In a Nutshell: Kyle Busch took the checkered flag 2.721 seconds ahead of Matt Crafton to win the O’Reilly 200 Wednesday night at Bristol Motor Speedway. Busch took the lead from Jason White on lap 124 and never looked back on the way to his third Camping World Truck Series victory this season. Ron Hornaday Jr., Ryan Newman and Brian Scott rounded out the top five.
Who Should Have Won: Mike Skinner. The driver of the No. 5 Exide Toyota started on the outside pole and pulled to commanding lead when the green flag flew. Despite multiple challenges by polesitter Newman, Skinner remained in the top spot until pit stops under the first caution flag. The front tire changer for the No. 5 team got the sleeve of his fire suit caught on a hood pin, causing the team to lose a few seconds on pit road, and then Skinner got caught speeding on pit road. The loss of track position left Skinner mired in traffic, and he had to settle for a 20th-place finish, two laps down.
Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race
1. How did Tayler Malsam fare on the one year anniversary of his CWTS debut?
The running of the O’Reilly 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway marked one year since Tayler Malsam made his CWTS debut with Cunningham Motorsports. Malsam started in the 23rd position after struggling in qualifying.
The driver of the No. 81 One-Eighty Toyota spent the early stages of the race working his way slowly through the field. On lap 35, Todd Bodine worked his way to the inside of Malsam, got a little loose and had to chase his truck up the track. Bodine was unable to get his truck under control before the two made contact and spun into the inside wall. Malsam ended up finishing 30th, 50 laps down.
There’s no doubt that Malsam would rather forget the anniversary of his CWTS debut. Despite having a decent season and leading the points, Malsam is probably ready to move on to Chicagoland Speedway and forget all about his troubles at Bristol.
2. How did Newman fare in his return to the Camping World Truck Series?
The last time Newman piloted the No. 2 Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick Inc., he visited victory lane at Atlanta Motor Speedway last October. After running second quickest in both practice sessions, Newman scored his first career Truck Series pole.
Despite starting on the pole, Newman never led a lap in the O’Reilly 200 Wednesday night. The driver of the No. 2 Pringles Chevrolet challenged Skinner for the lead multiple times in the early stages of the race but never could clear him.
When the caution flag flew for the first time on lap 35, Newman pitted for tires but failed to pit for fuel when the rest of the field made their second stop. He restarted 18th and spent the remainder of the laps trying to gain the track position he lost.
In the late stages of the race, Newman and Scott spent most of the final 40 laps battling for position. Newman came out on top when the checkered flag flew with the No. 2 Pringles Chevrolet in fourth and Scott in fifth. Scott had nothing but good things to say about Newman following the O’Reilly 200.
“That was a lot of fun to be able to race a Cup veteran like that and race him hard,” Scott said. “For him to show me respect and for me to rough him up a little bit and still have a good respect between us is great.”
Newman was much more critical of himself and his performance on Wednesday night.
“Well, I felt like I let the guys down. We didn’t come back in and get our fuel (right away) and lost a lot of track position,” Newman said. “We had a fast truck with this Pringles Chevrolet but just lost our track position and never got it back. Ultimately it’s my fault. I just didn’t know I was supposed to come back in for the fuel deal, just not used to it. Guess you can call it a rookie mistake.”
Despite the mistake Newman made when he didn’t pit for fuel with the rest of the field, he still managed to work his way up to a solid top-five finish. It’s easy to understand the reason Newman wasn’t pleased with his performance. He races in the Truck Series for fun and wants to win.
3. Is Kyle Busch starting to show an attitude change?
Almost a month ago, Kyle Busch acknowledged that his negativity on a bad race day would often lead to more struggles than success. He made it very clear that he could be the one at fault for having several tough weeks in a row in the Sprint Cup Series because of his attitude.
“Our bad weeks are bad. If you’re having a bad day, then you need to make a 10th out of it, we’re not very good at that,” Busch said. “Maybe I’m not leading (the team) in the right direction. I’ve got some things that I’ve got to try to work on to make ourselves better and ultimately more championship caliber.”
While the comments Kyle Busch made were in regards to his Sprint Cup Series team, an attitude change wouldn’t be evident in just that series. A true attitude change would be seen across the board, and it’s possible that change is starting to show. After the first round of pit stops under the caution that flew on lap 35, White held the lead, and Kyle Busch restarted eighth.
When he caught up to then leader White, Kyle Busch had multiple opportunities to give White’s No. 23 Dodge a little nudge to move him out of the way. Instead Kyle Busch attempted to use most of the track to make the pass for the lead until a lap down truck held up Jason White just enough to allow the driver of the No. 51 Miccosukee Resort and Gaming/Red Top Auto Auction Toyota to pull ahead. Busch also had nothing but kind words to share about racing with Jason White.
“Jason White was tough, and he had a good truck,” Busch said about his lengthy battle with the driver of the No. 23 GunBroker.com Dodge. “I’m proud of those guys. Jason (White) did a good job with what he had to do.”
This is only the first race that Busch appears to have changed his racing habits, and he could return to his usual beating and banging to get whatever spot on the track he wants. But this could also be the first evidence of a change in the 24-year-old driver. Only time will tell if Kyle Busch truly has started to adjust his attitude on the track.
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: 6
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 0
Rookie of the Race: Fitzpatrick, finished 11th
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle
After choosing not to pit when the first caution flag flew, White became the leader for the third race this season. He went on to lead 86 laps, more than quadruple the 17 laps he had led in his previous 68 starts combined. A late-race pit stop forced the driver of the No. 23 GunBroker.com Dodge to settle for a 14th place finish.
For the second time in three years, Billy Ballew Motorsports fielded a third truck at Bristol Motor Speedway for Nate Monteith to race at his home track. He managed to run competitively on track until slight contact with Johnny Sauter sent him spinning into the right front of Dennis Setzer. Monteith went on to finish 26th, 19 laps down.
For the sixth week in a row and eighth time this season, Hornaday Jr. remains the points leader. Crafton gained five points on Hornaday Jr. and now sits 211 points behind. Skinner remains in third, 94 points behind Crafton. Scott’s sixth consecutive top-10 finish and 10th of the season moved him up one spot to fourth, and David Starr gained one position to round out the top five.
Bodine dropped two spots to sixth after a disappointing 32nd-place finish. Colin Braun moved up two spots and Setzer remains in eighth. Malsam dropped two spots to ninth and Rick Crawford rounds out the top 10.
Did You Know?
- The O’Reilly 200 was slowed only five times by cautions on Wednesday night? This breaks the previous record of six that occurred most recently in 2005.
- Crafton scored his sixth top-10 finish in 10 races at Bristol Motor Speedway Wednesday night? The O’Reilly 200 marked his 12th top-10 finish in 15 races this season.
- Fitzpatrick was the Featherlite Most Improved Driver during the O’Reilly 200? He started 27th and gained 16 positions on his way to an 11th place finish.
- Three drivers failed to qualify for the O’Reilly 200? Tim Bainey Jr., Brandon Duchscherer and Duane Bischoff held the slowest speeds at the end of qualifying.
- DGM Racing and owner Mario Gosselin plan to enter three trucks for the EnjoyIllinois.com 225 next weekend at Chicagoland Speedway? Michelle Theriault, Mario Gosselin and John Jackson are currently scheduled to race.
- Max Papis ran the O’Reilly 200 Wednesday night in an effort to gain experience before Sprint Cup Series qualifying this afternoon? The driver of the No. 9 GEICO Toyota started 29th and finish 28th, 32 laps down.
Johnny Benson Visits Bristol
For the first time since being injured in a horrific crash at Berlin Speedway in mid-June, Johnny Benson visited the Truck Series drivers at the track. He made it very clear once again that he intends to race again after his shoulder is fully healed.
“With the shoulder and the type of injury I have, [the doctor] said it would be at least three months which puts me right at the end of the season,” Benson said. [The doctor] was like, if I absolutely, positively had to run in a race or two, I could do it; just don’t get in a wreck.”
Benson has stated previously that he wants to “find something that will give me a chance to win races and run for championships.” He continues to look for a ride in either the Nationwide Series or the Camping World Truck Series for the 2010 season and beyond.
“I love this place. It’s fun for all of us drivers. It’s a fun place to race, and for some reason I have really taken to the new surface. We knew we were going to come here with a fast truck. It was exciting to be able to capitalize like that tonight. I’m just real proud of how well (the truck) ran tonight.” – Kyle Busch
“Our truck, it was just unbelievable how good that thing in on the long run. It wouldn’t take off for about four or five laps, then it just kept getting better and better as we went along. We were short on fuel, and they kept telling me to soft-pedal and save fuel but all in all a good night. I can’t thank these guys on this Menards Chevy Silverado enough.” – Matt Crafton, finished second
“I told Kevin [Harvick] a top five tonight would be great here. We have such bad luck here. Rick Ren made a great call on our only stop for this Georgia Boot Chevrolet. I learned a bunch. Kyle [Busch] was just so dominant up top. I just left a lot out there, and I was pretty conservative and got a top five. That’s what I needed for these points.” – Ron Hornaday Jr., finished third
Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series heads to Chicagoland Speedway next Friday night. The EnjoyIllinois.com 225 will mark the first time the Truck Series has raced at the 1.5-mile track. Coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. ET; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.