The Frontstretch: Tracking the Trucks : Michigan 200 by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Sunday June 17, 2007

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Tracking the Trucks : Michigan 200

Beth Lunkenheimer · Sunday June 17, 2007

 

In a Nutshell: Pole sitter Travis Kvapil took advantage of an open door when Kyle Busch got loose with just one lap remaining in the Michigan 200 at Michigan International Speedway Saturday afternoon. Kvapil finished 0.292 seconds ahead of Busch. Brendan Gaughan, Mike Skinner and Ted Musgrave rounded out the Top 5.

Who Should Have Won: Kyle Busch. While Mark Martin had the truck to beat in the early stages of the race, his engine had other ideas, and that opened the door for several other drivers. Busch led 38 laps and held the lead until one lap was left to be run. Busch struggled with a loose truck during most of the closing stages of the race and just didn’t have enough for Kvapil in the end.

Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race

1. Could anyone have caught Mark Martin?

Mark Martin and the No. 21 team had an incredibly fast truck Saturday afternoon. He started on the front row next to Kvapil and led 35 laps before his engine let go on lap 48. Had his engine not given out, Kvapil most likely would not have been the one standing in victory lane. Martin loves the track and its three racing grooves, and prior to the start of the race he looked forward to a strong run. He went on to finish 33rd.

2. Was anyone really surprised Kvapil won?

Last time Travis Kvapil visited Michigan in a truck, he won, and this time was no different. In four starts at Michigan, Kvapil has finished no lower than seventh. Although his team struggled a little at the beginning of this season, they seem to have turned things around. He started the season with a third place finish at Daytona, but after that they strung together five finishes of 13th or worse. The turning point for the No. 6 team was at Mansfield where they finished seventh. Since then, Kvapil has finished third and sixth prior to visiting Michigan.

Truck Rookie Report
2007 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Willie Allen
Blake Bjorklund
Aaron Fike
Matt McCall
Tim Sauter
Tyler Walker ( suspended indefinitely )
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: 5
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 0
No. of Rookies to Finish the Race: 5
No. of Rookies to Finish on the Lead Lap: 5

Rookie Of The Race: Aaron Fike
Current Rookie Point Leader: Aaron Fike

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle

Rusty Wallace has talked with NASCAR about getting a truck series race at the Iowa Speedway. When asked about it, Wallace said, “We’ve talked to them. It’s in their hands now, but they do love everything they’ve seen about Iowa. All the drivers. In fact, I was listening to an interview this morning from Kevin Harvick, and (he) said, ‘(Iowa Speedway) was one of the nicest tracks I’ve ever drove my entire life.’ He said, ‘I highly recommend NASCAR gets a Busch or a Truck race there.’”

Kevin Starland, crew chief for the No. 14 F-150 driver by Rick Crawford has been fined $1000 for violating Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 12-4-W (using added weight in less than five pound blocks and improperly attached) during pre-qualifying inspection for the Sams Town 400 at Texas Motor Speedway.

The Top 3 in points remain unchanged. Mike Skinner extended his lead to 113 points over second place Ron Hornaday, and Todd Bodine sits 87 points behind Hornaday. Travis Kvapil’s win propelled him into the Top 5, and he now sits in fourth, 265 points out of first. Rick Crawford is 19 points back from Kvapil in fifth.

Ted Musgrave dropped to sixth, while Johnny Benson moved up one spot to seventh. Aaron Fike jumped two positions this week to eighth. Jack Sprague and Matt Crafton round out the Top 10.

Quotable:

“It feels like it’s been forever. There were big shoes to fill after Mark Martin left this team. Obviously, it all starts back at the race shop, and I've got to thank everyone at Roush Fenway Racing, K&N and Ford for giving me this opportunity. I didn’t want to go too soon. I knew I was a little better then Kyle but I just didn’t want to get out there too soon. The track plays such a big role I had to pick the right time to get around Kyle, but I was also trying to hold off the 77 (Brendan Gaughan), the 9 (Ted Musgrave), the 5 (Mike Skinner) and all those guys behind me. I was just trying to keep the heat on him and force him to make a mistake. When he slipped I had to go. All the race car drivers like to come to a place like Michigan. You had to search around and find that right groove in the race track. It was incredible." Travis Kvapil

"I just couldn't get the rear of the truck under me," Busch explained. "It was real sideways off the corners and I could never get the throttle down and exit the corner. I was all over the place, middle, bottom, top. I just couldn't find any place that would give me a good run off the corner. They made their trucks a little bit better. Travis got me there at the end. I started getting a little higher and higher because my truck was tightening up and when you give someone on the inside of you a little bit more room he can control his truck better.” runner-up Kyle Busch

“I guess it was an exciting day — not really my style of racing, but that’s okay because we had a good day today. The Tundra ran good and the motor was awesome. It was a good day for us in the points and that’s what needs to be focused on. You’ve got a couple guys there at the front that have everything to gain and nothing to lose. I’m out there points racing and I’m supposed to be learning how to points race. I couldn’t take some of the chances that they were taking — I had to run a smart race and that’s what I tried to do. We needed to get out of here with what we could and there at one point I really thought we were going to be okay, but this is one of those tracks where the leader can be a sitting duck.” points leader Mike Skinner who finished 4th

"This Wood Brothers JTG Ford team really deserved to win," a disappointed Martin stated. "I just can't seem to close the deal for them. Our engine was fixing to go all to pieces. We brought it in, but this F-150 was dialed in today. Gosh that was fun. I really hate it for these guys. They deserve a trophy and I just can't get them one." Mark Martin, who lost his engine 48 laps into the race

Up Next:
The Craftsman Truck Series stays up north for the Toyota Tundra Milwaukee 200 at The Milwaukee Mile. The qualifying record was set in 1999 and is held by Greg Biffle with a speed of 121.102 mph. The defending race winner is Johnny Benson. Coverage begins Friday night at 8:30 pm EST on Speed. The race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.

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