The Frontstretch: Tracking the Trucks: WinStar World Casino 400K by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Monday June 10, 2013

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Tracking the Trucks: WinStar World Casino 400K

Beth Lunkenheimer · Monday June 10, 2013


In a Nutshell: Jeb Burton took the checkered flag just 0.139 seconds ahead of Ty Dillon to score his first career victory in the WinStar World Casino 400K Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 4 Arrowhead Chevrolet took the lead on a lap 144 restart and never looked back, despite a hard charge from Dillon. Rookie German Quiroga, Matt Crafton and Brendan Gaughan rounded out the top 5.

Who Should Have Won: Jeb Burton While Ty Dillon led a race-high 76 laps and had arguably one of the more dominant trucks of the night, it was the driver of the No. 4 out front when it mattered most. After taking the lead, Burton saw his lead shrink down to two-tenths of a second and expand to just over a second. And while it looked like Dillon would make a charge at the start / finish line, Burton had enough to keep the lead and hang on for his first career victory, something that’s been coming since the season opener at Daytona in February.

Race Rundown

Welcome to the newest addition to Tracking the Trucks! In this section for each race, we’ll take a look at the most important things to know just in case you weren’t able to watch it. Love it? Hate it? Just want to tell me something about? Let me know in the comments below.

Two Cautions, Two Kyle Busch Motorsports Trucks

Aside from the sixth-place finish that Darrell Wallace, Jr. notched (his fourth top 10 on the season), it was a tough night in Texas for Kyle Busch Motorsports. The WinStar World Casino 400K was slowed by just three cautions on Friday night and two of those saw a KBM truck damaged and out of contention.

Chad Hackenbracht made his Truck Series debut on Friday night behind the wheel of the No. 51 KBM Toyota that had been to victory lane in the last two races with team owner Kyle Busch. But it wasn’t meant to be for the debuting driver. After starting 21st, he remained in that area for much of the first part of the race. Then, with leader Ty Dillon getting ready to put him two laps down, Hackenbracht caught up to Jennifer Jo Cobb’s No. 10 truck and was forced into a three-wide situation to pass the much slower truck. Stuck in the middle, his No. 51 Toyota turned and bounced off of the outside wall before hitting the inside and coming to a stop. The damage proved terminal and Hackenbracht was left to settle for a 26th-place result in his debut.

“My Tundra was pretty decent tonight, a little tight off the corners, but I was just logging laps and gaining experience. Unfortunately, I was coming up on lapped traffic there and moved up to go around the 10 truck and thought the leader was going to give me enough room on the outside to go three wide, but that wasn’t the case,” Hackenbracht said. “The air was taken off my right side and I got loose and hit the inside wall on the backstretch. I can’t thank everyone enough at Kyle Busch Motorsports and all the guys who worked hard on this Tundra. I was hoping to come out of here with a really good run and keep the truck up there in the owner’s points. I’m looking forward to going to Pocono and seeing where we go from there.”

Heading into Texas, Hackenbracht’s goal was to complete the race and take advantage of the seat time in his quest to further his NASCAR career. It’s hard to get excited about only managing to run 40 laps, but the 21-year-old does have three more shots at some seat time scheduled this year. He’ll be in the KBM truck at Pocono (August 3rd), Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (September 1st) and Las Vegas Motor Speedway (September 28th).

Meanwhile, teammate Joey Coulter, who struggled with a “wicked tight” truck in the first run, gained three spots on pit road under the first caution. But just four laps later, he brought out the second caution when his No. 18 Toyota just snapped around on the straightaway, thanks to a flat left rear tire. After spending 89 laps in the garage area getting repairs, Coulter returned to the track where he ran the final 24 laps and settled for a 25th-place result.

“Man, I had a really good feeling about tonight,” Coulter said. “That pit stop by my guys was killer and I really thought we were going to be able to drive up to the front and lead some laps. Unfortunately, we just had a left rear tire go down – not sure if something cut it or what. I drove into Turn 3 and felt it go down after that. I hate it for these 18 Tundra guys, but they did a good job getting it back together and getting me back out on the track to finish the race. I know we couldn’t gain anything and probably lost a bit of ground on the point’s leader, but it says a lot that we can bounce back from something like this and finish a race. That’s what championship teams are made of.”

Obviously 25th is not the run the driver of the No. 18 Toyota was looking for in his quest for the championship this year. The sub top-20 result dropped him another two spots in the standings, and now he almost needs a miracle to bring himself back into contention. Needless to say, it was a pretty expensive night for KBM with two damaged trucks.

Turner Scott Motorsports Shines Bright in Texas

For the first time this season, Turner Scott Motorsports saw all three of their full-time entries finish inside the top 10. With rookie Jeb Burton celebrating his first career win, defending champion James Buescher notched a much needed ninth-place result. Though he hadn’t finished outside the top 15 all season, the ninth marked Buescher’s third top 10 in four races, something that’s valuable in his goal of becoming the first driver to score back-to-back championships.

So what? Who cares about a ninth-place result? It’s not so much the finish but rather what the No. 31 team managed to do on Friday night. After struggling for much of practice with handling, the changes made to the truck improved that, but Buescher reported that he felt a lack of speed. As a precaution, the team changed the carburetor, forcing the driver of the No. 31 Chevrolet to start at the back of the field. But he drove through on a mission, spending just five laps to get inside the top 20. While it wasn’t enough to challenge for the win, he still brought home that solid ninth-place result.

“This was another very difficult weekend for our crew but our guys never gave up on this truck,” said Buescher. “They continue to work really hard, and I feel like our luck is going to turn around soon so we’ll be able to get this team some solid finishes. I can’t thank Ruud enough for coming on board this weekend. I hope we were able to put on a good show coming from the back of the pack for another great top-10 finish.”

Though Buescher did lose points to the leader, he remained in sixth and will likely move into the top 5 following penalty day this week. It’s solid runs like the one the No. 31 team put on Friday night that will add up if someone ahead of him in the standings falters as the season wears on.

Meanwhile, teammate Miguel Paludo, who’s had several strong races this season, headed into one of his favorite tracks, hoping to capitalize on the improvements the No. 32 team has made this year. After starting fifth, Paludo managed to remain inside the top 5 for much of the day before his truck faded a little late in the race and he had to settle for a tenth-place result.

“I’ll take a top-10 finish for sure, but we were better than that.” said Paludo. “It’s frustrating, we had a top-five truck, but when the field spreads out over long green-flag runs like tonight, you can’t always catch the guys in front of you. We had a chance with that last caution, but we just got too tight at the end. I’m very happy for my teammate Jeb [Burton] getting his first win. The entire Turner Scott Motorsports team is so strong; I know that our time is coming, and it’s very soon. We had a good truck and we learned a lot that we can take to Kentucky in a few weeks.”

We’ve seen it so many times in NASCAR—green flag runs that stretch out the field make it nearly impossible to make up ground. But with that said, it’s yet another top 10, his fourth in seven races (he had five in the entire season last year), and exactly what Paludo needs to finally secure his first career Truck Series victory.

While the organization hasn’t been quite as dominant this year as they were with James Buescher last year, they’re actually showing more strength with the ability to run three successful teams. Look for TSM to continue their strong runs and really shine through the summer months.

Quick Hits:

- On Friday, race winner Jeb Burton was announced as part of the 2013 NASCAR Next roster, a program that highlights young drivers between the ages of 15 and 24 who might one day become NASCAR’s future stars. Ryan Blaney, Darrell Wallace, Jr. and Kyle Larson have all been featured in NASCAR Next in the past.

- Kyle Busch Motorsports General Manager and Director of Competition, Rick Ren, stepped in for Darrell Wallace, Jr.‘s normal crew chief, Jerry Baxter on Friday night. Baxter flew home to be at his daughter’s graduation ceremony. Wallace, Jr. started 16th and adjustments throughout the race allowed him to post a solid sixth-place result.

- According to the official Truck Series Twitter page, Ryan Blaney’s No. 29 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford failed post-race inspection for being too low. Blaney finished eighth and currently sits fifth in the standings. Any penalties will be announced early in the week and will likely drop him outside the top 5 in points.

- Can someone please teach the SPEED announcers the Truck Series driver names? For the second week in a row, Michael Waltrip identified Jeb Burton as Jeb Bush during the race.

Truck Rookie Report
2013 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Ryan Blaney (No. 29)
Jeb Burton (No. 4)
Brennan Newberry (No. 14)
German Quiroga, Jr. (No. 77)
Ryan Truex (No. 30)
Darrell Wallace, Jr. (No. 54)

No. of Rookies in the Race: 10 (add Danny Efland, Justin Jennings, Tyler Young and a debuting Chad Hackenbracht)

No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 4; Jeb Burton, finished first; German Quiroga, finished third; Darrell Wallace, Jr., finished sixth; Ryan Blaney, finished eighth

Rookie of the Race: Jeb Burton

Championship Checkup:
Welcome to the newest addition to Tracking the Trucks. Each week we’ll take a look at the championship picture and find out which drivers were affected the most by the racing on track. Love it? Hate it? Let me know in the comments below.

Biggest Winner: After running inside the top 3 in points for the entire 2012 season, Timothy Peters has struggled a bit this year, notching two DNFs in the first three races. But a sixth-place run at Dover, combined with a 14th at Texas _and Joey Coulter’s misfortune, has allowed him to move into 11th in the standings. And while it’s far from the championship run that he enjoyed last year, moving forward one position at a time is just what’s needed for the No. 17 team.

Biggest Loser: While Joey Coulter avoided a DNF after bringing out the first caution, he did drop another two spots in the standings to 13th and now sits 93 points behind the leader. And while dropping two positions isn’t a huge deal, it is for the No. 18 team. After starting off with a 22nd-place run at Daytona, Coulter was left to dig himself out of a hole in the championship battle. A runner-up finish allowed him to sneak into the top 10 at Kansas, however the last three races have seen him lose a bit of ground, leaving Coulter in a position to need several consecutive solid finishes in order to be around for the championship battle in November.

Points Update: At this point, the positions inside the top 10 remain unchanged following Texas. Matt Crafton maintains his spot atop the standings, however that lead shrank to 23 points with Jeb Burton’s win. Brendan Gaughan remains in third, followed by Johnny Sauter. Ryan Blaney, who will likely face penalties following a failure in post-race inspection, rounds out the top 5.


“We finally did it. I’ve been telling everybody once we get one, they’re going to start stacking up. I’ve got the best team in the series and couldn’t have done it without all of them. My dad taught me how to be the best driver I could be and never stopped putting his time and money towards my career. This is just awesome; it took a lot of blood and tears to get here and it means a lot.” Jeb Burton

“It’s a heartbreaker. Man, I thought we had it tonight. I am so proud of Marcus (Richmond, crew chief) and the entire Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet team. They did a great job putting together this truck. We were really fast tonight and were there in the end. If I had another corner, I think we could be the ones sitting in Victory Lane tonight. We’re going to carry this momentum over to Kentucky (Speedway) and get us a win.” Ty Dillon, finished second

“I want to thank the whole team at Red Horse Racing. The No. 77 Net 10 Wireless Toyota Tundra was great. I knew we were fast, we just need to work on pit strategy—I need to get better. Of course, we were very fast on the track and we gained the position we lost here. I’m very happy and very proud of the whole team and all the guys back at the shop. I’m looking forward to my first win for Mexico.” German Quiroga, finished a career-best third

“It was a great run all in all. We just missed it a little bit, just didn’t have the speed on the short run for whatever it was. I was decent on the short run but those two up front (Jeb Burton and Ty Dillon), they would take off and just be gone. I needed probably 25 laps so I could pace them. At the end of a run I could start running them back down, but not a bad day, finished top 5. It’s definitely not what we wanted—disappointed with it—but I can’t thank these guys enough. Each and every week they just surprise me with what they pull out of their hats, but this Menards Toyota Tundra is pretty good.” Matt Crafton, finished fourth

“The No. 62 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet team put in a great effort. We were fast all night long. Our ECR engine stayed strong throughout the race. Our engine builders are one of a kind. Not only do they build speed but they build durability. We’ll get the win we’re searching for soon; we’re headed in the right direction.” Brendan Gaughan, finished fifth

Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series takes a couple weeks off before heading to Kentucky Speedway on June 27th. Last season, James Buescher handily took his second win of the season by nearly four seconds over Brad Keselowski. The UNOH 225 will be televised on live SPEED beginning at 7:30 PM ET; it can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate or SiriusXM Channel 90.

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Beyond the Cockpit: Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. on Growing Up Racing and Owner Loyalties
The Frontstretch Five: Flaws Exposed In the New Chase So Far
NASCAR Writer Power Rankings: Top 15 After Darlington
NASCAR Mailbox: Past Winners Aren’t Winning …. Yet
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