Race Weekend Central

NASCAR Parks Kyle Busch for CWTS Incident; McDowell in No. 18 Sunday

NASCAR announced on Saturday that Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series, was parked for both of those series’ races following an incident in the WinStar World Casino 350 Truck Series race on Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway. Busch, who was …

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Tracking the Trucks: WinStar World Casino 350K

*In a Nutshell:* Kevin Harvick took the checkered flag 0.294 seconds ahead of points leader Austin Dillon to win the WinStar World Casino 350K Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway. In a race that was slowed by just six cautions–four came within the first 60 laps–Harvick held the lead on a green-white-checkered finish for his fourth win of the season. Ty Dillon, Nelson Piquet, Jr. and Matt Crafton rounded out the top 5.

*Who Should Have Won:* *Kevin Harvick* clearly had a strong truck in the late stages of the race Friday night. After starting tenth, the driver of the No. 2 Hunt Brothers Chevrolet worked his way through the field, pulling out to a nearly four-second lead before a caution with just five laps remaining. Harvick led four times for a race high 61 laps en route to his fourth victory this season.

Fan’s View: How Much NASCAR Is Too Much? Thoughts of Losing SPEED Channel

Back in the day, I turned on the brand-new cable box on top of the big-screen TV and discovered TNN and ESPN. I studied all week long, but looked forward to Sunday afternoons when stock cars battled around the storied ovals such as North Wilkesboro and Rockingham. Coverage didn’t include much pre-race, kind of a …

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Tracking the Trucks: Kroger 200

*In a Nutshell:* Denny Hamlin passed Austin Dillon and Ron Hornaday, Jr. to take the checkered flag by 1.210 seconds over Hornaday on Saturday afternoon at Martinsville Speedway. Dillon, Johnny Sauter, and Joey Coulter rounded out the top 5.

*Who Should Have Won:* *Denny Hamlin.* Driving the powerhouse No. 18 for Kyle Busch Motorsports at a track where he has dominated in the Cup Series, Hamlin led twice for 68 laps, more than any other driver. Hamlin was masterful on the final restart, when it looked as if the battle was going to come down to Hornaday and Dillon, but both of them got a slow start and Hamlin was able to capitalize, diving to the inside to pass the title contenders. He then drove away to take the checkers for his first CWTS win and to become the 23rd driver to post wins across all three national touring series.

Tearing Apart the Trucks: Evaluating Championship Hopefuls

With just three races remaining to determine the Camping World Truck Series champion, four drivers find themselves separated by a mere 16 points. As the series heads into Martinsville Speedway tomorrow afternoon for the Kroger 200, each and every driver needs to step up and show their competitors what they’re made of, but it’s even more important for the four vying for the championship. But who will emerge as the victor next month in Florida?

*Austin Dillon*
*Stats:* 22 starts, five poles, two wins, eight top 5s, 16 top 10s, avg finish 9.9

2011 may not have been quite as successful as the 2010 Rookie of the Year had hoped for, but there’s nothing for him to be ashamed of.

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2011 Good Sam Club 500 at Talladega

After the chaos that is Talladega, a pair of shoutouts go out this week. One goes to Dave Blaney, who worked all day with Brad Keselowski, hanging back for much of the race only to close at the end and finish third. The finish was a career best for Blaney, who runs for a small-time team in Tommy Baldwin Racing. Speaking of the smaller teams, two others made some real noise at Talladega as Casey Mears and Landon Cassill raced at the front of the field all day until the late-race mess destroyed their hope for a great finish. These are three drivers fighting for the sponsorship just to race, and they showed this weekend that they can get it done when the playing field is truly level.

Tracking the Trucks: Coca-Cola 250 powered by Fred’s

*In a Nutshell:* Mike Wallace took the checkered flag 0.057 seconds ahead of Ron Hornaday, Jr. to win the Coca-Cola 250 powered by Fred’s Saturday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway. Wallace held onto the top spot during a two-lap sprint to the finish despite a hard-charging James Buescher and Ricky Carmichael to score his first Truck Series victory since 2000 (he’s made 43 series starts since that victory). Buescher, Carmichael and Jason White rounded out the top 5.

*Who Should Have Won:* Mike Wallace. Throughout the race, the two-truck tandem of Ron Hornaday, Jr. and Kevin Harvick, Inc. teammate Mike Wallace was clearly the pair to beat as they pulled out to as much as an eight-second lead over the rest of the pack. And though the two did swap and allow Hornaday to lead a few laps, the tandem worked better with Wallace’s No. 33 Chevrolet out front. Wallace led for 54 of 94 laps en route to his fifth career victory.

Tearing Apart the Trucks: Hornaday Re-Emerges as a Title Threat

Just two months ago following the O’Reilly 200 mid-week showdown at Bristol Motor Speedway, it looked like Ron Hornaday, Jr. was out of the championship race. Having scored just one victory and four finishes outside the top 20 in the first 16 races, Hornaday found himself 68 points behind the leader (comparable to a more than 200-point deficit under the old point system) in ninth place in the championship standings. But that has since changed and the four-time champion once again finds himself in the midst of another title race.

Currently 21 points behind the leader, Ron Hornaday, Jr. has cut 47 points out of his deficit in just five races with three wins and a pair of additional top-10 finishes.

Tracking the Trucks: Smith’s 350

_(Author’s Note: It is with a heavy heart that I submit Tracking the Trucks this week. While working on it this week, I caught wind of the vicious accident in the IndyCar season finale and was drawn in, waiting for news while fearing the worst and hoping and praying for the best. Then, the word came that Wheldon had passed away, it hit like a ton of bricks. I sat next to my husband in tears watching the five-lap tribute after the news came out. My thoughts and prayers go out to Dan Wheldon’s wife Susie, his two boys Sebastian and Oliver, Dan’s friends and family along with the entire racing world. Life is too short … Dan Wheldon you will be missed. For this week only, I’m going with a shortened Tracking the Trucks. The full breakdown will return next week with the Coca-Cola 250 powered by Fred’s from Talladega.)_

Tracking the Trucks: Kentucky 225

*In a Nutshell:* Ron Hornaday, Jr. took the checkered flag 0.438 seconds ahead of Austin Dillon to win the Kentucky 225 Saturday evening at Kentucky Speedway. Hornaday fought off a hard-charging Dillon to score his 50th career Truck Series victory. James Buescher, Nelson Piquet, Jr. and Brian Ickler rounded out the top 5. Ricky Carmichael finished sixth and was the last driver left on the lead lap thanks to a late-race round of green-flag pit stops.

*Who Should Have Won:* Though Austin Dillon was the fastest truck in both practices and started on the pole, it was veteran *Ron Hornaday, Jr.* who taught the youngster a thing or two about holding a late race lead.

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