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Tracking the Trucks: 2009 Ford 200 at Homestead

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In a Nutshell: Kevin Harvick took the checkered flag 0.949 seconds ahead of Matt Crafton to win the Ford 200 Friday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The driver of the No. 4 Georgia Boot Chevrolet took the lead for the final time on a green-white-checkered finish to score his second consecutive win. Colin Braun, Timothy Peters and Todd Bodine rounded out the top five.

Who Should Have Won: Harvick. Harvick started the race in the third position and wasted little time heading to the front of the field. The driver of the No. 4 Georgia Boot Chevrolet took the lead on lap 6 and led the next 52 laps before losing the lead on pit road. Harvick went on to lead 108 laps, the most of any driver Friday night.

Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race

1. How did Ron Hornaday Jr. fare in his 250th career start?

The Ford 200 marked Ron Hornaday Jr.‘s 250th career Camping World Truck Series start Friday night. In his first 249 starts, the 51-year-old driver had scored 45 wins and 177 top-10 finishes.

Hornaday Jr. started his milestone weekend by running in the top three during both practice sessions and qualifying the No. 33 VFW.org Chevrolet in the third position for Friday night’s race. Hornaday Jr. ran in the top five for much of the first part of the race until a slow pit stop under the first caution dropped him to the eighth position.

The driver of the No. 33 Chevrolet managed to remain in the top 10 the remainder of the night and finished ninth, adding a 178th top-10 finish to his resume before joining his boss in another dual burnout in celebration of winning the drivers’ championship and the owners’ championship.

With the championship wrapped up last weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, Hornaday Jr. was left with the simple task of finishing ninth or better to wrap up the owner’s championship, and even that load was taken off after Kyle Busch had trouble with his tires.

Hornaday Jr. should be pretty pleased with his 250th CWTS start. Friday night’s eighth-place finish marked the ninth time the driver of the No. 33 VFW.org scored a top-10 finish in 10 starts at the track. Another top-10 finish is a good way to close out a near perfect season for the No. 33 team.

2. Should Kyle Busch have been allowed to park his truck?

On lap 82 of the Ford 200, Busch was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop under green-flag conditions for a cut tire. The stop put the driver of the No. 51 Miccosukee Resort/Graceway Pharmaceuticals Toyota one lap down, but a pass through penalty for a pit-road violation sent him two laps down. He went on to finish 12th, one lap down.

During the broadcast, it was reported Busch asked to park his truck since they were out of contention for the win and ultimately had lost the owners’ championship to Kevin Harvick Inc. Busch was reminded the team did not go to HMS to park the truck in the middle of the race. But should the driver of the No. 51 Toyota have been allowed to park since he wasn’t racing for points?

It’s understandable the 24-year-old driver has the drive to win every race he enters, but there are times when a driver has to continue racing despite being taken out of contention for a win. Quitting during the middle of a race without terminal damage to the truck is disrespectful to the team owner, the crew members and the fans.

Sure, Busch races and gives every penny of his winnings back to team owner Billy Ballew, but he’s still responsible for finishing the race, regardless of the circumstances. As was expected, Busch left the track without speaking to the media Friday night.

In related news, Phil Parsons reported during the qualifying broadcast that Busch would be leaving BBM to form his own team for 2010. That report contradicts an interview with Busch earlier in the week that indicated the team would not be ready in time for the 2010 season.

Despite his departure from BBM, it’s easy to assume Busch will still be racing in the Truck Series in 2010. Hopefully, he’ll stick it out and complete a race whether he can visit victory lane or not.

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. 31 – moved to Turner Motorsports after Texas)
JR Fitzpatrick (No. 4 – part-time, shared ride)
Tayler Malsam (No. 81)
Johnny Sauter (No. 13)

No. of Rookies in the Race: 5
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 1; Sauter, finished ninth

Rookie of the Race: Sauter

Sauter officially clinched the CWTS Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors Friday night after a season filled with two poles, one win and 13 top-10 finishes.

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle

Hornaday Jr. finished out the season with a 187-point lead over Crafton. Mike Skinner remained in third and Bodine held onto the fourth position. Braun moved up two spots to round out the top five.

Sauter dropped one spot to sixth, missing out on the top five by a slim seven points. Brian Scott dropped one spot to seventh after finishing 12th, one lap down. Timothy Peters moved up one spot to seventh and David Starr dropped to eighth. Rick Crawford rounded out the top 10.

Terry Cook‘s consecutive start streak came to an abrupt halt Friday night at HMS when the 41-year-old driver was missing from the Ford 200 starting grid. Crafton now holds the record for most consecutive Truck Series starts with 222 to his name. Crafton has been racing full-time in the series since 2001.

A combination of trouble for Busch and Hornaday Jr.’s eighth-place finish allowed Kevin Harvick Inc. to win the owners’ championship. Owners Kevin and DeLana Harvick finished the season 73 points ahead of BBM.

During his post race interview, Harvick announced truck chief Danny Stockman is leaving the team during the offseason. Stockman is headed to Richard Childress Racing to be the crew chief for Austin Dillon in the No. 3 Chevrolet.

Quotable

“I just gotta thank everyone at KHI (Kevin Harvick Inc.). They built me two new trucks. To close out the season like this is really what we wanted to do. We had to guard against Kyle leading the most laps and winning race, and we accomplished that.” – race winner Kevin Harvick

“We’re the bridesmaids quite a few times this year. All I can say is I can’t wait to get back to normal pit stops where we can take tires and fuel at the same time. I know we’ve lost at least two races on that strategy.” – Matt Crafton, finished second

Up Next

The Camping World Truck Series Awards Banquet is Monday, November 23rd at the Loew’s Miami Beach Hotel in Florida. The banquet will be televised Friday, December 4 at 7:00 p.m. ET on SPEED.

Author’s Note: I would like to take this moment to thank all of my loyal readers for making the 2009 season another memorable one. I’d like to wish all of you a safe holiday season and look forward to February when the Camping World Truck Series gets ready for another exciting season.

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