The Frontstretch: Tracking the Trucks: Michigan 200 by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Monday June 15, 2009

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Tracking the Trucks: Michigan 200

Beth Lunkenheimer · Monday June 15, 2009

 

In a Nutshell: Colin Braun took the checkered flag 1.790 seconds ahead of Kyle Busch to win the Michigan 200 Saturday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway. Braun led less than half the laps Kyle Busch did, but he led the most important ones on his way to his first career Truck Series win. Brian Ickler, Matt Crafton, and Mike Skinner rounded out the Top 5.

Who Should Have Won: Kyle Busch. Busch started fourth and made it known early in the running of the Michigan 200 that he had a fast truck. His pit crew got him off of pit road first under a lap 9 caution, and Busch went on to lead 62 of the 100 laps run Saturday afternoon. With just 26 laps remaining, the driver of the No. 51 Miccosukee Resort Toyota tried to pass the lap down truck of Norm Benning but was forced to let off the gas and relinquish the lead to Colin Braun. Kyle Busch never had anything for Braun once the driver of the No. 6 got out front, and was left to settle for his second runner-up finish in the last three races.

Colin Braun celebrates his first career victory at Michigan on Saturday afternoon.

Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race:

1. How did Timothy Peters fare in his first race with Red Horse Racing?

This past week brought the news that Johnny Benson’s No. 1 Red Horse Racing team had closed its doors due to a lack of funding. Just two days later, Red Horse Racing announced that Timothy Peters and existing sponsor Strutmasters.com had joined the team and would be using equipment from the recently closed No. 1 team.

Saturday afternoon marked the debut for Timothy Peters behind the wheel of the No. 17 Strutmasters.com Toyota for Red Horse Racing. Peters ran fourth quickest in the final practice before qualifying 18th for Saturday afternoon’s race. Within 40 laps, Peters had worked his way up to the sixth position. Once he got there, the driver of the No. 17 remained in the Top 10 on his way to an eighth place finish.

It’s amazing to see the difference that good equipment can make for a driver. Aside from a 6th place finish in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway and a 9th place finish the following week at Auto Club Speedway, Peters has finished outside the Top 10 in six races this season. Expect to see more improvement for Peters, who is clearly a talented driver that was stuck in less than stellar equipment.

2. How can you not appreciate Kyle Busch?

All week, the big Truck Series news was the closure of Johnny Benson’s No. 1 Red Horse Racing team. Benson, fans and drivers alike were shocked by the news, and one driver who seemed extremely upset about the release of the defending series champion was Kyle Busch.

“That really stunk because I would have liked to have seen last year’s champion keep his ride,” Busch said. “But unfortunately, money woes there took him out of that deal.”

Fans remained hopeful but skeptical that Johnny Benson would be able to make the race at his home track, Michigan International Speedway. Due to the short notice of his release, it was virtually impossible to get Benson behind the wheel of any truck in time to make practice and qualifying. But Kyle Busch made his intentions very clear this weekend.

“If I could, I would have stepped out (of my truck) this week, but too much stuff with (primary sponsor) Miccosukee and I couldn’t do it,” Busch said. “I would have liked to give Johnny my truck ride — I have enough to do. That didn’t quite work out, but I think we are going to get it worked out where he can drive mine at Milwaukee.”

How can anyone not appreciate what Kyle Busch is trying to do for Johnny Benson? Busch has made plenty of mistakes and stupid decisions in his career, but this is definitely one to be commended. For anyone who has paid any attention to Kyle Busch, he has made it very clear that he races in the Truck Series simply for his love of racing. And when someone who loves racing as much as Kyle Busch does offers up his ride so the defending series champion can race, it says a lot.

Now, I do understand this could have just been a move to help turn the public image of Kyle Busch around — but it’s time to give him at least the benefit of the doubt. At some point, even the most immature person will grow up, start making good choices, and think about someone other than themselves.

Truck Rookie Report
2009 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Chase Austin (No. 32 — on hold 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: 7

No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 2; Brian Ickler, finished 3rd and Tayler Malsam, finished 6th

Worth Noting / Points Shuffle:

Defending series champion Johnny Benson was involved in a serious accident in a supermodified race Saturday night at Berlin Raceway. Benson’s car burst into flames after driving up onto another competitor’s car. According to Johnny Benson’s forums, he has at least one broken rib, is listed in fair condition, and is still at the hospital for observation.

Colin Braun scored the 50th Truck Series win for Roush Fenway Racing Saturday afternoon just one week after matching his career best finish of third last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Braun’s win propelled him up six spots in the standings, and he sits just 30 points out of the Top 10.

General Motors announced Friday that it was cutting manufacturer support to the Truck Series and Nationwide Series now that the company is in bankruptcy. Chevrolet spokesperson Terry Rhadigan said GM is looking at incremental cutbacks in support, but would not specify exactly what those cuts would be or when they would be implemented.

The Top 4 in the Truck Series standings are separated by just 97 points. After a solid Top 5 finish, Matt Crafton holds a 39-point lead over three-time champion Ron Hornaday, Jr. Mike Skinner and Todd Bodine remain in third and fourth, respectively. Kyle Busch jumped seven spots in the standings and rounds out the Top 5.

David Starr remains in sixth, while Terry Cook moved up two spots to seventh. Tayler Malsam jumped three spots to eighth, making his first appearance in the Top 10 in points. Rick Crawford, who moved up one spot and Chad McCumbee, who dropped two positions, round out the Top 10.

Quotables:

“It was cool to beat Kyle (Busch), and it was cool to beat Toyota here. These guys did an awesome job. This win was more about them and the hard work they put in back at the shop to get this truck together. I love this racetrack. It was awesome. Big thanks to Jack Roush for sticking with me. I’ve got a lot to learn getting my restarts better, [though].” Colin Braun

“Unfortunately, we had a lap truck (Norm Benning) that couldn’t hold his line. I tried to go low. There was an [opening] there, and when we went into the corner it closed up. My fault there. I screwed up. Very frustrating to finish second once again. We’ll take it, go on to Kentucky and finish 2nd there.” Kyle Busch

“Don’t let Kyle (Busch) talk you into anything running in second place. You run your line, hit your marks, and you will win this race.” Crew Chief Mike Beam on Colin Braun’s radio after he took the lead

Up Next: The Craftsman Truck Series heads to the Milwaukee Mile Friday night for the Copart 200. In 2008, Johnny Benson scored his third consecutive win at the track when he finished 2.530 seconds ahead of Matt Crafton. Coverage begins at 8:30 pm EST on SPEED channel; 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!

RamblinWreck
06/15/2009 01:13 PM
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How can you say Kyle Busch should have won? Late in the race, Colin stuck right with Kyle until the pass; once he got out front, Kyle had nothing for him. The fastest truck at the end of the race won it.

Beth
06/15/2009 05:51 PM
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The reason I said Kyle Busch should have won is because he led the most laps and had a very fast truck. Had he not been caught up by Norm Benning, my guess is that he would have been in victory lane instead of Colin Braun.

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