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In a Nutshell: Mike Skinner celebrated his 20th career Craftsman Truck Series win Friday night in the San Bernardino County 200 by 0.554 seconds over second place finisher Ron Hornaday. Skinner took the lead for the final time with just a few laps remaining when Mark Martin spun after contact with Hornaday. Last week’s winner, Jack Sprague, finished third, followed by pole-sitter Carl Edwards and Ted Musgrave.
Who Should Have Won: Martin. Martin was dominant all night and became the victim of a late race wreck. It looked as if last year’s winner, in his first race with Wood Brothers/JTG Racing, would repeat his success when he was able to hold off Skinner during a restart on lap 92 of 100. However, David Starr spun for a second time on lap 93, giving the field one more chance to run at Martin. On the restart on lap 95, Hornaday got into the back of Martin, sending him spinning. He went on to finish 23rd.
Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race:
1. Should Hornaday have been credited with his second place finish?
Much like last week at Daytona, the deserving driver didn’t win. But this time, that deserving driver, Martin, didn’t have too much of a choice. He was spun with just five laps remaining by Hornaday who admitted he kept going. It’s easy to look at Martin as a sentimental favorite, especially after the heartbreaker that was the Daytona 500. However, in this case, it was just a racing deal. Could Hornaday have let up more and run a clean race to the finish? Sure he could have, but like he said in a post race interview, he could have been the victim of a spin instead of Martin.
2. What happened to the 2007 rookie class?
Last week at Daytona, Joey Clanton wowed us with his incredible sixth place finish at Daytona, and this week the rookie class was really nowhere to be seen. So what happened? Clanton is sharing the ride this season with Stacy Compton, who finished 12th. The rest of the rookie class just seemed to struggle. The highest finishing rookie was Aaron Fike (18th). Since it’s still very early on in the season, a lot of these guys are still learning and adjusting to their trucks, their pit crews and the tracks. Hopefully we’ll see a better showing out of the rookies in a few weeks at Atlanta.
Worth Noting/Points Race
On Friday, NASCAR finally announced the penalties for the violations that occurred in the time leading up to and during the Chevy Silverado HD 250. Richard Riley, a crew member on the No. 88 truck driven by Matt Crafton, has been fined $5,000 and suspended for the next six truck races. Riley was penalized for violating sections 12-4-A (for verbal abuse to a NASCAR official) and 12-4-D (a crew member who threatens to do bodily harm to a NASCAR official). In addition to Riley, Crafton’s crew chief Vance Haefele was fined $500 for a rules violation in added weight.
Matt Puccia, Edwards’ crew chief, was also fined $500 for alterations done to the fuel cell check valve assembly on the No. 50 Ford.
The Craftsman Truck Series points race is just getting started, and already it’s more exciting than ever. With his win Friday night, Skinner has pulled even with last week’s winner Sprague. Just 25 points back is Johnny Benson, who dropped from second to third with a sixth place finish. Hornaday jumped three spots to fourth, while Todd Bodine remained in fifth, just 49 points out of first.
Travis Kvapil was the biggest loser in the top 10, dropping four positions to sixth after a 16th place finish. Musgrave and Rick Crawford both jumped two positions to sixth and eighth respectively. Crafton and Erik Darnell rounded out the top 10.
Truck Rookie Report
2007 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Kelly Bires (19 races in the No. 21 and one race in the No. 16)
Joey Clanton (16 races)
Casey Kingsland (24 races)
Peter Shepherd (22 races)
No. of Rookies in the Race: seven
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: zero
No. of Rookies to Finish the Race: seven
No. of Rookies to Finish on the Lead Lap: three
Rookie Of The Race: Fike
Current Rookie Point Leader: Fike
“I know I had to do the slowest restart ever and not spin the tires on my Tundra and stay on the bottom. All of my guys are great. I was born just down the street (Ontario, Calif.), so that’s pretty cool. It was a great night for our Tundra. I can’t believe I won here at home. We always qualify good here, but we never run good here. Tonight our Tundra wasn’t perfect, but it drove all night with a good old conventional set-up. We had some horsepower under the hood of this Tundra. Toyota has been so great to myself and our whole race team. We won California!” – Mike Skinner on winning at his home track
“Mark Martin is probably the best race car driver, outside of Dale Earnhardt, to ever put a helmet on. I’m not quite sure what happened, maybe he missed a shift. Ron and Mark got together a bit. I would’ve rather finished 15th than wrecked Mark for the win.” – Mike Skinner on racing Martin
“We have to thank Ron Hornaday. Mark Martin had us all covered. We lucked into one.” – Jeff Hensley, Skinner’s crew chief
“I feel sorry for Mark, but he just kept getting slower and slower and slower and you can only hit the brakes so much in that situation. We were all stacking up behind him. Mark and I are the only ones who really know what happened and I know he tried to get the second-place truck to get out of the gas. If that happens, then maybe I’d be the guy who wound up spun out. But I did hit him and Mark is such a clean competitor I hated to see it happen.” – Ron Hornaday
“You know, the thing just kind of lifted up, starting spinning its wheels and I got behind on the steering. But that’s OK. We had a good race. That truck was really fast and I had some fun.” – Mark Martin
Up Next: The Craftsman Truck Series takes a three-week break and heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the American Commercials Lines 200 on Friday, March 16th. The qualifying record was set in 2005 by Crawford with a speed of 182.735 mph. The defending race winner is Bodine. Race coverage begins at 8:30 pm EST on Speed. The race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.