Kentucky: Round 13 preview

Kentucky: Round 13 preview
Jul 16, 2008, 12:05 AM

*Roush Fenway Racing To Set Start Record In Kentucky *Busch Eyes National Series Sweep in Consecutive Starts *Wyler, Edwards, Bard, Pepper On Home Turf This Week *Seven Among Top 10 Driver Rating Leaders In '225' Field Roush Fenway Racing To Start ...

*Roush Fenway Racing To Set Start Record In Kentucky
*Busch Eyes National Series Sweep in Consecutive Starts
*Wyler, Edwards, Bard, Pepper On Home Turf This Week
*Seven Among Top 10 Driver Rating Leaders In '225' Field

Roush Fenway Racing To Start Milestone 316th Race

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 14, 2008) -- Jack Roush's entry into the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series began with Todd Bodine's fourth-place finish at Heartland Park Topeka in August 1995.

This week, 314 races later -- 311 consecutive -- Roush Fenway Racing will eclipse Spears Motorsports as the team with the most series starts.

It's been quite a ride to the eve of start No. 316.

Greg Biffle presented Roush with the team's first NASCAR championship in 2000.

The team's 49 victories, two coming at Kentucky Speedway in 2000 and 2003, is a series record.

Twenty-eight different drivers have competed in a Roush Fenway truck; 10 count at least one win.

Early on, Roush recognized the series as being a proving ground for young talent. Biffle, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards and David Ragan each used the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series as a gateway into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

"The Craftsman Truck Series has been a tremendous place for us to find and groom the next generation of drivers," Roush said. "The series not only provides great, competitive racing for the fans every week, but it also gives young drivers the chance to shine and prove themselves to make their way up the ranks."

Roush's Colin Braun leads series rookie points.

Kentucky Boasts Star-Studded Roster of Winners

As Darrell Waltrip is fond of saying, it takes 'sperience to win, especially at Kentucky Speedway.

Look at the list of winners since the inaugural race in 2000:

Three NASCAR Craftsman Truck champions;

Two NASCAR Nationwide Series champions;

Two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitors -- Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle -- currently holding spots that would qualify them for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

And here's another fact:

Each of the eight winners has at least one NASCAR Nationwide Series trophy to share shelf space with his Built Ford Tough 225 hardware.

Just one driver -- Edwards -- has won in both series at Kentucky Speedway. Unlike the track's other winners, Edwards posted his first truck win.

Intermediate Master Bodine Eyes 'Missing' Track

Todd Bodine has won a series-high eight times on five of the seven 1.5-mile intermediate tracks on the 2008 schedule.

Kentucky Speedway isn't one of them.

Bodine does have a victory at the Sparta facility, host to Saturday's Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers.

He won the track's 2002 NASCAR Nationwide Series event.

Bodine says the team has to bring the right package to the track.

Luck, however, is the one factor no driver and crew can control.

"We've shown up with great race trucks and just haven't had the luck we needed to get the win," he said of his 11th-place finish in 2007.

"Last year at Kentucky we had a flat tire at the beginning of the race, then later lost the air off our spoiler and spun at a point where we couldn't get more tires. The Lumber Liquidators Tundra was probably the truck to beat last year, but you have to have the whole package. We missed out on the luck part last year."

Bodine's most recent intermediate-track win came in June 2007 at Texas Motor Speedway. He's 0-for-9 over the past 13 months.

Or put another way, he's probably due.

Etc.: Busch Is Back

No 'Off-Week' For Busch. ... Kyle Busch will be back in the seat of the No. 51 Miccosukee Resort Toyota as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series takes a break. Busch last drove the truck last month in Michigan where he finished seventh. Busch bids to win in three different national series in consecutive starts following his Chicagoland sweep over the past weekend.

Hensley Joins BHR-VA. ... Jeff Hensley has joined BHR-VA as director of competition. The team fields a pair of Dodges for Stacy Compton and Dennis Setzer. Hensley formerly was crew chief for Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) and succeeds Charlie Wilson, who moves to Dodge Engineering.

More Kentucky Events. ... Brendan Gaughan (No. 10 MAXX Force Diesel Ford) will throw out the first pitch at Thursday's Louisville Bats-Charlotte Knights baseball game in Louisville. American Commercial Lines, sponsor of Jack Sprague's No. 2 Chevrolet, is hosting its Second Annual ACL Fan Fest In Jeffersonville, Ind. -- also on Thursday. Sprague, teammate Ron Hornaday Jr. and others will attend and sign autographs.

Closest Top 10 In History. ... After 12 races, the 74 and 212-point margins between first, fifth and 10th are closest ever. They were 385 and 612 in 2007. Still, the title went down to the final race as in 12 of 13 previous seasons.

Double-Dippers. ... Justin Allgaier (No. 63 Dave Porter Truck Sales Ford), Brian Scott (No. 16 Albertsons Chevrolet) and John Wes Townley (No. 09 Zaxby's Ford) also will compete in Friday's ARCA RE/MAX event.

Marks Looks For Another Gear In Second Half

It's been a series of peaks and valleys for Justin Marks (No. 9 Construct Corps/crocs Toyota) during the first half of the season.

But that's to be expected when you're a rookie in a NASCAR national series.

Marks sits second in Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings but knows he'll have to do better than the single top-10 finish he posted during the season's first 12 races.

The potential is there; Marks knows he must find another gear to reach it.

"My focus is improving our finishes," said the 27-year-old from Rocklin, Calif. "We've made a lot of gains in our mile-and-a-half program. Our qualifying has shown it and we're looking to put together finishes that reflect all the work that (crew chief) Jason Overstreet and the crew have put into our Tundras."

Joey Clanton's seventh place was last year's top finish by a Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate in the Built Ford Tough 225.

Coming-Home Time For Several In Kentucky

This week is homecoming for several NASCAR Craftsman Truck competitors including Jeff Wyler, owner of the No. 60 Toyota driven by Terry Cook. Wyler also owns 27 new car and truck franchises in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana and participates in many civic activities.

His 2006 and 2007 Jeff Wyler Charity Golf Outings raised over $100,000 to benefit the Cincinnati Reds' Community Fund for Kids.

Funds from this year's tournament will help underwrite the joint cancer program between area medical centers. Wyler is chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Cincinnati.

Cook, a Sylvania, Ohio native will be the Reds' honorary captain during their Thursday night game with the New York Mets.

"I think the biggest part of my job is going to be presenting the starting lineup to the umpires before the game," Cook said.

The weekend will be a homecoming also for series veteran Wayne Edwards of Shepherdsville, Ky., south of Louisville. Edwards will drive the No. 28 Rosenblum Racing Chevrolet.

Thomas Bard of Greenville is the tire specialist on the No. 15 Toyota driven by Marc Mitchell.

Finally, ThorSport Racing's team manager, David Pepper, will be near his Owensboro, Ky., hometown. ThorSport fields the No. 13 Bobcat Chevrolet of Shelby Howard and No. 88 Menards Chevrolet of Matt Crafton.

"I don't think I'm any different than any other person in this sport," Pepper said. "We all want to be part of a winning team or run as well as possible every week, but yes, it would mean a lot to be on a winning team with all your friends and family looking on."

Up Next:

Short track action returns when series competitors return to O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis for the July 25 Power Stroke Diesel 200 Presented by AAA Hoosier Insurance.

The opening act of a truck and NASCAR Nationwide Series two-night bill marks the 14th time the series has visited the .686-mile track.

Ron Hornaday Jr. is the defending winner.

In The Loop:

Since the inception of Loop Data at the start of 2005, one driver ranks above all other full-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitors in the all-encompassing Driver Rating statistic: Mike Skinner.

In the 87 races from 2005 to the present, Skinner has an average Driver Rating of 107.0, which narrowly leads Ron Hornaday Jr.'s 105.6.

Skinner's strength makes his thus-far winless 2008 all the more perplexing. But if he has a Kentucky race like last season, his drought of 16 races will end this weekend.

Last year, Skinner down-right dominated. He earned a perfect Driver Rating of 150.0, an Average Running Position of 1.3, 63 Fastest Laps Run and led a race-high 135 laps.

Only one driver in Saturday's field ranks ahead of Skinner in Driver Rating since 2005: Kyle Busch. In 37 races since 2005, Busch has a Driver Rating of 111.7 (Mark Martin leads all drivers with a 118.2 in 21 races since 2005).

Fifth on the Driver Rating list since 2005 is Todd Bodine, with 101.7. Bodine is still looking for his first Kentucky win, though he did finish second in 2005 and has a Driver Rating of 90.7 over the last three Kentucky races.

Seven of the top 10 in career Driver Rating will compete in this week's race. Hornaday and Skinner are the only ones to win a truck race at Kentucky Speedway.


"We just have to stay out of trouble and as (crew chief) Mike (Beam) says, 'not beat ourselves. We've had a rough time the last few races." - Colin Braun, No. 6 Con-way Freight Ford, who's finished outside the top 20 in three of his past four starts.

"Kentucky is all about being able to negotiate turn three. The driver that can get into Turn Three and then get back to the gas is going to win the race. Besides that, you just need to run the bottom of the track." - Rick Ren, crew chief for 2006 Kentucky winner Ron Hornaday Jr.

"It's not exhausting. I am a racer and I enjoy doing it. We have a lot of fun in the late models and having the weekend off just gives us an opportunity to go to a couple local tracks and have some fun." - Kyle Busch, who'll compete in late model stock car races this week at Slinger (Wis.) Speedway and Iowa Speedway in addition to the Built Ford Tough 225 in Kentucky. Busch won the track's Nationwide Series race in 2004.

Toyota Defends

Toyota scored its first Kentucky victory a year ago en route to its second Manufacturers' Championship.

The champion truck maker has won in six out of eight seasons at Kentucky Speedway.

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series 2008 Manufacturers' Championship Point Standings following race 12 of 25 at Memphis Motorsports Park:

Chevrolet 82
Toyota 78
Ford 60
Dodge 44

Director's Take: Wayne's Words

"Fans who travel to many races will probably recognize there's some of Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Kentucky Speedway.

"Both were built with the fan in mind -- especially those who walk back and forth from grandstand to infield. The escalators are a nice touch; it's quite a climb from tunnel to ground level.

"The garages also are unique. They're 'drive-through' in the sense a truck can enter from one side and exit on the other.

"Plus there are amenities for crew members such as lounges on both ends of the garages that really make a difference on a hot, humid July day.

"If there's a word to describe this week's races it has to be 'challenging.'

"We practice in the afternoon and evening, qualify in the afternoon and race at twilight.

"It takes a very savvy crew chief to find the right set-up that will make his driver comfortable.

"But that said, Kentucky Speedway has multiple grooves so it's not a case of one set-up fitting all.

"Fans have seen some memorable races including Carl Edwards' first post-victory back flip in 2003. "

-- Wayne Auton, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Director.


The Race: Built Ford Tough 225 presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers
The Place: Kentucky Speedway

The Date: July 19, 2008
The Time: 7 p.m. ET

Race Distance: 225 miles / 150 laps
Track Layout: 1.5-Mile Oval

TV: SPEED, 6:30 p.m. ET

2007 Winner: Mike Skinner
2007 Pole: Ryan Mathews

Friday: Practice, 2:45-4:20 p.m. and 6:30-7:30 p.m.;
Saturday: Qualifying, 3:30 p.m.

-credit: nascar

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