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In a Nutshell: Travis Kvapil took the checkered flag ahead of Johnny Benson to win the Smith’s Las Vegas 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Saturday night. Kvapil outran Benson and Jon Wood, who finished third, in a couple of great side-by-side battles during the final six laps to score his fourth win of the season and ninth of his career. Terry Cook and Erik Darnell rounded out the top five.
Who Should Have Won: Kvapil. Kvapil scored his third pole of the season with a speed of 175.387 mph. He ran in the top 10 the majority of the night, and crew chief Mike Beam was able to make the right calls and adjustments to turn the power on in the end. The driver of the No. 6 K&N Ford passed Wood with just 13 laps to go and relinquished it only once officially when Benson led him by 0.09 seconds with four laps to go.
Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race
1. How did Jacques Villeneuve and Buddy Lazier fare in their Truck Series debuts?
On Aug. 24, it was announced that Villeneuve would drive the last seven races of the Truck Series season for Bill Davis Racing in preparation for a full-time ride in the Nextel Cup Series in 2008. Villeneuve made his first start in the No. 27 Sonax Toyota Tundra Saturday night after qualifying seventh with a speed of 173.790 mph. Early in the race, he was involved in an incident with Brian Scott, resulting in left-front fender damage. While Villeneuve was able to finish the race, he crossed the start/finish line in 21st, one lap down.
Since track time is so important for any upcoming driver in NASCAR, Villeneuve and Bill Davis Racing should be pleased with what they accomplished in their first race weekend together.
Former CART and IRL driver Lazier also made his truck series debut in the No. 15 Flanders Beef Patties Chevrolet. He started 21st after posting a speed of 171.521 mph. The team made unapproved adjustments while the truck was impounded, and they had to start at the back of the pack. Lazier brought the Billy Ballew Motorsports fielded truck home in 24th, three laps down.
2. What happened to points leader Ron Hornaday Jr.?
Going into the Smith’s Las Vegas 350, Hornaday Jr. led Mike Skinner by 29 points. Hornaday Jr. started 15th with a speed of 172.128 mph but quickly raced through the field, moving into the top 10 just six laps after taking the green flag. Late in the race, the No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet blew a tire and tore apart the right-front sheetmetal, along with the points leader’s hopes to expand his lead. He ended up with a 22nd-place finish and relinquished the points lead to Skinner once again.
Truck Rookie Report
2007 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Willie Allen (No. 13)
Blake Bjorklund (currently without a Truck Series ride)
Aaron Fike (suspended indefinitely)
Matt McCall (currently without a Truck Series ride)
Tim Sauter (No. 07)
Tyler Walker (suspended indefinitely)
Kelly Bires (currently racing the No. 47 in the Busch Series)
Joey Clanton (No. 09) (16 races)
Casey Kingsland (currently without a Truck Series ride)
Peter Shepherd (No. 50)
Jason White (No. 7)
No. of Rookies in the Race: 3
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 0
Rookie of the Race: Tim Sauter (No. 07 – finished 20th after starting 16th)
Current Rookie Points Leader: Tim Sauter
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle
Kim Lopez, who usually assists on the inspection line and works as a pit-road official during the race became the first female to serve as chief starter in the flagstand Saturday night.
Skinner capitalized on Hornaday Jr.’s 22nd-place finish and retook the points lead this week. Skinner now leads by just three points over Hornaday Jr. in second. Kvapil gained an incredible 90 points on the leader and has stuck himself right back into the points race. He now sits 181 points out of the lead in third. Todd Bodine and Benson round out the top five.
“We were OK the first three-quarters of the race. It took a little while. I’m just so proud of everybody on this K&N Ford. Just couldn’t be happier. It’s amazing.” – Travis Kvapil
“We had terrible luck tonight. Our truck was terrible all night. It ran good for two laps. I don’t know. I think Jeff and I need to go back to what we know how to do. Tis new fangled stuff don’t do too good with us.” – Mike Skinner
“That was awful fun. Fans saw a great race. The one time I thought I had him [Kvapil], he pulled the air off my side. He was better in [turns] 3 and 4.” – runner-up Johnny Benson
“It’s frustrating to lead that much and finish third. But, I think that’s a pretty nice night. We definitely had a dominant truck. When you can pull up to Travis Kvapil with eight laps to go for the lead, I think that’s pretty impressive. I’m really proud of everybody and I’m proud of Monsam. I’m looking forward to the Cup race next weekend.” – Jon Wood
Up Next: The Craftsman Truck Series heads to Talladega Superspeedway in two weeks for the Mountain Dew 250 on Oct. 6. The qualifying record is currently held by Mark Martin with a speed of 182.320 mph. Martin won the only Truck Series race held at the track last year. Coverage begins Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. ET on SPEED. The race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.
About the author
Content Director Beth heads up management of our 30-person staff, acting as Tom’s main assistant with technology and personnel while working as Frontstretch’s Truck Series expert. The author of Truckin’ Thursdays and the coordinator of the site’s pre and post-race coverage, she also runs a periodic charity column that spotlights when NASCAR gives back. A childhood transplant to Texas, Beth is a 15-year writing veteran who has contributed content to BRANDT and Athlon Sports, among other outlets.
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