The Frontstretch: Tracking the Trucks: AAA Insurance 200 by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Monday August 1, 2011

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Tracking the Trucks: AAA Insurance 200

Beth Lunkenheimer · Monday August 1, 2011

 

In a Nutshell: Timothy Peters took the checkered flag 2.645 seconds ahead of James Buescher to win the AAA Insurance 200 Friday night at Lucas Oil Raceway. With just six laps remaining, Peters passed Buescher during a more than 100-lap green flag run and went on to score his third career victory. David Starr, Miguel Paludo and Ron Hornaday, Jr. rounded out the top 5. Matt Crafton and Joey Coulter were the last two trucks on the lead lap, finishing sixth and seventh respectively.

Who Should Have Won: Timothy Peters After running 14th quickest in the first practice session and improving to fourth quickest in final practice, Peters qualified 16th. But at that point, the excitement was just beginning. Peters actually brought out the fourth and final caution on lap 90 thanks to a cut tire from earlier contact with Steve Arpin. However, despite the spin, Peters remained on the lead lap, and four fresh tires gave the driver of the No. 17 Toyota an advantage over his fellow competitors. He ran through the field, catching and passing James Buescher with ease to take over the top spot and ultimately the victory.

Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race:

1. How did Ross Chastain, Ricky Moxley and Brad Queen fare in their Truck Series debuts?

Friday night’s AAA Insurance 200 gave three different drivers—Ross Chastain, Ricky Moxley and Brad Queen—an opportunity to make their Camping World Truck Series debuts. Ross Chastain piloted the No. 66 National Watermelon Promotion Board Chevrolet for Turn One Racing. Ricky Moxley made his start behind the wheel of the No. 07 Wear Your Gear / Bobber.info Toyota for SS Green Light Racing and Brad Queen debuted in his self-owned No. 00 Live Oak Real Estate Chevrolet.

Moxley started racing modifieds at age 17 on the weekends at Hialeah Speedway and West Palm Beach Fairgrounds. With 79 modified victories to his name, the 42-year-old Hobe Sound, FL native also owns a website development company that he takes care of when he isn’t racing full time.

Brad Queen scored the Owner’s Championship in the 2009 ISCARS Dash Tour (Sanctioned by ASA). So far this season he’s run the Sonic Dash and the Ace Dash in the ISCAR Series at Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, NC, finishing second and eighth respectively in the ten car field. The 29-year-old Kernersville, NC native, along with his wife Candice, fielded an entry into the AAA Insurance 200 with Chris Wright atop the pit box.

Behind the wheel of the No. 66, Chastain was the highest qualifier and finisher of the three, starting 15th and finishing a solid tenth, one lap down. Starting 34th and 35th respectively, Ricky Moxley and Brad Queen hung far back in the pack. Queen retired with 67 laps remaining thanks to engine troubles and was forced to settle for a 34th-place finish while Moxley finished the race seven laps down in 30th.

I was pretty impressed with Ross Chastain in his debut race. There are plenty of drivers who would be happy with a top-10 finish, but it’s all the more impressive when you consider the stats of the driver he replaced this week. Justin Marks started the season behind the wheel of the No. 66 for Turn One Racing, making 12 starts and scoring just two top-10 finishes and two DNFs before losing his ride thanks to a lack of sponsorship. Given that, Chastain’s run was pretty impressive for a guy whose latest racing experience came from Late Models.

As far as Moxley and Queen are concerned, there are worse ways to end your debut. Just ask Josh Richards, who debuted in Iowa a few weeks ago and was caught up in a wreck when Ron Hornaday, Jr. spun across the track in front of him. Overall, their performance was average, however considering how SS Green Light Racing has worked so hard just to improve Moxley’s teammate David Starr’s performance this season coupled with a family-owned vehicle for Queen, it could have been much worse for both drivers Friday night.

While their plans are unclear for future races in the Truck Series, it’s still refreshing to see three new faces in a single race because that means despite the sponsorship woes that plague quite a few teams in the series, there are still drivers working to join the NASCAR ranks.

2. What happened between Todd Bodine and Austin Dillon in the closing laps?

Thanks to a long green flag run after just under 20 laps of caution for a brief rain shower, race winner Timothy Peters had lapped the majority of the field with just a handful of laps remaining. But the few drivers still on the lead lap raced hard for position even though Peters was out to a nearly three-second lead after passing James Buescher. With just two laps remaining, Bodine drove his No. 5 Big Red / International Tundra right up the track, shoving Austin Dillon hard into the outside wall. Immediately, Dillon reacted over the radio.

“What the hell man? What an idiot. What an idiot.”

Even the announcers on SPEED acted like they were thinking the same thing Dillon voiced over his radio. And of course both drivers were asked their point of view of what happened. Dillon seemed confused as to what brought on the contact but refrained from making any speculations or point fingers.

“I don’t know (what happened). We were just conserving fuel. I don’t know what the excuse is,” Dillon said. “We were clearly there. It’s just part of racing. Me and Todd usually race each other clean. I’m sure he’ll give me an explanation before next week.”

Not long after, Todd Bodine accepted full responsibility for the incident.

“I was junk. I was just riding around the bottom trying to stay out of everybody’s way. I thought the (No.) 7 (Miguel Paludo) was the last truck. That’s plain and simple—I never knew the 3 was out there,” Bodine said. “I had no idea. Austin (Dillon), Danny (Stockman, Crew Chief) and the boys have a right to be mad at me. Austin’s my boy. I love that kid, he’s a great kid. I feel horrible about it.”

Later during post race coverage, SPEED caught a view of the two discussing the incident, and when they parted, it appeared everything was just fine.

Plain and simple, I wondered what Todd Bodine was thinking when he drove right up on Austin Dillon. However, I have to admire the classiness shown by both drivers in their post race interviews. While Dillon was definitely upset on the radio following the contact, he chose to take the high road and avoid calling Bodine names when asked about the incident. And it was even better to see Bodine accept fault and publicly apologize for the contact.

There are plenty of drivers across the board that could learn a lesson from the sportsmanship both Bodine and Dillon showed Friday night.

Truck Rookie Report
2011 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Joey Coulter (No. 22)
Dusty Davis (No. 15)
Jeffrey Earnhardt (No. 1)
Chris Eggleston (No. 27)
Craig Goess (No. 46 – Left team due to performance issues)
Justin Johnson (No. 51)
Parker Kligerman (No. 29)
Johanna Long (No. 20)
Chase Mattioli (No. 99)
Miguel Paludo (No. 7)
Nelson Piquet, Jr. (No. 8)
Cole Whitt (No. 60)

No. of Rookies in the Race: 9 (Add Dakoda Armstrong, Steve Arpin, Josh Richards and drivers Ross Chastain, Ricky Moxley and Brad Queen)

No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 2; Miguel Paludo, finished fourth; Joey Coulter, finished seventh

Rookie Of The Race: Miguel Paludo

Rookie Quote:

We needed that. I feel like today we could have finished the deal. We were running good sometimes and something happens. I’m really proud of my guys. Congrats to Timothy (Peters) for the win and our two (Red Horse Racing) trucks in the top 4 is pretty good. I’m really glad to finish this deal and thank my sponsor and everybody who is part of this year’s deal.” Miguel Paludo

Points Shuffle:

Austin Dillon has closed to within four points of leader Johnny Sauter after a 23rd-place finish behind the wheel of a damaged truck. James Buescher remains in third but is now only 20 points behind the leader. Timothy Peter’s victory moved him up a spot, and rookie Cole Whitt rounds out the top 5, only 29 points behind Sauter.

The rest of the top 10 remains unchanged. Matt Crafton finds himself just nine points out of fifth followed by rookie Parker Kligerman in seventh. Joey Coulter, another rookie driver is just two points ahead of Ron Hornaday, Jr. in eighth. Defending champion Todd Bodine rounds out the top 10.

Quotable:

“I can’t say enough about the guys on this Red Horse Racing Toyota Tundra in victory lane tonight. We unloaded and we were super tight in practice. Butch Hylton (Crew Chief) and the guys—they threw the kitchen sink at it and everything but the driver. Man, we persevered tonight, I’m telling you. I can’t say enough about Tom DeLoach (Team Owner)for giving me an awesome opportunity to get me where I’m at. Like I said last week, I love my guys—they get me on and off pit road well. Thank the Lord man, I was praying for no caution there at the end.” Timothy Peters

“Tim (Peters) really did a great job conserving tires. It’s really frustrating to lose the lead that late in the race. We had nothing for him there at the end.” James Buescher, finished second

“It was an awesome race, we were really good in practice and the SS Green Light team kept making it better. Just a great night and this team keeps building momentum and working towards our goal of winning. We’re not there yet, but we keep getting close and making our Toyotas better. Everybody has done a fantastic job.” David Starr, finished third

“Those days that you’re thinking about what in the world am I doing, why am I continuing to pull money into this. You get to this point and have that win, it’s magic. It makes it right—it’s fantastic. I’m very proud of this organization. We preach professional all the time and execute and dog-gone if they didn’t do it tonight.” Winning Team Owner Tom DeLoach

Up Next:
The Camping World Truck Series heads to Pocono Raceway for the Good Sam RV Emergency Road Service 125 Saturday afternoon. Last season, Elliott Sadler took the victory in the inaugural Truck Series visit to the Tricky Triangle. Coverage begins at 12:00 PM EDT on SPEED; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.

Contact Beth Lunkenheimer

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