*Raybestos Rookie Lia, TRG Find Victory Lane In Mansfield *Hornaday Looks To Dover Record For Standings Rebound *Bodine Regains Points Lead; Ballew's Owner Edge Shrinks Raybestos Rookie Lia Wins First Race In Dramatic Fashion DAYTONA BEACH,...
*Raybestos Rookie Lia, TRG Find Victory Lane In Mansfield
*Hornaday Looks To Dover Record For Standings Rebound
*Bodine Regains Points Lead; Ballew's Owner Edge Shrinks
Raybestos Rookie Lia Wins First Race In Dramatic Fashion
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 27, 2008) -- Donny Lia's (No. 71 NationRides.com/AutismSpeaks.com Chevrolet) May 24 victory at Mansfield Motorsports Park was surprising to many.
And that would include Lia himself.
"I knew we could do it; I wouldn't be driving this truck if I didn't think we could do it," said the 27-year-old Jericho, N.Y., native and 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion. "But so soon? I can't believe it."
He didn't do it the easy way either, passing veteran David Starr (No. 11 Pit-Now.com Toyota) on the final lap. Lia is just the 10th winner to lead only one lap -- and the only one to do so without previously leading a series race.
Lia is the first Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate to win a race in nearly five years. Carl Edwards was the last freshman winner in August 2003 at Nashville Superspeedway.
The victory also was the first for TRG Racing and owner Kevin Buckler, previously a winner of more than 50 races in IMSA, the American Le Mans Series, the Grand American Rolex GT Series, the Grand American Koni Challenge Series and the Grand American Daytona Prototype Series.
"To get our first win in only 10 races is quite a phenomenal accomplishment," said Buckler. "It says a lot about our team and what we're capable of."
Hornaday Hopes To Rebound In AAA Insurance 200
Friday's stop at Dover International Speedway couldn't come at a better time for Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet), the defending race winner.
Hornaday is coming off his worst finish -- 35th -- since joining Kevin Harvick Inc. in 2004. He dropped from first to fifth in points, as well.
At Dover, however, Hornaday has been tough, leading more laps than any other driver over the past three races -- 225 of a possible 600.
Hornaday also is tops among active drivers on concrete-surfaced speedways with three wins.
"Dover can be tough on a driver. The two corners seem to be different from each other," said Hornaday. "Dover is a tricky place for a driver to get comfortable because there is a radical change in the race track between going off into Turn 1 and Turn 3.
"There are two lines you can run at Dover that are both really fast."
Three Dover winners and eight drivers who have gone to Victory Lane at concrete-surfaced tracks are expected to compete in the AAA Insurance 200.
Three former Dover winners and eight drivers with concrete wins are expected to compete this week.
Another Twist And Turn Elevates Bodine To Points Lead
Todd Bodine (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota) met his goal and then some at Mansfield Motorsports Park.
In pre-race remarks, the 2006 series champion expressed hopes he'd leave Ohio with a top-10 finish and a reasonably intact truck.
Bodine did that, finishing third in his best short track performance since running second at Martinsville Speedway in March 2007.
And, with Hornaday finishing 35th, Bodine is the new championship leader. Not that he has any breathing room: The margin is eight over Rick Crawford (No. 14 Power Stroke Diesel By International Ford) with Matt Crafton (No. 88 Menards Chevrolet) 45 back in third.
"We had a great race. You know, to get spun out in the beginning, I think it was less than 10 laps into the race, and basically it meant we started last," said Bodine. "We used pit strategy and a good-handling truck to come all the way back."
Shane Sieg's 21st-place finish left Billy Ballew Motorsports' No. 51 Miccosukee Resorts/NOS Toyota five points ahead of Germain Racing's No. 30 in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Owner Championship standings.
Etc. and Quotable
Long Time Between Consecutive First-Time Winners: ... You have to go all the way back to July 2003 for the most recent time the series crowned back-to-back, first-time winners. Crafton punched his ticket eight days before Lia's magic trip to Victory Lane in Mansfield, Ohio. The last two drivers to win in consecutive weeks, interestingly enough, were Roush Fenway teammates Jon Wood and Carl Edwards. Wood won at Kansas Speedway followed by Edwards at Kentucky Speedway. As for new owner winners, TRG's Buckler is the first since 2006. Jack Sprague (No. 2 American Commercial Lines Chevrolet) won at Memphis for Jeff Wyler.
Miller Gets First Win: ... Jason Miller, who previously worked for Andy Petree and Bobby Hamilton, got his first win as a crew chief in just his sixth try. Miller, 37, is an Indianapolis native.
Top 10s For Howard, Murphy: ... Two young drivers to watch, Shelby Howard (No. 13 Bobcat Chevrolet) and Sean Murphy (No. 07 Akzo Nobel/Spectrum Chevrolet) scored the first top 10s of their NASCAR Craftsman Truck careers at Mansfield. Howard was sixth; Murphy ninth. Howard also led his first laps.
"This was by far the best run we had all year and we had our sponsor, Bobcat, on the truck for the first time this year and you know, it's a good momentum builder for us," said Howard. "This is a whole different level of racing for me, and we don't have a top factory-backed team," said Murphy. "So, I'm really happy to come out here and have a good run. I had a good truck and I drove the wheels off it."
Kvapil Eyes Series Concrete Sweep: ... With victories at Nashville and Dover, Travis Kvapil (No. 09 Zaxby's Ford) can accomplish an unprecedented concrete surface sweep with a victory in the AAA Insurance 200.
Jersey's Doug Wolcott Is 'Mr. Flexible' At BDR
Growing up on New Jersey's South Shore, one would think Doug Wolcott, crew chief for the No. 22 Red Bull Toyota driven by Scott Speed, would consider Dover International Speedway his home track.
Dover is in the neighborhood, so to speak, but Wolcott, who grew up in Neptune, N.J., never so much as set foot on Dover's property prior to arriving as a competitor.
Wolcott is one of three Bill Davis Racing crew chiefs and -- perhaps -- the most challenged.
Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) and Jeff Hensley have been together since 2005. Johnny Benson (No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota) and Trip Bruce are solidly in their second season.
And Wolcott? Well, he's had almost too many charges to count: Two already this season, Speed and Phillip McGilton; and three in 2007.
They've ranged in experience from rookie to Formula One Champion Jacques Villeneuve.
"This is not the first time I have worked with a lot of drivers," said Wolcott, 46. "In the 80s, I had my own business in New Jersey and sometimes drove myself. So I am pretty used to helping new drivers get acquainted with the racetrack."
Wolcott believes the challenge goes beyond driver and crew chief. "You have to keep the team focused on the goal each week," he said -- regardless of who is in the seat. "Nobody likes change so I try to keep the guys' heads in the game a lot.
"I also like challenging myself. I like pushing these rookies to levels that they have never reached before."
Rookie Won First Dover Race
It didn't take long for Dover to be crossed off the list of tracks on which a Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate had not won.
Kurt Busch, in a come-from-the-back performance, edged Mike Wallace in the series' 2000 debut at The Monster Mile.
With Lia's Mansfield win, rookie candidates have scored victories at 10 of the 22 tracks comprising the current schedule.
While Colin Braun (No. 6 Con-way Freight Ford) retained the rookie lead, Lia made a huge jump in the standings -- from fifth to second, just eight behind the pacesetter.
Scoring a perfect 21 points at Mansfield, Lia has overcome the handicap of not starting the opening race at Daytona.
Final tabulations are based on a driver's best 14 finishes.
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Raybestos Rookie of the Year Standings after seven races of the 2008 season:
1. Colin Braun 72 2. Donny Lia 64 3. Justin Marks 63 4. Brian Scott 55 5. Andy Lally 55 6. Marc Mitchell 42 7. Phillip McGilton 38 8. Scott Speed 16
The June 6 Sam's Town 400, first of two stops at Texas Motor Speedway in 2008, is next on the schedule. Todd Bodine won for the fourth time at TMS last June. He shares the track win mark with Brendan Gaughan (No. 10 International MAXX Force Diesel Ford).
In The Loop:
In eight races at Dover, no driver has captured repeat checkered flags. Two drivers -- both past champions -- hope that trend continues this weekend.
Two past NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champions have come oh-so-close to winning at Dover -- only be to be shut out of Victory Lane.
Todd Bodine and Mike Skinner have run well, especially over the past three seasons, but couldn't crack the win column.
Skinner started from the pole last season and led 23 laps -- but finished only seventh. He also nabbed a 10th-place result in 2005. Over the last three seasons, Skinner has a Driver Rating of 99.3 (sixth-best), an Average Running Position of 8.0 (sixth-best), 27 Fastest Laps Run (tied for fifth) and has spent 98.2% of the laps -- all but 11 -- in the top 15 (second only to Ron Hornaday Jr.'s 99.3 percent).
Bodine has come a bit closer, finishing third in 2006. But, that was his only top-10 finish in his three Dover starts. He finished 11th last season.
In his Dover career, Bodine has a Driver Rating of 102.5 (fifth), an Average Running Position of 7.4 (fifth), 27 Fastest Lap Run (tied for fifth) and has run 95 percent of the laps in the top 15 (third).
He also has won three times in NASCAR Nationwide Series competition including a season sweep in 1993.
One driver who has won at Dover -- and seemingly everywhere else lately -- is Kyle Busch. Busch won there in 2005, and has led laps in all three of his Dover starts. In his three Dover starts, Busch owns series-highs in Driver Rating (125.7), Average Running Position (4.2) and Fastest Laps Run (80).
Director's Take: Wayne's Words
"One word describes Dover International Speedway -- fast. It's right up there with Daytona and Talladega as far as speed in the turns go.
"But it's deceptively fast, particularly for the first-time driver.
"No one had to think too hard to label Dover as 'The Monster Mile.'
"The monster has bitten plenty of drivers -- rookie and veteran alike. And it can happen anywhere: turns and straightaways.
"You just never know when.
"And one more thing. The track is self-cleaning. If a driver gets into trouble, it's 100 percent guaranteed the truck will wind up on the apron.
"No NASCAR Craftsman Truck driver has been able to conquer Dover more than once. Maybe, like Darlington, the Monster will give you one free pass -- but not two.
"There's no time to be patient. Those 200 laps go by in a hurry and if there's a long green flag run, you're going to be lapped if you (and your truck) don't hustle.
"If you're not moving forward, you definitely are going backwards. There's no riding at Dover.
"Some of our most aggressive drivers have won at Dover: Kurt and Kyle Busch, Scott Riggs, Ted Musgrave and Jason Leffler.
"And, of course, Ron Hornaday Jr., last year's AAA Insurance 200 winner.
"That's why fans love watching us compete at 'The Monster Mile." There's usually plenty of action, drama and sometimes a surprise winner." Wayne Auton, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Director.
Chevrolet's Third Win Ahead Of '07 Pace
Chevrolet is ahead of its 2007 pace as the truck maker attempts to dethrone defending manufacturers' champion Toyota.
The Silverado brand captured its third victory of the year at Mansfield Motorsports Park -- one race earlier than a year ago when Toyota and Ford snagged the season's first five checkered flags.
Chevrolet heads to Dover International Speedway with a four-point lead over its chief rival. It's also the defending AAA Insurance 200 winner .
Ford remains the only manufacturer still looking for win No. 1 in 2008. Mansfield wasn't kind to Ford; its top finisher, Erik Darnell (No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford) finished 11th.
Ford last won in September 2007 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a drought of 13 races.
Number of laps run in this year's points paying races at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Kyle Busch is the only driver to complete all 740.
The Race: AAA Insurance 200
The Place: Dover International Speedway
The Date: May 30, 2008
The Time: 5 p.m. ET
Track Layout: 1-Mile concrete oval
Race Distance: 200 miles / 200 laps
TV: SPEED, 8:30 p.m. ET (Delay)