*Skinner, Bodine Ready For Pro/Celebrity Race *Kansas City Area's Roots Go Deep In Series *Benson On COT: It Isn't A Truck *Kroger 250 Most Viewed Series Race In 10 Years Bodine, Skinner To Rub Shoulders With TV, Film, Sports Stars DAYTONA ...
*Skinner, Bodine Ready For Pro/Celebrity Race
*Kansas City Area's Roots Go Deep In Series
*Benson On COT: It Isn't A Truck
*Kroger 250 Most Viewed Series Race In 10 Years
Bodine, Skinner To Rub Shoulders With TV, Film, Sports Stars
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 2, 2007) -- Todd Bodine (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota) enjoyed last year's trip to the Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix's Pro /Celebrity Race so much he asked for a return engagement.
And he's taking Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) along for the ride through the streets of Long Beach, Calif.
The pair, along with a long list of TV, radio, motion picture and sports stars, recently shook down their Toyota Scion tCs at a nearby road course.
The Pro/Celebrity race itself will be held Saturday.
"You're meeting new friends and a heck of a lot of people and you get to come out here and run on a course that people would just die to run on," said Skinner. "So it's really cool.
"I've never been on the streets before -- without blue lights following behind me at least."
Bodine was the highest-finishing Pro driver in last year's event, 20 laps over a 1.97-mile course. X Games gold medalist Bucky Lasek was the Celebrity winner in 2006 and has been bumped up to the Pro category this year.
Among celebrities competing are producer-director George Lucas; Kathryn Morris who portrays Lily Rush in the CBS drama Cold Case; former No. 1 woman tennis player Martina Navratilova and Howard Stern co-host Robin Quivers.
Rewind: Kansas City Hosted Series' Seventh Event
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series was born in California and didn't cross the Mississippi River until seven races into the 1995 season.
Thunderstorms, a tornado and a one-day delay, however, couldn't deter Kansas City-area fans from packing .543-mile I-70 Speedway to watch Skinner edge Dave Rezendes and Butch Miller.
Five races were held at I-70 -- including Tony Raines' historic, first series victory for Dodge in 1997.
A couple hours west, drivers also competed on the 2.1-mile Heartland Park Topeka road course. Mike Bliss (No. 40 Key Motorsports Chevrolet) is the only driver to have won on all three Kansas City-area tracks.
Bliss won at I-70 in 1996, Topeka in 1999 and at Kansas Speedway in 2002.
In The Loop
A quick look at the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season thus far and you could deduce that it's been The Mike Skinner Show. Winning three of the four races, it's been Skinner and then everyone else.
But don't tell that to reigning series champion Todd Bodine. In second place, Bodine's a manageable 94 points behind Skinner and if not for Skinner's dominance, Bodine would have won the last two races -- he finished second at both Martinsville and Atlanta.
He has tremendous stats, as well. Bodine has the second-best Average Running Position (5.413) and the second-best Driver Rating (109.2) -- both second only to Skinner.
He holds top-five marks in many speed figures -- Speed on the Straightaways (fourth), Speed in Turns (fifth) and Speed in Traffic (fifth). And his 38 Fastest Laps Run is second only to Skinner.
Bodine has spent 521 Laps in the Top 15, which is fourth-best in the series.
He also is third-best in a category that is fundamental to success in NASCAR Craftsman Truck racing -- Pass Differential. Bodine's Pass Differential -- number of trucks passed compared to the times passed under green -- is third-best at 37. He has 170 passes compared to 133 times passed. Only Matt Crafton (No. 88 Menards/Quaker State Chevrolet) (62), Joey Clanton (No. 09 Zaxby's Ford) (53) and Mike Bliss (52) have a higher Pass Differential than Bodine.
Kroger 200 Rates High ... The March 31 race at Martinsville Speedway garnered a 1.6 national rating on FOX, according to Nielsen Media Research, making the Kroger 250 the most-watched series event in 10 years. That translates into 1.7 million households and 2.4 million viewers. Schrader Wins -- What Else? ... Ken Schrader (No. 18 Fastenal Dodge) and crew chief Jeff White traveled to Paducah (Ky.) International Raceway on April 6 where Schrader won both modified heat and feature races.
Wyler Racing hasn't made the decision to enter next month's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event at Richmond International Raceway but based on last week's test results, don't be surprised if Johnny Benson's (No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota) Toyota isn't in the lineup.
Benson was second fastest in last week's two-day test at the .75-mile oval with a speed of 123.136 mph.
"I hope we get the opportunity to come back and try to qualify for this race and run it," said Benson, who added that the Car of Tomorrow drives like, well, the Car of Tomorrow.
"They are different, he said. "This does not drive like a truck at all, like people think it does but it drives different from the (current) cars. I don't think it's halfway between them. It's still more toward a car than it is a truck."
Next Race: O'Reilly Auto Parts 250
The Place: Kansas Speedway
The Date: April 28
The Time: 6 p.m. (ET)
TV: SPEED, 5:30 p.m. (ET)
Track Layout: 1.5-mile paved oval
Race Purse: $624,951
2006 Winner: Terry Cook
2006 Pole: Mike Skinner
Schedule: Friday -- Practice 11 a.m. -- Noon; 12:05 p.m. -- 12:35 p.m. (rookies) and 2:30 p.m. -- 3:30 p.m. Saturday -- Qualifying 1:30 p.m.