Well race fans, it’s that time again. The offseason is coming to an end very quickly, and we are close to going back to racing. But before we do let’s talk about what to expect from the Craftsman Truck Series this season.
This Sunday at Michigan, cars will gather and the field will roar off, 43 of the best drivers in the world putting on a great show at one of the series’ greatest tracks. But that day will also mark a near-tragic anniversary that will be on the minds of several fans who have followed the sport for quite sometime.
It took just two races of 2006 before JJ Yeley registered his first top-10 finish, coming home eighth at California Speedway in February.
David Stremme did manage to break the top 15 on a few occasions. He finished 11th in the Lenox Industrial Tools 300 at New Hampshire in July, then ended the year on a strong note with another 11th at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Tony Raines managed to keep Bill Saunders, owner of the No. 96 car, high enough in owner points to guarantee the team would make the race each week. While improvement was steady but slow, a breakthrough came in October when Raines drove the No. 96 car to seventh at Lowe’s, part of a late-season surge that saw him score five top-20 finishes in the final eight races of the year.
Matt Kenseth may not have won the Nextel Cup series title… but he finished off his Busch Series season with a bang. Kenseth led Carl Edwards to the checkered flag under caution at Homestead to win his second straight race in the series to close out the season. Paul Menard, Denny Hamlin and JJ Yeley rounded out the top five.
Mark Martin, making his final Truck Series start for Roush Racing, won his grand finale Friday night in the Ford 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The win was Martin’s sixth of the season in just 14 starts. Second-place Brendan Gaughan finished 2.613 seconds behind Martin, with Erik Darnell, Bobby Hamilton Jr. and Jack Sprague rounding out the top five.
Get ready for an exciting weekend of racing in the Craftsman Truck Series. That’s right… it’s that time again. Championship weekend. Sure, most eyes will be on the Nextel Cup Series Chase for the Cup, but my eyes sit on the Craftsman Truck Series race. And although he has a 112-point cushion over second place Johnny Benson, Todd Bodine doesn’t have it officially in the bag quite yet.
Polesitter Johnny Benson went from first… to last… to first again, winning his fifth career Craftsman Truck Series race in Phoenix Friday night after spinning out on the first lap of the race. Benson finished 0.429 seconds ahead of Mark Martin in the Casino Arizona 150. Mike Skinner, Todd Bodine, and Matt Crafton rounded out the top five.
Clint Bowyer won the Silverado 350K in just his third Craftsman Truck Series start Friday night. Bowyer held the lead at Texas Motor Speedway to beat Kyle Busch by 0.279 seconds. Mike Skinner, Jack Sprague, and Ron Hornaday rounded out the top five.
Mike Bliss won the EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts 200 Saturday night for his first victory at the event since 2002. In a race full of intense side-by-side racing, Bliss held off Terry Cook by a mere 0.207 seconds to take the checkered flag. Rookie Erik Darnell posted his second top-five finish in two weeks, finishing in third, while David Reutimann and Rick Crawford rounded out the top five.
A few weeks ago when the new official Kurt Busch Message Board debuted, an interesting question was posted for everyone to weigh in on. Should the Craftsman Truck Series and the Busch Series go to a Chase for the Championship format? It’s easy for me to look at Kevin Harvick sitting more than 700 points ahead in the Busch Series to say maybe they should consider a Chase format, but it’s a lot more difficult for me to say that about the Craftsman Truck Series.