As the Camping World Truck Series rolls into Phoenix International Raceway this weekend, Ron Hornaday Jr. has a chance to clinch the 2009 championship with a race win amongst an assortment of other scenarios. But aside from the impending fourth championship for the 51-year-old driver, this week has been full of news as we close in on the final two races of the 2009 season.
Brian Scott to Nationwide in 2010
Last Sunday on SPEED’s NASCAR Race Hub, Braun Racing announced it will be expanding its Nationwide Series teams to field four cars for the 2010 season. Brian Scott, who currently sits seventh in the CWTS standings, has been tapped to pilot the Toyota. Sponsorship, car number and crew chief details will be revealed at a later date.
Scott has made five Nationwide starts in the 2009 season with Braun Racing and seven starts overall, scoring a best finish of 14th with CJM Racing at Kansas Speedway last month (his best run with Braun was a 15th at Phoenix in April). As a result of the quality time he has already spent with the team, the 21-year-old driver is looking forward to bigger and better things to come in 2010.
“I am really excited to have the opportunity to join forces with Braun Racing next season,” Scott said. “We had some great runs this year, which I think is a solid building block for what we want to accomplish in 2010. Daytona can’t get here fast enough for me.”
As a result of Scott moving to the Nationwide Series full-time, his family-owned Xpress Motorsports Truck Series team will most likely be sold to Kyle Busch. Busch has been rumored to be starting his own CWTS organization, with up to a two-truck program expected for 2010.
Terry Cook out at HT Motorsports
Following a 24th-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway, driver Terry Cook and HT Motorsports officially parted ways. In Cook’s place, the team has tapped Mike Bliss to start the remaining two races this season behind the wheel of the No. 25 Cajun Industries Toyota. While the pairing had struggled at times this season – Cook has only led five laps in 23 races – HT Motorsports owner Jim Harris wished his former driver luck in his future endeavors.
“We want to thank Terry [Cook] for his hard work and efforts for this HT Motorsports Racing Team this year,” Harris said. “We have worked with Terry on and off for a few years in the Camping World Truck Series, and see him as a key component in building HT Motorsports to what it is today. He is a huge advocate for the NCWTS, and we wish him the best in his racing career.”
Cook’s record 295 consecutive start streak was in danger until midweek, when it was announced he will pilot Corrie Stott Racing’s No. 02 this weekend at Phoenix and next weekend for the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. His plans for the 2010 season are up in the air at this point.
Carmichael Leaves Kevin Harvick Inc.
Earlier this week, it was announced that Ricky Carmichael will join Turner Motorsports for the remainder of the season and full-time in 2010. The announcement follows Carmichael’s final race of 2009 with Kevin Harvick Inc. at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend.
The 29-year-old driver will now take his longtime sponsor Monster Energy Drink with him to the No. 31 Chevrolet.
“I’m very excited about having the opportunity to compete full-time in the Truck Series next season for Turner Motorsports,” Carmichael said. “To compete every week and gain as much seat time as possible is the only way that I will be able to get better as a driver. The Truck Series is a great place to learn, and the racing is very competitive, no matter which track we go to. The two races we will run this year will definitely give us a chance to start getting everything ready for 2010, and I’m pumped about the future.”
Turner Motorsports celebrated its Truck Series debut with a solid 13th place finish last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway with Scott Wimmer behind the wheel. Steve Turner, who co-owns Turner Motorsports with his wife Sandra, looks forward to the future with Carmichael in their truck.
“To have a driver with as much talent as Ricky is something that every owner wants to have,” he said. “Ricky has accomplished a lot in his motocross career, and he has the determination and passion to have just as much success in his stock car career. It’s an exciting addition for our Turner Motorsports team, and the two races this season will give us a head start heading into 2010.”
The Lucas Oil 150 will mark Carmichael’s first career start at Phoenix International Raceway. In the first practice Thursday, the driver of the No. 31 Monster Energy Chevrolet ran 24th quickest as he acclimated to the 1-mile oval. There is certainly room for improvement in the speeds from the No. 31 truck, but remember – the team struggled a bit last weekend in practice and qualifying before recovering to finish in the top 15.
Justin Lofton Joins Red Horse Racing
Earlier this week, Red Horse Racing announced the newest addition to their CWTS team. Reigning ARCA Re/MAX Series champion Justin Lofton will pilot a new, third Red Horse Racing Toyota (No. 7) full-time during the 2010 season.
“I am very excited to be a part of Red Horse Racing. This is a huge opportunity for me to join such an impressive organization,” Lofton said. “I’m very thankful that I was able to bring Mark Rette with me, and I look forward to carrying the same success we ended this year with onto the Camping World Truck Series next year. It’s a highly competitive series, and I can’t wait to start racing with those guys.”
Lofton Cattle, a family-owned business, has signed on as an associate sponsor for 2010, but the team is still looking for other backers to join the No. 7 Toyota. Yet despite not having primary sponsorship lined up for the entire 2010 season, co-owner Tom DeLoach is optimistic for the future of the team.
“We congratulate Justin on winning the 2009 ARCA Re/MAX championship, and are very pleased to have him join the Red Horse Racing family for the 2010 season,” DeLoach said. “We look forward to a strong overall performance by Justin and his team as we pursue Rookie of the Year honors for him.”
Since joining the ARCA Re/MAX Series in 2008, Lofton has scored seven wins and 24 top-10 finishes in just 41 starts. Six of those career wins came in the 2009 season.
Did You Know?
- The CWTS debuted 15 years ago at Phoenix International Raceway? Mike Skinner won the inaugural CWTS race and followed it up with seven more wins before taking home the inaugural championship.
- The polesitter has won five times at PIR? Most recently, Johnny Benson won from the pole in 2006.
- A race winner at Phoenix has started no further back in the field than 16th? Skinner led 30 laps and beat out Terry Labonte by just 0.09 seconds to win the Skoal Bandit Copper World Classic in 1995.
- Four of the last five races at Phoenix have been won by less than one second? In 2002, Kevin Harvick edged Ted Musgrave by 0.022 seconds in the closest finish ever at the 1-mile track.
- Colin Braun will make his 50th career start this weekend? The driver of the No. 6 Con-way Freight Ford has one win and 21 top-10 finishes in his first 49 starts.
- Two drivers on the entry list for this weekend raced in the CWTS debut at Phoenix in 1995. Those drivers are Skinner (winner) and Hornaday Jr. (ninth).
- Aric Almirola and girlfriend Janice Ross got engaged last weekend? Earlier this week, Almirola tweeted that he had proposed and she accepted.
- Cook has run the most miles out of any Truck Series driver at Phoenix? He has 2,358 miles to his name at the 1-mile track, but has not managed to lead a single one of those laps.
- Kyle Busch will once again be trying for the trifecta this weekend? This time, he will be joined by Harvick, who hopes to take the weekend sweep home for himself.
- Harvick led the first Truck Series practice Thursday at Phoenix? The driver of the No. 4 Longhorn Chevrolet ran a fastest lap of 27.821 seconds (129.399 mph) and edged his teammate Hornaday Jr. by just 0.001 seconds.
- Four drivers will make their CWTS debut this weekend at PIR? Kevin Conway (No. 71 Extenze Racing Chevrolet), Brad Sweet (No. 90 Great Clips Toyota), Tim George Jr. (No. 22 RCR Chevrolet) and Robbie Brand (No. 37 Lagunitas Ford) will each be guaranteed to start the race thanks to a 36-truck entry list.
- Circle Bar Racing is still looking for a driver to put behind the wheel of the No. 10 Ford for the 2010 season? The ride will be vacated at the end of the year by James Buescher, who will race part-time in the Truck Series for Turner Motorsports and full-time in the Nationwide Series in 2010 for Phoenix Racing (James Finch).