Beth Lunkenheimer · Sunday February 18, 2007
In a Nutshell: In true Daytona fashion for the Truck Series, it was another fantastic finish in the season opener. Jack Sprague took the lead from Travis Kvapil just a few hundred feet from the finish line, taking Johnny Benson with him as both attempted to sneak by the No. 6 Truck. Both passed him easily, with Benson diving low to try to take the win himself, but Sprague held on to win the Chevrolet Silverado HD 250 at Daytona by a mere 0.031 seconds, almost breaking the record for the smallest margin of victory. Kvapil had to settle for third, finishing just 0.003 seconds behind 2nd place Benson; Mike Skinner and Todd Bodine rounded out the Top 5 finishers.
Who Should Have Won:
Travis Kvapil. Kvapil had the truck to beat Friday night; every time you turned around, there he was again, taking his No. 6 K&N Filters Ford to the front. Kvapil was able to pass on the outside, the inside, and even up the middle. He led 49 of the 100 laps, the most of anyone, but unfortunately, he didn’t lead the most important lap…the last one.
Two Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race:
1. How will this year’s rookie class shape up?
Open to debate, although only one is off to a particularly good start. Only six of the ten of this year’s rookie class were in the race Friday night, and of those, only two (Joey Clanton and Aaron Fike) finished on the lead lap. Clanton, who finished sixth, was the highest finishing rookie, but even he had to recover from an early spin to work his way into the Top 10. Willie Allen finished 45 laps down after an accident, while Tim Sauter, Tyler Walker and Blake Bjorklund weren’t so lucky; they failed to finish. Of course, Daytona is a different kind of monster than most tracks on the circuit; the 2.5-mile superspeedway has its own way of collecting drivers who normally race well. After watching the race Friday night, it seems this year’s rookie race is pretty much wide open, and it will definitely be interesting to see how everything pans out.
2. Should Joey Clanton have been black flagged?
Early on in the race, Joey Clanton had a part of his hood bent up. NASCAR made the decision to black flag him so the damage could be repaired, but when Clanton tried to bring his No. 09 Zaxby’s Ford down pit road, Jason White ran into the back of him, causing a chain reaction accident. Although the hood was bouncing a little, NASCAR has sufficient safety features in place that should not have required the black flag. The hood pins were still securely attached, and every truck is equipped with tethers to keep the hood attached to the truck. NASCAR could have just as easily told Clanton’s crew chief that the repairs would be mandatory on their next pit stop; if they would have done that, a big wreck could have easily been avoided.
Worth Noting / Points Shuffle
In one of the more competitive Daytona Truck races in recent memory, 18 drivers finished on the lead lap, just two shy of the record at Daytona; of course, it helped that the race was inundated with yellow flags, as there were seven cautions Friday night for a total of 34 laps.
Jack Sprague is the third Craftsman Truck Series driver to win this race from the pole; previously, Joe Ruttman (2001) and Mark Martin (2006) had done it. Sprague’s win Friday night also marked Toyota’s first win at Daytona; they swept four of the Top 5 spots, with Kvapil’s Ford being the only one to break the Tundra stranglehold on the race.
As you would expect, the point standings reflect Daytona’s final results after the first race of the year. Jack Sprague is your current points leader, followed by Johnny Benson and Travis Kvapil; Mike Skinner and Todd Bodine round out the Top 5. Joey Clanton sits in 6th, just ahead of Ron Hornaday, Jr. Matt Crafton, Ted Musgrave, and Rick Crawford rounding out your Top 10.
Truck Rookie Report
2007 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Kelly Bires (19 races in the No. 21 and 1 race in the No. 16)
Joey Clanton (16 races)
Casey Kingsland (24 races)
Peter Shepherd (22 races)
No. of Rookies in the Race: 6
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 1
No. of Rookies to Finish the Race: 3
No. of Rookies to Finish on the Lead Lap: 1
Rookie Of The Race: Joey Clanton
Current Rookie Point Leader: Joey Clanton
“I just can’t believe I won Daytona. I knew a Toyota would win here tonight; I just didn’t know it would be me. I wouldn’t be here without Johnny Benson giving me that bump coming off four. He hit me so hard it about knocked my teeth out. I thought I might have had it won, then I saw a flash of red outside the driver’s side. But then I looked up and saw he didn’t get past us, and I knew it was ours.” Jack Sprague
“I was doing my part to make sure a Toyota ended up in Victory Lane. We got a great run off turn four and Travis was a sitting duck. I’ve been in the same situation here before in the Daytona 500; I was leading in the only Pontiac being followed by four Fords. (In this case), he was the only Ford against four Toyotas. I gave Sprague a shot and we both got a great run out of it. It was close there at the finish, I had to dip my tires on the yellow line to make it happen… but we pulled it off.” Runner-Up Johnny Benson
“I knew when I looked up going down the backstretch and saw how far ahead we were that I was gonna be in trouble. I thought I might be able to hold them off by the time we got to turn four, but he got a real good push and there wasn’t much I could do. I feel like I let my guys down after having such a strong truck all month long. We’re disappointed with the finish, but at the same time, it’s also a good way to start the season.” Travis Kvapil
The Craftsman Truck Series heads to the west coast for the San Bernardino County 200 at California Speedway. David Reutimann holds the qualifying record there with a speed of 178.980 mph set in 2006, and the defending race winner is Mark Martin. Race coverage begins at 8:30 pm EST on SPEED, while the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.
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