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Tearing Apart the Trucks: 2008 Season Preview Part II

Last week, we talked about Craftsman leaving the series, team mergers and splits, and the 2008 rookie class. This week, we examine which drivers find themselves with new teams during the offseason and what to expect from the series. Jack Sprague, winner of the 2007 season opener at Daytona, joined Kevin Harvick, Inc. and will be driving the No. 2 Chevy. American Commercial Lines will be primary sponsor for the first 15 races, but there has been no word yet on the last 10. Sprague joins rival and defending truck series champion Ron Hornaday, Jr. In 2007, the two combined for 3 wins and 32 Top 10's, and Sprague finished 9th in the series standings. Sprague and Hornaday, Jr. have six championships between them and are the only two drivers in the truck series to have three championships to their individual credit.

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Tearing Apart the Trucks: 2008 Season Preview Part I

It's hard to believe it's that time again. The offseason is quickly coming to a close, and people are already making predictions and talking about offseason changes. Perhaps the biggest news during this offseason was the announcement in December that Crafstman will be ending their sponsorship of the truck series at the end of the 2008 season.

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The Best Of The Frontstretch: Tearing Apart the Trucks: Kelly Sutton Makes Her Return

When the Craftsman Truck Series rolls into Kansas on April 28th, Kelly Sutton will make her return to racing after an extended absence. Sutton and Billy Ballew Motorsports announced a four race deal for Sutton to drive the No. 51 Team Copaxone Chevy Silverado at the beginning of this month: Sutton will also pilot the truck at Mansfield Motorsports Park (May 26th), Texas Motor Speedway (June 8th), and Memphis Motorsports Park (June 30th) in her debut season for Ballew. The return of Sutton once again brings a woman back into the Truck Series as at least a part-time competitor; but Kelly Sutton isn't just any racer, and it's not because she's female, either. Sutton has been battling relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS), an "autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system" for the last 19 years. She was diagnosed with MS at the age of 16; tingling and numbness on her right side sent her to the doctor, where a spinal tap and an MRI revealed MS. Doctors told her she would be confined to a wheelchair within 8-10 years; instead, she's developed into one of the best female drivers in the United States.

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Down in Daytona 2008: Trucks Hand Track Over to Cup Cars for Second Session

Raindrops came down late Sunday afternoon, signaling the end of Craftsman Truck Series testing at Daytona International Speedway around 2:00 P.M. The rain-shortened session was the series' third and final day at the track before Speedweeks gets underway next month, as teams prepare for their 250-mile main event to be held on Friday, February 15th. A number of teams decided to head home after testing on Saturday, but those who stuck around encountered a late start because of a wet track in the morning and then showers early in the afternoon. Prior to the rain, it was accomplished road racer and Rookie of the Year candidate *Justin Marks* who posted the day's fastest speed, mastering the historic tri-oval with a lap of 185.723 miles per hour.

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Down in Daytona 2008: Jack Sprague, Ron Hornaday Take Friendly Rivalry to KHI

*Jack Sprague* and *Ron Hornaday* have long been friendly rivals with both drivers taking turns winning the Craftsman Truck Series' title in four of the first five years. Driving for rival owners, Dale Earnhardt and Rick Hendrick, Sprague and Hornaday had a few run-ins between 1996 and 1999, but both are now competing for a record fourth title under the same banner at Kevin Harvick Inc. Just two months ago Hornaday matched his new teammate when he won his third championship at the series' final stop at Homestead. While some may question whether two successful drivers can co-exist on a 'super team,' the respect that these veteran drivers have shown for each other should make for a friendly competition at the KHI camp.

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Down in Daytona 2008: Roush Phenom Colin Braun Fast, Heads Home After Crash

Daytona testing has long been called boring and a waste of time, but don't tell that to Roush Racing phenom *Colin Braun*. The 19 year old driver began 2008 the way he has for each of the past four years, shaking down a sports car in preparation for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, but this year he was back one week later logging laps in his new full-time ride, the No. 6 Con-Way Ford for Roush Fenway Racing in the Craftsman Truck Series. Unfortunately for Braun, an incident with *Joey Clanton* on the first day of practice in the afternoon drafting session has sent he and his team home early. Braun was one of 30 drivers on hand for a three day test at the famed 2.5 mile speedway and wasted no time shooting to the top of the charts, posting the second fastest time in the morning session behind only teammate *Erik Darnell*. It wasn't difficult for the No. 6 team to find speed in a truck that won four times in 2007 with Travis Kvapil behind the wheel, but a proven team is just what Braun feels he needs as he tries to make the transition from sports cars to NASCAR.

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David Starr Driver Diary: Goodbye to 2007…Excited About 2008!

Well, it was another very competitive, down-to-the-wire season in the Craftsman Truck Series. For the fans, and for us competitors, it was exciting because you didn't know who the champion was going to be until the final lap at Homestead. That's the way it should be, and the way it has been in the Craftsman Truck Series. The series continues to grow in popularity year after year, because people are seeing more and more how fierce the competition is. The 2007 season was just an okay season for our Circle Bar Racing MaxxForce Diesel team. In our defense, most of my team was put together very late in the offseason, so we kind of had our backs up against the wall the whole time. With that said, being able to get into the top 10 in the final race of the season was a neat thing. Obviously, our expectations were much higher than that, but I feel we did everything we could to be successful. I just can't thank my MaxxForce team enough for all the effort they put into our trucks and pit stops all season. They were amazing considering everything they were up against.

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Rick Crawford Driver Diary: Until We Meet Again

2007 was a good year for the Circle Bar Racing team and the No. 14 Power Stroke Diesel Ford by International. It was a great year for Circle Bar Racing to have two of its trucks, with our teammate David Starr in the Top 10 in the points and the No. 14 truck in the Top 5 in the points. We had a good strong finish at Homestead with third place, and it was just a good year for us. My hat's off to Hornaday for winning the championship and Skinner for second. Those guys had great years, and earned top finishes all year, and ultimately deserved to battle it out for a championship. The banquet was painless. It was short and sweet. My owner's daughter, Lisa Mitchell, received the top finishing Ford award for the No. 14 truck from Ford Racing. That was a pretty neat moment for her. She gave a speech thanking everybody at Ford Motor Company and International and all of our sponsors and everybody that worked on the crew for a great year - and especially from her Dad. I received a Top 5 award in the year end points and that was pretty neat. I got to be on stage and that's a good place to be at the end of the year, on stage. That's what everybody shoots for, so I'd say it was a good year for us.

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Tracking the Trucks: 2007 Ford 200 at Homestead

*In a Nutshell:* Johnny Benson took the checkered flag 0.600 seconds ahead of Kyle Busch to win the Truck Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway Friday night. A late spin by Chris Jones set the field up for a green/white/checkered finish for the sixth time in 2007; on the restart, Benson took the lead coming to the white flag and held off Busch for the victory. Rick Crawford, Kevin Harvick, and Jason Leffler rounded out the Top 5 finishers. Behind them, Ron Hornaday, Jr. finished 7th to clinch the 2007 Truck Series title over Mike Skinner; Skinner had mechanical problems with the left rear wheel of his Toyota, went behind the wall for repairs and wound up 35th, handing the title to his rival by 54 points. *Who Should Have Won: Kyle Busch.* Busch started 14th, and looked like he might struggle most of the race early on. A round of green flag pit stops put him a lap down, but the driver of the No. 51 Miccosukee Resorts Chevrolet got it back through a timely yellow flag; after that, he went on to lead 69 laps. However, the poor luck of a green/white/checkered kept Busch from winning his third race in four starts; with the Trucks bunched up at the finish, he was far too loose to hold Benson back for the win.

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