The Frontstretch: Tracking the Trucks: Too Tough to Tame 200 by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Monday August 16, 2010

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Tracking the Trucks: Too Tough to Tame 200

Beth Lunkenheimer · Monday August 16, 2010

 

In a Nutshell: Todd Bodine took the checkered flag 0.531 seconds ahead of Timothy Peters to win the Too Tough to Tame 200 Saturday night at Darlington Raceway. Bodine made his final pit stop on lap 77 and managed to come out on top of a fuel gamble thanks to several laps run under caution on the way to the checkers. Ron Hornaday, Jr., Johnny Sauter, and Austin Dillon rounded out the top 5.

Who Should Have Won: Todd Bodine. Just like in recent weeks, Timothy Peters again dominated the early stages of Saturday night’s race, leading the first 47 laps before giving the top spot on pit road. Ultimately, though, it was Todd Bodine’s fast truck that worked steadily through the field until he finally found himself out front when Austin Dillon pitted for fuel under the night’s seventh caution. Bodine wound up leading 47 of the 147 laps run, tied with Peters for most laps led in what would be a well-deserved victory.

Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race:

1. Did NASCAR really need to throw the second caution on lap 9?

Just nine laps into the Too Tough to Tame 200, Jason White lost control of his No. 23 Gunbroker.com Chevrolet and found himself sideways after making contact with the No. 3 of Austin Dillon. Dillon went into the outside wall, while White managed to right his truck and continue going. However, NASCAR threw the caution and had the field parade around the track under yellow for four laps.

But on lap 84, Ricky Carmichael found his No. 4 Monster Energy Chevrolet in a nearly identical sideways slide — one in which he righted the truck before it went around — and NASCAR chose not to throw the caution. Why? Nearly identical incidents require nearly identical response rather than two completely different calls.

This sort of thing plays into what fans complain about when it comes to consistency in NASCAR officiating. The only difference between the two incidents was added contact with the outside wall made by Dillon, but the damage done to the his No. 3 Chevrolet was little more than an added “Darlington Stripe” and clearly not enough to warrant putting the field under caution for four laps.

All anyone watching NASCAR really wants is a little consistency in calls they make throughout a race, especially one as short as a 200-mile Truck Series sprint. If they’re going to throw a caution for White’s incident, then one should have been thrown for Carmichael’s wreck as well.

But neither slide warranted a caution, and NASCAR would be wise to use a little more discretion before letting the yellow flag fly for such a minor spin.

2. Why did the Truck Series ever quit visiting Darlington?

Saturday night’s Too Tough to Tame 200 marked the first time since 2004 that the Camping World Truck Series has visited the “Lady in Black.” The 1.366-mile track scored the race after an announcement that the Truck Series would not return to the Milwaukee Mile.

Todd Bodine took the checkers at Darlington by only half a second. Why didn’t the truck series race at the track for five years, again?

In the previous four visits, two races finished under caution while the other two saw a margin of victory under a half-second. Once again on Saturday night, the series did not disappoint. Todd Bodine won by just over a half-second, and there was plenty of suspense along the way. With guys like Austin Dillon and Timothy Peters running just as strong as veterans Ron Hornaday, Jr. and Bodine, drivers really mixed it up on the track and provided some outstanding entertainment.

Before the race, Chris Browning, president of Darlington Raceway said, “If it all works out, we’d like to stay with [this race]. It could be the perfect schedule for us.”

And he couldn’t be more correct. Having a standalone Truck Series race at the historic 1.366 mile egg-shaped oval allowed for the drivers to be spotlighted without Sprint Cup Series regulars jumping in to spoil the party. And despite the race leader being able to pull away from the field, there was plenty of side-by-side competition to enjoy.

Here’s hoping the Truck Series continues to visit Darlington Raceway for years to come.

Truck Rookie Report

2010 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Brett Butler (No. 47)
Jennifer Jo Cobb (No. 10)
Austin Dillon (No. 3)
Justin Lofton (No. 7)
Dillon Oliver (No. 01)

No. of Rookies in the Race: 6 (add Lance Fenton in the RWR No. 47)

No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 1; Austin Dillon, finished fifth

Rookie Of The Race: Austin Dillon

Dillon hit the outside wall early following contact from Timothy Peters, but managed to keep his composure while using a combination of pit strategy and a fast truck to get back out front and lead 23 laps. A pit stop under the seventh caution with 51 laps remaining mired Dillon back in the pack, however, leaving him to settle for his eighth consecutive top-10 finish.

Jennifer Jo Cobb started 21st and tied her career-best finish of 14th from earlier this year in the WinStar World Casino 400K at Texas Motor Speedway. After falling two laps down early, Cobb took advantage of the wave-around rule and received a Lucky Dog award to score her second top-15 finish this season.

Justin Lofton ran an impressive race all afternoon and was set to score his third career top-5 finish when his No. 7 VisitPit.com Toyota got loose and went hard into the outside wall before collecting Mike Skinner. The Red Horse Racing team made repairs, and he was able to get out on the track and score a 20th-place finish – albeit 13 laps down.

Worth Noting / Points Shuffle:

Ken Schrader once again found himself behind the wheel of the No. 2 Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q / Kroger Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick, Inc. Before the green flag ever flew, Ken Schrader found himself mired deep in the field following a pit stop to change a bad battery. Despite the adversity, a combination of patience and pit road strategy allowed the veteran driver to finish tenth, his fifth straight top-10 for KHI while auditioning for a full-time ride next season.

T.J. Bell made only his second start this season at Darlington. He had a decent run going, spending most of the night in the top 15 before a hard crash ended his day and forced him to settle for a 26th-place DNF after running just half of the race. Bell’s only other start came at Charlotte back in May, where he was knocked out due to engine failure with just 14 laps remaining.

Todd Bodine once again expanded his championship lead, now holding a 226-point advantage over Aric Almirola in second. The rest of the top 5 remains unchanged with Timothy Peters in third, just 21 points behind Almirola. Johnny Sauter finds himself 16 points behind Peters in fourth, while Austin Dillon rounds out the top 5, 318 markers behind leader Bodine.

Ron Hornaday, Jr. was the only driver to gain a spot — he moves up to sixth, just one point ahead of Matt Crafton, who drops to seventh. Despite retiring early after contact with a spinning Justin Lofton, Mike Skinner remains eighth, 427 points behind Bodine. David Starr and Jason White continue to round out the top 10.

Quotable:

“It’s incredible. It’s a great feeling to be able to win at Darlington. We got it going on right now. Like I said last week, we struggled at the beginning here. (Crew Chief Mike Hillman) Jr. changed it around and here we are, faster every week. It’s nice to be able to get something and drive this way.” Race Winner Todd Bodine

“We took the stickers (tires) and we were mired back in traffic there. I had to use up my stuff just to get to the front and get the clean air. Found a little grip in [turns] 3 and 4. Sat and the pole and finished second — glad it wasn’t fourth. I’m loving life right now.” Timothy Peters

“I got into the wall there racing Hornaday and flat-sided the right side of the truck. We ended up having a fender rub, and that ended up cutting a tire heading into [turn] three, and that just killed it. It was definitely my fault and not how we wanted to run at Darlington. We had a pretty good night going. We’re going to pay the price in points for that one.” Brian Ickler, finished 21st after hard contact into the outside wall

“It’s unfortunate. It was finally good to run competitive. Typical RC luck.” Ricky Carmichael after a lap 96 caution knocked him out of the race

Up Next:

The Camping World Truck Series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for a midweek showdown Wednesday night. Last season, Kyle Busch scored the win after a dominant Mike Skinner saw his hopes dashed on pit road after a slow stop and a speeding penalty. Coverage for the O’Reilly 200 begins at 8:30 pm EDT; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.

Monday on the Frontstretch:
Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: August Michigan Race Recap
Fact Or Fiction: How NASCAR’s Chase Picture Shakes Out With 3 Races Left
Logano Takes Wrong Approach With Newman In Latest Clash
Bubble Breakdown: Sadler Bounces Back After Brutal Pocono Wreck, Top 35 Notes
Running Their Mouth: CARFAX 400
Nationwide Series Breakdown: CARFAX 250

Contact Beth Lunkenheimer

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Carl D.
08/16/2010 01:07 PM
permalink

Beth…

I noticed that large sections of grandstands were empty, but I don’t know if these sections were ever intended to be sold. I wonder if the paid attendance was considered a success. I live in Columbia SC, and there seemed to be little promotion of the race here. I was surprised at how many people here were unaware that there was a truck race scheduled at Darlington this past weekend.

Contact Beth Lunkenheimer