Off-week news and notes 2007-07-30

* Crew Chief Rick Ren Gets "Home Track" Win * Ron Hornaday Cuts Mike Skinner's Points Lead In Half * Hornaday Makes Driver Rating Jump * Series To Spend August In Tennessee O'Reilly Raceway Park Win Another Highlight For Ren DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.

* Crew Chief Rick Ren Gets "Home Track" Win
* Ron Hornaday Cuts Mike Skinner's Points Lead In Half
* Hornaday Makes Driver Rating Jump
* Series To Spend August In Tennessee

O'Reilly Raceway Park Win Another Highlight For Ren

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 30, 2007) -- With each win he oversees, Rick Ren further establishes himself as one of the top crew chiefs in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Ren is currently fourth on the all-time list with 14 victories and is tied for the series record for wins with five different drivers.

Ren notched another highlight on his resume with Friday night's win at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis. The 50-year-old grabbed his first victory at the 0.686-mile oval, which he considers his home track.

Ren grew up approximately an hour away in Tilton, Ill., and had yet to win at the track since his first attempt in 1990.

"I have a lot of friends and family in Victory Lane here," Ren said after the win. "I'm just tickled to death to get to share this win with them."

The win was the third of the year for Ren and Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet). The duo is second in the standings, 77 points behind leader Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota).

Ren was brought to Kevin Harvick Inc. during the off-season and has put Hornaday in a position to win his third series championship.

"Last year, Kevin Harvick came to me and said 'Ron, we're going to make this thing better,'" Hornaday said. "I didn't know he was talking to Rick Ren, and for them to get Rick Ren away from Bill Davis Racing, I don't know how they did it."

So far this year, the results have matched the expectations.

"He has given me everything we need to win this championship," Hornaday said.

Hornaday Closes In On Skinner's Points Lead

While Mike Skinner has grabbed many of the headlines this season, Ron Hornaday Jr. has quietly matched his efficiency. Hornaday's win Friday night cut Skinner's point lead in half, leaving him 77 points out of first place.

"I'm sure Skinner is going to be running twice as hard now," Hornaday said. "Don't count him out. He is still 'the guy' - he is still leading in points."

The win also tied the two drivers with 13 top-10 finishes each in 14 races.

Hornaday has been steadily climbing the standings since his seventh-place finish in the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway. He has been second since the seventh race of the season at Mansfield Motorsports Park.

Despite his success, Hornaday knows the only way to make up ground on Skinner is to beat him each week. That is not an easy task considering Skinner's 11 top fives.

"We just need to keep winning races," Hornaday said. "If we can just keep gaining 10 points on Skinner each week, we'll be right there and it will be a heck of a Homestead race. "

In The Loop: Hornaday Near-Perfect In ORP Win

Ron Hornaday can point to his tremendous statistical performance at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis last Friday night for his points gain.

Hornaday racked up some of the more impressive numbers this season, posting race-best stats in practically every key Loop Data category.

Hornaday had a near-perfect Driver Rating of 144.9 (150.0 is the maximum), a stellar Average Running Position of 1.9, 39 Fastest Laps Run and spent all 201 Laps in the Top 15. He also had the fastest average Green Flag Speed at 104.748 in leading a race-high 90 laps.

On the other hand, Mike Skinner's struggles continued at ORP. After winning at the Indy short track in his first two visits there (1995-96), Skinner has yet to notch a top-10 finish. After starting first, he ended Friday night in 20th place and scored a Driver Rating of 80.3 and an Average Running Position of 13.0.

Still, Skinner is tops in many of the season-to-date Loop Data stats.

Skinner sits first in Driver Rating (121.8), Average Running Position (4.6), Fastest Laps Run (331), Laps in the Top 15 (2,227 of 2,356) and Laps Led (810).

Still, as in the point standings, Hornaday is slowly catching up to Skinner in many of the stat categories.

Last week, Skinner led Hornaday in Driver Rating 125.0 to 110.5. With the ORP win, Hornaday raised his season Driver Rating to 113.0. Skinner's dipped to 121.8 with the 20th place finish.

Also gaining ground is Travis Kvapil. Kvapil continued his tear with a third-place finish at ORP to boost his season Driver Rating to 105.9 (third-best). He also has the third-best Average Running Position at 7.8 and the fourth-most Fastest Laps Run at 149.

Tennessee Twosome

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will race twice during the month of August -- both times in the "Volunteer State". The next race on the schedule is Aug. 11 at Nashville Superspeedway followed by an Aug. 22 trip to Bristol Motor Speedway.

Jack Sprague (No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota), Travis Kvapil (No. 6 K&N Filters Ford) and Ron Hornaday Jr. lead all drivers with three wins apiece in Tennessee's active tracks. None have won at Nashville; Hornaday has two wins at Bristol, while Sprague and Kvapil each have one win at "Thunder Valley".

On The Right Track

Ron Hornaday Jr. became the second driver in series history to lead 6,000 laps. His new total of 6,064 trails only Jack Sprague's record of 6,130. ... Mike Skinner led 21 laps Friday night to extend his streak of 18 consecutive races with at least one lap led. The last time Skinner did not lead a lap was at Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 21, 2006. ... Erik Darnell (No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford) finished seventh Friday night and returned to the top 10 in the standings after a 35-race absence. Darnell finished sixth in the 2006 season-opener and remained in the top 10 for three more races before dropping out.

FAST FACTS

Next Race: Toyota Tundra 200

The Place: Nashville Superspeedway
The Date: Aug. 11

The Time: 6:30 p.m. (ET)
TV: SPEED 6:00 p.m. (ET)

Track Layout: 1.33-mile oval

Race Purse: $484,584

2006 Winner: Johnny Benson
2006 Pole: Erik Darnell

Schedule: Friday -- Practice 2:15 -- 3:15 p.m., 3:45 -- 4:15 p.m. (rookies) and 4:15 -- 5:15 p.m.; Saturday -- Qualifying 12:30 p.m.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Mike Skinner , Kevin Harvick , Johnny Benson , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Jack Sprague , Erik Darnell , Travis Kvapil
Teams Bill Davis Racing