Crafton Says Nashville Then Is Nashville Now
Five Set For Double-Duty At Nashville Superspeedway
Harvick Can Win Fifth Consecutive Start At Nashville
Nashville 200 Kicks Off Superspeedway's 10th Season
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads for Nashville Superspeedway on Friday for the season's first doubleheader weekend featuring trucks and the NASCAR Nationwide Series. It's a first for Nashville Superspeedway, which is celebrating its 10th season in 2010.
Two drivers, Matt Crafton (#88 Menards/Ideal Door Chevrolet) and Rick Crawford (#14 Circle Bar Racing Ford), have competed in the previous nine events, but each continues to chase the elusive Sam Bass-signature Gibson guitar reserved for the winner.
Crafton, currently fifth in the championship standings after a seventh-place finish last weekend at Martinsville Speedway, was unprepared for his first visit to Nashville as a Raybestos rookie in 2001. "There's nothing like Nashville on the West Coast," said the Tulare, Calif., veteran. "The only concrete track I had ever raced on was Dover and that was just a few weeks before we went to Nashville for the first time." No surprise, Crafton finished 25th in his first trip to Nashville Superspeedway. He got his first top-10 two years later and hasn't finished out of the top 15 since. He was fifth a year ago. According to Crafton, the track hasn't changed in its nine years of existence. "The concrete hasn't changed over time either. At other tracks, when they are new and just repaved, you have a ton of grip and it tends to go away a little bit over time," he said. "At Nashville, it's pretty much the same level of grip we had back in 2001 when we first went there."
Crafton enjoys what's now become a twice-yearly trip to Nashville but prefers the peace and quiet of the rural Lebanon location to the lights and sounds of nearby Music City. A lot of people like to head downtown whenever we're in Nashville," he said. "I've done it once but it's not really for me. We'll let everyone else go on downtown and blow out their eardrums."
Five Set For Double-Duty During Nashville Weekend
Doing double-duty isn't rare in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Kyle Busch (#18 Dollar General Toyota) and Kevin Harvick (#2 Chevrolet) frequently run in two or sometimes three NASCAR national series races during a weekend. At Nashville, Busch and Harvick will be in both Nashville 200 and Nashville 300 races along with James Buescher (#90 Great Clips Toyota), Brad Keselowski (#29 Brad Keselowski Racing Dodge) and Steve Wallace (#15 Red Top Collector Car Auction Toyota).
Busch, Harvick and Keselowski have NASCAR Nationwide Series victories at Nashville. Wallace is a former Nationwide Coors Light Pole winner as well.
Wallace, who finished fifth in his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut in Atlanta and stands eighth in the NASCAR Nationwide standings, can't wait to get back in the Billy Ballew Motorsports Toyota. "We're taking the same truck that we used at Atlanta to Nashville so I'm excited to be racing there. Hopefully, we can pick up where we left off," said Wallace. Wallace, still seeking his first NASCAR Nationwide victory, believes the extra 150 laps of experience will pay dividends on Saturday. "From what I've learned at Atlanta, my truck and my car race differently. Each one has its own characteristics and there's not a whole lot of information you can transfer from one to the other," he said. "The biggest benefit from running both races is seat time. The more laps you take around a track, the better you feel about what to expect during the race. "Hopefully, running both races will improve our performance for each team."
Director's Take: Wayne's Words
"Nashville always has been a great host for NASCAR racing of all kinds, from weekly competition to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. "The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series came to the Music City for the first time in 1996 at the old Fairgrounds track. We had some terrific races there. And we had the opportunity to race for one of America's legendary promoters, the late Bob Harmon. "Moving to Nashville Superspeedway in 2001 was a big deal — and not just for us but for the NASCAR Nationwide Series as well. The facilities are incredible and the fans are literally on top of the action.
"Racing on concrete is different than asphalt but over the years the competitors have adapted, especially since we also race at Dover International Speedway and Bristol. "Still, Nashville Superspeedway is one of those tracks where the veterans excel. The list of winners includes the late Bobby Hamilton, whose victory in 2004 was especially popular in his hometown; and fellow champions Johnny Benson, Mike Bliss, Ron Hornaday Jr. and Travis Kvapil. "You don't have to be a champion but it sure helps.
"Nashville continues to have a large group of core NASCAR fans. This weekend's double-header with the NASCAR Nationwide Series offers them a great way to kick off the 2010 season." - Wayne Auton, Series Director
Harvick's Scorching Hot; A Nashville Victory Would Be His Fifth In Successive Starts
For Kevin Harvick, it's four wins in four starts and counting. His teammate, Ron Hornaday Jr. (#33 Longhorn Chevrolet) posted his fifth consecutive victory last August at Nashville Superspeedway.
Harvick can do the same thing at the same track — at least with an asterisk — following his March 27 victory at Martinsville Speedway. Harvick won the final two races of the 2009 season and hasn't lost since. He won Martinsville's Kroger 250 for the second consecutive year after going to Victory Lane at Atlanta Motor Speedway earlier this month.
Harvick, who posted a perfect 150.0 Driver Rating at Martinsville, didn't enter the season-opening race at Daytona. How good has Harvick been?
Consider this: He's riding a streak of 10 consecutive top-five finishes. The last time he finished outside the top five was in October 2008 at Martinsville Speedway. Interestingly, it took Harvick 75 starts to record his first victory at Phoenix International Raceway. Since then, he's won seven times in 34 races.
Friday's race will be his first series start at Nashville Superspeedway. At Martinsville, Harvick and Hornaday finished one-two for the fourth time. Overall, it was a very good day for our company," said Harvick, who moved to fourth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings despite having run one fewer race than his rivals.
Peters, Red Horse Retake Standings Lead
There's no doubt about it. Timothy Peters (#17 K&N Toyota) and Red Horse Racing have the combination to beat as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to Nashville Superspeedway.
Peters, winner of the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway, posted his third consecutive top-10 finish of the year at Martinsville Speedway to regain the NASCAR Camping World Truck points lead. The North Carolina native, now a resident of Danville, Va., is 59 points ahead of Aric Almirola (#51 Graceway Pharmaceuticals Toyota) with three races in the books.
Peters, who scored his first series victory last October in Martinsville, followed that up with a finish of fourth in the Kroger 250. He also led this spring's race. "What a way to start off the year, right?" said Peters following Saturday's race, "a solid finish; that's what we needed to do to be a threat for this championship."
Almirola finished sixth at Martinsville — but would have liked more. Still, he continues to be a solid replacement for Kyle Busch, who drove the #51 truck for crew chief Richie Wauters and owner Billy Ballew. "To come home sixth is okay, I guess, but we had a better truck at (several) points of the race," said Almirola. "We didn't have a truck good enough to win but I thought we had a third or fourth-place truck.
Todd Bodine (#30 Toyota), the previous leader, had a dose of poor short-track luck and finished 30th. He dropped from first to third, 88 points behind Peters. Also dropping out of the top five was Jason White (#23 GunBroker.com Dodge).
Sophomore competitor Ricky Carmichael (#4 Monster Energy Chevrolet) jumped five positions from 12th to seventh as the former Supercross champion continues to adapt to competition on four rather than two wheels.
Harvick's DR Highest Through Three Starts Since Loop's Inception
Kevin Harvick has not only won his last four starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, he's dominated – especially in his last three. In his last four starts – at Phoenix, Homestead, Atlanta and Martinsville – Harvick has racked up a Driver Rating of 145.7, an Average Running Position of 2.7, 453 Laps Led, 213 Fastest Laps Run, a Pass Differential (passes minus times passed) of plus-40 and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 95.2%.
Those numbers are even better when taking the performance of only the last three starts, two of which (Homestead and Martinsville) resulted in perfect Driver Ratings of 150.0. In the other, Atlanta, Harvick barely missed a perfect 150 – he scored a 149.8. Over his last three races, Harvick averaged a Driver Rating of 149.9, an Average Running Position of 1.5, 169 Fastest Laps Run, 395 Laps Led, all while running each of the 516 laps among the top 15.
Last Saturday was Harvick's second perfect Driver Rating, which matches Kyle Busch's total as most among drivers who participate in the series on a part-time basis. The overall leader in perfect 150s since the Loop Data statistic's inception in 2005 is Ron Hornaday Jr., with seven. Harvick's three-race average Driver Rating of 149.9 is the highest since 2005. Previously, Mike Skinner's 146.9 through three starts in 2007 was the benchmark. Skinner won each of those events (from 2/23/08-3/31/07), at Auto Club Speedway, Atlanta and Martinsville.
NCWTS Perfect Driver Ratings
Driver Track Date
Dennis Setzer ORP 8/5/05
Mike Skinner Bristol 8/24/05
Mike Skinner Las Vegas 9/23/06
Mike Skinner Martinsville 3/31/07
Ron Hornaday Jr. Charlotte 5/18/07
Mike Skinner Kentucky 7/14/07
Ron Hornaday Jr. New Hampshire 9/15/07
Ron Hornaday Jr. Kansas 4/26/08
Ron Hornaday Jr. Texas 6/6/08
Kyle Busch Bristol 8/20/08
Ron Hornaday Jr. New Hampshire 9/13/08
Kyle Busch Auto Club 2/21/09
Ron Hornaday Jr. Milwaukee 6/20/09
Ron Hornaday Jr. Memphis 6/27/09
Kevin Harvick Homestead 11/20/09
Kevin Harvick Martinsville 3/27/10
Etc. & Quotable
*As predicted, Martinsville Speedway proved a tough learning experience for newcomers — especially Raybestos Rookie of the Year contenders. Austin Dillon (#3 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet) was able to hang on to his lead with a 16th-place finish. Brett Butler (#47 FuelDoctorUSA.com) and Jennifer Jo Cobb (#10 Drivenmale.com/Driverboutique.com Ford) finished 25th and 26th while Justin Lofton (#7 visitpit.com Toyota) was 31st. Dillon leads Butler by two points in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings.
*Two drivers making their NASCAR Camping World Truck debut logged top-15 finishes in the Kroger 250 with Chris Eggleston (#21 H20fireprotection.com/Leary Racing Products Chevrolet) a solid 11th despite a first-lap spin. "This is much more than I expected in my first NASCAR race," said Eggleston, who was celebrating his 21st birthday. Meanwhile, Narain Karthikeyan (#60 SafeAuto Insurance/Star-beast Motorsports Chevrolet), the one-time Formula 1 driver from India, finished, 13th completing all 250 laps around the .526-mile oval. Karthikeyan expects to compete in additional races during the 2010 season.
*Nashville Superspeedway is one of three tracks to host two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races in 2010. The others are Martinsville and Texas Motor Speedway. The series returns to Nashville on Aug. 7.
*The Nashville 200 is the season's fourth race and the final time that the top 25 starting positions will be locked in based upon 2009 owners' championship points.
*Ron Hornaday Jr. made the second-largest jump in the points with his runner-up finish in the Kroger 250. Hornaday entered the race 28th and stands 12th heading for Nashville.
Raybestos Rookie of the Year Contender Standings
1. Austin Dillon, 32
2. Brett Butler, 29
3. Justin Lofton, 28
4. Jennifer Jo Cobb, 26
5. Landon Cassill, 7
Up Next: Kansas Speedway
Kansas Speedway — like Nashville — is celebrating its 10th season in 2010. But unlike Nashville, there have been nine different winners at the 1.5-mile Kansas City, Kan., track which hosts the O'Reilly 250 on May 2.
The race, won a year ago by Mike Skinner, will be held on a Sunday afternoon for the first time in its history. Previous winners expected to compete in this year's race include Skinner, Todd Bodine and Ron Hornaday Jr. Only one driver — Hornaday in 2008 — has won from the Keystone Light Pole.