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Tracking the Trucks: 2008 Camping World 200 presented by Honda Power Equipment at Gateway

Frontstretch’s Truck Series content is presented by American Trucks

In a Nutshell: Ron Hornaday Jr. took the checkered flag 0.646 seconds ahead of Dennis Setzer to win the Camping World 200 presented by Honda Power Equipment Saturday afternoon at Gateway International Raceway. The driver of the No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet took the lead for the final time on lap 130 and led the final 30 laps to score his fourth win this season. Johnny Benson, Todd Bodine and Jack Sprague rounded out the top five.

Who Should Have Won: Hornaday Jr. Hornaday Jr. started the weekend well, running fourth in the first practice and seventh in the final practice. He started his No. 33 Chevrolet in the second position and took the lead from polesitter Setzer almost immediately after the green flag fell. Hornaday Jr. went on to lead 113 of 160 laps on his way to victory lane.

Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race

1. How did Marc Davis fare in his Craftsman Truck Series debut?

Joe Gibbs Racing development driver Davis made his debut this weekend at GIR in the No. 81 Chevrolet for Randy Moss Motorsports. Davis brought with him a sponsorship in Howard University’s radio station. In the first practice, he ran 28th quickest but managed to gain ground and ran 20th in the final practice.

The 18-year-old qualified his No. 81 Chevrolet 12th, less than four tenths of a second slower than polesitter Setzer. After falling off early, Davis and the No. 81 team worked their way back and ran in the top 20 most of the race before settling into his finishing position of 16th.

“We were really good on long runs. I actually kind of got schooled on the restarts a little bit,” Davis said. “Some of the veterans showed me what was up on the restart. It definitely gives us something to go back and learn on and be a little more aggressive on the restarts. It was a good learning experience for us.”

Davis had an impressive debut and is expected to be back behind the wheel of the No. 81 a few more times this season. The track time alone is the most valuable lesson for Davis, and with more of it, he could crack the top 10 before the end of the season.

2. Can Hornaday Jr. catch Benson?

Hornaday Jr. gained 25 points on leader Benson after winning and leading the most laps Saturday afternoon at GIR, but Benson helped to minimize that gain by finishing third. Prior to the running of the Camping World 200, Benson held the largest points lead seen all season. While Hornaday Jr. took a small chunk out of that lead, does he have what it takes to catch Benson and challenge for the championship?

In 2007, Benson had an average finishing position of 6.7 in the last nine races of the season. Should he be able to repeat that performance this season, Hornaday Jr. would be required to finish fourth or better the remainder of the season to have a chance to challenge Benson for the championship.

Hornaday Jr. did just that this weekend by winning the Camping World 200 and leading the most laps, but Benson also did his part by finishing third. Just like last season when Benson made a hard charge at Mike Skinner and Hornaday Jr., the driver of the No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet, has made it known he isn’t out of this points battle yet.

Hornaday Jr. and Kevin Harvick Inc. have what it takes to repeat the championship, but Benson is going to be a tough driver to catch. He and the No. 23 team had momentum they built up at the end of last season, and they seem to have picked up right where they left off.

Truck Series Rookie Report
2008 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Colin Braun (No. 6)
Andy Lally (No. 7)
Donny Lia (No. 71)
Justin Marks (No. 9)
Marc Mitchell (No. 15)
Phillip McGilton (No. 22 – replaced by Scott Speed at Kansas)
Brian Scott (No. 16)

No. of Rookies in the Race: 5
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 1; Braun, finished ninth

Rookie of the Race: Braun

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle

Dodge announced this week that they will be cutting financial support from the Craftsman Truck Series. Bobby Hamilton Racing-VA was the only team receiving monetary support from the manufacturer, but the manufacturer had to re-evaluate their priorities. BHR-VA has talked to Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota about a possible manufacturer change for the 2009 season.

The top five in the championship standings remain unchanged. Benson still leads Hornaday Jr., but that lead was cut from 119 points to just 94 after Hornaday Jr. won and led the most laps. Matt Crafton remains in third, 199 points out of the lead. Bodine and Skinner round out the top five.

Rick Crawford remains in sixth, 289 points behind Benson. Erik Darnell sits just 18 points behind Crawford in seventh, and Jack Sprague remains in eighth. Setzer’s runner-up finish moved him up one spot to ninth, but Terry Cook, who dropped a spot and rounds out the top 10, sits just seven points behind Setzer.

Quotable

“Man, Rick Ren (crew chief) did it again with that four-tire call. This is just unbelievable. They built a new victory lane here and it’s beautiful. They do driver intros here and I kind of walked around to check it out. We’re finally here. It’s cool.” – Ron Hornaday Jr., race winner

“Two tires was the only way for us to get out in front. Our truck was pretty good on two tires, but we were a little tight between turns 1 and 2, and Ron [Hornaday Jr.] got around us.” – Runner-up Dennis Setzer

Up Next: The Craftsman Truck Series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway next weekend for the Camping World RV Rental 200 Driven By Winnebago Industries. In 2007, Hornaday Jr. became the first repeat winner at New Hampshire Motor Speedway when he finished 4.211 seconds ahead of Darnell. Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. ET on SPEED; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate starting at 3:00 p.m. ET.

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