Sign Of The Times: Three Teams Dominate Top 10 In Kansas Roush Fenway Racing Still Tops In One-Two Finishes After Five Races, Manufacturers' Battle Already At A Boil Multiple Entries Breed Success In NASCAR Craftsman Trucks DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.
Sign Of The Times: Three Teams Dominate Top 10 In Kansas
Roush Fenway Racing Still Tops In One-Two Finishes
After Five Races, Manufacturers' Battle Already At A Boil
Multiple Entries Breed Success In NASCAR Craftsman Trucks
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 5, 2008) -- Multiple truck teams were unheard of in 1995 when the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debuted.
Fact is, having one raceable truck was tantamount to victory for many entrants.
That is ancient history, to say the least.
Three different organizations -- Kevin Harvick Inc., Bill Davis Racing and Circle Bar Racing -- placed seven trucks among the top 10 of the recent O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas Speedway.
BDR did it for the third time; the other organizations also put each of their entries in the top 10.
Off-road champion Walker Evans was first to field two fulltime teams in 1996. Now, it's common practice.
The last owner to win a title with a single-truck entry was Dave Fuge's Xpress Motorsports in 2003. KHI fielded one fulltime team for 2007 champion Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet) but backed it with a second truck in 16 races.
Why is more better?
"The benefits can leverage off each other," said Mark Chambers, truck team and general manager for Bill Davis Racing. "The ability to share information and data across the board is invaluable.
"They become sounding boards for each other."
The trick, of course, is to keep everyone on the same page. BDR has succeeded despite employing drivers with strikingly different styles and personalities.
Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) and Johnny Benson (No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota) finished two-three in 2007 points with a combined nine victories.
"You'll never make anyone happy all the time," said Chambers. "You do the best to ensure all three teams have the resources, equipment and manpower they need to be competitive.
"At the end of the day it comes down to communication with everyone involved."
Sweeping The Board: There Only Can Be One Winner
When a team finishes first and second, the news is both good and bad.
Good for the winner; bad for the runnerup.
As Jack Sprague (No. 2 American Commercial Lines Chevrolet) noted, after finishing second to his Kevin Harvick Inc. teammate Hornaday last month at Kansas Speedway, "We both had good trucks and we finished one-two but I really wanted to win this race real bad.
"But who better to lose to than your teammate?"
KHI is the latest of five teams to nail down the top two spots in a NASCAR Craftsman Truck race. It's happened 19 times, starting with Roush Fenway Racing at Phoenix International Raceway in 1997.
Joe Ruttman was chased to the checkered flag by Chuck Bown.
With Jack Roush fielding multiple, fulltime entries in each season since 1997, it's not surprising that the organization is the all-time leader in top-two sweeps.
Roush drivers have been one-two 11 times, most recently in 2006 at Dover International Speedway.
Noteworthy was 2000 in which Roush claimed his first NASCAR title. The team's drivers went one-two on six occasions -- champion Greg Biffle on top five times; Kurt Busch once.
The pair also was first and second in final points.
Quest for 2008 Manufacturers' Crown Sizzles
Toyota is looking for a hat trick.
Chevrolet wants a record-extending seventh title.
Dodge broke a long drought earlier this year and Ford hopes to do likewise at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Put another way, the battle for the 2008 Manufacturers' title is already at a boil. And it's only May.
Chevrolet's Kansas victory cut significantly into Toyota's early edge built on three wins to open the season. Four points separate the pair.
"There has been an incredible amount of parity this year between brands," said Dane Pierantoni, GM Racing Silverado program manager. "We have narrowed the gap ... but it's still early and we will have our work cut out for us." Chevrolet was champion from 1995-98 and again in 2002 and 2005.
Toyota entered the series in 2004 and took the last two titles.
"Toyota's Tundra teams did, in fact, get off to a strong start with three wins early in the season but we knew, once again, it will be hard-fought through the entire, 25-race season," said Les Unger, national motorsports manager, Toyota Motorsports.
"There are too many strong competitors, both young and veteran in stature, to expect any sort of cakewalk to a championship of any kind."
Etc. & Quotable:
Before Moss There Was Daugherty ... The announcement that NFL star Randy Moss will field a NASCAR Craftsman Truck team recalls the series' early years when Cleveland Cavalier (and now ESPN NASCAR analyst) Brad Daugherty co-owned Liberty Racing. The team's driver, Kenny Irwin, won Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors in 1997.
Hamilton Featured on CNN ... Lori Hamilton, co-owner of Bobby Hamilton Racing VA, was interviewed Monday on CNN discussing head and neck cancer, the illness that claimed husband Bobby Hamilton. A story about Lori and Bobby is also featured on www.cnn.com/health.
In The Loop
The statistics make sense in some ways, but go against conventional wisdom in others.
Chad McCumbee (No. 8 MRD Chevrolet), learning with every race run, has improved statistically since last season. Sounds about right.
But so has 13-year veteran Terry Cook (No. 60 Wyler.com Toyota).
Though 14th in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series points standings this season compared to 16th last season at this time, Cook is far ahead statistically over the same span.
Take a look at the tale of the tape between Cook's 2007 and 2008 stats:
Driver Rating: Cook has an 88.5 compared to a 60.9 last season.
Average Running Position: This year he has a 12.2; last year he had a 20.1
Fastest Laps Run: He has had 10 this season, three last season.
Laps in the Top 15: Cook spent 36.8 percent of the total laps through five races in the top 15 in 2007. This year, he's run 73.5 percent of them in the top 15.
Quality Passes: Cook has 133 Quality Passes this season (passes of cars in the top 15 under green). Last season, he had 61 at this point.
McCumbee has also made a big leap this season, in both the standings and the stats. After five races last season, McCumbee was a respectable 18th in the series standings. This season, he's eighth.
He has a Driver Rating of 82.3 and an Average Running Position of 12.8. Last year at the same juncture, McCumbee had a Driver Rating of 55.7 and an Average Running Position of 20.8.
The May 16 North Carolina Lottery Education 200 may be a home game but just one native of the Tar Heel State has been able to win the race.
Dennis Setzer (No. 18 Dodge) won the series' second Lowe's race in 2004.
Setzer, a native of Newton -- near Hickory -- would like nothing better than to become the track's second two-time winner.
The 48-year-old already has one victory in 2008 in March at Martinsville Speedway.
The Race: North Carolina Education Lottery 200
The Place: Lowe's Motor Speedway
The Date: May 16, 2008
The Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV: SPEED, 7:30 p.m. ET
Race Distance: 201 miles / 134 laps
Track Layout: 1.5-Mile Paved Oval
2007 Winner: Ron Hornaday Jr
2007Pole: Mike Skinner
Schedule: Friday: Practice, 9-10 a.m. and 10:20 a.m.-11:50 a.m.; Qualifying, 3:35 p.m.