The Frontstretch: Frontstretch breakdown â€" Quaker Steak and Lube 200 by Mike Neff -- Sunday May 21, 2006

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In a Nutshell: A new racing surface, a rock hard tire…whatever was thrown his way didn’t matter to Kyle Busch. For the second year in a row, Busch was able to take the checkered flag in the Truck Series race at Charlotte. Busch led 96 laps and was one of only two leaders (*Mike Skinner* being the other) during the race. With only six caution flags, the race took only one hour and 36 minutes and had a record average speed of 124.845 mph. Busch’s margin of victory ended up being 3.154 seconds over second place Terry Cook.

Who Should Have Won: Busch. Kyle Busch was the class of the field. Busch started 20th, so it took him some time to work his way to the lead, but once he was there, he was never challenged. Mike Skinner led for a lap here and there during pit stops, but the race was clearly Busch’s to lose, and he didn’t.

Three Questions to Ponder After This Weekend’s Race:
1) Are the Fords catching up to the Toyotas?

Certainly, Ford had a better night than they’ve been having at Charlotte. Mark Martin was strong before a tire problem caused him difficulty, and Terry Cook brought his truck home in second position. Meanwhile, the Germain Toyota brigade of Todd Bodine and Ted Musgrave had an off night, but still came home in third and fourth, respectively. While Ford may be making some headway, and Martin has proven that a Ford can compete, the Toyotas are still the dominant trucks on the circuit.

2) How good is Chad McCumbee?

Most famous for his role as Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the movie “3,” Chad McCumbee is doing a solid job for the MRD Motorsports team. McCumbee has completed all but two laps in the races he has competed in this season. He has worked his way into the top 25 in driver’s points, even though he missed the first race of the season. Aside from Mark Martin, he is the highest ranked driver who has missed a race so far this year.

3) Does anyone who fields a Truck make any money?

The lowest rung on the prize purse ladder at Charlotte was Marcos Ambrose. He took home $7,563 for his 36th place finish. There are people in the grandstands who spent more money than that on their race weekend at Charlotte. Someone needs to seriously look at the payouts in the Truck Series when someone in one of the top three touring series in the sport brings home less than five figures for a weekend’s work.

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle:
Terry Cook made a nice move up in the points after his second place finish. His strong evening moved him up five positions to fifth in the point standings, making him the highest ranked full-time Ford competitor.

Bill Lester made the Nextel Cup race just two months ago, but this week found himself on the outside looking in for the Truck race. While Lester is in the Top 30 in driver points, he was in 31st in owner points going into this weekend’s competition and had to qualify on time. As a result, Lester made a mistake during qualifying, spun, and DNQed for the first time since he began racing full-time in Trucks in 2002. Lester’s poor qualifying effort cost him five positions in the driver standings and three spots in the owner’s, but most importantly, cost him in the confidence column with a long season still ahead.

Rookies Erin Crocker and Marcos Ambrose continue to learn lessons in the Truck Series, qualifying second and third for the race. Unfortunately, neither finished well, as Crocker slid back to 18th in the final rundown and Ambrose was involved in a wreck on lap six with Jack Sprague, finishing 36th.

As far as the point standings, the Germain Toyota teams continue to motor their way out in front of the pack, with Todd Bodine holding a 17 point lead over Ted Musgrave. David Reutimann finds himself 121 points behind in third, with part-time competitor Mark Martin and Cook rounding out the Top 5.

Quotable:
“It was a great effort for Billy Ballew Motorsports, Ritchie Wauters (crew chief), and all the guys on this team. I want to thank Hendrick Motorsports and Rick Hendrick for letting me have this opportunity to be able to go out and race some extra races. I really enjoy running here at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway; it is a really neat race track. Tonight we had a great race truck, and it seems like there was nothing that we could do wrong to the truck.” Kyle Busch

“The Cystic Fibrosis Chevrolet was pretty good; we ran up front, and I hope we got some exposure for that great cause here tonight. The crew was unbelievable and these guys were on it all weekend. We had Gene Nead over here and Wally Rogers, you know he’s over at the Busch side of KHI and I just really got to thank him for coming over on his weekend off and helping us tonight because he really made that Silverado run. Todd over there at Kevin’s Nextel Cup car came over and helped us yesterday. You know, everybody jumped in to help from KHI tonight and it was an honor to come out here. I literally thought this was the halfway break. I’m ready to go another hundred and thirty laps. It was an awesome race truck and I can’t wait to drive it again.” Ron Hornaday Jr.

“I don’t know what to say. The Ford Power Stroke Diesel by Int’l crew built us a new race truck and we debuted here. Last year, we built a new race truck and debuted it here, and finished second behind Kyle Busch. It’s two years in a row that he’s won and it’s two years in a row that we’ve finished second. Just a great effort by the entire team. Goodyear brought a tire here that was extremely hard. It chattered pretty much the entire race. It seemed like if you were easy on the tires at the beginning of the run, you wouldn’t make them chatter too much and they would stay longer. If you got aggressive with them earlier and made them chatter hard early, they would chatter even harder as the run went on. I kinda learned that through the first two or three runs, and the last run we were at our best and tried not chatter the tires as much. I’m tickled to death for these guys. We’ve got a victory coming soon, and maybe it will be at Mansfield.” Terry Cook

“My Tundra was pretty decent. We got tight on the long runs. At the end there, I was running hard with Terry (Cook). I was a little faster than him, and slipped in turns one and two, and slipped and got up high and lost some ground. With five laps to go, I wans’t going to make it up. Another good night for Germain Racing; I was third and Teddy (Musgrave) was fourth. That’s how you win championships. If you don’t have the best truck, you just finish up there the best you can, and that’s what we did. Basically, we started last because we came in on that first stop to adjust the truck because it was terrible, terrible loose. We came in and adjusted it, started last and came back to third. It was a good night.” "" Todd Bodine

Next Up: The Truck Series heads from the superspeedway of Charlotte to a classic short track race in Ohio, with the Mansfield 250 at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway next on the schedule. The race can be seen Saturday, May 27th on SPEED at 2:00 PM. It can also be heard on MRN affiliates.

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