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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Tracking the Trucks: 2009 American Commercial Lines 200 at Atlanta

Frontstretch’s Truck Series content is presented by American Trucks

In a Nutshell: Kyle Busch took the checkered flag 0.122 seconds ahead of Kevin Harvick to win the American Commercial Lines 200 Saturday afternoon at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Busch overcame gear problems on a late-race pit stop to rocket to the front and score his fourth win in five starts at Atlanta. Todd Bodine, Mike Skinner and Terry Cook rounded out the top five.

Who Should Have Won: Busch. Busch started on the pole and managed to pull quickly into the lead during short runs. The driver of the No. 51 Miccosukee Resort and Gaming Toyota restarted first with eight laps remaining without third gear. On the restart, he also lost second gear and dropped back to ninth. But after putting the truck in fourth gear, Busch was able to slice back through the field and beat Harvick to the checkered flag.

Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race

1. How did Matt Crafton and Rick Crawford fare in their milestone races?

Crafton and Crawford each celebrated Camping World Truck Series milestones this weekend at AMS. The American Commercial Lines 200 marked Crafton’s 200th career series start and Crawford’s 300th. But did either driver have a milestone to remember?

Crafton started 12th and quickly worked his way into the top five. Unfortunately, he was unable to pull into the lead at all during the race. His 200th start was pretty uneventful, and the driver of the No. 88 Tide/Menards Chevrolet brought his truck home in 11th after a late-race fade.

Crawford in the No. 14 Circle Bar Truck Corral/International Ford started on the outside pole but struggled the second the green flag flew. Crawford had a bad start, dropped to sixth, and things never got any better from there. He was able to make little progress throughout the race and ended up finishing 16th, one lap down.

Both Crafton and Crawford headed into AMS hoping to celebrate their separate milestones with a visit to victory lane – but came up short. No one really had anything for Busch, and the duo simply will move on to Martinsville in a few weeks in hopes of winning for the first time this season.

2. Which series regular has the best chance to knock Busch out of the top spot?

Busch currently leads the CWTS standings for the second week in a row, but he is only currently scheduled to run 12-15 races this season. Bodine is close on Busch’s tail, but who has the best chance to knock Busch out of that top spot later this season?

It’s easy to look straight to Bodine, who sits only 25 points behind Busch, but there are definitely other options. Skinner moved up four spots this week to third, and he sits only 119 points out of first. In order for him to move quickly to the top of the standings, it would just take a decent run in a race Busch is unable to attend.

Close on Skinner’s tail is Ron Hornaday Jr., and he most likely will find himself on top of the standings at some point this season. At only 124 points behind the leader, Hornaday is far from being out of the championship battle. Johnny Benson managed to gain nearly 200 points late in 2007 and made a hard run at the championship.

Should Bodine manage to land a full time primary sponsor, he definitely has the best chance to take that top spot since he’s currently closest to the leader. But if the driver of the No. 30 Germain Racing Toyota fails to find financial backing, missing the race at Martinsville or future races through the season will dash any championship hopes for the team.

Truck Rookie Report
2009 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Chase Austin (No. 32)
James Buescher (No. 10)
Ricky Carmichael (No. 4)
JR Fitzpatrick (No. 7)
Tayler Malsam (No. 81)
Johnny Sauter (No. 13)

No. of Rookies in the Race: 7
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 0

Rookie of the Race: Tayler Malsam, finished 13th

“This One Eighty Randy Moss team did awesome. I screwed up in qualifying and just wasn’t good in practice, but these guys stuck behind me and gave me a truck that I could race with and gave ’em what I had. I wasn’t very good on restarts, but Doug and the guys just made an awesome truck for us. We’ll get ’em at Martinsville now.” – Tayler Malsam

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle

Tilted Kilt Pub and Eatery jumped on board to sponsor the No. 30 Toyota driven by Bodine for the American Commercial Lines 200. Germain Racing has a meeting scheduled with representatives of the company to discuss future sponsorship for this season. If the No. 30 team does not have a sponsor, they will not go to Martinsville in three weeks.

Busch remains the points leader out in front of Bodine by only 25. Skinner moved up four positions and sits in third, 119 points behind Busch. Hornaday moved up one, while Chad McCumbee moved up three spots to round out the top five.

Sitting only three points behind McCumbee, Crafton dropped three spots to sixth, and Cook moved up four spots to seventh. TJ Bell dropped two spots to eighth, just one point behind Cook. Timothy Peters, who dropped five positions, and David Starr, who dropped one spot, round out the top 10.

Quotable

“This was a great race today. I had a lot of fun and hopefully the fans had a great time. I want to thank them for coming out. That was a battle there with all those guys on that restart. I had to go all the way to fourth and limp around there. It felt like an eternity to get this thing up to speed.” – Kyle Busch

“The thing was fast, but it doesn’t matter if you can’t do a pit stop.” – Kevin Harvick, finished second after a bad late-race pit stop saw him restart 10th

“I’m pretty frustrated with this pit strategy deal. It isn’t about who has the fastest truck anymore, it is about who can beat you on fuel mileage or with tire wear. We easily had a top-five truck, maybe even top-three and ended up seventh. It is really disappointing for our team, who had great pit stops all day long and worked on the truck to make it the best it could be.” – Ron Hornaday Jr.

Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series heads to Martinsville Speedway in three weeks for the Kroger 250 on Saturday, March 28th. In 2008, Dennis Setzer finished ahead of Crafton under yellow after a failed attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. Coverage begins at 2:00 p.m. ET; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.

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