The Frontstretch: Tracking the Trucks : O'Reilly 250 by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Saturday April 28, 2007

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Tracking the Trucks : O'Reilly 250

Beth Lunkenheimer · Saturday April 28, 2007

 

In a Nutshell:

Erik Darnell dominated Saturday night in the O’Reilly 250 at the Kansas Motor Speedway. He finished 10.440 seconds ahead of Rick Crawford. Jack Sprague, Johnny Benson and points leader Mike Skinner rounded out the Top 5.

Who Should Have Won:

Darnell. Darnell qualified 10th but had to start at the back of the pack following an unapproved adjustment in the impound period. He battled his way back and dominated the last half of the race to win his first career race in his 31st truck series start.

Two Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race:

1) Following Kelly Sutton’s performance in the O’Reilly 250, what can we expect from her in the remaining three races she is scheduled to run?

Kelly Sutton made her return to racing at the same track that nearly ended her career last season. Unfortunately for her, contact with Johnny Benson, who was dealing with an ill-handling truck, sent her into the infield wall. Since she only ran a total of 71 laps on the night, it’s hard to tell what Sutton would have done had she not gotten involved with Johnny Benson, but with the equipment she has been given to use she can do well if she can just stay out of trouble.

2) Why were there so many pit road penalties?

There were 11 pit road violations during Saturday’s O’Reilly 250. The question on my mind though is why? Is it because that many drivers just made mistakes or is it because NASCAR is enforcing them more? Chase Miller, Travis Kvapil, Joe Ruttman, Ron Hornaday and Todd Bodine were all nailed with speeding violations either entering or exiting pit road. Other violations included entering pit road before it was open, loose parts and one commitment line violation. It seems that after four weeks off, the teams were having a little trouble keeping it together on pit road.

Worth Noting/Points Race:

For the third time in the history of truck series racing at Kansas, there was a first time winner. Erik Darnell joins Ricky Hendrick and Jon Wood.

Darnell is only the second driver to win the race from a starting position outside the Top 5. Todd Bodine did it in 2005.

Along with Kelly Sutton, Joe Ruttman made his return to the Craftsman Truck Series. He started 27th and finished 25th, four laps down.

The Top 4 in points remain unchanged. Mike Skinner has extended his lead to 108 points over second place Todd Bodine. Rick Crawford sits 128 points out of the lead, and Ron Hornaday is 154 points back sitting in fourth. Jack Sprague moved up into the Top 5 with a solid 3rd place finish.

Ted Musgrave sits in sixth followed by Johnny Benson who moved up one spot to seventh. Matt Crafton dropped one position to eighth while Travis Kvapil remains in ninth. Erik Darnell rounds out the Top 10, up two positions after his win.

Quotable:

“It feels awesome. We’ve been trying so hard and we’ve been so close so many times, and I haven’t been able to pull it off. Today, we were finally able to put all of the pieces together and then finish this thing. I was just holding the steering wheel. This all goes to John Quinn and the crew. They are the ones who built the truck and made it as strong as it was. We’ve been working hard on this coil binding stuff, and it’s definitely paid off.” Erik Darnell

“A Roush truck beat a Roush engine. You can’t say that the track owed us one either because we raced hard. It was a tough day for the team. We made an adjustment with 45 laps to go and we went the rest of the day. That was the adjustment that got the truck to where we could run where we were.” Rick Crawford

“It took me too long on the run to get going. The long green runs were good for me. We had a good run at Atlanta going and broke the shifter and then we got wrecked at Martinsville, but we’ve run good all year. Erik deserved to win the race. I’ve said on and on I have a lot of respect for him and I hope he has a big night tonight.” Jack Sprague

“You say, ‘It don’t matter,’ but it does — but it don’t. Coming in here, we would have been tickled to death with a top-five finish — or a top-10 finish, for that matter — and to lead a lap. After practice, we felt like we had the truck to beat.’‘ Mike Skinner

Up Next:

The Craftsman Truck Series heads to Concord, North Carolina in three weeks for the Quaker Steak and Lube 200 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The qualifying record was set in 2005 and is held by Mike Skinner with a speed of 183.051 mph. The defending race winner is Kyle Busch. Race coverage begins Friday, May 18th, at 8:30 pm EST on Speed. The race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.

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