The Frontstretch: Tracking the Trucks : Power Stroke Diesel 200 by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Saturday July 28, 2007

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Tracking the Trucks : Power Stroke Diesel 200

Beth Lunkenheimer · Saturday July 28, 2007

 

In a Nutshell: Ron Hornaday, Jr. held off a strong charge by Johnny Benson to win the rain-delayed Power Stroke Diesel 200 at O’Reilly Raceway Park. Hornaday’s final margin of victory was 0.350 seconds after passing Benson, then Travis Kvapil with 30 laps to go to take the Friday night short track shootout. Kvapil faded to third at the finish, with Rick Crawford and Ken Schrader rounding out the Top 5 behind him. Todd Bodine, after trouble early in the race, battled back to finish sixth, ahead of Erik Darnell; Regan Smith, Jack Sprague, and Brendan Gaughan rounded out the Top 10 finishers.

Who Should Have Won: Hornaday, Jr.. In a field set by points after a qualifying washout, Hornaday started second, giving him valuable track position he never relinquished on a night where his Truck was strong from the start. In contention all night long, Hornaday raced for second with Johnny Benson for more than 30 laps before going to work on then-leader Travis Kvapil. Once he passed them both, there was no getting by the No. 33 Truck, as Hornaday used patience and precision to hold off all challengers en route to his third victory in fourteen races this season.

Two Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend

1. How successful was French Canadian Pierre Bourque in his Craftsman Truck Series debut?

It wasn’t easy for the foreign star, in search of a full-time ride in stock cars after years of success in road racing. Driving the No. 71 Fast Track Chevrolet for Andy Hillenburg, Bourque fell down a lap down early, struggling to be competitive before disaster struck. On lap 32, while racing inside of Tim Sauter, Bourque lost control of his truck and backed it hard into the wall in turn one. The truck could have been repaired…until Chad McCumbee couldn’t avoid hitting the front end of the No. 71 Chevy Silverado, leaving both trucks a mangled mess of bent parts and pieces. Of course, one race, especially one on a green race track, isn’t a good gauge of a rookie’s potential. Expect to see more of Bourque, who will give us a much better chance to judge his skills once he makes his Busch Series debut in Montreal next week.

2. Should Mike Skinner be worried about his run Friday night?

Mike Skinner started on the pole after qualifying was set by points at ORP. As the race began, Skinner ran side-by-side with Hornaday for the lead, but began falling back through the field slowly thereafter. By lap 78, Skinner was not happy with his truck, saying, “This truck is pushing like a dump truck. Guys, we are in big trouble tonight.”

Never able to fix the handling problems, Skinner continued to drop back through the field, eventually finishing 20th, his first run outside the Top 10 this season. The finish cut Skinner’s point lead in half; although he still sits well out in front of the pack, Skinner’s margin for error has lessened considerably as we enter the second half of the Truck Series season.

Truck Rookie Report
2007 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Willie Allen
Blake Bjorklund
Aaron Fike ( suspended indefinitely )
Matt McCall
Tim Sauter
Tyler Walker ( suspended indefinitely )
Kelly Bires ( 19 races in the No. 21 and 1 race in the No. 16 )
Joey Clanton ( 16 races )
Casey Kingsland ( 24 races )
Peter Shepherd ( 22 races )

No. of Rookies in the Race: 4
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 0

Rookie Of The Race: Tim Sauter, 18th
Current Rookie Point Leader: Tim Sauter

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle

Hornaday’s win continued a unique streak at ORP: no driver has a run a Truck Series race there from a starting position outside the Top 5.

After getting removed from his Nextel Cup ride with the Ginn-DEI merger, Regan Smith did an admirable job in the Truck Series, driving the No. 47 Ginn Resorts Chevrolet to an eighth-place finish after taking over from Kraig Kinser at the last minute.

As far as the series championship is concerned, Mike Skinner took an 87 point hit Friday night on top of the standings; he now leads second-place Ron Hornaday, Jr by just 77 with eleven races left. Todd Bodine and Travis Kvapil remain in third and fourth, separated by just five points, respectively. Johnny Benson’s second place finish propelled him into the final position in the Top 5.

Five points behind Benson, Rick Crawford sits sixth in the standings, with Jack Sprague seventh and Ted Musgrave eighth. Matt Crafton and Erik Darnell, up three spots after his solid run at ORP, rounded out the Top 10 in points.

Quotable:

“I have to hand it to Johnny here tonight. It felt like we raced side-by-side for 40 laps, and he never got into me. I race people the way they race me, and I have a lot of respect for the way Johnny raced us here tonight. That shows just what kind of drivers we have here in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. He had a little bit better truck than we did, but I did all I could do to drive it as hard as I could and we held him off.” Ron Hornaday

“Our truck was good enough to get to second. We burned the tires getting there. It’s a brand new truck, so we’re pretty happy. Second’s still a great day.” Johnny Benson

“What a great short track race here for the fans at ORP. We had a good truck and were making some pretty bold moves out there in traffic. We got to racing Todd (Bodine) pretty hard there. Between us two racing that hard and Hornaday and Benson racing as hard as they were in front of us, the fans had to be on the edge of their seats all night long.” Rick Crawford

Up Next: After a weekend off, the Craftsman Truck Series will head to Nashville Superspeedway in two weeks for the Toyota Tundra 200. Coverage begins Saturday night, August 11th, at 6:00 PM EST on SPEED or your local MRN affiliate. Johnny Benson is the defending race winner., while Erik Darnell holds the qualifying record with a speed of 162.116 MPH.

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