* Title Contenders Leave Rivalry At Garage Gate * Setzer, On Roll With New Team, Nears Milestone * Skinner's 11-Point Edge Closest With 4 To Go Skinner Vs. Hornaday: Fierce Competitors Who Also Are Friends DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 22, 2007)...
* Title Contenders Leave Rivalry At Garage Gate
* Setzer, On Roll With New Team, Nears Milestone
* Skinner's 11-Point Edge Closest With 4 To Go
Skinner Vs. Hornaday: Fierce Competitors Who Also Are Friends
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 22, 2007) -- Few competitors in the 12-plus seasons of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series have battled each other more ferociously than Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) and Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet).
Don't expect anything less as the fight for the 2007 championship likely will go down to the final lap of the last race on Nov. 19 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
But you'd be wrong to believe the competition continues after the checkered flag falls.
In fact, the two might have the tightest friendship in the garage, a championship fight notwithstanding.
"I think if it comes down to one of us wrecking each other to win the championship, it's just not going to be the same," said Skinner, who edged Hornaday for the 1995 crown but lost to him in 1996. "Ron and I have been buddies for a long time. We've wrecked each other and went back (to the motor coach) and had a beer together."
Hornaday, who also won the title in 1998, agrees.
"I know Mike isn't going to go out there and wreck me on purpose and I am not going to do it to him," he said.
"We are going to get into each other. We have four races left and we are going to race hard. But we are smart enough to know that when we walk out the gate, we aren't going to carry it forward to next week. We are going to go out there and race our trucks to their potential and run hard."
Setzer, With Third Straight Top 10, Nears Winnings Milestone
The 2007 season has been like no other for veteran Dennis Setzer, who won at Mansfield Motorsports Park in May with the Spears Motorsports team but found himself without a ride in early September.
Setzer signed a one-race deal to drive Bobby Hamilton Racing's No. 18 Fastenal Dodge and finished seventh at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The performance was enough to give him the BHR seat for the remainder of 2007. Setzer is three-for-three in solid finishes, adding a fifth at Talladega Superspeedway and 10th last weekend at Martinsville.
Setzer, battling to reach a top-10 championship finish, also is closing on a winnings milestone. The 47-year-old North Carolina native needs just $45,106 to become the series' second competitor to reach the $5 million winnings mark.
2007 Title Race A Revolving Door At The Top
It doesn't get any better than this:
For the fourth time in five races, there's a different competitor atop the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series point standings.
The No. 1 spot in the standings isn't an easy thing to hold onto.
Ron Hornaday Jr. entered the Oct. 20 Kroger 200 with a 14-point lead over Mike Skinner. He left in second place, trailing by 11.
Since exiting Bristol Motor Speedway in late August, only one of the drivers has been able to stay atop the points for consecutive races.
At Martinsville, Skinner did something no series driver has accomplished: Win twice in the same year at the .526-mile track. He's also the track's only three-time series winner.
Skinner now counts five victories -- the most by a driver in 2007. Not to be upstaged, Hornaday raced from fifth to third place in the race's final three laps to keep Skinner's lead precarious.
Skinner's lead ranks closest in NASCAR Craftsman Truck history with four races remaining.
The next closest year was 2003 when the spread was 20 points. Of interest, this isn't the first time that Skinner has been part of a close race. He led Joe Ruttman by 40 points at this stage of the 1995 season.