Frontstretch’s Truck Series content is presented by American Trucks
In a Nutshell: Kyle Busch took the checkered flag 0.386 seconds ahead of Johnny Sauter to take the victory in the WinStar World Casino 350K at Texas Motor Speedway Friday night. Busch took the lead for the final time on a lap 127 restart and held point to score his seventh victory in 14 starts this season. Polesitter Matt Crafton, who started from the back after unapproved adjustments, points leader Todd Bodine and Elliott Sadler rounded out the top five.
Who Should Have Won: Busch. Busch started in the top spot by virtue of polesitter Crafton being bumped to the rear, and easily pulled out ahead of outside polesitter Sadler when the green flag flew. He relinquished that lead for just one circuit, until Sauter passed him on lap 61 after chasing him down on the track. For a while, Sauter would go on to lead nearly a quarter of the distance during the race’s middle portion before running out of fuel around a green-flag stop. That meant once the field restarted for the final time on lap 127, it was Busch with the track position and the speed to head back towards the front. Sauter briefly challenged him, but the driver of the No. 18 Toyota held point to score a well-deserved victory.
Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race
1. How did Parker Kligerman fare in his Truck Series debut?
Parker Kligerman made his Camping World Truck Series debut behind the wheel of the No. 29 Dodge for Brad Keselowski Racing. The 2009 ARCA Series Rookie of the Year made his Nationwide debut last season, and in that race sat on the pole, led seven laps and finished 16th.
Kligerman made good on the first part of his debut by qualifying 13th Thursday night when he was forced to make the field on time. And once the green flag flew, the 20-year-old driver managed to stay inside the top 15 all night with the exception of a round of green-flag pit stops, eventually bringing the truck home in ninth place.
Coming into the race weekend, Kligerman was hopeful, yet guarded, about what to expect Friday night.
“Having never driven a truck before, I’m going into this weekend with an open mind,” he explained. “To learn as much as I can, because I know it will only make me a better racer.”
Well, I’d say he did just a little more than learn – Kligerman had an impressive debut. Even when passing other drivers, he managed to be respectful and not upset anyone. A top-10 finish is exactly what Kligerman needed to bring home Friday night, and I look forward to seeing his future presence in the series should the opportunity arise.
2. Why did Ron Hornaday Jr. spin Tayler Malsam?
On lap 52, Miguel Paludo got loose on the backstretch and went up the track, hitting the outside wall. Ron Hornaday Jr. saw what had happened in front of him and slowed to avoid the wreck, but Tayler Malsam was unable to see through the No. 33 Chevrolet. Malsam moved up the track in an attempt to avoid hitting Hornaday.
Unfortunately, that didn’t work out when Malsam bounced off of the outside wall and spun Hornaday, causing terminal damage to the No. 33 truck. In a retaliatory move, the driver of the No. 33 Chevrolet immediately drove up on Malsam and spun him on the backstretch.
I can understand Hornaday’s frustration in being involved in a wreck after he went airborne last weekend at Talladega, but it’s ultimately the spotter’s responsibility to ensure their driver is aware of what’s happening on the track ahead. If Hornaday wants someone to be upset with, he should talk to his spotter – not take it out on the other driver.
3. What are Todd Bodine’s championship-clinching scenarios for next weekend?
Following a solid third-place run Friday night, Bodine expanded his points lead to 230 over second-place Aric Almirola, and with just two races remaining on the schedule, it’s time to talk championship-clinching scenarios for Bodine.
Race Win at Phoenix
Bodine has four top-10 finishes in six starts at Phoenix, including a win during the 2005 season, so there’s a very real chance he can win the race and clinch the championship next weekend. Even if Almirola finishes second at Phoenix and leads at least one lap, a race win (whether he leads the most laps or not) will hand Bodine a large enough points lead to land his second career Truck Series championship.
Top-10 Finish at Phoenix
With an average finish of 9.2 at Phoenix, it’s easy to think Bodine can walk away from the 1-mile tri-oval with at least a 10th-place result. Assuming Almirola leads the most laps and visits victory lane, that performance from Bodine would still see the No. 30 Germain Racing team celebrating their championship the week before the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Finish 27th or better at Phoenix and Homestead-Miami
In a worst-case scenario, where Almirola wins both of the final two races this season while leading the most laps, all Bodine needs is to finish 27th or better to clinch. With an average finish of 9.2 at Phoenix and 8.4 at Homestead, it’s unlikely Almirola can mount a charge unless Bodine gets caught up in another driver’s wreck.
So while Bodine can still mathematically lose the championship to Almirola, there’s little chance of him doing so. It’s highly unlikely the No. 30 Toyota will find itself outside the top 25 for two consecutive races to close out the season.
Regardless of what scenario allows Bodine and Germain Racing to score their second championship together, the team should be admired for their performance in a season where they didn’t expect to show up each week beyond the first few races. As the year wore on, the team has pieced together sponsorship to keep the truck on the track, and Bodine has shown he deserved it – scoring 16 top fives and 19 top-10 finishes in 23 starts so far this season.
Truck Rookie Report
No. of Rookies in the Race: 11 (Add Wes Burton, Johanna Long, Miguel Paludo, Paddy Rodenbeck, Jason Bowles, Lance Fenton, Jamie Dick and a debuting Kligerman)
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 1; Kligerman, finished ninth
Rookie of the Race: Kligerman
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle
The top five remains unchanged this week. Bodine’s third-place finish allowed him to expand his points lead to 230 over Almirola (as noted above). Sauter remains in third, 304 points behind Bodine, while Crafton and rookie Dillon round out the top five.
Busch’s win Friday night clinched the manufacturers’ championship for Toyota. So far this season, the field of Tundra drivers have given the manufacturer 14 wins, 54 top-five and 111 top-10 finishes.
Turner Motorsports announced their 2011 plans Friday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway. The team plans to field three full-time entries with Ricky Carmichael and James Buescher continuing their tenures in the No. 4 Monster Energy Chevrolet and the No. 31 Wolfpack Rentals Chevrolet, respectively. The No. 32 Chevrolet will have backing for some races from Great Clips with the rest of the season yet to be determined, and the seat will be shared by Brad Sweet, Jason Leffler, Justin Allgaier and other drivers.
NASCAR issued penalties earlier this week for violations found on the No. 51 Toyota driven by Almirola during pre-qualifying inspection. The truck was found in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing), 12-4J (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules) and 20B-5.12.1B (only a NASCAR-approved composite air filter housing will be permitted; use of unapproved air filter housing). Additionally, crew chief Richie Wauters was fined $2,500 and placed on probation until December 31st.
“I can’t thank all the guys on this KBM team enough. They did an awesome job. It’s fun to be able to have the success we’ve had and hopefully, we can continue to get some more for next year. I have some great supporters with Interstate Batteries and Norm Miller. I am Second is something that Norm started, and he has a lot of guys on there. Whether it’s Josh Hamilton or Joe Gibbs, all the people that have given testimonials about how they’ve had faith change them and what they’ve gone through – it’s a great website. People can go there and get their own testimonials and check out everybody else’s.” – race winner Kyle Busch
“We just ran out of fuel [earlier in the race]. The upside of it is we had a dominant truck here tonight. We passed Busch on the track for the lead and we held them all off. We needed a caution to get the track position we lost after that stop and I couldn’t believe we got it. We had a shot at the end but it’s still frustrating. I’m really proud of everyone at ThorSport Racing for the effort they’re putting in, but I’m disappointed for everyone at FarmPaint.com and Curb Records and for Duke and Rhonda Thorson (team owners) that we didn’t get them a win here tonight.” – Johnny Sauter, finished second
“This place is all about track position. I really think if we could have started where we qualified, we’d have at least had a chance to be over where Kyle [Busch] is now. But the Menards Chevy was strong all night long. We ran through traffic pretty easily, but with every one you pass the next one is that much harder. We’re happy with a third but we really thought tonight was going to be our night.” – polesitter Matt Crafton
Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series heads to Phoenix International Raceway for the Lucas Oil 150 Friday night. Last season, Kevin Harvick beat out Busch in a green-white-checkered finish after spinning inside the first 10 laps of the race. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on SPEED; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate or on Sirius Channel 128.