Mike Skinner continues assault on qualifying record book NEWS AND NOTES Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) continues his assault on NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series qualifying records. Skinner knocked down his third Budweiser Pole of the...
Mike Skinner continues assault on qualifying record book
NEWS AND NOTES
Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) continues his assault on NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series qualifying records. Skinner knocked down his third Budweiser Pole of the 2006 season at Michigan International Speedway on June 17 and moved his career qualifying needle to 27 poles.
The number "27" is significant in that it matches the all-time record held by Jack Sprague (No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota). Sprague had held the mark alone since the 2001 season during which he surpassed Skinner's qualifying record of 15 poles.
Skinner has matched Sprague's record in fewer than half as many starts -- 114 vs. 232. That works out to roughly one pole every four races.
Skinner's bid to break the record could be blunted this week as Sprague is the defending Budweiser Pole winner at The Milwaukee Mile with four poles overall at the flat, one-mile speedway. Skinner was the No. 1 qualifier for Milwaukee's inaugural event in 1995 and the first of five pole winners to win the Toyota Tundra Milwaukee 200.
Career season adds up to huge point lead for Bodine ... Todd Bodine (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota) had to hustle for his eighth top-five finish of the year in Michigan's recent event. Bodine qualified 25th in the 36-truck field but stood fourth at the conclusion of the race. The finish pushed his championship lead to a record 178 points after 10 races as David Reutimann (No. 17 Team Tundra Toyota), despite finishing 15th, overtook Ted Musgrave (No. 9 Team ASE/Germain Toyota) for the runnerup spot. The next-largest lead at this point in the season is 92 points -- Sprague heading Greg Biffle in 2000. Biffle, however, rebounded to win the championship. This week marks the one-year anniversary of Bodine rejoining Germain Racing. He's won eight races and recorded 18 top-five finishes in those 25 races.
But the second half of the top 10 is incredibly close ... Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Truck Corral Ford) took over the sixth position at Michigan -- for now, anyway. Just 10 points covers positions six through 10th with Crawford scoring 1,318 points to No. 10's Mike Bliss (No. 16 IWX Motor Freight Chevrolet) 1,308.
Benson bags No. 1 in 60th appearance ... Johnny Benson (No. 23 Exide Batteries Toyota) welcomed a new sponsor in style with his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory that came, appropriately, before an estimated 60,000 mostly partisan fans at Michigan International Speedway. Benson had finished second on four occasions, the most recent coming in June 2005 at Texas Motor Speedway. The former NASCAR Busch Series champion became the 17th different competitor to score victories in all three of NASCAR's national touring series. The win was the third for team owner Bill Davis and seventh for crew chief Rick Ren, who has guided four different drivers to Victory Lane.
ETC. ... Thirty of 34 finishers in Saturday's Con-way Freight 200 completed all 102 laps to eclipse by three the record for most lead lap finishers. The previous mark was recorded three times -- including last year's Michigan race and most recently last October at Martinsville Speedway. ... This week's race marks a homecoming for several members of Billy Ballew Motorsports including crew chief Richie Wauters (Green Bay), mechanics Darin Bravery (Edgerton) and Jay Czarapata (Krakow) and hauler driver Chris Wood (Sun Prairie). In addition, Nacedah native Johnny Sauter has been tapped to drive the team's No. 51 Bowen Family Homes Chevrolet. Crew member J.R. Norris won last August's NASCAR AutoZone Elite Series, Midwest Division race at The Milwaukee Mile. ... Ryan Moore (No. 40 AutoMotion Chevrolet) has become the 18th member of this year's Raybestos Rookie of the Year class. Erik Darnell (No. 99 Woolrich Ford) continues as the standings leader. ... The Milwaukee Mile has produced just one rookie winner in 11 previous races. Kurt Busch's 2000 victory was the first of four in his record-setting freshman season. ... Reutimann has fashioned back-to-back top-10 finishes in NASCAR Busch Series competition at Nashville and Kentucky and will do double-duty this weekend as well. The Milwaukee Mile hosts NASCAR Busch Series racing on Saturday marking the first of two weekends on which the two series appear together in 2006. They'll next share the pavement Aug. 4-5 at the newly named O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis. Others slated to drive in both Milwaukee events are Sauter, Bliss and Erin Crocker (No. 98 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge).
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Champions prevail at The Milwaukee Mile ... Seven of 11 races have been won by five NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champions although only one -- Skinner -- has been able to win Milwaukee and a title in the same season (1995). All will compete in this year's race: Skinner, Sprague, Bliss, Musgrave and Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Chevrolet). Musgrave is the track's only multiple series winner with victories in 2001 and 2004.
Add these three and the field boasts eight former winners ... Also competing are defending winner Dennis Setzer (No. 85 FlexFuel Chevrolet), Terry Cook (No. 10 Ford Power Stroke Diesel by International Ford), the 2002 winner and Brendan Gaughan (No. 77 Orleans Racing Dodge), who visited Victory Lane the following year.
"We had a solid run last week in Michigan and you can feel our race team is really coming together. Milwaukee is a good track for our team. We've had top 10s there the last three years and we're on a roll coming into this year's race." -- Rick Crawford, who's showed the most rapid rise in the standings in the past five races -- 14th to sixth.
"I raced up there quite often when I was 'cutting my teeth' in racing more or less. I ran a lot in the Wisconsin area and when I go back to Milwaukee there are a lot of fans, a lot of friends and some family that come out to the races." -- Ted Musgrave, who competed out of Franklin, Wis. for many years.
"In North Carolina, when I tell people I'm from Minnesota, they say, 'You don't really race cars up there -- maybe snowmobiles.' Actually we have about three or four pretty good tracks up in Minnesota and there's a lot of late model racing going on there." -- Joey Miller, No. 12 Curb Records Toyota, who'll be racing one state away from his home this week.
"We'd certainly like to dominate the race like we did last year but our team really needs a good, solid contending run right now. We're not going to be able to take the same truck that won last year because that truck hasn't been repaired from a wreck we had at St. Louis on the last lap. But we'll be putting a similar setup underneath this truck and hopefully have some similar results to last year." -- Dennis Setzer, defending winner of the Toyota Tundra Milwaukee 200.
IN THE LOOP
Last year's winner, Dennis Setzer, came within a fraction of a percentage point of recording a perfect Driver Rating of 150.000. Setzer scored a 149.800 rating as five finishers had Driver Ratings in triple digits.
Unsurprisingly, Todd Bodine is the season leader with a Driver Rating of 115.2. David Reutimann is next at 107.3 with Johnny Benson third at 101.7. Bodine has run 99.75 percent of this year's 1,607 laps (1,603). Rick Crawford is second in the category at 99.38 percent (1,597/1,607) while Matt Crafton is third with 98.20 (1,578/1,607).
FROM THE ARCHIVES
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Two competitors -- Mike Skinner and Dennis Setzer -- who battled for victory in the final laps of the 1995 inaugural race at The Milwaukee Mile are among favorites to win this year's Toyota Tundra Milwaukee 200. They finished one-two in an event contested at a 125-mile distance. The race was expanded to 200 laps in 1996. Other top-10 finishers from 1995 expected to compete for this year's victory include Ron Hornaday Jr. (third), Johnny Benson (seventh) and Jack Sprague (ninth).
What: Toyota Tundra Milwaukee 200 (Race 11 of 25).
Where: The Milwaukee Mile, West Allis, Wis.
When: 9:15 p.m. ET, June 23.
Track layout: 1-mile paved oval.
Race length: 100 miles/100 laps.
Posted awards: $519,687
TV: SPEED Channel, 9 p.m. (ET),
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
2005 winner: Dennis Setzer
2005 polesitter: Jack Sprague
Top 10 drivers: 1.Todd Bodine 1,650. 2. David Reutimann 1,472. 3. Ted Musgrave 1,469. 4. Johnny Benson 1,443. 5. Jack Sprague 1,337. 6. Rick Crawford 1,318. 8. Matt Crafton 1,315. 9. David Starr 1,311. 10. Mike Bliss 1,308.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday--Practice 11:00 a.m. --12 noon. Rookie Practice 12:30 p.m. -- 1:00 p.m. Final Practice 1:00 p.m. -- 2:00 p.m. Qualifying 5:30 p.m. Trucks impounded after qualifying.