Miami - (November 13, 2007) - The battle for the 2007 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) driver's championship and the Raybestos Rookie of the Year (RRoY) title are coming down to the wire with Silverado drivers in the thick of both battles....
Miami - (November 13, 2007) - The battle for the 2007 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) driver's championship and the Raybestos Rookie of the Year (RRoY) title are coming down to the wire with Silverado drivers in the thick of both battles. Race 25 of 25, the Ford 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Homestead), will provide the platform for the dramatic finale.
To-date, Chevrolet Silverado drivers have captured eight of the 12 possible NCTS driver's championships while a Chevrolet pickup truck driver has captured only one of the 11 previous RRoY crowns.
"To come into Homestead with a chance to bring home a Championship for Chevrolet that's all you can really ask," said Dayne Pierantoni, GM Racing program manager for NCTS. "This has been a terrific battle all season long. To see Ron Hornaday, Rick Ren and his KHI (Kevin Harvick, Inc.) team come back from a 164-point deficit after ORP (O'Reilly Raceway Park, Indianapolis, IN) in July is just phenomenal. I'm betting it will come down to the last lap at Homestead. I know it will be exciting, I can't wait.
"We are thrilled to see both Willie Allen and Tim Sauter battle for the RRoY honors in their Silverados. No matter what the outcome, it has been a great season for both drivers and we are very proud of their efforts."
Two-time NCTS champion, Ron Hornaday, Jr., No. 33 Camping World Silverado, fielded by Kevin Harvick, Inc. heads to the South Florida track second in the standings, just 29 points down to nemesis Mike Skinner.
During the last one-third of the season, the two veterans have swapped the top spot in the standings virtually from race-to-race.
With four victories, 13 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes to his credit in 2007; Hornaday could have the advantage at Homestead. In his seven previous Homestead starts, he has made a trip to victory lane at the 1.5-mile track, in 2002. He has three top-five and six top-ten finishes. Hornaday has also completed 1,075 of 1,075 possible laps (100 percent) at Homestead and has led 73 total laps.
What has gotten Hornaday to this point in the season is the exact mindset that he is implementing for the final race of the season despite what is on the line.
"It is another race for us at Homestead," said Hornaday. "All we can do is keep doing what we are doing and racing hard. I like Homestead, it is a good track. I won there back in 2002 and I have had some good finishes there in the past. "We are bringing the same truck we ran in Texas. The guys went home and put some new horns on it and everything. It is a pretty good piece. I have a team that never says die and they work hard to figure out my favorite trucks and they have been bringing them back."
Kevin Harvick will again pilot the No. 2 Camping World Silverado. The Homestead race will be his sixth NCTS start of the season.
"I am looking forward to going to Homestead this week and racing in the NASCAR Truck Series again," said Harvick. "Homestead is a pretty good track for me and I have had some great runs there in the Busch Series and Nextel Cup Series.
"I will be driving a new truck again this week. I drove a brand new one last week at Phoenix and picked up a top-five. Everybody at the shop puts a lot of effort into this truck program for us, so I am confident that this truck will be good when we unload it."
Willie Allen, No. 13 The National Pork Board, Nashville Music City ThorSport Silverado, will be celebrating his one-year mark as the driver of the ThorSport No. 13 Silverado. The Tennessee driver hopes he will be celebrating the end of a successful season by winning the RRoY title as well.
"It's been a blast competing against Joey Clanton and Tim Sauter this year for the Raybestos Rookie of the Year title," said Allen. "They are great drivers on the track and great guys off the track. I figured this battle would end up going down to the wire. It would mean a lot to me to win the Rookie of the Year title.
"I was fortunate enough to win a Rookie title in late models and supertrucks at the Music City Motorplex in Nashville. Winning it at this level would be such a coveted honor. It was our goal at the beginning of the year to be competitive and keep ourselves at the top of the Rookie standings. There have been several NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drives who won Rookie of the Year that have moved on to compete in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. We have the point lead right now, but we are going to have to go to Homestead and perform at our best to hold onto it.
Allen concluded by saying: "We need to make our truck work on the long runs and work up in the high groove of the track. We'll need to stay out of trouble and have a good pit strategy to be successful. I've learned so much this year and it has been great competing against everyone in the series. I hope we can have a strong finish at Homestead to close out the year. Thanks to The National Pork Board, Nashville Music City, and Chevy for all the support they have given me during my rookie year."
Kyle Busch, winner of the last two out of three NCTS races, will be back in the No. 51 Miccosukee Resorts Chevrolet Silverado fielded by Billy Ballew Motorsports (BBM).
"I'm looking forward to being in the truck this weekend," said Busch. "I haven't run one here since 2005 and I think the truck we are bringing this week will be a good piece for the race. It is the Atlanta truck that we could have won the Texas race with but the engine blew.
"Homestead is a track I tend to favor. I think it's unique in its own right because it's got high banks and is really fast. You can run pretty much all the way through the race around the top side. You're going to see guys running up against the wall the whole time but you can go down to the bottom and try to make a pass and it's wide enough you can race all around that place.
"I was so happy to put this team in victory lane again last week in Phoenix and finally Flanders Beef Patties. The program is really starting to come-on late in the season. I'd really like to run in Daytona or on a track like that and carry on the momentum from the end of this season."
The No. 15 Neo Synthetics Chevrolet Silverado, also out of the BBM stable, will again be driven by Andrew Myers.
"Phoenix was an experience for me that I loved," said Myers." Driving these Craftsman Trucks is a lot of fun but I know I need to make laps in the series and that is what we look to do on Friday in Homestead. I really enjoy working with Doug George who is a former West Series driver. He knows his stuff and has taught me so much in a short period of time."
Brendan Gaughan, No. 77 South Point Casino Silverado, has set goals for himself and his team at Homestead.
"First and foremost, this weekend is about this team and this team wants to finish in the top-10," said Gaughan. "Chevrolet did a bunch for us this year and brought us into their house. We would love to be another Chevrolet in the top-10 for them.
"Homestead is a great place - it's got four and five grooves of racing. It's neat because it is one of our few non-doglegged mile and a half tracks. It's two straight ovals, so that's kind of the cool part of it. It's unique. It's my style of place because it relies a lot on air and the aero places I'm pretty good at. It has a really high groove in it, which - at Texas I did run the bottom. I want to make sure that it is noted by everybody that I ran the bottom a bunch and I even made a few passes on the bottom, but the bulk of my passes were up high - and Homestead is the same way. I think that these Chevrolet Silverados we run can go to the bottom better than I'm used to, but my just still fits the let the engine stay wound up, stay up high. I get such a good run off the corners. I just have to get into the corner a little bit better to get a little bit faster. Maybe we will be in Victory Lane afterwards talking about it."
"Another thing is Ron Hornaday - we want to help Hornaday get his championship," Gaughan concluded. "That's a big deal. If I can make sure that I stay in front of Mike Skinner the whole night - we're going to try to win this race - but if I can try and stay a spot in front of Skinner and help Hornaday out, I will. Chevrolet has been good to me and I remember being in the same position a few years ago (2003) - not relying on anybody and running my own deal. It's nice though when you have friends who will help. I'm definitely not going to do anything stupid. I'm not going to get even near either one of them and get them loose - I don't want to screw around with the championship, but I would like to help Chevrolet in anyway possible. Winning the race for me, would take the most points, so that is one way to help."
-credit: gm racing