Repeat Winners So Far At Midwest Track

The series heads to Kansas Speedway April 25 where in eight visits the track has yet to produce a repeat winner. Midwest fans have seen winners from all experience levels, from Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender Ricky Hendrick in 2001 to three-time series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. a year ago.

Kansas fans have also witnessed drivers grab their first career victories, such as Erik Darnell in 2007. Fellow Roush Fenway Racing driver Colin Braun (No. 6 Con-Way Freight Ford) is still searching for his first career NASCAR win. He was third in last year's O'Reilly Auto Parts 250, his best career finish. Braun looks to follow Darnell's footsteps.

Someone else to watch could be Matt Crafton (No. 88 Menard's Chevrolet). Crafton has been a factor already this season, collecting three top-10 finishes. Last May, he grabbed his first career win at Lowe's, a track with a similar layout to Kansas.

Todd Bodine (No. 30 Germain Racing Toyota), second in the standings, found Victory Lane in 2005. Bodine, who is off to an incredible start, could possibly be the driver to break the no-repeat-winner streak.

Bodine's only finish outside the top three this year came at Martinsville after he was caught up on a last lap incident which relegated him to an 18th-place finish.

In The Loop

Johnny Benson had spent four-and-a-half seasons with Bill Davis Racing before joining Red Horse Racing this season as the defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion.

So you can forgive him if it took Benson a little time to adapt.

It didn't take much time.

Benson has improved his finish in each of the season's four races, and now sits seventh in points.

So, too, did his statistics improve with each passing race:

At Daytona, Benson finished 26th with a Driver Rating of 79.7 and an Average Running Position of 17.5.

At Auto Club Speedway, he finished 12th with a Driver Rating of 81.7 and an Average Running Position of 10.7.

At Atlanta, Benson finished ninth with a Driver Rating of 96.0 and an Average Running Position of 8.8.

At Martinsville, Benson posted his first top five, finishing fourth with a Driver Rating of 105.9 and an Average Running Position of 6.8.

Now, Benson finds himself in the top 10 of every key Loop Data stat category. He has a Driver Rating of 90.8 (sixth-best), an Average Running Position of 10.9 (sixth) and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 80.4 (sixth). Even more promising for Benson: In his 2008 championship winning season, Benson was ninth after four races -- two spots lower than he is now.

Benson To Compete In Pro/Celebrity Race

Now it's Johnny Benson's (No. 1 Red Horse Racing Toyota) turn to represent the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity race at the 33rd Long Beach Grand Prix in Southern California.

Benson, who'll make his debut in the annual charity event on April 18, is the third NCWTS champion to compete in the through-the-streets race that matches professional drivers against celebrity entrants. All will drive race-prepared Scion cars.

Mike Skinner (No. 5 Bad Boy Mowers Toyota) competed in the race the past two years. Todd Bodine (No. 30 Germain Toyota) participated in the 2006 event. Each won the professional division as did Max Papis (No. 9 GEICO Toyota) in 2004.

Last year's race saw celebrity entrant and ESPN pit reporter Jamie Little edge Skinner by .324 seconds -- the closest margin of victory in the race's history.

Little returns to defend her title, this time in the professional category, along with two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. Also entered is Coy Gibbs, a former NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competitor and owner of the JGRMX Supercross/Motocross Team. Celebrity entrants include Academy Award winning actor Adrien Brody, "Jeopardy" host Alex Trebek, comic Carlos Mencia and pro skateboarder Danny Way.

"It's fun for us to hob knob with all the celebrities and superstars," said Benson. "I know one of the celebrities won it last year so even though they get a head start, it will be fun to try and catch them, pass them and then go for the win ourselves.

"It would be so cool to win it but just being a part of the race is special. We have the opportunity to raise money for some great charities and that's what it's all about."

The race has enabled Toyota to donate $1.7 million dollars to various children's hospitals since 1991.

Up Next

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns Saturday, April 25 at Kansas Speedway.

Defending race winner Ron Hornaday Jr. will have to keep former winners Todd Bodine (2005) and Terry Cook (No. 25 HT Motorsports Toyota) (2006) -- among others -- in his rear-view mirror, to return to Victory Lane.

Fast Facts

Next Race: O'Reilly Auto Parts 250
The Place: Kansas Speedway

The Date: Sat., April 25, 2009
The Time: 6 p.m. ET

Race Distance: 250.5 miles / 167 laps
Track Layout: 1.5-mile paved

TV: SPEED, 5:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM.

2008 Winner: Ron Hornaday Jr.
2008 Polesitter: Ron Hornaday Jr.

Schedule:
Friday--Practice, 1:30- 2:30 p.m. and 3:30-5 p.m.
Saturday--Qualifying, 12:45 p.m.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , Al Unser Jr. , Max Papis , Johnny Benson , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Colin Braun , Terry Cook , Matt Crafton , Erik Darnell , Jamie Little , Alex Trebek , Adrien Brody , Danny Way
Teams Germain Racing , Roush Fenway Racing , Bill Davis Racing , Red Horse Racing