NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Tracking the Trucks: 2009 MemphisTravel.com 200 at Memphis

Frontstretch’s Truck Series content is presented by American Trucks

In a Nutshell: Ron Hornaday Jr. took the checkered flag 0.653 seconds ahead of Brian Scott to win the MemphisTravel.com 200 Saturday afternoon at Memphis Motorsports Park. Hornaday maintained the lead during a green-white-checkered finish after Tayler Malsam and Dennis Setzer brought out the caution with five laps to go. David Starr, Aric Almirola and Matt Crafton rounded out the top five.

Who Should Have Won: Hornaday Jr. For the second week in a row Hornaday Jr. had the strongest truck on the track and backed it up by scoring his fourth win of the season. The driver of the No. 33 Longhorn Chevrolet qualified on the pole and only relinquished the lead when others played the pit-strategy game. He went on to lead 175 of the 201 laps run.

Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race

1. How did Jason Young fare in his Truck Series debut?

The MemphisTravel.com 200 featured the debut of Jason Young in the No. 07 Chevrolet for SS Green Light Racing. In a ride that has been occupied by Chad McCumbee for the entire season, Young qualified 19th. From his 10th-row starting position, he then remained anywhere between 22nd and 27th for the majority of the first half of the race.

On lap 63, the rookie helped to bring out the third caution of the day when he was involved in an incident with Setzer and James Buescher. The No. 07 truck had heavy left-front damage, but the team repaired the truck so Young could get as much track time as possible. He ended up finishing 61 laps down in the 24th position.

It’s safe to say Young would probably like to forget his Camping World Truck Series debut. The high track temperature led to a slick track, and the young driver seemed to struggle with it from the start. Hopefully, he at least got a little bit of a feel for how the trucks race, and that should help him in the future as his self-raised sponsorship could lead to additional starts in the series.

2. Is NASCAR’s Truck Series going away in 2010?

On Saturday, a rumor surfaced that put the future of the CWTS in doubt. The rumor stated that the series would disappear following the 2009 season. With the lack of sponsorships for smaller teams and the loss of factory support from Ford, Dodge and Chevrolet, that rumor could very well have been true. However, NASCAR spoke to the teams and reassured them the Truck Series is not going anywhere.

“I want to assure everybody we’re full speed ahead for 2010,” NASCAR’s Vice President of Racing Operations Steve O’Donnell said. “We’re going forward and looking forward to 2010.”

The reassurance from NASCAR that the Truck Series will be around in 2010 is definitely a relief. There is really no reason to dissolve the series that puts on the best racing across the board in any of its top-three divisions. The ratings are up again this season, and there have been two first-time winners so far.

Rumors flew earlier this season that Camping World may already be looking for a way out as the title sponsor, but those rumors have been denied as well. That, in itself, probably helped to contribute to rumors that the series would dissolve. Recently, Camping World has made it very clear that they are happy with their partnership with NASCAR and the Truck Series.

“We definitely are [happy with it],” said Kurt Hunt from Camping World. “The vital signs are good there. The TV numbers, at a time when the numbers [of other series] aren’t as strong as people would like them to be, are strong there.”

It’s still tough to not worry about the health of the series, especially when the defending series champion lost his ride due to a lack of sponsorship. But it’s time to have a little confidence in the future of the CWTS, because the quality racing alone gives us plenty of signs that it belongs in NASCAR for many years to come.

Truck Rookie Report
2009 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Chase Austin (No. 32 – on hold due to funding)
James Buescher (No. 10)
Ricky Carmichael (No. 4 – part-time, shared ride)
JR Fitzpatrick (No. 4 – part-time, shared ride)
Tayler Malsam (No. 81)
Johnny Sauter (No. 13)

No. of Rookies in the Race: 7
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 1; Sauter, finished eighth

Raybestos Rookie of the Race: Sauter

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle

NASCAR has implemented a new tire-transfer rule to help the teams save a little bit of money. If two tracks use the same tire combination, the teams will be allowed to bring one set of tires between tracks. Memphis Motorsports Park and the Milwaukee Mile use the same tire combination, so some teams were already taking advantage of the new rule this weekend.

In the points, Hornaday Jr.’s win extended his points lead over Matt Crafton to 76. Skinner moved up one spot to third and is 134 points behind the leader. Todd Bodine dropped one spot to fourth and David Starr remains in fifth, 231 markers out of first.

Scott moved up another position to sixth, dropping Rookie of the Year contender Malsam to seventh. Terry Cook and Rick Crawford remain in eighth and ninth, respectively. Michigan winner Colin Braun moved up one spot into 10th, and now sits 332 points out of the lead.

Quotable

“The Longhorn Chevrolet was awesome again today. I wasn’t going to get beat by the one-armed bandit (Brian Scott). He was pretty good. It was pretty awesome to come here and win the last Elvis trophy. That means alot. This is awesome. Kevin and DeLana (Harvick, team owner), thank you again.” – Ron Hornaday Jr.

“These Toyota Tundras get awesome fuel mileage. We had a good truck, really good pit stops and excellent pit strategy. Second, that’s pretty good. I gotta thank everyone. It was tough today. It was fun and it was hot. The best truck won today.” – Brian Scott

“First of all, I wanna say hi to my wife and my son David Starr Jr. at home. We don’t ever give up. We had to battle back from the back. Everybody on the HT Motorsports team never gave up. We gave it all we had, but we just didn’t have the best truck today. We’ll take third.” – David Starr

Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series heads to Kentucky Speedway in a few weeks for the Built Ford Tough 225 presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers on Friday, July 18th. In 2008, Hornaday Jr. beat Erik Darnell for the win after a short red flag set up a green-white-checkered finish. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.

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