The Frontstretch: Tracking the Trucks : Casino Arizona 150 by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Saturday November 10, 2007

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Tracking the Trucks : Casino Arizona 150

Beth Lunkenheimer · Saturday November 10, 2007

 

In a Nutshell: Kyle Busch took the checkered flag ahead of Ron Hornaday, Jr. at Phoenix International Raceway Friday night. Busch held onto the lead following a late race red-flag — the second of the night — to win the Casino Arizona 150. Mike Bliss, Jason Leffler and Kevin Harvick rounded out the Top 5.

Who Should Have Won: Mike Bliss. Mike Bliss pitted once on Lap 55 and managed to run up front most of the evening. A large number of cautions helped to stretch fuel mileage for the No. 4 team enough so they could make it on fuel. Following the eleventh caution, Bliss spun the tires, opening up the door for Kyle Busch to take the lead. Bliss ended up finishing third.

Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race

1. Did Mike Skinner make the right decision to not race hard?

During his pre-race interview, Mike Skinner said he would like to “lead the first lap and then hang back a bit.” Skinner started on the pole and led the first 18 laps. In an uncharacteristic move for Skinner, he kept his No. 5 Toyota Tundra well back within the Top 10 the majority of the night.

After wrecking with Ron Hornaday, Jr. with four laps remaining at Texas Motor Speedway last Friday night, Skinner was thinking more about the big picture and less about the race win. Skinner had enough of a points lead to afford to hang back and try to stay out of trouble and definitely chose the right race strategy. He ended up finishing 8th and now leads Hornaday, Jr. by 29 points.

2. How did Andy Lally take such a hard hit on lap 122?

In just his second Craftsman Truck Series start, Andy Lally became the innocent victim and helped to bring out the record-breaking twelfth caution Friday night. Stacy Compton spun into the outside wall after a little help from Jacques Villeneuve and then ran down the track slamming Lally hard into the inside wall. The impact with the concrete caused a large section to crack and separate from the rest of the wall, causing NASCAR to throw the red flag for the second time.

Somehow, Lally managed to get out of the truck on his own power. NASCAR has made major improvements to the safety of the truck on the inside and out. Although the wall Lally hit was pure concrete and not a SAFER barrier, his HANS device along with padding inside the truck saved him from serious injury. Lally was taken to the hopsital for further evaluation, but he was awake and alert on the way.

Truck Rookie Report
2007 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Willie Allen (No. 13)
Blake Bjorklund ( driving part-time for Hass CNC Racing in the Busch Series )
Aaron Fike ( suspended indefinitely )
Matt McCall ( currently without a Truck Series ride )
Tim Sauter (No. 07)
Tyler Walker ( suspended indefinitely )
Kelly Bires ( currently racing the No. 47 in the Busch Series )
Joey Clanton (No. 09) ( 16 races )
Casey Kingsland ( currently without a Truck Series ride )
Peter Shepherd (No. 50)
Jason White (No. 7)

No. of Rookies in the Race: 2
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 0

Rookie Of The Race: Willie Allen, finished 11th
Rookie Points Leader: Willie Allen

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle

Mike Skinner scored his 11th pole this season with a 131.301 mph lap, breaking his own record of ten poles set in 1995.

Terry Cook will not be returning to the No. 59 for the 2008 season. Instead, Whelen Modified driver Donny Lia will run the No. 59. Lia won six races as well as the Whelen Modified Tour championship this season. Terry Cook currently does not have anything lined up for the 2008 season.

Bobby Hamilton Racing has a verbal agreement with Dennis Setzer to drive the No. 4 Dodge in 2008.

Mike Skinner lost nearly half of his points lead to Ron Hornaday, Jr. Friday night. Skinner now leads the driver of the No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet by just 29 points. Travis Kvapil, Todd Bodine and Johnny Benson round out the Top 5.

If Ron Hornaday, Jr. wins and leads the most laps during the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Mike Skinner must finish 2nd to win the championship.

Quotable:

To beat a guy like Ron Hornaday and Mike Bliss at a place like this is amazing. I knew we had a pretty good truck. The guys did an awesome job in the pits tonight.” Kyle Busch

“I’m not the boss. I guess we’re not a team. I thought he was taking care of me. I don’t know. I don’t want to comment on it. I just try to stay positive with everything. We’ll go to Homestead and hammer down.” Mike Skinner on being passed by teammate Johnny Benson with just 3 laps to go

“We’re going to do everything we can. I’ve got a team that says, ‘Never say die’ and we’re bringing a pretty good piece to the race. We’ll just do everything we can.’‘ Ron Hornaday, Jr.

“I’m happy, but man I wanted to win bad. I had a plan, but Hornaday kinda screwed that up. We had the truck to win. I just screwed up on the restarts.” Mike Bliss

Up Next:
The Craftsman Truck Series heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway next weekend for the season finale Ford 200. Greg Biffle holds the qualifying record, set in 2003, with a speed of 177.416 mph, and Mark Martin is the defending race winner. Coverage begins Friday night at 7:30 pm EST on Speed. The race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.

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©2000 - 2008 Beth Lunkenheimer and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

falcon325
11/10/2007 08:34 AM
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Beth, I think the truck race last night was a chilling look at how bad team racing can get.

I have no problem with teams sharing technology, information and personnel. But once the vehicles hit the track, that ought to be it. We’ve seen how the teams have an unfair advantage at the track. A few years back, when they had multiple teams running for the Brian Bowl, the Rouschketteers had the choreographed lead swap down to an art form. Teammate push each other when the gas tank runs dry. I can recall the Hendrick teams using a non-competitive car to scuff tires for the others during a race once.

But what Harvick did last night was far beyond those actions and was inexcusable. A Cup racer, he dropped down two levels, not for the fun of racing for the win, but to actively interfere in a championship run by Mike Skinner in favor of his team and Ron Hornaday. Choosing a pit in front of Skinner, he made a point of pitting as far back in his pit box as he could and then brushed back Skinner’s crew on a key pit stop. NA$CAR shill Mikey Waltrip barked about Harvick’s move being legal. Maybe so, but Skinner’s crew sure as hell didn’t appreciate it. Harvick spent the rest of the night running interference for Ron.

I like Hornaday and Chevies, but there is absolutely no excuse for what I saw last night. It takes NA$CAR beyond wrasslin’ and into the realm of Roller Derby. If NA$CAR doesn’t police that kind of thing, the truck drivers need to. If Hornaday wins the Championship, Skinner needs to put Harvick’s yappy little mouth into the wall hard next year. A few bones broken screwing around in the trucks might convince Harvick and the other Buschwackers that they need to stay in their own league or, at least, play fair when they go do their “stealing candy from babies” racin’.

Not so Disapointed
11/10/2007 10:46 AM
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NOT true falcon325 , do your homework,Harvick decided back in febuary to run in Phoenix because of his pror success at the track in Cup and Busch. The only interference that did happen was a pit stop by Harvick and that was minor at best.Harvick is a proud competitor and blocked SKINNER for himself as much as for anyone else knowing how Skinner can dominate a race.What I’m wondering is why didn’t VILANEUVE start in the back since he’s so sensative of people running for a CHAMPIONSHIP!

Chris
11/10/2007 09:12 PM
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It was actually a pretty good race. Hornaday drove the type of race he had to, and Skinner played defensive and tried to protect his lead.

Harvick did nothing wrong. Also as a reminder, he owns two trucks, as well as two Busch cars. He is entitled to race in Busch or the NCTS.

Beth
11/10/2007 09:14 PM
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I’m going to answer both of you in the same post.

First, I don’t think there was really any reason for Villeneuve to start in the back. He has a decent amount of track time in the trucks. And the main reason he started in the back for the Cup race at Talladega was because of it being a superspeedway. Beyond that, he wasn’t REQUIRED to do that but rather did it out of respect to the Chase drivers in the Cup series.

Villeneuve has raced at Vegas, Atlanta and Texas which are all 1 1/2 mile tracks. And don’t forget the half-mile Martinsville that he ran at last month. He has some experience at the shorter tracks and should have been able to handle the mile-long Phoenix with no problem.

Unfortunately we saw him hit Stacy Compton to bring out the third caution, and then he hit Compton again (both times were when he got loose in a corner) who hit Andy Lally to bring out the 12th caution and 2nd red flag.

UPDATE: Lally was released from the hospital this morning after spending the night for observation but left with only a large gash on his arm.

Kevin Harvick did what a teammate would do. He protected Ron Hornaday, Jr. from the competition. The idea was to keep Hornaday as far up front as he could while not allowing Skinner to earn valuable points. The move that Harvick made in the pits under the fourth caution was perfectly legal. NASCAR allows drivers to roll through one pit when getting to their own. It just happened to be that Skinner’s was the one he rolled through.

While I don’t like the fact that it was done, there’s nothing wrong with it. The jackman made a mistake…he ended up going around the car BEHIND the tire carrier instead of in front of him. He got his foot caught in the air hose, and that slowed him down on the right side. Then on the left side, Skinner was too close to the wall causing the jackman to work harder to jack the car up.

While Harvick pitting so close probably threw off the team a little, those guys are professionals and should have been able to handle that without messing up.

What surprised me more than the interference that Harvick was running was the fact that Benson passed Skinner and took a finishing position ahead of him.

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