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In a Nutshell: Kyle Busch took the checkered flag ahead of Ron Hornaday Jr. at Phoenix International Raceway Friday night. Busch held onto the lead following a late-race red flag – the second of the night – to win the Casino Arizona 150. Mike Bliss, Jason Leffler and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five.
Who Should Have Won: Bliss. Bliss pitted once on lap 55 and managed to run up front most of the evening. A large number of cautions helped to stretch fuel mileage for the No. 4 team enough so they could make it on fuel. Following the 11th caution, Bliss spun the tires, opening up the door for Busch to take the lead. Bliss ended up finishing third.
Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race
1. Did Mike Skinner make the right decision to not race hard?
During his pre-race interview, Skinner said he would like to “lead the first lap and then hang back a bit.” Skinner started on the pole and led the first 18 laps. In an uncharacteristic move for Skinner, he kept his No. 5 Toyota Tundra well back within the top 10 the majority of the night.
After wrecking with Hornaday Jr. with four laps remaining at Texas Motor Speedway last Friday night, Skinner was thinking more about the big picture and less about the race win. Skinner had enough of a points lead to afford to hang back and try to stay out of trouble and definitely chose the right race strategy. He ended up finishing eighth and now leads Hornaday Jr. by 29 points.
2. How did Andy Lally take such a hard hit on lap 122?
In just his second Craftsman Truck Series start, Lally became the innocent victim and helped to bring out the record-breaking 12th caution Friday night. Stacy Compton spun into the outside wall after a little help from Jacques Villeneuve and then ran down the track slamming Lally hard into the inside wall. The impact with the concrete caused a large section to crack and separate from the rest of the wall, causing NASCAR to throw the red flag for the second time.
Somehow, Lally managed to get out of the truck on his own power. NASCAR has made major improvements to the safety of the truck on the inside and out. Although the wall Lally hit was pure concrete and not a SAFER barrier, his HANS device along with padding inside the truck saved him from serious injury. Lally was taken to the hopsital for further evaluation, but he was awake and alert on the way.
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: 2
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 0
Rookie of the Race: Allen, finished 11th
Rookie Points Leader: Allen
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle
- Skinner scored his 11th pole this season with a 131.301-mph lap, breaking his own record of 10 poles set in 1995.
- Terry Cook will not be returning to the No. 59 for the 2008 season. Instead, Whelen Modified Tour driver Donny Lia will run the No. 59. Lia won six races as well as the Whelen Modified Tour championship this season. Cook currently does not have anything lined up for the 2008 season.
- Bobby Hamilton Racing has a verbal agreement with Dennis Setzer to drive the No. 4 Dodge in 2008.
- Skinner lost nearly half of his points lead to Hornaday Jr. Friday night. Skinner now leads the driver of the No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet by just 29 points. Travis Kvapil, Todd Bodine and Benson round out the top five.
- If Hornaday Jr. wins and leads the most laps during the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Skinner must finish second to win the championship.
To beat a guy like Ron Hornaday and Mike Bliss at a place like this is amazing. I knew we had a pretty good truck. The guys did an awesome job in the pits tonight.” – Kyle Busch
“I’m not the boss. I guess we’re not a team. I thought he was taking care of me. I don’t know. I don’t want to comment on it. I just try to stay positive with everything. We’ll go to Homestead and hammer down.” – Mike Skinner on being passed by teammate Johnny Benson with just three laps to go
“We’re going to do everything we can. I’ve got a team that says, ‘Never say die’ and we’re bringing a pretty good piece to the race. We’ll just do everything we can.” – Ron Hornaday Jr.
“I’m happy, but man I wanted to win bad. I had a plan, but Hornaday kinda screwed that up. We had the truck to win. I just screwed up on the restarts.” – Mike Bliss
Up Next: The Craftsman Truck Series heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway next weekend for the season finale Ford 200. Greg Biffle holds the qualifying record, set in 2003 with a speed of 177.416 mph, and Mark Martin is the defending race winner. Coverage begins Friday night at 7:30 p.m. ET on SPEED. The race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.
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