The Frontstretch: Tracking the Trucks : Built Ford Tough 225 by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Saturday July 14, 2007

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Tracking the Trucks : Built Ford Tough 225

Beth Lunkenheimer · Saturday July 14, 2007

 

In a Nutshell: Mike Skinner won his fourth race of the season Saturday night in the Built Ford Tough 225 at the Kentucky Speedway. Skinner beat runner-up Travis Kvapil by 5.570 seconds. Ted Musgrave, who returned to the No. 9 after a one week suspension, finished third. Ryan Mathews and David Green rounded out the Top 5.

Who Should Have Won: Skinner. Skinner dominated the race and led 133 of 150 laps. He took the lead within the first ten laps of the race and stayed there until he gave up the lead during pit stops on lap 97. He was easily able to pull back to the front with fresh tires against Todd Bodine’s old ones. It was Skinner’s 23rd career victory.

Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race

1. What does the future have in store for Ryan Mathews?

Ryan Mathews, in his seventh career start in the Craftsman Truck Series, captured his first pole and a fourth place finish. It wasn’t all easy, though. When the field took the green flag on lap one, Mathews just couldn’t get up to speed and found himself in 13th by the beginning of lap two. “I don’t know what the problem was on the start and restarts,” Mathews said. “I just didn’t have any forward bite.” He struggled on each restart but had a truck strong enough to work his way back through the pack. Mathews has been slowly improving this season. His worst finish for Bill Davis Racing was 21st at Texas. Since then he’s finished 16th, 14th, 6th and 4th. With teammates like Mike Skinner and Johnny Benson, it’s only a matter of time before Mathews is running consistently for Top 5 and Top 10 finishes.

2. How will David Green do in the No. 1 the rest of the season?

Unless you live under a rock, you know Aaron Fike has been suspended indefinitely. In his place, David Green returned to the Truck Series ten years after his last truck race, and he did it in style. Prior to Saturday’s race, Green’s best finish in five career starts was eighth at Nazareth, but Green brought the No. 1 truck home with a Top 5. It’s too early to say how the rest of the season will go for Green, but he sure is headed in the right direction.

3. Does anyone have what it takes to catch Mike Skinner?

Mike Skinner has led at least one lap in every race this season; 13 so far. He now holds the NASCAR record for most races led since the beginning of the season; following Memphis Skinner was tied with Jason Leffler for that honor. Skinner and No. 5 Toyota Tundra team built momentum in the last four races in 2006, and with four wins, seven poles and twelve Top 4 starting positions, it’s obvious they were able to hold onto that momentum this season as well. Can anyone touch them? Anything could happen if Mike Skinner’s luck runs out, but so far the 2007 season looks alot like his 1995 season when he had eight wins, eight pole starts and won the championship for Richard Childress Racing. Ron Hornaday seems to be the one that has the best chance. With two wins, an average finish of 5.3 and only one finish outside the Top 10, he will still have his work cut out for him. Hornaday currently sits 164 points back from Skinner; last week he was only 103 points back.

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle

Craftsman Truck Series Flagman Dennis James passed away Wednesday. Former NASCAR Southwest Series chief starter Mike Angleini stood in his place Saturday night.

Jack Sprague married Amy Schellenbach on Tuesday, July 3rd. When asked about his wife, Sprague said, “I knew as soon as I met her that she was the one.” The newly married Sprague brought his No. 60 Con-way Frieght Toyota Tundra home 13th.

Mike Skinner continues to lead Ron Hornaday, but his win tonight extended that lead to 164 points. Travis Kvapil and Todd Bodine are tied, but Kvapil moves up one spot to third because he has two wins this season to Bodine’s one win. Rick Crawford rounds out the Top 5.

Johnny Benson and Jack Sprague still sit in sixth and seventh. Ted Musgrave moved up two positions to eighth. Matt Crafton and Dennis Setzer round out the Top 10.

Quotable:

“I am an old man. You’re going to have trucks like that a time or two when you get to my age. It doesn’t happen too often. This Bill Davis Racing team is just on a roll. We have an old guy (Skinner), a kind of old guy (Benson), and a real young kid (Mathews) on this team. We were pretty dominant earlier this year at Martinsville, and Johnny was that good in the second half of the Milwaukee race. If we aren’t careful, that 22 truck (Mathews) is going to leave us in the dust.” Mike Skinner

“We’re a little discouraged. I am happy with second, but the guy we’re chasing in the points won the race and led the most laps here tonight. I am happy with second because our truck wasn’t that great. We worked on it and made it worse, then got it back to where it was and were able to hold on for second.” Travis Kvapil

“After Milwaukee we sat down and we really had a heart to heart and came up with some front end geometry stuff that has really helped us. Watching from the couch was a little different, but we’re back and this is how we’re going to run from here on out this year.” Ted Musgrave finished 3rd after sitting out at Memphis two weeks ago

Up Next:
The Craftsman Truck Series heads to O’Reilly Raceway Park in two weeks for the Power Stroke Diesel 200. The qualifying record was set in 2000 and is held by Joe Ruttman with a speed of 111.843 mph. The defending race winner is Rick Crawford. Coverage begins Saturday night at 8:00 pm EST on Speed. The race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.

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