The Frontstretch: Tearing Apart the Trucks : All About Kansas by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Thursday April 26, 2007

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Tearing Apart the Trucks : All About Kansas

Beth Lunkenheimer · Thursday April 26, 2007

 

After taking four weeks off since the last race at Martinsville Speedway, the Craftsman Truck Series drivers should be well rested and ready for some exciting racing at Kansas Motor Speedway on Saturday. Unfortunately, a break that long also makes for some difficulty in finding something fun to write about. Luckily, in all of the reading and searching for something to write about, I found many interesting tidbits about the upcoming race.

The Craftsman Truck Series will make its seventh visit to Kansas this weekend. In the previous six races at the 1.5-mile track, there has not been a repeat winner. Terry Cook and Todd Bodine go to the Midwestern track hoping to change that. Bodine, in his No. 30 Allman Brothers Band Toyota, finished 0.387 seconds ahead of Todd Kleuver in 2005. Cook, driving the No. 10 Power Stroke Diesel Ford, finished 2.040 seconds ahead of Rick Crawford in 2006. Both drivers have a reasonable chance to become a repeat winner. Bodine has an average finish of 7.7 in three starts at the track while Cook has an average finish of 9.3 in six starts.

Besides the fact that there have been no repeat winners, no pole winner has visited victory lane in the last six years, but Ricky Hendrick and Carl Edwards have both won from the second starting position. In fact, Todd Bodine, who started tenth in 2005, is the only driver to win from a starting position outside the Top five.

Speaking of records to be broken, Mike Skinner has high hopes to break a truck series record Saturday. Skinner, who has won three of the four races this season, hopes to get his first victory at Kansas and a record fourth consecutive win. His chances to do just that are pretty high considering his average finish of seventh in three starts at Kansas.

Two different drivers will make their highly anticipated return to the series this weekend. One of those drivers has been inactive since 2002: Joe Ruttman, 62, already holds the record for being the oldest driver to win a Craftsman Truck Series race. He will be piloting the No. 18 Fastenal Dodge for Bobby Hamilton Racing. Ruttman has run six full seasons in the truck series, and in those seasons he has finished sixth or better in points; his highest was second in 1995. On top of those six full seasons, Ruttman has also run a combined 25 races across two seasons (1999 and 2002). His average finish is 9.5 in 168 career starts in the series. Joe Ruttman also has 223 starts in the Nextel Cup Series and 21 starts in the Busch Series.

In addition to Ruttman, Kelly Sutton will return to the track that sidelined her last season following a hard crash. Sutton, who suffers from relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, will be piloting the No. 51 Team Copaxone Chevrolet for Billy Ballew Motorsports. Doctors never expected the 35-year old mother of two to be walking now, and they certainly didn’t expect her to be racing. Sutton will be a part of a record breaking weekend for racing. As many as seven female drivers will hit the track during the three day weekend of racing in Kansas. Erin Crocker, Leilani Munter, and Gabi DiCarlo will run the ARCA race Friday. Sutton will race on Saturday, and Danica Patrick, Sarah Fisher and possibly Milka Duno will run the IRL race on Sunday. This will be the most female drivers ever to visit the track in a single weekend. Sutton’s start Saturday afternoon will make 2007 the sixth consecutive season with a female in at least one starting field. Kelly has a less than impressive record at Kansas, having never finished a race in her three starts there.

Coming into Kansas this weekend, there are records to be broken and two drivers return to the track. Tune in to Speed Saturday afternoon to see it all unfold!

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