Crucial, Five-Race Stretch Begins In Kansas
Raybestos Rookie Cobb Hopes To Shine In Homecoming
Schrader, Ickler Come Off Bench For Harvick, Busch
Kansas Speedway Kicks Off Busy Month Of May
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series teams hopefully enjoyed their month away from the track, because the tempo definitely picks up beginning with this Sunday's O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas Speedway. The race is the first of three in May and five over a seven-week period stretching into mid-June. How drivers and teams perform in Kansas, North Carolina, Delaware, Texas and Michigan will go a long way toward identifying this year's true championship contenders.
Kansas Speedway's event also is significant in that NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch — winners of three of the season's first four races — won't be part of the action. Harvick's replacement in the #2 Chevrolet is veteran Ken Schrader while Brian Ickler, a rising star who finished third at Martinsville Speedway, backs up Busch in the #18 Toyota Tundra Toyota.
Mike Skinner (#5 International Trucks/Monaco RV Toyota) is the defending winner of the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250, a race that was postponed and flagged short of its scheduled, 167-lap distance due to weather. Skinner, the series' 1995 champion, is one of nine different drivers to visit Victory Lane in as many races at the 1.5-mile speedway. "Last year's race meant so much for the entire Randy Moss Motorsports organization,"; said Skinner. "For me, it was exciting to win with a new group of guys and to be in a position where we were capable of winning races after being at another organization for such a long time."; The 1 p.m. ET race offers Skinner the opportunity to return to the top 10 in the championship standings. He currently ranks 13th, but is just 17 points out of 10th.
Only Todd Bodine (#30 Toyota) and Ron Hornaday Jr. (#33 Chevrolet), among drivers currently ranked among the top 10, have won at Kansas Speedway./p>
Rookie Cobb Believes Kansas True Test Of Team's Potential
It's not easy being a rookie in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series where frequently the only experience a driver gets at a given track is the couple of hours before the race itself. Jennifer Jo Cobb (#10 DrivenMale.com/DriverBoutique.com Ford) knows that feeling, never having been to either Martinsville or Atlanta before competing there last month.
Kansas Speedway, where she made her NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut, should be a welcome change for the Kansas City, Kan. resident, who agrees, "There is no place like home. My whole career, my friends and family have been so supportive of me and I'm thrilled to be racing in front of them,"; she said. "It's a great feeling to have so many familiar faces in the crowd. I just hope to give them a great show.";
The 2010 season has been about what a Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate might expect: Lots of ups and downs. Cobb made just one lap at Daytona before being collected in an accident. Her best finish, 21st, came at Atlanta Motor Speedway. "Since we're a new team, we pretty much had to start from scratch with our setups and I've had to drive pretty conservatively,"; she said. "The good news is that we've left each place with a much better understanding of what it takes to do well there. "I'm feeling much more comfortable behind the wheel and our trucks are getting faster and faster each time we unload.";
Cobb believes this week she can show the team's potential. "I've run two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races there before so coming back will be a smooth transition,"; Cobb said. "I think that will make getting up to speed a lot easier than at the other tracks we've been to so far.";
Two Missouri drivers, Tony Jackson Jr. of Lebanon (#07 Chevrolet) and Jesse Smith of Wildwood (#98 Great Wolfe Lodge/Lloyds BBQ/Hormel Foods/Child's Tire Toyota) also are in the field.
Wayne's Words: Kansas A Track Where ‘Young Guns' Excel
"Kansas Speedway, the Kansas City area and Kansas are very special to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. With the exception of 2000, when Kansas Speedway still was under construction, there's been at least one event here since the series began in 1995.
"One of my most cherished moments as series director came in the Kansas Speedway's inaugural NCWTS event. Ricky Hendrick won his first race on a very emotional afternoon. "Perhaps it's the track's multiple grooves and wide corners but Kansas Speedway seems to offer greater opportunity for non-veteran drivers to show their stuff. It's one of only two tracks currently active for five years or longer without a repeat winner. "And, like Ricky, there have been other first-time winners like Jon Wood in 2003 and Erik Darnell in 2007.
"Kansas Speedway was where Carl Edwards was ‘discovered' so to speak. His top-10 finish for Mike Mittler, an independent owner, set in motion the wheels that propelled him to stardom in our series and ultimately the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. "No disrespect to our veteran winners here — Todd Bodine, Terry Cook, Ron Hornaday Jr. and Mike Skinner — but Kansas Speedway is a place where you can bet the ‘young guns' are going to make their presence felt. "So don't be surprised if an unfamiliar name stands atop the leader board when the checkered flag waves. It's happened before and it's likely to happen again.";
O'Reilly 250 Marks First Time 2010 Owner Points Set Field
Being among the top 25 in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Owner Standings is a good thing entering Sunday's O'Reilly Auto Parts 250. That means your team has a guaranteed starting position in the 36-truck field. The switch-over from 2009 points follows the season's fourth race on April 2 at Nashville Superspeedway.
Still, there's no guarantee a team "locked in"; this week will have the same status next time. Steve Urvan's #21 H2O Fire Prevention Chevrolet driven by Chris Eggleston is 25th in current rankings but a mere 30 points are the difference between positions 25 and 30. There's not much safety in opposite numbers: positions 21 and 25 are 36 points apart.
For the second consecutive season, it's possible there could be separate driver and owner champions. The race between Kevin Harvick Inc. and Billy Ballew Motorsports — the latter with multiple drivers — went down to the 2009 season finale before DeLana Harvick prevailed. This year's battle currently pits KHI and the #17 Red Horse Racing Toyota of Timothy Peters. Peters holds an 82-point lead in driver standings while KHI is two points ahead of Tom DeLoach in owners' scoring. Busch's #18 is third.
Crafton-Haefele Fashion Successful Careers Together
Crew chief Bud Haefele and driver Matt Crafton (#88 Menards Chevrolet) have been a constant in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series since 2003. Haefele joined ThorSport Racing as a consultant in 2003, followed Crafton to Kevin Harvick Inc. in 2004 then returned with Crafton to his current team the following season. After a season as truck chief, Haefele became Crafton's crew chief beginning with the second race of the 2006 season.
This week's O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 will be his 105th consecutive race atop the #88 team's pit box — easily the longest tenure of any current driver-crew chief combination in the series. The pairing has been successful. Crafton got his first victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2008 and has finished among the top 10 in the championship standings in each of the past three seasons. Crafton ranked #2 a year ago and stands fifth entering the season's fifth race. The duo should be a contender this week. Crafton finished seventh a year ago, one of four top-10 finishes in his nine starts at Kansas Speedway. Crafton finished fifth in 2004. "The best way to get the driver comfortable at Kansas or any race track is to give him a truck that handles good and fast,"; said Haefele. "We have good horsepower and a good mile-and-a-half package so Matt is usually pretty happy. We really concentrate on making the fine adjustments.";
Weather is the variable. "The challenge at Kansas is it's usually really hot and the track gets slick,"; said Haefele. "We start with our baseline set-up and work with the changing track conditions. "Last year it was cool and wet and that really threw us for a loop.";
Schrader, Ickler Tapped To Sub For Absent Winners
Bench strength is crucial to any championship drive and Kevin Harvick Inc. and Kyle Busch Motorsports are taking opposite approaches to keeping their owner championship numbers up with their #1 drivers busy in Richmond International Raceway this weekend.
KHI goes with veteran Ken Schrader in Harvick's #2 Chevrolet while Busch will be spelled by Brian Ickler, a 24-year-old star in the making.
Schrader, 54, will be making his first start both for KHI and at Kansas Speedway. "I've had a lot of opportunities in the past to just be at the race track but I don't just want to be at the race track,"; said Schrader, a series winner in 1995. "I'm excited to be going to the race track knowing I have a chance to win."; The same is true for Ickler, who posted a third-place finish in KBR's #18 Toyota last month at Martinsville. He was fifth in last year's O'Reilly Auto Parts 250, ironically in the truck that Busch won seven races.
Five Who Could Extend Kansas' Run Of Different Winners
Kansas Speedway boasts a competitive rarity – nine different races, nine different winners. The statistics make a case for 10-for-10, with a few notables who could do the deed:
Brian Ickler (#18 Toyota Tundra Toyota): Ickler only has one Kansas start, but it was a good one. Last year, he finished fifth with a Driver Rating of 95.4, an Average Running Position of 9.4, one Fastest Laps Run and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 88.6%.
Tayler Malsam (#56 Toyota Tundra/One Eighty Toyota): Malsam also only has one Kansas start, and it was likewise a strong one. Last season, he finished 11th with a Driver Rating of 93.1, an Average Running Position of 9.6, four Fastest Laps Run, a Pass Differential (passes minus times passed) of plus-23 and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 95.5%.
Johnny Sauter (#13 Chevrolet): Also a rookie last year, Sauter competed in his first series Kansas race in 2009. He finished ninth, with a Driver Rating of 85.7, an Average Running Position of 9.4, all while spending all 132 laps in the top 15.
Johnny Benson (#15 Ted Top Collector Car Auction Toyota): The 2008 champion isn't running a full schedule this season but the starts he makes are expected to be of high quality. Benson's qualifying numbers aren't spectacular — 17.4 — but he's picked up an average of five positions in the finishing order. He has a Driver Rating of 92.7 which ranks eighth over the past five races.
Matt Crafton (#88 Menards Chevrolet): Crafton's numbers aren't spectacular but he's the leader of two statistical categories. He's tops in Green Flag Passes with 264 and Quality Passes with 149. Crafton has a Driver Rating of 76.7.
*Forty teams have filed entries for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250. That's the most entries for a NCWTS event at Kansas Speedway since 2003. It also matches the track's largest number of entries. *The field has an international flavor with three Canadians and India's Narain Karthikeyan (#60 Safe Auto Insurance Chevrolet) on the entry list. Two north of the border competitors bidding to make their series debut are Terry Jones (#46 Team Gill Racing Dodge) and Derek White (#96 OCR GAZ BAR Chevrolet).
*NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Director Wayne Auton and his wife, Libby, have become grandparents for the first time. The couple's youngest daughter, Telesa, delivered granddaughter Harper Rose on April 23.
*Sunday racing is a rarity in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 is the first scheduled Sunday event in five years. The last scheduled Sunday race was held May 16, 2005 in Mansfield, Ohio, and was won by the late Bobby Hamilton.
*Nelson Piquet Jr. has announced an additional schedule of three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events for the 2010 season beginning with the May 21 North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Piquet also will drive Billy Ballew Motorsports' #15 Qualcomm/ArcSight Toyota at Texas Motor Speedway on June 4 and at Michigan International Speedway on June 12. The 24-year-old former Formula 1 competitor finished sixth in his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut at Daytona earlier this year.
Raybestos Rookie of the Year Standings
1. Austin Dillon, 43
2. Justin Lofton, 38
3. Brett Butler, 36
4. Jennifer Jo Cobb, 34
5. Chris Eggleston, 9
6. Landon Cassill, 7
Up Next: Dover
Dover International Speedway, which hosts the May 14 Dover 200, has produced first-time NASCAR Camping World Truck winners in each of the past two seasons. Scott Speed was a surprise winner in 2008 while Brian Scott took the checkered flag a year ago. Speed now is a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular while Scott is competing for Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Scott and Speed were just the latest drivers to get their first victory at the "Monster Mile."; Jason Leffler (2003) and Chad Chaffin (2004) also went to Victory Lane for the first time at Dover.
The track's roster of winners, however, contains a pair of NASCAR Camping World Truck champions, Ted Musgrave (2002) and Ron Hornaday Jr. (2007) as well as brothers Kurt Busch (2000) and Kyle Busch (2005) and Mark Martin (2006).(NASCAR PR)(4-26-2010)
Timothy Peters Leading The Strong Under 30 Contingent
Skinner's Rebound Into Championship Contention Pivotal Over Stretch
In The Loop: Ron Hornaday Jr. Heading In Right Direction
Young Guns Making Strong Statement Early In Season
In 2010, it is good to be 30 and under with just four races complete on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule. Six of the top 10 in the point standings are under the age of 30 and changing the face of this series.
Series standings leader Timothy Peters (#17 Red Horse Racing Toyota) was born Aug. 29, 1980 (29) and he leads the young contingent of drivers this season posting a win at Daytona, three top fives and four top 10s in the first four races of the season.
Second in the standings, Aric Almirola (#51 Graceway Pharmaceuticals Toyota) is 82 points behind Peters. Almirola was born March 14, 1984 (26) and the young driver is carrying the Billy Ballew Motorsports banner this year, posting one top five and three top 10s this season.
Seventh and eighth in the standings are two 30-year-olds, Ricky Carmichael (#4 Monster Energy Chevrolet) and Jason White (# 23 GunBroker.com Dodge). Carmichael, born Nov. 27, 1979, has posted two top 10s in the first four races of the season, and White, born July 5, 1979, has been hot out of the gate, sitting on the pole at Daytona and going on to finish in the top five at the famed 2.5 mile superspeedway.
Rounding out the six young drivers in the top 10 are the two youngest, Tayler Malsam (#56 Toyota Tundra Toyota) was born Feb. 15, 1989 (21), and the only owner-driver of the group, Kyle Busch (#18 Dollar General Toyota) born May 2, 1985 (24). Busch is coming off a win at Nashville Superspeedway, giving his new organization, Kyle Busch Motorsports, its first victory. Busch has posted one win, two top fives and a pole in the three starts he has made this season.
Skinner Can Rebound With This Next Stretch Of The Season
Last season, Randy Moss Motorsports signed Mike Skinner (#5 International Trucks/Monaco RV Toyota) and in just five races, he gave team owner Randy Moss his first win in the series. Skinner captured the checkered flag in the weather-shortened event at Kansas Speedway. He went on to finish the 2009 season third in the points. He posted three wins (Kansas, Iowa and Gateway), eight top fives and 17 top 10s. Following his win at Kansas, Skinner rallied off three top fives and six top 10s in the next eight races, making this next stretch of the season pivotal in his climb back into championship contention in 2010.
Skinner's last season win at Kansas was no fluke. Skinner has made six starts at the 1.5-mile speedway and has one win, five top fives and two poles. Skinner has started 2010 off slow, with a DNF at Daytona, followed up by a 14th-place finish at Atlanta and 27th-place finish at Martinsville. But Skinner rebounded at Nashville, posting his first top 10 of the season.
The 2010 NASCAR Season-to-Date Loop Data shows Skinner is ranked fifth in the Average Running Position category (9.908) and is ranked fifth in Laps In The Top 15 with 82.7% of his laps completed in the top 15.
In The Loop: Hornaday Picking Up Speed After Slow Start
A sixth-place points position after four races is no reason to panic. But that's where Ron Hornaday Jr. (#33 Longhorn Chevrolet) currently resides, and it's the second-worst standings spot of his career after four races. Hornaday has normally gotten off to strong starts. Only this season and 2006, when he was 19th, has Hornaday been outside the top five in points after four events.
But, again, there's no need to fret. Hornaday's standings position has everything to do with poor finishes in the first two races. At Daytona, he finished 27th; at Atlanta he was 34th. His last two finishes – a second at Martinsville and a third at Nashville – were more befitting a four-time series champion. Hornaday's season is a tale of two halves. In the first two, Hornaday had an average finish of 30.5, a Driver Rating of 85.9, an Average Running Position of 24.2, a Pass Differential (passes minus times passed) of minus-3, a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 24% and three Fastest Laps Run.
In the last two, Hornaday had an average finish of 2.5, a Driver Rating of 112.2, an Average Running Position of 5.9, a Pass Differential of plus-28, a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 88% and 32 Fastest Laps Run.
Now Hornaday heads to a track at which he has had great success – Kansas Speedway. In the previous five Kansas races, Hornaday has a Driver Rating of 118.9, an Average Running Position of 5.9, 217 Laps Led and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 90.3%. In his 2008 Kansas win, Hornaday scored a perfect Driver Rating of 150.0.
NCWTS Etc.More From Series Leader Timothy Peters
KBM: A Powerhouse Team Early
The country music center, Nashville, Tenn., was the site of Kyle Busch Motorsports' first win of the season. And how fitting was it for the owner-driver, Kyle Busch (#18 Dollar General Toyota), to get his team their first win, becoming the second-youngest owner-driver to win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series? "I'm very fortunate that I have great people, starting with Rick Ren, but a lot of other guys who work really hard and have enabled KBM to get off to a good start,"; said Busch. "The support from Toyota has been great. You want to make sure everybody is achieving and striving for the right goals. I've learned more lessons in this short time period than I ever have."; Busch has posted one win and two top five finishes in his three starts this season. Also, Busch's teammate, Tayler Malsam, (#56 Toyota Tundra Toyota) is doing well this season. He currently is ninth in the series standings after posting four top-20 finishes in the first four races of the season.
2008 Series Champion Benson Returns
Johnny Benson (#15 Billy Ballew Motorsports Toyota), the 2008 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion, will make his series return driving for owner Billy Ballew at Kansas Speedway and Dover International Speedway. Benson has already made two starts this season, finishing eighth at Daytona driving for Danny Gill and finishing fifth at Martinsville driving for Ballew.
Carmichael Staying Active In ARCA
Ricky Carmichael (#4 Monster Energy Chevrolet) participated in the ARCA event at Texas this past weekend, finishing 25th. He is scheduled to race at Talladega this coming weekend as well.
Up Next: Kansas Speedway
One week left until the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to high impact, side-by-side racing at Kansas Speedway for the May 2 O'Reilly 250.
Kansas Speedway hosted its first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in 2001, which was won by Ricky Hendrick. In the nine events hosted by the 1.5-mile speedway there has never been a repeat winner, but owner Jack Roush leads the way amongst truck owner wins, with 3.(NASCAR PR)(4-19-2010)
Harvick Fourth In Points In All Three NASCAR National Series
Todd Bodine Picking Up Where He Left Off In 2009
By The Numbers: 2010 Unlike Past Seasons In Many Ways
Harvick's Season Starting Strong Across The Board
Kevin Harvick (#2 Charter Communications Chevrolet) is currently fourth in the points standings in all three of NASCAR's national series. In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Harvick has only started three of the first four races, but has posted two wins (Martinsville and Nashville) and three top fives. He is 106 points behind standings leader Timothy Peters (#17 Red Horse Racing Toyota) and only 13 points back from third-place Todd Bodine (#30 Germain.com Toyota).
Harvick also is ranked first in NASCAR's Season-To-Date Loop Data with a Driver Rating of 139.9. Harvick's success is trickling down to the whole Kevin Harvick Inc organization. His teammate, Ron Hornaday Jr. (#33 Longhorn Chevrolet), has turned his season around after a slow start, posting a second-place finish at Martinsville and a third-place finish at Nashville.
But Harvick isn't just doing well in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this season. He has posted two top fives and four top 10s in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and is 112 points behind the series' standings leader Jimmie Johnson.
And to boot, Harvick has posted two wins and five top 5's in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this season as well and is 45 points behind series standings leader Brad Keselowski.
Harvick and his wife, DeLana Harvick, also sit atop the NASCAR Camping World Truck owner points standings with a slim two-point lead over Tom Deloach and his #17 truck driven by Timothy Peters.
Todd Bodine Poised For Another Championship Run
The 2006 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion, Todd Bodine (#30 Germain.com Toyota), finished the 2009 season fourth in the championship points standings and this season he has picked right back up where he left off. Bodine has three top fives and three top 10s and only one DNF this season after his truck overheated at Martinsville. Bodine finished second at Daytona to Timothy Peters and has a pair of fifth- place finishes at Atlanta and Nashville.
Bodine is third in the 2010 points standings after the first four races of the season. He is 11 points behind second-place Aric Almirola (#51 Graceway Pharmaceuticals) and 93 points back from the series' standings leader, Timothy Peters.
"We've started off good andthat's what we needed to do," said Bodine. "We don't worry about momentum or anything like that. We just go to each race to win the race and if we can't win, we do the best we can. That's how to win championships. We have to be sure we get the best out of the race truck we can for that day, we just focus each week on putting the Germain.com Tundra out front," said Bodine.
Bodine won at Kansas Speedway in 2005, his first full season in the series. In six starts at Kansas he has one win and three top 10s.
By The Numbers: Loop Data Stats Tell Interesting 2010 Story
Unpredictability and competitive balance have highlighted the first four races of the 2010 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season. The prime example: Timothy Peters holds the championship points lead, not a past champion like Ron Hornaday Jr. or Todd Bodine or Mike Skinner. Peters is ahead of another surprise – Aric Almirola – by 82 points.
Here are some other numbers that highlight the first four events:
.839 – Average margin of victory, in seconds, over the first four races.
17 – Different drivers who have led at least one lap this season.
73 – Green Flag Passes for the Lead, all along the track, this season. That's the most through four races since the inception of Loop Data in 2005.
57 – The Pass Differential (passes minus times passed) of Peters, best in the truck series. His passing statistics might illustrate why he's also the points leader. In addition, he heads the series in Green Flag Passes overall (167) and Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), with 149.
3 – Number of different Keystone Light Pole Award winners and race winners. Speaking to the competitive balance, the only driver with multiple wins is Kevin Harvick, and no driver has multiple poles. (Qualifying was canceled at Martinsville Speedway.)
11 – Average number of lead changes this season. In 2009, the average number of lead changes was nine.
166 – Fastest Laps Run by Kevin Harvick, most in the series. Despite missing the Daytona race, Harvick leads a number of statistical categories: Laps Led (287), Driver Rating (139.9) and Average Running Position (2.2).
23 – Drivers who have at least one top-10 finish this season. Only Peters has a top 10 in each race.
Ron Hornaday Jr. Honored In California
Ron Hornaday Jr. gets his way, literally. The four–time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion was honored this past week in Palmdale, Calif., by having a street named after him, the ‘Ron Hornaday Way' .
"Ron has had the opportunity to do a lot of things in his life," said team owner Kevin Harvick. "He has raced with some of the greatest drivers, won championships and had a lot of fun along the way. I'm really proud of Ron for his accomplishments and grateful for his friendship. I'm glad that Palmdale is honoring him in such a fitting way," said Harvick.
Hornaday is sixth in the points standings after posting two top fives in the first four races of the season.
No Sophomore Slump For Carmichael
The American Motorcyclist Association's all-time greatest, Ricky Carmichael (#4 Monster Energy Chevrolet), came to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series last season with one of the biggest learning curves to overcome, switching from two wheels to four. Though, he dominated the AMA circuit posting 15 championships over the years, he only posted two top 10s last season in 18 starts and finished the season 22nd in the points.
But this season Carmichael has already matched his last season record with two tops 10s finishing sixth at Atlanta and 10th at Martinsville. He is currently seventh in the standings, 10 points behind Ron Hornaday Jr. in sixth and 188 points behind the points leader, Timothy Peters. "I cannot tell you how much more confident I am this season than I was last season," said Carmichael. "Several races last year I just didn't feel like I deserved to be out there. This season I know I can race with them. Last year, I spent so much time concentrating on learning the track and what line to run each weekend. Now I feel like we can actually unload and go after it. Heading to the race track has always been fun for me, but now it really is." During the down time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, he will be competing in two ARCA events at Texas and Talladega.
Up Next: Kansas Speedway
Two weeks are left until the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to action at Kansas Speedway for the May 2 O'Reilly 250.
Mike Skinner (#5 International Trucks/Monaco RV Toyota) is the defending winner of the race, and another good finish at the track will help in his climb back into the top 10 in the standings. He currently is 13th, 216 points behind the series standings leader, Timothy Peters.(NASCAR PR)(4-12-2010)
2010 NCWTS Season Not Quite What Many Would Have Predicted
City, Nation Honoring Series Drivers Hornaday, Karthikeyan This Week
Busch Ends Harvick Streak As Driver-Owner Team Flexes Muscles
NCWTS 2010: New Points Contenders And Many New Faces
Four races into the 2010 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, it's a new season in more ways than one.
Few picked Timothy Peters (#17 Crescent Tools/Red Horse Racing Toyota) to be the early points leader but the 29-year-old Virginia resident, winner of the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway, has established himself as a solid contender. Peters, who finished fourth in last weekend's Nashville 200 at Nashville Superspeedway and is the only driver with four top-10 finishes in 2010, holds an 82-point lead over similarly unheralded championship contender Aric Almirola (#51 Graceway Pharmaceuticals Toyota).
Almirola took the wheel of the Billy Ballew Motorsports truck previously campaigned by Kyle Busch (#18 Toyota) and has responded with a trio of top-10 performances, including a third-place finish in Atlanta.
Pre-season favorite Ron Hornaday Jr. (#33 Longhorn Chevrolet) got off to a slow start, plagued by incidents in his first two races. Hornaday rebounded with second- and third-place finishes at Martinsville and Nashville but remains 178 points off the lead, in sixth place, heading to next month's O'Reilly 250 at Kansas Speedway. Ironically, Hornaday is only 10 points ahead of second-year driver Ricky Carmichael (#4 Monster Energy Chevrolet), his 2009 teammate.
There have been full fields at all four races thus far — and a Nashville Superspeedway-record 39 teams attempted to qualify for the Nashville 200. Sixteen of Nashville's 36 starters never had run a truck race at the 1.333-mile track. "What a start to the 2010 season, especially with all the new faces in the garage," said Wayne Auton, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series director. "Just look at the points standings. Ricky Carmichael now seems to have gotten a handle on trucks. Jason White (#23 GunBroker.com Dodge) got off to a great start with a pole at Daytona and we've got a great class of Raybestos Rookies, too."
Hornaday Gets Street Name; Presidential Citation For Karthikeyan
Two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers — one a four-time champion; the other a first-time starter— will be honored in ceremonies a world apart this week. Four-time champion Ron Hornaday Jr. will travel to his hometown of Palmdale, Calif., on Thursday where city officials will name a street after Hornaday. Anyone wishing to enter Palmdale's auto mall henceforth will do so on Ron Hornaday Way.
Narain Karthikeyan (#60 Safe Auto Insurance/Wyler.com Toyota) will receive India's prestigious Padma Shri Award on Wednesday in ceremonies at the presidential palace in New Delhi. The honor will be bestowed by India's President, Pratibha Pratil. The Padma Shri Award recognizes a citizen's exceptional and distinguished contribution in various spheres of activity. Karthikeyan, the first native of India to compete in Formula 1, is being honored along with five of India's noteworthy sporting figures: Virender Sehwag and Ramakant Vithal Achrekar (cricket), Saina Nehwal (badminton), Ignace Tirkey (field hockey) and Vijender Singh (boxing). Karthikeyan, who finished 13th in his NCWTS debut at Martinsville Speedway, expects to rejoin the series at Kansas on May 2.
Busch's New Team Showing Significant Progress
Overall, Kyle Busch's statistics have dipped a bit as a driver-owner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series compared to his days as a driver with Billy Ballew Motorsports. For instance, this season, Busch has a Driver Rating of 107.7. Though extremely strong, it's still the lowest through his first three starts than any of the previous five seasons (his previous low was 108.6 in 2007). Same goes for Average Running Position. Busch has always averaged a top-10 running position (and in 2007 and 2008, a top five). This season, his Average Running Position is 10.5. But there's a reason for that: Daytona International Speedway. Though Busch didn't record a DNF, he did get caught up in an accident on the very first lap. The wreck severely hurt his stats. In the race, Busch had a Driver Rating of 51.6 and an Average Running Position of 27.4.
So, if given a Daytona mulligan, Busch has been as strong – if not even more dominant – than he has ever been. Over the last two races, Busch has an average finish of 1.5, a Driver Rating of 135.8, an Average Running Position of 2.0, 59 Fastest Lap Run, a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 98.5% and 146 Laps Led. In one of those races – Nashville – Busch was perfect. Busch scored his third career series perfect Driver Rating of 150.0, notching an Average Running Position of 1.2.
The #18 truck, driven by Brian Ickler, also finished third at Martinsville. Ickler had a Driver Rating of 95.9 and a race high 46 green flag passes.
*It took Kyle Busch (#18 Dollar General Toyota) just four races to become the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' fourth driver-owner to go to Victory Lane as he won the Nashville 200 on April 2.
Ironically, he beat Kevin Harvick (#2 Charter Chevrolet) to end Harvick's four-race win streak that began last November in Phoenix. Harvick is the all-time winner among series driver-owners with all of his eight wins coming in equipment co-owned by wife DeLana. Busch becomes the series' second-youngest winning owner at age 24 years, 11 months. Alex Meshkin remains the youngest winning owner at 24 years, two months when Travis Kvapil gave Toyota its first NASCAR national series victory on July 31, 2004 at Michigan.
*Kevin Harvick Inc.'s #2 Chevrolet is the series championship owner leader by two points over the #17 Red Horse Racing Toyota of Timothy Peters and Tom DeLoach. The Nashville 200 was the season's fourth race and the final one in which 2009 owner points were used to lock in 25 starting positions. Steve Urvan's #21 H2O Fire Protection Chevrolet driven by Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender Chris Eggleston snagged the 25th and final locked-in position for Kansas Speedway's O'Reilly 250.
*Ken Schrader has been tapped to drive KHI's #2 Chevrolet at Kansas Speedway. The race conflicts with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend at Richmond International Raceway.
*Toyota and Chevrolet have split the first four races of the 2010 season but Busch's Nashville victory gives Tundra a three-point edge in 2010 Manufacturers' Championship Standings.
*Austin Dillon (#3 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet) extended his Raybestos Rookie of the Year lead over Justin Lofton (#7 visitpit.com Toyota) to five points. Dillon's 14th-place finish led all rookies at Nashville. Chris Eggleston has become the sixth driver to declare for the freshman award in 2010.
*MAKE Motorsports is the latest team to debut in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. New Jersey driver GR Smith finished 36th in the Nashville 200. The team points to Charlotte Motor Speedway for its next start in May.
NASCAR Raybestos Rookie of the Year Point Standings
Austin Dillon, 43
Justin Lofton, 38
Brett Butler, 36
Jennifer Jo Cobb, 34
Chris Eggleston, 9
Landon Cassill, 7
Up Next: Kansas
NASCAR Camping World Truck teams take their second break of the 2010 season before heading west to Kansas Speedway for the May 2 O'Reilly 250. Mike Skinner (#5 International Trucks/Monaco RV Toyota) is the defending winner of the race, which was weather shortened. Skinner's victory was the 1995 series champion's first of three wins in 2009. This year's race will be the 1.5-mile track's 10th. There have been nine different winners with Skinner, Todd Bodine (#30 Germain.com Toyota) and Ron Hornaday Jr. expected to be in the field.