Dover's Winning Hand: Draw To These Four Kings You could call them the "Kings of Concrete." Together, Johnny Benson (No. 15 Red Top Collector Car Auction Toyota), Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota Tundra Toyota), Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Longhorn ...
Dover's Winning Hand: Draw To These Four Kings
You could call them the "Kings of Concrete." Together, Johnny Benson (No. 15 Red Top Collector Car Auction Toyota), Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota Tundra Toyota), Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Longhorn Chevrolet) and Mike Skinner (No. 5 International Trucks/Monaco RV Toyota) have won 12 times on the three concrete-surfaced tracks on which the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competes.
Concrete track No. 2, Dover International Speedway, is on this week's menu and the odds favor one of the four winding up in Victory Lane -- especially Busch and Hornaday, former Dover 200 winners and the only competitors to win series races at Dover, Bristol Motor Speedway and Nashville Superspeedway. Benson has a pair of victories in Nashville. Skinner previously won in Bristol.
Busch opened 2010's concrete season with an April 2 victory in Nashville where the 25-year-old previously won in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Busch and Hornaday are the only previous Dover winners expected to compete in Friday's race. Ten different drivers -- two in the past two years, Scott Speed and Brian Scott -- have conquered the Monster Mile, which joined the series in 2000. Kansas Speedway matched Dover two weeks ago with its 10th different winner in as many races to lead active tracks. How good have Benson, Busch, Hornaday and Skinner been on concrete?
Consider these statistics: In 68 starts on concrete, the quartet has a combined 28 top five and 47 top-10 finishes. The four have led nearly 2,600 laps. Busch has led 36% of every lap he's run on a concrete-surfaced track. Skinner (22.9%) and Hornaday (22%) have led nearly a quarter of the laps they've turned in 42 starts at Bristol, Dover and Nashville
Five Races Done, It's Still A Cavalry Charge At The Top
In some years, the season's first five races have separated the contenders from the pretenders for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship. It will take a bit -- maybe a lot -- longer in 2010. Fewer than 200 points separate the first 12 positions in the point standings following the May 2 O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas Speedway.
Timothy Peters (No. 17 Red Horse Racing/Crescent Tools Toyota) continues to head the standings. Aric Almirola (No. 51 Graceway Pharmaceuticals/AKawareness.com Toyota) and Kansas winner Johnny Sauter (No. 13 Curb Records Chevrolet) -- competitors who didn't top the list of preseason favorites -- join Peters in the top five.
A spread of 117 points covers the current top five; 168 the top 10.
But former champions are lurking. Todd Bodine (No. 30 Toyota) and Hornaday already were in the top 10 before finishing third and second, respectively, in Kansas. Skinner moved into 10th as the 1995 champion seeks a second title.
How realistic are the title chances of those trailing Peters' by triple digits? Recent history says don't count any of them out. Five champions beginning in 2000, including Hornaday, rebounded from deficits of up to 154 points with five races completed.
News & Notes
Wayne's Words: Concrete And Speed Go Hand-In-Hand At Dover
"There are no poor seats at Dover International Speedway but I've got one suggestion for a firsttime fan, especially if you arrive on Thursday and have the opportunity to watch practice.
"Walk down to the section of the grandstands overlooking the entrance to the first turn. I can guarantee you, the sight and sounds of the trucks entering that corner is one of those special moments you'll always remember.
"Dover may measure one mile in length but it's every bit as much a superspeedway as a track twice its size. Back to that Turn 1: a driver carries a tremendous amount of speed into the corner and you can quickly tell the difference between a good handling truck and one that's a handful.
"Turn 2 tends to be a trouble spot year after year, especially on restarts. We've had some big mix-ups there and it's rare they involve just a single truck.
"The banking ensures that Dover is a selfcleaning track. The accidents always start in the high groove and finish on the apron.
"Concrete is a surface unlike asphalt, which can change dramatically over the course of a race. Concrete tracks like Dover, Bristol and Nashville don't require the in-race adjustments that can tax the crew chiefs.
"Some of the series' best finishes have come at Dover. Kurt Busch and Mike Wallace had a memorable final lap shoving match to settle the inaugural race in 2000.
"And we've had first-time winners in each of the past two years. It
wouldn't surprise me if we get another in 2010."
- Wayne Auton, Series Director
Drivers, Teams Looking Ahead To Next Week's Pocono Test
Over the course of 16 seasons, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has competed at all but two current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series tracks.
That list will increase by one -- Pocono Raceway -- on July 31.
Four teams are set to provide baseline information for the series as a whole when they test at the 2.5-mile triangle-shaped speedway on Monday, May 17.
Germain Racing, Green Light Racing, Kyle Busch Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing have confirmed their participation in the daylong drills.
The drivers involved are veterans -- Todd Bodine -- as well as several who have no experience at Pocono.
Among the latter is Jason White (No. 23 GunBroker.com Dodge), the Daytona Keystone Light Pole winner.
"I've never been to Pocono so it's going to be a learning experience for myself and the crew," said White. "For me, it's great to be able to get extra track time there. We're going to bring a truck we call '.50 cal.' It's the same truck we ran at Atlanta earlier this year."
Neuenberger Readies For Dover Double Dip
Donnie Neuenberger (No. 6 EZ Slider Cylinder Liners Chevrolet) literally has seen Dover International Speedway from every vantage point. The Brandywine, Md., driver remembers camping in the track's infield and watching the races with friends atop temporary scaffolding.
Later, he would compete in a variety of NASCAR races including the Camping World and Nationwide series -- as he'll do this weekend. And one year he was a rear-seat passenger in a Maryland Air National Guard F-16 that was part of the NASCAR Sprint Cup pre-race fly-over.
"I've experienced the track from all angles," said Neuenberger, who'll be making his third start of the 2010 season. He finished ninth at Daytona International Speedway.
Neuenberger said it would be a mistake to think Maryland isn't NASCAR country.
"Most people do not realize that racing has deep roots in this area," he said. "As a Maryland native, much of my racing support and sponsors have been from this area and enabled me to compete in NASCAR for over 17 years."
Neuenberger's NASCAR Nationwide Series sponsor, Plan B Technologies, is a Maryland based company owned by high school friend Donnie Downs.
"Dover is a tough track and earns the name Monster Mile," said Neuenberger. "The drivers look forward to competing on this fast-paced concrete." Neuenberger isn't the only Maryland native in the NASCAR Camping World Truck garage. Dick Claveloux, the rear tire carrier for Timothy Peters'
Red Horse Racing truck, grew up outside Dover in Magnolia, Md. He successfully completed the company's PIT training program in 2006 and is in his third season.
Claveloux's grandparents and high school friends will be among Friday's Dover 200 crowd.
Points Leader Peters' First Top 10 Came At Dover
You might say Timothy Peters was a fast learner.
Or conversely, the pupil had a good teacher. Peters, who saw his lead over Todd Bodine dip to 22 points at Kansas, started fourth and finished sixth in his first trip to Dover International Speedway in 2005.
"The first time I laid eyes on (the track) I was really intimidated," said Peters. "(Team owner) Bobby Hamilton really helped me out and got me up to speed really quickly. It was a great first race at Dover and only my fourth NASCAR race ever."
Aric Almirola, currently third in the standings, has just a single NCWTS start at Dover (finished 12th in 2006) but calls the track his favorite. Almirola won a K&N Pro Series East race there in 2008.
"It's like a souped-up Bristol. You can run twowide, sometimes three-wide, depending on how much rubber gets laid down," said Almirola.
Dover's 11th Different Winner Could Be One Of These Three Competitors
For the second consecutive race, competitive balance is the storyline du jour. Two weeks ago, Kansas Speedway welcomed its 10th different race winner to Victory Lane. Kansas has hosted 10 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series winners, and not a single driver owns multiple wins there.
This weekend, Dover International Speedway boasts the same anomaly. There have been 10 Dover races in the series, and 10 different winners. So who, if anyone, can make it No. 11?
Here are the best bets:
Johnny Sauter: Sauter continued Kansas' "different winners" streak with his second career series victory two weeks ago. In that event he scored a near-perfect Driver Rating of 149.0 (a perfect rating is 150.0) and had an Average Running Position of 2.2. He has only one Dover start in the series, but it was a good one. Last season, he finished fifth with a Driver Rating of 107.6, an Average Running Position of 6.1 and ran all but five laps among the top 15.
Todd Bodine: In this season's five races, Bodine has four top-five finishes. In those runs, he has scored a Driver Rating of at least 106.9. But he has yet to win. This weekend he might check two "firsts" off the list: his first win of 2010, and his first win at Dover. His finishes at Dover aren't astounding, but they're also not indicative of his performance. For instance, last year Bodine finished 18th. But he had a strong Driver Rating of 100.0 and 50 Fastest Laps Run. Overall at Dover, Bodine has a Driver Rating of 95.6. He's also got three NASCAR Nationwide Series victories at Dover, the most recent in 1993.
Mike Skinner: Skinner has finished in the top 10 in each of the last two races, but is looking for his first win of the season. He hasn't won at Dover, but has finished in the top 10 in the last three. He has strong numbers there: a Driver Rating of 98.0, an Average Running Position of 8.3 and 947 Laps in the Top 15 (a 94.7% mark).
Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33) won last year's North Carolina Education Lottery 200 over Kyle Busch.
• Crew chiefs are individuals and that said, each has a personal approach to the weekend's competition. Germain Racing's Mike Hillman Jr., whose driver, Todd Bodine, won the 2006 championship, doesn't worry much about qualifying set-ups -- except at Dover. "At Dover, pit selection is crucial so qualifying is very important," said Hillman. "Our team has never been one that spends a lot of time worrying about qualifying during practice. Typically, we focus on race setup. But we always try our best to make a mock qualifying run at Dover."
• MB Motorsports became the only team to have competed in every one of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' 16 seasons when Jack Smith drove the Missouri-based No. 63 Ford to a 14th-place finish May 2 at Kansas Speedway. The team's drivers have included Carl Edwards, Jamie McMurray, Justin Allgaier, Kenny Irwin and Tony Roper.
• Elliott Sadler (No. 2 Best Buy/Insignia Chevrolet) returns to the seat of the Kevin Harvick Inc. truck he qualified on the front row at Daytona in February. Sadler led 25 laps before an accident cut short his night. "I've been itching to get back in the truck," he said. "Harvick and (Ken) Schrader have run really well in the last few races so I'm confident that I can run really well, too." The trucks of both Sadler and teammate Ron Hornaday Jr. will carry the Autism Speaks puzzle piece. "It hits really close because my niece, Halie, is autistic," said Sadler.
• Austin Dillon (No. 3 Bass Pro Shops/ Tracker Chevrolet) opened an 11-point lead in Raybestos Rookie of the Year points after finishing sixth at Kansas Speedway. Dover International Speedway, despite its "monster" reputation, has been kind to NASCAR Camping World Truck rookies over the years, beginning with Kurt Busch's victory in the 2000 inaugural race. The 2008 winner, Scott Speed, also was a Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate.
Up Next: Charlotte
Defending North Carolina Education Lottery 200 winner Ron Hornaday Jr. and Kyle Busch have combined to win four of the past five NCWTS races at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Chevrolet has gone to Victory Lane six consecutive times after Ted Musgrave won the inaugural race in a Dodge in 2003.
Next Race: Dover 200
The Place: Dover International Speedway (1-mile concrete oval)
The Date: Friday, May 14
The Time: 4:45 p.m. ET
Race Distance: 200 miles/200 laps
TV: SPEED, 8 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM. (Listen locally on WDOV-AM, 1400)
2009 Polesitter: Ron Hornaday Jr.
2009 Winner: Brian Scott
Schedule prior to race:
Thursday -- Practice, 2:30-3:45 p.m., 4:15-5:30 p.m.
Friday -- Qualifying, 10:10 a.m.