The Frontstretch: Tracking the Trucks : AAA Insurance 200 by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Monday June 1, 2009

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Tracking the Trucks : AAA Insurance 200

Beth Lunkenheimer · Monday June 1, 2009

 

In a Nutshell: Brian Scott took the checkered flag 0.435 seconds ahead of Dennis Setzer to win the rain-delayed AAA Insurance 200 Saturday afternoon at Dover International Speedway. Scott and crew chief Jeff Hensley gambled and didn’t pit on the final caution, allowing Scott to jump to the front of the field and hold on to score his first Camping World Truck Series victory in his 39th start. David Starr, Jason White, and Johnny Sauter rounded out the top 5 finishers.

Who Should Have Won: Kyle Busch. Busch started 10th and wasted no time working his way to the front, passing multiple cars on the first lap after the green flag flew. Numerous times, Busch made the same daring moves throughout the race, always resulting in him getting back to the lead even when pit stops left the truck back in traffic. He went on to lead the most laps — 133 of 200 — before a right front tire failure and the resulting hard hit on the outside wall ended his run to the win. The driver of the No. 51 Miccosukee Resorts and Gaming Toyota was left to settle for a 9th place finish.

Brian Scott tamed the Monster Mile in the rain-delayed truck race on Saturday night thanks to some crafty pit strategy.

Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race:

1. How did J.R. Fitzpatrick fare in his debut with Kevin Harvick, Inc?

After essentially being dumped by TRG Motorsports, J.R. Fitzpatrick signed with Kevin Harvick, Incorporated to share the No. 4 Chevrolet with Ricky Carmichael. Fitzpatrick made his debut in that No. 4 truck Saturday afternoon at Dover International Speedway.

J.R. Fitzpatrick’s debut started with the look of a race he would want to quickly forget. After starting 16th, the 21-year-old driver spun on his own into the inside wall just three laps into the race. But the truck had only minor damage, and the team kept the No. 4 Equipment Express Chevrolet on the lead lap. Despite the incident, Fitzpatrick worked his way through the field and finished 11th.

Overall, it wasn’t a bad debut for J.R. Fitzpatrick. Had he not been involved in bringing out the first caution, he may have been able to pull off a Top 10 finish. Look for great things with the matchup of Fitzpatrick and KHI when he returns to the seat for seven more races this season.

2. What happened with tires Saturday afternoon?

The AAA Insurance 200 saw several tire failures throughout the race Saturday afternoon. Perhaps one of the worst failures was when Ron Hornaday, Jr. blew a right front and slammed hard into the outside wall on lap 34. Hornaday, Jr. walked away from the wreck OK, but his truck was in bad shape.

“We were just riding along there, and we blew a right front,” Hornaday, Jr. said. “It bent the dashboard, bent the seat out, bent the shifter. It’s one of the hardest hits that I’ve had.”

But Ron Hornaday, Jr. wasn’t the only driver who suffered from tire failures throughout the race. Among those included were James Buescher, Rick Crawford, Johnny Benson, and Tayler Malsam.

Both Kyle Busch and Todd Bodine had cords showing on tires that were removed under the competition caution on lap 45. Both later fell victim to their own separate failures; Todd Bodine lost his left rear tire on lap 91, and Kyle Busch saw his misfortune come with just 17 laps remaining as the team was planning to pit for a vibration.

What appears to be the culprit for all this? Rain, rain, rain. The rain on Friday washed any rubber that was on the track off before the Nationwide Series took to the track early on Saturday. Surprisingly, the Nationwide race didn’t leave as much rubber on the track as Goodyear typically counts on having, and that, in turn allowed the concrete track to just eat up the tires.

However, Goodyear needs to have a tire planned for the track that will work regardless of how much rubber is out on the track. Depending on rubber to be there to keep the tires from failing after short runs is just asking for trouble, especially if rain falls — like it did Friday.

Truck Rookie Report
2009 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Chase Austin (No. 32 — on hold indefinitely due to funding)
James Buescher (No. 10)
Ricky Carmichael (No. 4 — part-time, shared ride)
J.R. Fitzpatrick (No. 4 — part-time, shared ride)
Taylor Malsam (No. 81)
Johnny Sauter (No. 13)

No. of Rookies in the Race: 6

No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 1; Johnny Sauter, finished 5th

Rookie Of The Race: Johnny Sauter, finished 5th

“It’s pretty wild. Just real happy with ThorSport with fifth and sixth place finishes [the last two weeks]. Thought that we had a better truck than that. We got a little bit of damage here on the right side, and that probably made us a little too tight for the end. I thought I was going to win that race.” Johnny Sauter

Worth Noting / Points Shuffle:

Brian Scott led just 14 laps Saturday afternoon en route to his first win. In the six previous races run, Scott led a combined eight laps.

Despite a hard crash early in the race, Ron Hornaday, Jr. remains the points leader, but he now has a slim 27-point edge over Mike Skinner in second. Matt Crafton sits in third, just 29 points behind Hornaday, Jr., with Kyle Busch nearly 30 points back in fourth. Behind them, Brian Scott gained five spots to move inside the Top 5. He now sits just 107 points out of first.

Todd Bodine, who had trouble when he lost a left rear tire and missed the pit road commitment cone, dropped one spot to sixth. Terry Cook also dropped one spot to seventh, while Chad McCumbee remains in eighth, just 140 points behind the leader. David Starr, who moved up four positions into ninth, and Johnny Benson, who dropped three spots, round out the Top 10.

Quotable:

“It feels great. It was a long time coming. I gotta thank my dad. Thank you dad, thanks mom. Thanks everybody. Thank the fans for coming out. This is awesome. There were times when I didn’t think it was the right call or we were going to be in position, but it all worked out, and now we’re in Victory Lane, baby.” Brian Scott

“First of all, I’d like to say hello to my wife and my son David, Jr. down in Dallas. It just wouldn’t turn, and I couldn’t catch those guys (Brian Scott and Dennis Setzer).” David Starr, finished 3rd

Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway next week for the WinStar World Casino 400 on Friday, June 5th. In 2008, Scott Speed scored his first Camping World Truck Series victory in only his sixth start. In this race last season, Ron Hornaday, Jr. dominated and held off a charge from Kyle Busch on the green-white-checkered finish to score his second of six wins in the 2008 season. Coverage of the event begins at 8:30 pm EST; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.

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