Nikki Krone · Monday September 19, 2005
In A Nutshell: Mike Skinner had dominated in the Craftsman Truck Series for the last two weeks, and it looked like his momentum was going to keep on rolling. Skinner was strong in the beginning of the race, but got caught up in an incident on lap 128 that spoiled his chances at a three-peat in the CTS. After that, the race was wide open and several drivers looked to have a good shot of winning. However, when the dust settled, Rick Crawford was the first Ford driver to win in 2005, fighting off both Dennis Setzer and Ted Musgrave in the final laps to do so.
Who Should Have Won: While there really seemed to be no clear favorite in this race, there may have been no more deserving or appreciative winner than Rick Crawford. A few years ago, Crawford was fighting for the championship, but this year he seems to be just fighting to survive. Bad luck has plagued the No. 16 Circle Bar Ford team, and Crawford even missed a race a few months back, after a hard practice crash during a one day show forced him to the hospital and he was unable to return to the track on time to actually run the race. Even then, the bad luck continued as fill in driver Boris Said was involved in an early race accident that took the team completely out of the race. But Crawford was strong on Saturday and fought hard to fend off series’ points leader, Dennis Setzer, and Ted Musgrave. Both of their trucks were strong and tried to make the move on Crawford, but Crawford was able to keep his truck in the lead to earn a well deserved victory.
Question You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend:
Is this a two-man race for the championship? While only 59 points separate first place Setzer from second place Musgrave, third place Ron Hornaday is 203 points behind with Spencer hot on his heels. Hornaday has been running strong, as has the remainder of the top-five, but he hasn’t had the consistency to put a real strong run on the leaders. Even with Mike Skinner’s recent success, he still sits 284 points behind. Bobby Hamilton, who had been one of the favorites as the defending series championship, has fallen hard over the last few weeks and now sits sixth in the points, 334 points behind the leader and with Todd Bodine and David Reutimann following closing behind. If someone doesn’t step up soon, it will be the Craftsman Truck Series veterans Setzer and Musgrave will be battling it out till the end.
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle:
Rick Crawford’s victory on Saturday was his first since Martinsville in April of 2004. It’s also just his second top-five finish this season, with his last being fifth at Gateway in April
Over the past few weeks, Dennis Setzer had been losing points to Ted Musgrave, but this week, by leading a lap and finishing one spot ahead of Musgrave, Setzer has increased his lead by 10 points from last week to 59.
Most of the top-ten remains the same; however, Jimmy Spencer and Mike Skinner have traded places, with Spencer now fourth and Skinner falling to fifth.
The biggest jump of those who are still technically eligible to win the championship (the top 23) belongs to Chad Chaffin, who moved up two to 21st.
The biggest fall of those who are eligible belongs to Johnny Benson, who fell three spots to 14.
Clay Rodgers’ fourth place finish was his best so far this season in just six races, and his second top-ten finish.
Aric Almirola, part of the Joe Gibbs’ driver development program, earned his second consecutive top-ten finish, with an eighth on Saturday. His prior best was a 10th four races ago, the last time he was on the track, at IRP.
Ricky Craven finished 11th and ended a string of bad luck and bad runs that have dropped him from second in the points 10 races ago to 12th.
"I was Spencered. That's typical Jimmy Spencer. That's why he's racing Trucks and nobody wants him in the Cup series. It was a shame. We had a top-five finish going, just trying to make the last couple of laps, and Jimmy had to be Jimmy and just take us out." -- Todd Bodine, on the last lap incident with Jimmy Spencer.
"It's the last lap. Sometimes earlier in the race you roll out of the gas and step on the brake and let him have the lane. But I had the lane and he wanted it. And not on the last lap." -- Jimmy Spencer’s response to the incident.
Next Up: The Craftsman Truck Series will head west to Sin City for the running of the Las Vegas 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The race can be seen on SPEED beginning at 9:00 pm EST, Saturday, September 24, 2005.
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