The Frontstretch: Tearing Apart the Trucks : NASCAR Announces an Engine Change and More by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Friday September 5, 2008

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Tearing Apart the Trucks : NASCAR Announces an Engine Change and More

Beth Lunkenheimer · Friday September 5, 2008

 

Horsepower Reduction Looks To Level Playing Field For Remainder Of 2008

This week, NASCAR announced an engine change in the Craftsman Truck Series. Effective September 3rd, 2008, Section 20B-5.10.4 of the rulebook now states, “At all Events, unless otherwise specified, all engines with a cylinder bore spacing less than 4.470 inches must compete using a tapered spacer with four 1.125-inch diameter holes. At all Events, unless otherwise specified, all engines with a cylinder bore spacing of 4.470 inches or more must compete using a tapered spacer with four 1.100-inch diameter holes. Unless otherwise authorized, the carburetor restrictor will be issued by NASCAR.”

The rule change doesn’t specifically mention the Toyota nameplate, but they are the only manufacturer affected by it; as a result of the spacer, 15-20 horsepower will be reduced from those trucks affected. The change is also nearly identical to the one made in the Nationwide Series in July.

In both instances, NASCAR insists Toyota hasn’t been specifically targeted.

“As was the case with the amendment we recently made in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, all teams that upgrade to new engine packages will be subject to this rule modification,” said NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton. “This is a continuance of the ongoing engine evaluation we’ve had in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series over the course of this season, and is a step we’ve taken to help further maintain a level playing field among our competitors.”

In just 16 races in 2008, Toyota has already won nine times. Johnny Benson has four victories, Kyle Busch has three, and Scott Speed and Todd Bodine have one win apiece. For certain, it’ll be interesting to see how this group responds to the changes. Note that in the race following the announcement in the Nationwide Series, Kyle Busch dominated the Kroger 200 at O’Reilly Raceway Park in his Toyota Camry, leading 197 of 200 laps on his way to Victory Lane. Could we see a similar situation at Gateway this weekend? We’ll have to wait and see.

Bobby Hamilton Racing-VA Down to One Team

Over the Labor Day break, Bobby Hamilton Racing-VA has closed the doors on the No. 4 Dodge until further notice, so all team efforts can be focused on the No. 18 truck driven by Dennis Setzer. Since the announcement, Stacy Compton’s No. 4 Dodge has withdrawn from this weekend’s entry list.

Stacy Compton will be on the sidelines for the rest of this season, as BHR scales back operations to concentrate on the No. 18 truck of Dennis Setzer.

“It was a very tough business decision that was thought long and hard about amongst the owners,” said Lori Hamilton, Chief Operating Officer of BHR. “This allows us to pull from our many resources and direct all our focus to the No. 18 team. Our goal is to win more races, thus giving us more exposure and finish this season in the Top 10 in points.”

So far in 2008, Compton and Setzer have combined for just one win — Setzer’s triumph at Martinsville — and just eight Top 10 finishes in a combined 32 races. Both drivers are outside the Top 10 in the points standings.

Xpress Motorsports and Bill Davis Racing Merge

This week, Xpress Motorsports and Bill Davis Racing announced an operating agreement between the two organizations. The No. 16 team will convert its trucks to Toyota, with technical and engineering support from BDR. Also, Brian Scott will drive full-time for Bill Davis Racing next season, with sponsorship reportedly coming from grocery chain Albertson’s. The 20-year-old has run 23 races over the last two years in the Craftsman Truck Series, and is currently fourth in the Rookie of the Year standings.

The teams will first be racing as technical partners at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Marc Davis to Debut

Joe Gibbs Racing development driver Marc Davis is set to make his Craftsman Truck Series debut this weekend at Gateway International Raceway. The 18-year-old will pilot the No. 81 Howard University-WHUR Radio Chevrolet for Randy Moss Motorsports. David Dollar, co-owner of Randy Moss Motorsports, said Davis could find himself behind the wheel of the No. 81 for a total of “probably about six races this year.” No word on whether Davis could get the nod for a Rookie of the Year bid in 2009.

Did You Know…

  • Michael Annett will return to the series Saturday at Gateway International Raceway? Annett will pilot the No. 22 Toyota sponsored by Pilot Travel Centers. In his most recent race, Annett was involved in a lap four crash at Nashville Superspeedway; but he also has two Top 10 finishes in five starts this season.
  • Chrissy Wallace will also be making her return to the series? The 20-year-old will pilot the No. 03 Toyota Tundra for Germain Racing at a track her father Mike and uncles Kenny and Rusty call home.
  • The best finish by a rookie at Gateway International Speedway is fourth? Carl Edwards finished fourth at the track in 2003.
  • Greg Biffle is the only rookie to win a pole in ten races at Gateway? Biffle scored that honor in 1998.
  • Marc Mitchell returns to the series this weekend? He will pilot the No. 15 Ergon Toyota for Billy Ballew Motorsports. Mitchell has previous starts in the ARCA / REMAX Series and Nationwide Series at the track.
  • David Starr has one win, but has led just one lap at Gateway International Raceway? Starr edged Chad Chaffin in 2004 to win the Camping World 200 presented by Honda Power Equipment on the fourth green-white-checker restart — and hasn’t led a race there since. That race was the final time NASCAR allowed multiple green-white-checker finishes.
  • The points leader following the 17th race on the schedule has won the championship the last two years? It has happened a total of nine times in the history of the Truck Series, but the feat has only been accomplished three times in the last seven years.
  • Shane Sieg returns to the Craftsman Truck Series this weekend at Gateway? He will pilot the No. 51 Miccosukee Resort and Gaming Toyota.
  • Donny Lia has been released from TRG Motorsports? Lia scored a win earlier this season and sits just 12 points behind Colin Braun in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings. The No. 71 Chevrolet is still listed on the entry list for this weekend, but the team has announced that Andy Lally will be the driver.

Contact Beth Lunkenheimer

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It’s going to be an interesting year. So far, it’s anyone’s cup to win. I’m keeping my fingers still crossed for Jimmie Johnson.

Contact Beth Lunkenheimer