* With McCumbee Subbing For Petty, Norris Gets TMS Seat * Loop Data Give Skinner Edge In Sam's Town 400 NCTS Notebook: Norris Subs For McCumbee Who Subs For Petty ... Chad McCumbee got his big break in last year's Sam's Town 400 when a...
* With McCumbee Subbing For Petty, Norris Gets TMS Seat
* Loop Data Give Skinner Edge In Sam's Town 400
Norris Subs For McCumbee Who Subs For Petty ... Chad McCumbee got his big break in last year's Sam's Town 400 when a one-off ride in Gene Christensen's No. 08 TheGPSStore.com Chevrolet ended in a ninth-place finish and a contract for the remainder of 2006 and the 2007 season. McCumbee won't be at the wheel of the truck this time -- instead heading to Pocono Raceway where he'll make his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series debut substituting for Kyle Petty. That's opened the door for veteran Eric Norris, a former NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series champion and TV-film director. Norris has driven for Christensen before and has six starts at Texas Motor Speedway.
His best TMS finish is 17th in the 2001 Sam's Town 400. Although Norris, son of action star Chuck Norris, is a California native, he considers Texas Motor Speedway a hometown track. Norris and his father filmed "Walker Texas Ranger" in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for many years. He's currently stunt director for FOX's "Prison Break" which begins filming for the 2007-08 season next week -- also in Dallas-Ft. Worth. Norris would like to compete fulltime in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series but so far hasn't been able to find the resources to do so. Recently, he completed work on the film "Rush Hour 3." As a stunt coordinator and second unit director, Walker gets to do in his words "the fun stuff. If it's a car chase or a fight scene, I get a chance to get out from behind the camera," he said. Norris hasn't been in a race vehicle in a year and figures TMS is the best place for his return. "I really want to do this more than once or twice a year," he said.
Hornaday, Ren And KHI Take Momentum To Texas ... Victory at Texas Motor Speedway has eluded Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet); it's one of the few tracks on which the 1996 and 1998 champion has failed to win. Coming off last week's victory at Dover International Speedway -- Hornaday's second in three races -- crew chief Rick Ren hopes to help fill the vacant line in his driver's resume. Ren won at TMS in 2001 with Travis Kvapil (No. 6 K&N Filters Ford). "My job is to make the driver happy," said Ren. "Before we won at Lowe's, Ron said he always hated the place. It's the same thing with Texas. I'm planning on bringing the same truck as Lowe's. So I don't see any big deal going to Texas.
Crew Chief Wauters Rooting For The Ducks
Growing up in Green Bay, Wis., Richie Wauters, crew chief for Billy Ballew Motorsports' pair of Chevrolets driven by Bill Lester, Kyle Busch and Kelly Sutton, had plenty of time to spend in the local hockey rink.
When not skating himself, he worked at the local rink and did everything from prying up chunks of ice to sharpening skates.
Oh, and also playing hockey. Wauters still laces up the skates and competes in several recreational leagues.
With the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup finals underway, Wauters is cheering for the Anaheim Ducks -- which jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the Ottawa Senators returned home to win game No. 3. His favorite player is hard-nosed defenseman Chris Pronger.
One thing Wauters hasn't done is drive a Zamboni. "That would be fun," he said. "I'd like to try it once."
In The Loop
There's more bad news for those NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers chasing standings leader Mike Skinner.
Not only does Skinner have a large lead, but after this weekend's Texas race, that lead may be even tougher to overcome.
With two runner-up finishes in the past two years, Skinner loves the 1.5-mile Fort Worth terrain. One problem for Skinner -- and a bright side for his competitors -- Skinner has yet to win there in six career races.
Though he has not visited Victory Lane, Skinner has amassed impressive stats at Texas. He has the top Driver Rating (139.3) of anyone running in Friday's race, the top Average Running Position (2.192), the most Fastest Laps Run (136) and the most Laps in the Top 15 (624).
Of those chasing Skinner, Todd Bodine and Johnny Benson (No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Cars Toyota) might be the best bets at Texas. Bodine has two wins here in the past two years (and three overall) and has a solid Driver Rating of 101.3. Benson, who like Skinner has yet to win at Texas, has the second-best Average Running Position (6.460) and the second-best Driver Rating (108.7).
Additionally, Benson and Bodine rank 2-3 behind Skinner in the Fastest Laps Run category. Benson has turned the fastest lap at Texas 71 times over the past two years, while Bodine has done it 68 times.
Odds And Ends:
AAA Insurance 200 Gives Skinner, Hornaday Breathing Room ... Ron Hornaday cut Mike Skinner's (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) championship lead to 77 points with a third of the 2007 complete. The next-closest rival, Todd Bodine, is 196 points behind the leader and 119 behind Hornaday.
Series Makes 19th Trip To Lone Star State ... Beginning in 1997 with Kenny Irwin's victory in the Pronto Auto Parts 400, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has visited Texas Motor Speedway 18 times -- most at any track. There have been 11 different winners, five of who will compete in the Sam's Town 400.
Wood Brothers/JTG Making An Impact ... Stacy Compton's (No. 09 Zaxby's Ford) runnerup finish at Dover International Speedway marked the team's best performance since joining the series at the beginning of the 2006 season.
Hornaday Makes Milestones Count ... Ron Hornaday now has three significant entries in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck record book: 300th win (at Dover), 200th win and first Bud Pole.
Skinner's Bud Pole Streak Continues ... Mike Skinner sat on the Bud Pole for the sixth consecutive time at Dover. That's two poles shy of Skinner's 1995 record of eight. How does No. seven look? Until Clint Bowyer snapped the string last November, Bill Davis Racing's Skinner had won four consecutive poles at TMS. Skinner finished second in last year's Sam's Town 400. He has finished second, second and third in his last two starts in Fort Worth. Manufacturers' Standings:
Chevrolet ended Toyota's four victory streak at Kansas Speedway and now has a string of its own. Ron Hornaday Jr.'s Dover victory was the third in a row by the truck maker.
The Race: Sam's Town 400
The Place: Texas Motor Speedway
The Date: June 8, 2007
The Time: 9 p.m. (ET)
TV: SPEED, 8:30 p.m. (ET)
Track Layout: 1.5-mile paved oval
Race Purse: $692,880
2006 Winner: Todd Bodine
2006 Pole: Mike Skinner
Schedule: Thursday--Practice 11 a.m.-12 noon.; 12:15-12:45 p.m. (rookies) and 1-2 p.m. Qualifying, 6 p.m.