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Tracking the Trucks: 2007 Kroger 200 at Martinsville

Frontstretch’s Truck Series content is presented by American Trucks

In a Nutshell: As the field wrecked behind him, Mike Skinner took the checkered flag ahead of Jack Sprague to win the Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway Saturday afternoon. A late-race red flag set the field up for a three-lap shootout, and Skinner prevailed, winning his third race at the 0.526-mile short track. Ron Hornaday Jr., David Starr and Rick Crawford rounded out the top five.

Who Should Have Won: Terry Cook. Cook was the third fastest in practice Friday afternoon with speeds just four-tenths of a mile per hour off of Sprague, who topped the leaderboard. The No. 59 Harris Trucking Toyota started deep in the field after posting the 24th quickest qualifying time. Cook took the lead on lap 27 under caution after Brian Scott spun off turn 1. He led the following 108 laps before contact with Sprague opened the door for Skinner to lead. Cook ended up 29th, 11 laps down.

Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race

1. How did Dario Franchitti fare in his first Truck Series attempt?

Defending Indianapolis 500 winner Franchitti made his stock car debut two weeks ago at Talladega. His plans to make his Craftsman Truck Series debut depended on Franchitti being able to post a fast enough qualifying lap to get the No. 41 Dodge in the field on time. Franchitti posted a 20.380-second lap and started 30th.

Looking for some valuable track time before going to the Nextel Cup Series for Chip Ganassi Racing in 2008, Franchitti managed to gain 11 positions in the first 55 laps and found himself in 19th. On lap 107, Franchitti spun in turn 3, collecting Dennis Setzer and Clay Rogers in the process when Joey Clanton got under him. With just 41 laps remaining, Franchitti’s Dodge suffered rear-end failure, knocking him out of the race.

2. Sprague made his 400th NASCAR start Saturday afternoon. How did he fare?

Sprague came into Martinsville with 399 career NASCAR starts and quickly showed that his 400th start would not be a quiet one. Sprague led a rain-shortened practice session Saturday afternoon and continued to top the leaderboard when he took the pole with a 19.796-second lap. The driver of the No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota led the first 26 laps until Cook took over. With 66 laps remaining, it looked as though Sprague would take the lead again, but some mutual contact between the two opened the door for Skinner, who led the race until the end.

Truck Rookie Report
2007 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Willie Allen (No. 13)
Blake Bjorklund (driving part-time for Haas CNC Racing in the Busch Series)
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: Allen, finished 14th

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle

In the 12-season history of the Craftsman Truck Series, no driver has ever won at Martinsville in his championship year. Skinner won both Martinsville races this season.

The Kroger 200 was marred with 13 cautions for 70 laps and a 17-minute red flag. Three drivers swapped the lead just twice. Sprague led the first 26 laps. Cook led 108, and Skinner led the last 66 laps

For the fourth time in the last five races, Skinner and Hornaday Jr. have switched positions in the points. Skinner now leads Hornaday Jr. by just 11 points. The rest of the top five remained the same with Travis Kvapil in third followed by Todd Bodine and Benson.

Crawford sits just 20 points outside the top five in sixth. Ted Musgrave remains in seventh and Matt Crafton moved up one spot to eighth. Erik Darnell dropped just eight points behinds Crafton to ninth. Sprague rounds out the top 10.

Quotable

“I expected probably a lot more mix up right there at the end. I knew that Jack was hungry for a win and he definitely played it like a true champion. He could have wrecked us. He chose not to and the only thing I can say is if the shoe’s on the other foot sometime, I can pay him back and give him the same respect.” – Mike Skinner

“I don’t know. I’m not happy, but it was a great run. I think I had a shot at Skinner, but Crafton turned me sideways with two to go. Man, I wanted that bad.” – Jack Sprague, finished second

“Wow. These guys are just crazy out there. They just stick it in gear and go. It was a lot of fun out there until they started to wreck each other all over the place.” – Denny Hamlin, finished 19th

Up Next: The Craftsman Truck Series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway next weekend for the EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts 200. Mike Bliss won this race last year. Coverage begins Saturday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. ET on SPEED. The race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.

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