NASCAR Camping World Truck Series News And Notes -- Bristol Three Races In 12 Days Makes Every Minute Matter If you are traveling down Interstate 81 this week chances are you will hear Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again" blaring from a race ...
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series News And Notes -- Bristol
Three Races In 12 Days Makes Every Minute Matter
If you are traveling down Interstate 81 this week chances are you will hear Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again" blaring from a race hauler's radio. Wednesday night's event at Bristol Motor Speedway will mark the third race in 12 days for the series.
A southern tour of sorts for the series -- traveling to Nashville, Darlington and ending in the hills of East Tenn. -- over 1,397.8 miles on the road. It is only the third time in series history that it has ever been done. In 1998, the series did it twice in one season, producing five different winners.
Traveling from O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis (Jack Sprague) to New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Andy Houston) and ending at Flemington Speedway (Terry Cook) that July. Then in September, the series traveled to Richmond International Raceway (Jack Sprague), Memphis Motorsports Park (Ron Hornaday Jr.) and Gateway International Raceway (Rick Carelli).
The long stretch has proven a good thing for series standings leader Todd Bodine (No. 30 Germain.com Toyota). He won at both Nashville and Darlington, but stats prove winning the triple could be a challenge.
Hard to believe in over 40 short track starts, Bodine has never captured the checkered flag, but that will not slow down the determination of his team.
"The performance we have been able to achieve during this schedule is a true testament to the guys in this garage," said Mike Hillman Jr. (crew chief No. 30 Germain.com Toyota) "When you race on Friday or Saturday, your Sunday then becomes Monday. We work seven days a week a lot. Our crew guys have not had a day off in three weeks, but I have not heard them complain one time." Bodine has the largest lead in series history after 15 races -- 231 points over Aric Almirola -- heading into the O'Reilly 200. The previous largest lead was held by Dennis Setzer in 2005. He led Ted Musgrave by 227 points.
Surprisingly enough, Setzer did not take home the championship trophy that season.
Three Sprint Cup Regulars Going For The Triple At Bristol
Bristol is one of the most physically demanding tracks the series visits due to the high banks and fast speeds that make it a fan favorite.
Add in 950 laps of non-stop action over three nights and you have yourself a challenge at its best.
Kyle Busch (No. 18 NASCAR.com RaceView Toyota Tundra), Brad Keselowski (No.29 Ruby Tuesday -- Miller Lite Dodge) and Elliott Sadler (No. 2 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet) are up for the challenge.
All three have victories at the 'World's Fastest Half-Mile.'
Busch has won on the .533-mile concrete oval in all three national series, but never in the same weekend -- a feat no one has achieved.
Keselowski won the 2008 Nationwide series event after leading only 24 laps. Sadler has one Nationwide series win to his resume, but his most popular win at Bristol came in 2001 when he captured his first career Sprint Cup Series victory at Bristol, only hours from his hometown of Emporia, Va.
Wayne's Words: Hills Of Tennessee Bound
"Hard to believe it's already mid-August, the 2010 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in the home stretch and we're all headed to Bristol Motor Speedway, one of five currently scheduled tracks that graced the schedule in our inaugural year.
"I mean, where else can you gather on a Wednesday night with 60,000 or so of your closest friends? We're proud that the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series kicks off a weeklong festival of speed in Thunder Valley.
"Bristol is 'FAST' -- especially after being reconfigured several years ago. The compound banking has produced real, three-wide racing, something you really didn't see before. A driver with a good truck can pass without having to lean on his rivals.
"That's not to say a few fenders and doors might get wrinkled, but that's short track racing.
"Bristol has a unique pit road. It used to be anyone who qualified back in the field -- and wound up on the backstretch portion of pit road -- had zero chance of contending for the victory. That's no longer true since going to a system requiring all trucks to run both front and rear pit roads during stops under caution.
"Qualifying, though, still makes a difference. Only one winner, Travis Kvapil in 2003, has started outside the top 10.
"Last year's race saw Kyle Busch break Ron's five-race win streak. Don't be surprised to see those two go at it again this week." -- Wayne Auton, Series Director
Original NCWTS Owner Frank "Scoop" Vessels Passes Away At 58
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Director Wayne Auton remembers the multiple sides of Frank "Scoop" Vessels, one of four off-road owners whose concept of racing pickup trucks on oval tracks resonated with NASCAR President Bill France Jr. and resulted in the creation of the series.
"He always had a joke for us," said Auton of Vessels, who died last week when his plane crashed in Oregon. "We always laughed about owning two kinds of horsepower.
"At first, he probably was the most outspoken owner we had, being one of the original four."
Vessels, 58, was a Hall of Fame breeder of quarter horses as well as a motorsports enthusiast. Vessels, Jim Smith, Dick Landfield and Jim Venable raced trucks in Mexico and the Southwestern United States before approaching France in early 1994 -- eager to bring their brand of competition "indoors," so to speak.
Vessels ultimately competed in 25 races in 1995-96 with a best finish of second by P.J. Jones at Tucson (Ariz.) Raceway Park. Jones brought the No. 1 Sears DieHard Chevrolet from three laps down to finish .6 seconds behind Ron Hornaday Jr., in the series' second event.
Mike Chase, Rick Johnson, Ken Bouchard and Andy Hillenburg also drove for Vessels.
Vessel's truck number passed to Smith several years later. Ted Musgrave won the 2005 championship in the No. 1 Dodge -- the first champion to carry the number in NASCAR national series competition.
Paludo To Make NCWTS Debut
Brazilian racer Miguel Paludo (No. 77 Stemco Duroline Toyota) will make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut at Bristol with Germain Racing. Paludo has competed in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series this season, scoring his first top-10 finish at Lime Rock in July. He is a two-time Porsche GT3-Cup champion.
Solid Starting Position At Bristol A Must
Eight of 12 races at Bristol have been won by drivers starting third or better. The race has been won from the pole three times -- most recently by Mark Martin in 2006 and in 1997-98 by Ron Hornaday Jr. Kyle Busch won the 200-lap race in 2009 from the sixth starting position.
Toyota Drivers Holding Strong In Standings
Five Toyota drivers are currently in the top 10 in the NCWTS points standings after 14 of 25 races -- Todd Bodine (first), Aric Almirola (second), Timothy Peters (third), Mike Skinner (eighth) and David Starr (ninth). Toyota drivers have recorded 35 top-five finishes and 74 top-10 results during the 2010 season.
Bodine Still Searching For First Short-Track Victory
Here's a real head-scratcher: Todd Bodine has zero short-track wins. The prolific former series champion has run 40 short track races in his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career, and none have resulted in a trip to Victory Lane.
Seems impossible. But it's true.
Bodine looks to finally shake that curse on Wednesday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.
He has come close a number of times. Bodine has six runner-up finishes at short tracks (three of which came at Bristol), most recently Martinsville last October. His career average finish at short tracks: a solid 11.9. Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, Bodine has run 34 short-track races. His numbers are likewise strong: a Driver Rating of 89.8, an Average Running Position of 11.7, 259 Laps Led, a Pass Differential (passes minus times passed) of plus-232 and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 70.6%.
All those figures suggest a win sooner than later.
His 2010 short track experience hasn't been fruitful, however. At Martinsville in March, Bodine finished 30th. At Iowa, he ended up 17th. At O'Reilly Raceway Park, he finally finished in the top 10 -- seventh. If anything, he improved. His Driver Ratings each race steadily increased: from 65.3 to 87.2 to 100.3. Same with his Average Running Positions: 17.1 to 10.0 to 6.9.
At Bristol, Bodine has those three runner-ups, and an average Driver Rating of 88.3.
Up Next: Chicagoland Speedway
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will make its sophomore visit to Chicagoland Speedway on Aug. 27.
The 1.5-mile track is one of 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series venues the series competes on.
Kyle Busch won the inaugural race last season driving for Billy Ballew Motorsports -- a truck now piloted by Aric Almirola.
Almirola has two wins in 2010 and sits second in the series standings behind Todd Bodine -- who finished second to Busch in last year's event.
The series previously raced in the Chicago area between 2000-01 at the now-defunct Chicago Motor Speedway in Cicero, Ill.
Next Race: O'Reilly 200
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway (.533-Mile Oval)
The Date: Wed., August 18, 2010
The Time: 8 p.m. ET
Race Distance: 200 laps /106.6 miles
TV: SPEED, 7:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS NASCAR Radio(Listen locally on WFHG-AM 980.)
2009 Polesitter: Ryan Newman
2009 Winner: Kyle Busch
Schedule (All times ET):
Wednesday -- Practice,10 -- 10:50 a.m. and Noon-1:30 p.m. - Qualifying -- 4:35 p.m.