The Frontstretch: Tracking the Trucks : North Carolina Education Lottery 200 by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Monday May 19, 2008

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Tracking the Trucks : North Carolina Education Lottery 200

Beth Lunkenheimer · Monday May 19, 2008

 

In a Nutshell: Matt Crafton took the checkered flag 0.184 seconds ahead of Chad McCumbee to win the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 Friday night at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Crafton survived a green-white-checkered finish to score his first career victory after a flurry of late cautions changed the complexion of the race. Brendan Gaughan, Erik Darnell, and Rick Crawford rounded out the Top 5 finishers.

Who Should Have Won: Kyle Busch. In true Kyle Busch fashion, the No. 51 Miccosukee Resorts Toyota Tundra rolled onto the track as the Truck to beat. He started on the pole and led 86 of the first 110 laps of the race. Unfortunately, his dominating run came to an end when a loose Ron Hornaday, Jr. ran up the track, sending Busch into the outside wall and doing irreversible damage to the No. 51. Kyle Busch was relegated to an 8th place finish after pitting multiple times to fix the damage.

Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race:

1. What was Ron Hornaday, Jr. thinking?

With four laps to go, Ron Hornaday, Jr. and Todd Bodine found themselves racing for positions in the Top 5 when Hornaday, Jr. cut Bodine off. The driver of the No. 30 could have simply backed off and let Hornaday, Jr. keep the spot; but instead, Bodine kept pushing, sending the No. 33 spinning through the infield as a result. With his chances to win the race gone, Hornaday, Jr. raced up onto the track and sought out Bodine for a little bit of revenge. Before pulling his damaged truck on pit road, the driver of the No. 33 gave Bodine a tap, and then braked hard in front of him. Hornaday, Jr. was convinced that Todd Bodine had dumped him on purpose, and continued to voice his displeasure after the race.

“He just flat tried to kill me,” he said. “You don’t spin somebody out on the straightaway. Life is too short to have an idiot like that.”

But Todd Bodine had a different perspective on what happened. He claimed he was “just trying to help him.” NASCAR didn’t agree, however; they penalized Bodine for rough driving and sent him to the tail end of the longest line. Bodine wound up finishing 12th while Hornaday, Jr. finished 23rd, with both of them forced to watch Crafton wrap up his first series win far ahead of them.

After the checkers flew, Todd Bodine tried to clarify what happened between him and the driver of the No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet.

“Bottom line is I did wreck him,” Bodine said, “[I] didn’t do it on purpose. I feel like crap about it; it wasn’t intentional at all.”

Hornaday, Jr. was probably already on edge after being involved in a spin with Kyle Busch, and the incident with Bodine didn’t help. With 13 laps to go, Hornaday, Jr. was warned by NASCAR to “chill out” on the track after some seemingly hard racing just a handful of laps after an on-track mistake ended the chances for Busch to win the race. Of course, any driver who finds himself taken out of a chance for a Top 5 and maybe even a win will be upset; but the way he was driving, Hornaday, Jr. was just as much at fault for the incident as Todd Bodine was. While Bodine got a penalty of his own, NASCAR will likely hand down one to Hornaday, Jr. for going after Bodine on the track during the caution. The actions of both were completely unnecessary.

2. How did Stacy Compton fare in his first Truck Series start at Lowe’s Motor Speedway?

Although he had 15 starts at Lowe’s Motor Speedway prior to Friday night, Stacy Compton made his first Craftsman Truck Series start at the 1.5-mile track in the No. 4 Dodge for Bobby Hamilton Racing. Expectations were high for the series veteran, but Compton didn’t qualify his truck very well; as the race began, he found himself in a 17th place starting position with a truck that he wasn’t very happy with.

Things would go from bad to worse. Following a round of green flag pit stops around lap 75, Compton was forced to make a second stop because of a missing lugnut. That missing lugnut capped a mediocre run and guaranteed a finish off of the lead lap; Compton ended up finishing 28th, three laps down. While his run was disappointing, Compton should feel grateful he wasn’t caught up in any of the late race carnage because of where he was running.

Truck Rookie Report
2008 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Colin Braun (No. 6)
Andy Lally (No. 7)
Donny Lia (No. 71)
Justin Marks (No. 9)
Marc Mitchell (No. 15)
Phillip McGilton (No. 22 — replaced by Scott Speed at Kansas)
Brian Scott (No. 16)

No. of Rookies in the Race: 7
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 0

Rookie Of The Race: Colin Braun, finished 15th

Matt Crafton could hardly contain himself after scoring his first career Truck Series win in his eighth full season on tour.

Worth Noting / Points Shuffle:

Matt Crafton’s first career win came after 178 starts in the series, breaking the record of 112 previously held by Bryan Reffner. The win also marks Thorsport Racing owners Duke and Ronda Thorson’s first victory in 238 races. Crafton’s streak of Top 10 finishes in every race he’s entered at Lowe’s also continued.

Despite a disappointing 23rd place finish, Ron Hornaday, Jr. maintains his points lead by a slim five points over Rick Crawford. Todd Bodine remains in third, 38 points back form Hornaday, Jr. Race winner Matt Crafton jumped three spots to fourth, and finds himself just 45 points out of the lead. Dennis Setzer dropped one spot and rounds out the Top 5 finishers.

Chad McCumbee’s second place finish allowed him to move up two spots in the standings to sixth, knocking Kyle Busch back to seventh. Johnny Benson dropped three spots to eighth, and Erik Darnell and Terry Cook each moved up four spots to round out the Top 10.

Quotable:

“I don’t like overtime. They can checker it now.” Matt Crafton on his radio while waiting for the green-white-checkered finish

“Finally we can shut [our critics] up. It’s awesome. Perseverance pays off and we never gave up. I’ve got a really good group of guys behind me and have great owners, Duke and Ronda Thorson. It’s been a black cloud following me for a long time, so finally the black clouds have moved on and maybe we can get a few more this year.” Matt Crafton

“I’ve learned in these things, that when you get to the outside of someone you tend to make them loose. My truck, I guess, was glued to the race track way better than his [Ron Hornaday, Jr.], and I could hold it down on the bottom on the white line better. Just unfortunate, man.” Kyle Busch

Up Next:

The Craftsman Truck Series heads to Mansfield Motorsports Park for the Ohio 250 next Saturday. Dennis Setzer won this race in 2007; coverage begins at 7:30 pm EST on SPEED, and the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.

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