NASCAR Camping World Truck Series News And Notes -- Iowa Recent Break In Schedule About More Than Iowa As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series kicked off the final 10 races leading up to the Chase for the Sprint Cup and the NASCAR Nationwide Series ...
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series News And Notes -- Iowa
Recent Break In Schedule About More Than Iowa
As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series kicked off the final 10 races leading up to the Chase for the Sprint Cup and the NASCAR Nationwide Series debuted its new car, it would have been easy to assume the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series teams were relaxing and enjoying the three open weekends on their schedule gearing up for the Lucas Oil 200 presented by SPEED on Mediacom at Iowa Speedway. In reality, the teams have been feverishly working and preparing for the upcoming nine-race stretch on the horizon.
"Having three weeks off has been a good and a bad thing," said Butch Hylton, crew chief of the No. 2 KHI Chevrolet. "It's good because it gives you time to do a lot of testing. We have gone to the seven post and wind tunnel a few times and we've had the chance to learn a lot. It's a bad thing because you sort of get used to having extra time and making everything very precise not thinking that in just a few more days we will literally be gone for two weeks with the Iowa/Gateway schedule then busting it for eight more weeks just trying to make everything the best it can be."
The nine-week-long race stretch in the 2010 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule is the longest of the season and the longest the series has run higher than six consecutive weeks in recent years.
For some teams, the break came at just the right time.
"The off weekends came at a perfect time for the No. 31 Wolf Pack Rentals team," said Michael Shelton, crew chief of the No. 31 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet. "The guys in the shop worked really hard to get our inventory back up and get some more Chevrolet Silverados built before the stretch. Our goal was to have ourselves in a good position heading into Iowa and I think we did that. Hopefully, we continue to run in the top five after this break like we did before."
And several teams used the time off to work on the whole package.
"We have built a few new trucks, one of which the No. 33 team is taking to Iowa," said Doug George, who calls the shots for the No. 33 KHI Chevrolet. "We have been doing a lot of planning since several members of the No. 33 team will not be coming home between Iowa and Gateway. It's been a lot of logistical planning and thinking ahead."
George added, "When you have such a long stretch and only a few trucks to choose from, you sort of have to get a game plan on how you are going to handle things: Which truck is going where and how it's going to get there and how the sponsor decals are going to get on it." The NCWTS will race the same amount of events in the next month-and-a-half than it has in the first five months of the season.
Maybe from the outside looking in the break in the schedule came just in time for a summer vacation to the beach, but as you can see, the wrenches have been busy in the shops -- gearing up for a long road to Homestead in November. And with a championship battle separated by only 55 points, you can guarantee the next nine weeks are crucial to the frontrunners.
Second Visit To Iowa Full Of Veterans And Young Guns Abound
"After three open weekends on our series schedule, our teams are excited to be back racing and headed to the Midwest -- home to some of the most energetic NASCAR Camping World Truck Series fans.
"Last year's visit to Iowa Speedway will always be remembered because it was our first visit to the .875-mile oval and I am thankful to be heading back to such a great market for our series.
"Look for defending race winner Mike Skinner (No. 5 International Trucks/Monaco RV Toyota) to be a factor come Sunday. Though Skinner is winless so far this season, Iowa is the perfect track for him to break through. Don't forget he did lead 180 laps last year en route to victory.
"Rookie contender Austin Dillon (No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) made his first NCWTS start at Iowa last season and came home in 12th place. Dillon has already scored two top-five finishes in the first nine races this season. Don't be surprised if you see him in the running for his first career win.
"Series veteran David Starr (No. 81 Zachary Toyota) will make his 250th start this weekend in Iowa. I always enjoy getting to see our drivers achieve career milestones.
"And this season you cannot count out current standings leader Todd Bodine (No. 30 Germain Toyota), who has eight top-five finishes in the first nine races. Iowa was not a kind place to Bodine last season, who recorded a 19th-place finish, but look for him to rebound during his second visit. " @- Wayne Auton, Series Director
Jim Smith Now Proud Member Of West Coast Hall Of Fame
James "Jim" Smith, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' 2005 championship owner and one of four off-road figures whose racing dreams culminated in the creation of the truck series, was formally inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame in July 2 ceremonies in Azusa, Calif.
Smith's Ultra Motorsports competed in 273 consecutive races between 1995 and 2006 and won 36 times -- most victories by a non-NASCAR Sprint Cup-affiliated team in the series. Ted Musgrave won the 2005 title driving Smith's Dodge truck. Musgrave is one of eight different drivers who won races with Ultra Motorsports.
Smith and his three fellow owners, unhappy they couldn't get a television package for their offroad racing activities, approached Bill France Jr. in 1994 with the idea of racing pickup trucks under the NASCAR banner on asphalt tracks. The series became NASCAR's third national circuit the following year.
The series quickly became a feeder for West Coast talent, producing such stars as Mike Bliss, Kurt and Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Ron Hornaday Jr.
"Most importantly, Jim's vision created an opportunity for countless individuals and companies to become involved in NASCAR at a top level," said NASCAR senior manager of communications Owen A. Kearns, who inducted Smith as a member of the Hall's board of directors. "Literally thousands of racing jobs have been created and continue to be filled thanks to a vision that came to Jim and his fellow off-roaders sitting around a Baja (California) campfire, enjoying a few cold ones."
Smith, one of 11 inducted as this year's West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame class, said, "To be here in this room, in front of past inductees, means a great deal to me. These are the people I've looked up to my entire life."
Also inducted was former series competitor Mike Chase, a past NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion and current stock specialist with Penske Racing's NASCAR Nationwide Series team.
Loop Data Shows More Than Just A Milestone Waiting For Starr In Iowa
David Starr heads to the second race at Iowa Speedway with two factors worth celebrating -- momentum and a milestone.
This weekend at Iowa, Starr will run his 250th NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, and considering his finishes of late, it could be a start to remember.
"I've been very fortunate and blessed that I have been racing at this level for this long," said Starr, who made his first series start in 1998. "To make it to 250 is very cool, but what I really want to do is make at least 250 more starts after that. Racing is something that I've wanted to do since I was a little boy, so to have the opportunities that I have had and to be making a living racing cars and trucks is a dream come true for me."
Starr has finished in the top 10 in four of the last five races. The five-race stretch has vaulted him seven spots up the series standings, from 15th after race No. 4 at Nashville to his current eighth-place position.
During the five-race string, Starr had an average finish of 9.8, a Driver Rating of 82.7, an Average Running Position of 11.6 and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 78%.
Over Starr's first 249 starts, he has tallied four wins, 45 top fives, 102 top 10s and five poles. Seven times, Starr has run an entire year. Six of those, he finished in the top 10 in points.
A strong run at Iowa, which begins a stretch of 10 consecutive weeks of racing, would help cement his top-10 spot.
Now all he needs to do is avoid the same trouble he suffered in the inaugural Iowa race last season. Starr wrecked, ending his day after just 108 of 200 laps. He finished 26th.
But there were signs of optimism. He spent 38 of those laps running among the top 15, with a top running position of 10th.
Most Popular Driver
Online voting is underway for the 2010 Most Popular Driver of the Year Award in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Last year, Ricky Carmichael was voted by the fans as the series' Most Popular Driver, his first time to receive the honor. The link to the Most Popular Driver ballot will be hosted on NASCAR.com. Fans also may write in their favorite driver if he / she is not among the nominees for a specific series. Fans can send an e-mail to fanfeedback@ nascar.com and submit their write-in vote. Fans may vote or submit a write-in candidate once per day and are encouraged to vote throughout the season. Voting continues until Nov. 12.
Results will be announced at the combined awards banquet for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series on Monday, Nov. 22 at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel.
A trip to Iowa is a trip home for Red Horse Racing's Cory White who is from Vinton, Iowa. White is the longest standing employee at RHR. He was hired in 2004 and serves as a mechanic and tire carrier on race day.
Ken Schrader (No. 2 KHI Chevrolet) and Brian Ickler (No. 18 KMB Chevrolet) return to the series at Iowa as their owners compete not too far away at Chicagoland Speedway. It will be Schrader's fourth start this season and third with KHI. He has scored two top-10 finishes in his last two starts. Ickler will make his third start for Kyle Busch Motorsports. He has finished in the top five in his previous two outings with the team.
Getting Back Up To SPEED
Krista Voda, SPEED Channel's host of NCWTS Setup and pit road reporter, grew up just three hours from Iowa Speedway in Clinton. She has covered NASCAR for nine years and has been a part of SPEED's coverage of the NCWTS for five.
"Because there aren't any major league professional teams in the state of Iowa, the sports and sports venues that are there, are supported and loved like no other," said Voda about her home state fans.
Up Next: Gateway
Gateway International Raceway is the second race on the schedule of the nine-race summer stretch. It will be the series' 13th visit to the Midwest track.
Four active drivers have victories at the 1.25-mile oval. David Starr (No. 81Toyota), Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 KHI Chevrolet), Todd Bodine (No. 30 Toyota) and defending race winner Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota) all have one victory at Gateway.
Former series competitor Ted Musgrave is the only repeat winner at the track, but no driver has ever scored back-to-back wins.
Both Bodine (2006) and Musgrave (2005) won at Gateway in their championship season.
One of the most memorable victories to date was Starr's in 2004. The race went over the scheduled distance by 14 laps due to the greenwhite- checkered flag finish rule. Starr only led one lap of the race, the last one.
Next Race: Lucas Oil 200 presented by
SPEED on Mediacom
The Place: Iowa Speedway (.875-mile oval)
The Date: Sunday, July 11
The Time: 2 p.m. ET
Race Distance: 200 laps /175 miles
TV: SPEED, 2:00 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS NASCAR Radio (Listen locally on KXIA-AM 101.1.)
2009 Polesitter: Mike Skinner
2009 Winner: Mike Skinner
Schedule (All times CT):
Saturday -- Practice, 11:45 a.m. -- 12:50 p.m. and 2-3:30 p.m. Qualifying -- 6:30 p.m.