Off-week news of note 2006-02-27

* Miller aiming to duplicate teammate Reutimann's Raybestos Rookie of the Year title * Martin first NASCAR Craftsman Truck driver to open season with back-to-back victories DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 27, 2006) -- Joey Miller (No. 12 Curb ...

* Miller aiming to duplicate teammate Reutimann's Raybestos Rookie of the Year title

* Martin first NASCAR Craftsman Truck driver to open season with back-to-back victories

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 27, 2006) -- Joey Miller (No. 12 Curb Records Toyota) has a couple of goals in mind for the 2006 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season.

One will follow the other.

Miller hopes to join Darrell Waltrip Motorsports teammate David Reutimann (No. 17 Team Tundra Toyota) as the Raybestos Rookie of the Year, an award Reutimann won in 2004.

That will fulfill goal No. 2 when Miller, 21, would become the series' youngest competitor to be named the top rookie. That honor currently belongs to 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Kurt Busch, the series' 2000 Raybestos Rookie of the Year at age 22 years three months; Miller won't celebrate his 22nd birthday until next January.

Interestingly, Miller isn't even the youngest of this year's rookie contenders. Kyle Krisiloff (No. 15 ditech.com/National Land Liquidators/Krud Kutter Chevrolet) turns 20 this Friday.

This year's Raybestos rookie class is the youngest in the 11-year history of the competition with a current average age of 23.

Reutimann didn't exactly waltz to his rookie of the year title. Miller -- after two races in which last week's 13th-place finish at California Speedway follows a run of 33rd at Daytona -- believes the competition may be the greatest challenge ever.

"Competing for Raybestos Rookie of the Year is definitely going to be tougher this year than any other and that's attributed to the growth of the series," said Miller, who competed in five races for Waltrip in 2005 with a best finish of 10th at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He ranks fourth in rookie points, which are based upon a driver's 14 best finishes and end-of-year bonuses.

"You have a large class of rookies and most of them are in some of the best equipment. It's equipment that's proven and has won races.

"To come in here and win right away is not something you can go out and do."

Miller, who hails from Lakeville, Minn. -- a few miles south of Minneapolis on Interstate 35 -- is just the second Minnesotan to compete in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Tommy Archer of Duluth started the series' first event on Feb. 5, 1995 and finished 18th.

He previously drove in the ARCA RE/MAX Series scoring five wins and 12 top-10 finishes along with six poles. Miller won his first ARCA start at Nashville Superspeedway in 2004.

"ARCA is a good environment to learn in but the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is so much tougher," said Miller. "It's one of the toughest series right now and it lives up to its image."

Miller, who builds hot rods and enjoys handgun sports, figures the old saying about "lead, follow or get out of the way" pretty much sums up racing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series where only six drivers under the age of 30 have won races during the past two seasons.

"I learned quickly that you have to run so much harder," he said. "All these drivers are going all out every single lap and not giving an inch. In ARCA, if you have a decent handling car, you have a good shot at winning.

"It's totally different over here."

NEWS AND NOTES, PART II

Martin opens season on record note ... No NASCAR Craftsman Truck driver had opened the year with back-to-back victories until last Friday when Mark Martin (No. 6 Scotts Ford) followed up his Daytona triumph by winning the Racetickets.com 200 at California Speedway. Martin also became the second to win NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, NASCAR Busch and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races at the same track to join Bobby Labonte, who completed the triple last April at Martinsville Speedway. Martin kicked off a Roush Racing sweep of a weekend that saw Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth in Victory Lane as well. Roush recorded the last NASCAR national touring series triple-win weekend in 2001 at Phoenix International Raceway during which Biffle won NASCAR Craftsman Truck and NASCAR Busch Series races and Jeff Burton took the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series victory.

Point picture begins to clear ... Ted Musgrave's (No. 9 Team ASE/Germain Motor Company Toyota) pair of third-place finishes increased the defending series champion's stay among the top 10 in points to 45 consecutive races. Musgrave, third in current standings behind Martin and teammate Todd Bodine (No. 30 Germain Motor Company Toyota), has held a top-10 spot since June 19, 2004 following a third-place performance at Memphis Motorsports Park. Three former champions -- Musgrave, Jack Sprague (No. 60 Con-Way Toyota) and Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) -- occupy top-10 spots with one Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender Erik Darnell (No. 99 Woolrich Ford) also ranked.

ETC. ... Martin is the 16th different series driver to win two or more green-white-checker finishes. Bodine's shootout record is two wins and four losses. ... 2006 marks the first time that the first two races have gone past their scheduled distances. ... Thirteen different freshman drivers have scored Raybestos Rookie of the Year points. Darnell is the standings leader by a 27 to 15 point count over Krisiloff. ... The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series takes a two weekend break before heading to Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 17 for the first of two scheduled stops at the 1.54-mile speedway. Ron Hornaday Jr.'s (No. 33 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet) .008-second victory over Labonte remains the closest superspeedway finish in series history.

IN THE LOOP
Martin is best on restarts ... NASCAR scoring Loop Data confirmed what Bodine and Musgrave likely suspected this past weekend: Martin had an edge when it came to restarts. The California Speedway winner turned in the top lap after a restart at 169.882 mph and was fastest on three of the top five lap speeds recorded after caution. Martin's truck was the class of the field throughout the event posting the fastest lap speeds in turns two, three and four.

Fast Facts

What: Atlanta 200 (Race 3 of 25).

Where: Atlanta Motor Speedway

When: 9:15 p.m. ET, Friday, March 17.

Track layout: 1.54-mile banked paved speedway.
Race length: 200 miles/130 laps.

Posted awards: $514,269.

TV: SPEED Channel, 9:15 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.

2005 winner: Ron Hornaday Jr.
2005 polesitter: Rick Crawford.

Top 10 drivers: 1. Mark Martin 380. 2. Todd Bodine 350. 3. Ted Musgrave 335. 4. Jack Sprague 320. 5. David Reutimann 303. 6. Rick Crawford 289. 7. Mike Skinner 282. 8. Erik Darnell 280. 9. Johnny Benson 268. 10. Jon Wood 258.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday -- Practice 8:45 a.m. -- 9:50 a.m. Rookie practice 10:15 a.m. -- 10:45 a.m. Final practice 11:00 a.m. to 12:05 p.m. Qualifying 5:10 p.m. Trucks impounded after qualifying.

-nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Jeff Burton , Darrell Waltrip , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Todd Bodine , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Johnny Benson , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Ted Musgrave , Jack Sprague , Rick Crawford , Jon Wood , Tommy Archer , Kyle Krisiloff , David Reutimann , Joey Miller , Erik Darnell , Mark Martin