The Frontstretch: Tearing Apart the Trucks : Looking Ahead to Kansas by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Thursday April 8, 2010

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Tearing Apart the Trucks : Looking Ahead to Kansas

Beth Lunkenheimer · Thursday April 8, 2010

 

As I sat in front of my computer last night, I drew a blank on what to write about this week. After all, the Camping World Truck Series has just entered yet another long break before their next race at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, May 2nd. In preparation for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 in a few weeks, I’d like to take a look at a few drivers to keep an eye on.

Timothy Peters

The current points leader has finished no worse than seventh so far this season and certainly appears to be on a roll. After moving to Red Horse Racing last season, his performance has steadily improved with the extra resources from the team. That coupled with the patience exhibited this year by the 29-year-old driver makes him a clear threat each week as well as for the championship itself.

But as far as Kansas Speedway goes, Peters will have his work cut out for him. In just two starts at the 1.5 mile track, he has finished no better than 19th; that was in 2006 behind the wheel of the No. 4 Bobby Hamilton Racing Dodge. Last season, the No. 17 Strutmasters.com Toyota succumbed to engine troubles just five laps past the halfway point.

Ken Schrader

Ken Schrader has been frequenting the dirt tracks far more than the circuits of NASCAR recently, but he’ll be in the best seat the Truck Series has to offer come Kansas.

For the first time since 2007, when he drove for Bobby Hamilton Racing, Ken Schrader will pilot a truck besides his self owned No. 52. This time, the 54-year-old driver finds himself behind the wheel of the No. 2 Kevin Harvick, Inc. Chevrolet. In 91 starts in the series, Schrader has just one win to his credit, but he’s finished in the top 10 for nearly a third of those starts.

However, Schrader has yet to make a Truck Series start at Kansas. He does have seven starts at the 1.5 mile track in the Cup Series, and that combined with KHI’s resources will allow him to be a threat in a few weeks.

Narain Karthikeyan

Following a successful Truck Series debut at Martinsville Speedway, the 32-year-old driver from India hopes to build on that success. In his first race, Karthikeyan struggled but still managed to bring home a 13th place finish. Though he may not contend for the win, the Wyler Racing driver will benefit from any track time he gets. If he can stay out of trouble again when the series makes it to Kansas, there’s a very real chance he could score his first career top 10 finish.

Ron Hornaday, Jr.

Of course it’s never smart to count out the defending Truck Series champion…ever. Though he had a less than stellar start to the 2010 season, Hornaday, Jr. has back-to-back top 5 finishes and shows signs that he’s ready to threaten points leader Timothy Peters if he can string together a few more. In five races at Kansas, Hornaday, Jr. has finished outside the top 10 only twice (17th in 2005 and 12th in 2006). Given the improvement shown last season in Kevin Harvick, Inc.‘s mile-and-a-half program throughout the 2009 season, there’s no reason to believe Hornaday, Jr. can’t visit victory lane in a few weeks.

Mike Skinner

You can’t talk about the Truck Series at Kansas Speedway without talking about Mike Skinner. In six starts at the mile-and-a-half track, Skinner has finished in the top 5 in five of those races, including a win last season in the rain shortened event. Skinner led when the race was rain-delayed and pushed back to Monday and then again when the rains came during the Monday running. Though some people call rain-shortened wins cheap or pointless, it still takes work to be up front and capitalize on the rain. Skinner has the ability to go back-to-back when the series heads back to the track.

Butler Suffers Freak Accident in Nashville

Brett Butler struggled throughout the entire Nashville 200 last weekend. A punctured tire on the first lap blew out part of the crush panel on the floorboard. As a result, fiberglass from the tire got into Butler’s helmet cooling system. He spent the remainder of the race driving with his shield up to cool his face, and in turn suffered carbon monoxide poisoning.

“It was really painful,” Butler said Tuesday. “My face and eyes felt like they were in fire. I was sweating, and it opened up my pores and fiberglass got into my pores. The whole time I was scratching my face.”

Medical personnel removed the fiberglass from Butler’s face and eyes in the Infield Care Center and sent him home with four sets of eyedrops to use in the two days following the race. The 24-year-old driver said he will be ready to race when the series heads to Kansas Speedway in a few weeks.

“I’m fine right now,” Butler said. “We pretty much got everything taken care of in the infield care center.”

Though Butler has talked to crew chief Gary Cogswell about the incident, neither one has any idea what could have been done differently to prevent the injuries.

Sauter to Attempt Nationwide at Phoenix

Firday night, Johnny Sauter will make a one-race appearance in the Nationwide Series for R3 Motorsports. The three-time winner in the series will attempt to move the No. 23 team into the top 30 in owner’s standings in a race that reunites him with crew chief Steve Plattenberger. The two worked together at Jay Robinson Racing in 2007.

Contact Beth Lunkenheimer

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