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Tracking the Trucks: 2009 WinStar World Casino 350 at Texas

Frontstretch’s Truck Series content is presented by American Trucks

In a Nutshell: Kyle Busch took the checkered flag 0.955 seconds ahead of Matt Crafton to win the WinStar World Casino 350 Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway. Busch took the lead from Ron Hornaday Jr. on lap 98 and never looked back despite a charge from Crafton in the late stages of the race. Hornaday Jr., Todd Bodine and Colin Braun rounded out the top five.

Who Should Have Won: Busch. Though Busch started in 12th, an uncharacteristic starting position for him, he quickly worked his way into the top five. After finally getting to the front, Busch went on to lead 54 laps, the most of any driver, on the way to his 16th Camping World Truck Series victory.

Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race

1. How did Turner Motorsports fare in their debut?

Turner Motorsports LLC, a team planning to run full-time in the 2010 season, made their CWTS debut Friday night at TMS. The team was founded by owners Steve and Sandra Turner in 1999, but focused on dirt track racing at first. They later moved to asphalt, where they competed in the Legends Series, ASA Late Model Series and most recently the USAR Pro Cup Series with driver Logan Ruffin.

For the WinStar World Casino 350, Scott Wimmer piloted the No. 31 Wolfpack Rentals Chevrolet. He started 20th when the green flag dropped, but quickly worked his way into the top 10. After pit stops, Wimmer found himself deep in the field but again worked his way up through traffic. When the checkered flag flew, the driver of the No. 31 Wolfpack Rentals found himself in the 13th position.

Overall, Turner Motorsports couldn’t have asked for a better debut. Sure, any team wants to win a race, but bringing home a truck without damage in 13th (on the lead lap) is pretty respectable. Should Turner Motorsports manage to find sponsorship to allow the team to run full-time next season, it wouldn’t be unusual to expect to see them perform well and possibly score a win.

2. Is the top five in points set through the end of the season?

In an effort to save money, NASCAR announced at the beginning of the season they would be combining the awards banquets for the CWTS and the Nationwide Series. As a result, only the top-five drivers in the standings will be honored at the each one.

Barring major disasters in the final two races of the season, Hornaday Jr. should win his third championship and be a part of the season ending awards banquet, while Crafton is locked into the top five as well. But from Mike Skinner on back, the drivers from third through 12th in the standings have a mathematical chance of being honored at the banquet.

Realistically, the driver in the most danger is Braun. Brian Scott‘s seventh-place finish in the WinStar World Casino 350 Friday night moved him to within 39 points of Braun, occupying the fifth and last position to be honored at the awards banquet. Bodine could be in danger in the final two races of the season if he’s not careful, but with a 100-point cushion, he’s got a pretty good chance to remain inside the top five.

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: 1; Sauter, finished sixth

Rookie of the Race: Sauter

“It’s disappointing. It is what it is, and we’ll go to the next one.” – Johnny Sauter

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle

Busch won the fifth consecutive race he entered, matching a feat accomplished by Hornaday Jr. earlier this season. As it stands, Busch has a chance to make that seven wins in a row as he plans to run the No. 51 Miccosukee Resorts Toyota at Phoenix International Raceway and the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway next weekend.

Carmichael will be leaving Kevin Harvick Incorporated at the end of the 2009 season and moving to Turner Motorsports, a newcomer to the series, for 2010 as a teammate to Buescher, who will be running part-time. Carmichael finished 12th Friday night at TMS.

In the battle for the championship, Hornaday Jr. continues to sit atop the standings with a 197-point cushion over Crafton. Skinner remains in third, 355 points behind the leader. Bodine and Braun round out the top five.

Scott remains in the sixth spot, 39 points behind Braun. Sauter moved up one spot to seventh, while Timothy Peters dropped to eighth. David Starr and Rick Crawford round out the top 10.

Hornaday Jr. will win his record fourth CWTS championship if he finishes 22nd or better in the final two races this season. The driver of the No. 33 VFW Chevrolet can clinch the championship by winning and leading the most laps next weekend at Phoenix International Raceway.

Quotable

“It’s an accomplishment to beat the [No.] 33 (Ron Hornaday Jr.) bunch here, that’s for sure. And we got it done today. I really hate to see the 88 (Matt Crafton) finish second to me. I wish he could get a win. I’ve wanted to win a truck race here for a long time, so this is pretty cool, and as soon as I get a Cup win here, another one will get knocked off the list.” – Kyle Busch

“It is just very frustrating to finish second to anybody. Finished second here in June and, I said it then, we had probably one of the best trucks here that night. I honestly felt like I had the best truck tonight. I am just going to get a key to his (Kyle Busch’s) motorhome and lock him in it and duct tape the whole thing. That is all there is to it. Just take him out of the equation.” – Matt Crafton, finished second

“The No. 33 VFW Chevrolet was awesome. The truck was just too loose at the end. All in all, it was a good run for our No. 33 VFW Chevrolet. Usually here at Texas, we either win or something happens, so coming out of here with a top three is pretty good. We will take it and move on to the last two races of this year.” – Ron Hornaday Jr., finished third

Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series heads to Phoenix International Raceway next Friday night for the Lucas Oil 150. In 2008, Kevin Harvick finished almost a full second ahead of Busch in a race that saw the front two in the points standings have problems. Coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. ET; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.

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