Talladega: News of note, schedule

*Schrader Attempts To Match Martin's Talladega Triple *Toyota Has 2007 Manufacturers' Crown In Sight NCTS, Etc: Wallace Fills Out Germain Threesome ... Inaugural Daytona 250 winner Mike Wallace will drive Germain Racing's No. 03 Toyota at...

*Schrader Attempts To Match Martin's Talladega Triple
*Toyota Has 2007 Manufacturers' Crown In Sight

NCTS, Etc:

Wallace Fills Out Germain Threesome ... Inaugural Daytona 250 winner Mike Wallace will drive Germain Racing's No. 03 Toyota at Talladega, giving the series' 2006 championship team a one-two-three punch of Wallace, Todd Bodine and Ted Musgrave (No. 9 Team ASE Toyota).

Busch Thinks Trucks Good Warmup For Sunday. ... Kyle Busch (No. 51 Flanders Beef Patties Chevrolet) believes the Mountain Dew 250 will be a great tuneup for the debut of NASCAR's new NEXTEL Cup car at Talladega Superspeedway. "The trucks, just like the COT, have more drag and they both have more power so drafting is different, but similar to the truck," said Busch. "The way both the COT and the trucks are built, the bumpers line up so I expect you'll see a lot of bump drafting in both races."

Bud Pole Can Be Important ... Seven of the season's 19 winners started from the Bud Pole, giving added importance to Friday's qualifying session. Mark Martin won the Mountain Dew 250 from the No. 1 starting position a year ago; Jack Sprague won the race from the Bud Pole in January. Mike Skinner continues to pursue his tenth Bud Pole of the 2007 season, which would match his series record set in 1995.

Villeneuve Will Be Busy. ... Jacques Villeneuve (No. 27 Toyota) will compete in all three events at Talladega Superspeedway beginning with Friday's ARCA RE/MAX Series race. Villeneuve finished 21st in his NASCAR Craftsman Truck debut at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Two Alabama Natives In Field. ... Rick Crawford (No. 14 Power Stroke Diesel by International Ford) and Cale Gale (No. 2 Camping World Chevrolet) will represent Alabama in the Mountain Dew 250. Both hail from Mobile. Crawford finished 15th in 2006; Gale, teammate to Ron Hornaday Jr., did not compete here a year ago.

Gaughan's Best NEXTEL Cup Finish Came At Talladega. ... Brendan Gaughan (No. 77 South Point Hotel Chevrolet) finished fourth in Talladega's 2004 fall race and 12th in last year's Mountain Dew 250. He's completed all 470 possible laps in three trips to the speedway. Key Motorsports Seeks TSS 'Payback'

Curtis Key felt his driver was on the verge of giving his team its first victory in Key Motorsports' initial season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series a year ago.

Daytona 500 winner Derrike Cope (No. 16 Xpress Motorsports Ford), was teamed up with Mike Wallace and moving forward as the lead draft entered Turn 3 of the final lap of Talladega's Mountain Dew 250.

Unfortunately for Key, it was not to be.

Both Wallace and Cope were caught up in a multi-truck incident that wrecked both trucks and relegated the pair to finishes of 26th and 27th.

Key hopes to repeat his team's performance this week -- and make it all the way back to the start-finish stripe on Lap 94.

"We are after a performance this year that will help erase the memories of what might have been last season," said Key, whose No. 40 Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet will be driven by veteran Chad Chaffin.

"The numbers we saw in the wind tunnel on this new truck were just great and we expect to have a new motor package that should give us 20 more horsepower than this team had (at Daytona) in February."

Chaffin finished 16th at Las Vegas after a pair of DNFs.

"We have every reason to believe we'll have something for them," said Chaffin.

Manufacturers' Standings: Toyota Nears '07 Title

Toyota carries a 19-point lead over Chevrolet into this week's Mountain Dew 250 but more importantly last year's Manufacturers' champion is closing in on a second consecutive crown. Two victories are all the truck maker needs to clinch the 2007 championship. Toyota has won nine of the season's first 19 races.

In The Loop:

Going on a one-race sampling, look forward to continued gridlock at the top of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series standings.

Mike Skinner leads the points by a mere three markers over Ron Hornaday Jr. going into tricky Talladega, a track at which the Craftsman Truck Series has run only once.

In that race last year, Skinner was not his dominant self, yet finished with a flair. Skinner closed nine positions in the final 10 laps to earn a second-place finish behind winner Mark Martin. Otherwise, Skinner had a relatively quiet day. He earned a Driver Rating of 84.2 and an Average Running Position of 18.6.

Despite finishing well behind Skinner in 10th, Hornaday had much better statistics. Hornaday notched a Driver Rating of 101.6, an Average Running Position of 10.9 and a race-high 170 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green) in last year's race. He also ran 77 of the 94 laps in the top 15 -- Skinner had just 43 Laps in the Top 15.

Also watch for Travis Kvapil, who will pilot the No. 6 Ford that won this race last year. Kvapil is quietly creeping up the standings and, with his win in Las Vegas two weeks ago, is 181 points out of first. He did not race at Talladega last season with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

The driver with the top Talladega statistics last season finished ninth -- Johnny Benson. Benson, who sits in fifth place in the series standings, had a Driver Rating of 112.8, an Average Running Position of 4.9 and 91 Laps in the Top 15.

It's also interesting to note that the top 10 in season-to-date Driver Rating almost exactly mirrors the top 10 in the points standings. The top seven are identical. Jack Sprague, with an eighth-best Driver Rating of 84.3, is 10th in the point standings. Erik Darnell and Matt Crafton are ninth and 10th in Driver Rating, but eighth and ninth in the series standings.

Quotable:

"We had the dominant truck at Daytona in February and came up just shy of pulling off the win. I think we have the truck that can finish the job here this week." -- Travis Kvapil, who was first off Turn 4 but third at the finish stripe in February at Daytona International Speedway.

Joey Clanton (No. 09 Zaxby's Ford) returns to competition after a month's absence and hopes to close the gap on the Raybestos Rookie of the Year leaders. Clanton can make up ground in a hurry since he's started only 11 races and will post full Raybestos points three more times while his rivals discard "worst" finishes.

On Deck: Martinsville Speedway

The series returns to historic Martinsville Speedway for the Oct. 20 Kroger 200. Martinsville is the second of three tracks to host two races in 2007 and is one of just four tracks to stage races in all 13 seasons of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

Jack Sprague (No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota) won last year's Kroger 200 in his "lucky" 13th trip to the .526-mile paper clip-shaped track. In March, Mike Skinner won his third consecutive race of the 2007 season and first at Martinsville since 1996. Skinner was just the second series competitor to post multiple wins at Martinsville joining Dennis Setzer, whose victories came in 2002-03. Up to a half dozen former winners are expected to complete in the Kroger 200.

FAST FACTS

Next Race: Mountain Dew 250

The Place: Talladega Superspeedway
The Date: Oct. 6

The Time: 4:00 p.m. (ET)
TV: SPEED 3:30 p.m. (ET)

Track Layout: 2.66-mile speedway

Race Purse: $780,490

2006 Winner: Mark Martin
2006 Pole: Mark Martin

Schedule: Thursday: Practice 12:10-1:10 p.m.; Rookie practice 1:50-2:20 p.m.; Final practice 2:20-3:20 p.m. Friday: Qualifying 12:10 p.m.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Derrike Cope , Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , Jacques Villeneuve , Mike Wallace , Johnny Benson , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Ted Musgrave , Jack Sprague , Dennis Setzer , Rick Crawford , Matt Crafton , Brendan Gaughan , Chad Chaffin , Joey Clanton , Erik Darnell , Cale Gale , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin , Travis Kvapil
Teams Germain Racing