The Frontstretch: Frontstretch Breakdown: O'Reilly 200 presented by Valvoline by Nikki Krone -- Monday July 25, 2005

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In A Nutshell: After picking up his very first pole in his second full season of racing in the Craftsman Truck Series, Brandon Whitt chased Ron Hornaday for 39 laps before a green/white/checkered gave him a chance for his first victory.  On the final lap, Jimmy Spencer spun on the frontstretch bringing out lots of smoke but not the yellow flag.  As the leaders approached the smoke, a cautious Hornaday slowed leading Whitt to bump him slightly, spinning the No. 6 Chevrolet and giving Whitt his first ever victory over David Reutimann, Brendan Gaughan, Dennis Setzer and David Starr. Hornaday ended up finishing 21st. 

Who Should Have Won: Ron Hornaday.  There were only a few drivers with the stuff to possibly pull off the victory.  Reutimann, Whitt, Rick Crawford and Hornaday all led laps, but it was Hornaday who led the most and was the strongest at the end.  Hornaday, the king of restarts, was even careful not to jump the restarts and took each green flag with caution, still being able to maintain the lead.  Whitt spent several laps on Hornaday’s bumper, but the No. 6 stuck to the bottom of the racetrack and held off the No. 38.  Hornaday led the most laps and should have been the one holding the brand new Elvis race trophy after the checkered flag.  In his post-race interview, Hornaday admitted that he slowed because he had no idea what was on the other side of the smoke and he wanted to save his truck for IRP.  I’m guessing next time he won’t be so careful.

Question You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend:

1) Should NASCAR have thrown the caution for the Jimmy Spencer spin and smoke out?  Or, did Hornaday’s spotter miss the boat by not informing him—as the leader of the race coming into the smoke to the checkered flag—that the track was clear and he needed to press as hard as he could? 

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle:

Last week, Brandon Whitt earned his career best finish with a 6th place run at Kentucky Speedway (after qualifying 6th)…that is until now.

Brandon Whitt’s victory has moved him up four spots in the points to 18th.

David Reutimann’s second place run is the best finish of his career.

With his fourth place finish, Dennis Setzer has extended his points lead by 75 over Ted Musgrave.  He is now leading by 158.

Mike Skinner, who had been on a hot streak as of late with four top-fives in the last five races, saw his luck run out with an accident on lap 162.  His 29th place finish dropped him three spots down, out of the top-10 into 11th.

Chris Wimmer, driving the No. 07 Green Light Racing Chevrolet, earned his career best finish of 17th in his second race of the season.

NASCAR finally listened to the drivers!  Following the July Daytona Cup race, Greg Biffle complained about the treatment of the drivers during the red flag, after they were left sitting in their cars, in the heat, for several minutes, without access to water.  Jamie McMurray echoed his complaints following a recent Busch Series race after the same situation.  This time, when the Craftsman Truck race was red flagged following a wreck with 41 laps to go, NASCAR sent the safety workers out to the drivers with bottles of water and Gatorade to aide them as they waited in the 90+ degree heat.  Kudos to NASCAR.

Quotable:

"I heard there was smoke coming out of Turn Four and I thought maybe someone had blown an engine," said Whitt, driver of the No. 38 McMillin Homes/Cure Autism Now Tundra. "I didn't expect to see Ron (Hornaday) backing up. He saw the smoke, 'checked up’, and went to the bottom of the track. My spotter was telling me it was clear up high on the track -- so we went up there and took it."

“This is a dream come true," said Whitt, in Victory Lane. "I'm on cloud nine and I don't think I'll come down for a couple of weeks."

"We had a great Tundra tonight," said David Reutimann, following the race. "I just missed a shift on a restart late in the race and that gave Brandon (Whitt) just enough to get by us into second-place. We never should have been third to begin with because our truck was just too good. My team did a great job again tonight, but I'm just a little disappointed with myself.”

Next Up: The Craftsman Truck Series heads for Indianapolis Raceway Park for the Power Stroke Diesel 200 on Friday, August 5th.  Chad Chaffin was the winner last year.

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