The Built Ford Tough 225 presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers at Kentucky Speedway marked the halfway point of the Craftsman Truck Series season, and it’s also the perfect time to take a look at the year so far and what to expect for the remainder of the season.
Did You Notice? One of the differences between the Brickyard 400 now versus when it began in 1994 is the absence of open-wheel drivers and other various one-off teams trying to take a chance at making the race. With the advent of the Top-35 rule – combined with the rising costs of doing business – it just doesn’t make sense for part-time teams to take a stab at cracking the starting field at this legendary track. Heck, just look at the entry list this year, and you’ll see more than a few prominent part-time teams notably absent – the No. 09 Chevy of Phoenix Racing and driven by Sterling Marlin, as well as the No. 60 Ford run by road-racing veteran turned stock car hopeful Boris Said.
At the midpoint of the season, this year’s championship picture is taking shape, and the two strongest candidates right now are looking like Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. But who makes a better potential champion for NASCAR in the big picture — the brash, outspoken multiple-race winner Busch, or the mild-mannered Earnhardt, a picture of consistency with fewer wins but more fans?
With the off week in full swing, it presented an opportunity for the Frontstretch experts to do something a little different. Instead of grading the Cup guys, we took a look at those drivers who often get shunned from the spotlight these days… the drivers exclusive to the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series desperate to make a name for themselves. These divisions are filled with established veterans and young guns mixed together to provide a cornucopia of driving talent. And since you never know when a Cup ride will become available… we thought it’s high time to figure out who’s proved himself most worthy of filling the spot as of late. Read on to see if your favorite non-Cup driver made the list in this special edition of the Top 15.
1. Belt Tightening – It is a safe bet that not all the economic dominoes have fallen for the NASCAR community quite yet, as financially slumping General Motors attempts to identify cost-cutting measures while seeking to generate $15 billion in savings through 2009. This past week, the automaker has informed both Bristol Motor Speedway and New Hampshire International Speedway that they will not renew promotional agreements with them for 2009 and beyond, and rumors persist further cuts will be forthcoming within their motorsports program. Oh, well… before you get all upset, remember it isn’t just NASCAR “fat cats” feeling the GM pinch.
Johnny Benson took the checkered flag 0.474 seconds ahead of Michael Annett to win the Built Ford Tough 225 presented by the Greater Cincinnati Dealers at Kentucky Speedway. Benson held off a charge from his rookie teammate with just 18 laps remaining to win his second race this season and take over the points lead. Matt Crafton, Dennis Setzer, and David Starr rounded out the top five finishers.
The last time I stopped by, we were on our way to Texas with the point lead. That didn’t last very long. We had a great truck at Texas and I was trying to take the win back to Ozona, Texas, for Tom Mitchell, the owner of the team, and to the Ford people because the F-150 is the number one selling truck in Texas. It ran good, but we just had a tire get cut down. We still finished on the lead lap and I think we were 20th or 21st, somewhere along in there, but we had a great truck and the win just slipped away from us.
After being off for a couple of weeks, we are finally back to racing again. As always, I’ve kept busy. David Starr Racing, my show car simulator company, has taken up a lot of my time, and we went testing for two days at Darlington a couple of weeks ago, so that was pretty cool. I was also able to enjoy the 4th of July with my family at the lake, and that was a lot of fun. While I have enjoyed my time off, I am definitely looking forward to getting back to what I love to do, which is racing.
Last week at Daytona International Speedway, Randy Moss announced he had purchased 50% of Morgan-Dollar Motorsports from team owner David Dollar rather than starting his team from the ground up. Morgan-Dollar Motorsports has now become Randy Moss Motorsports, and the No. 46 truck is now the No. 81, the number Moss wears on the football field. Though the announcement earlier this season of his interest in the series seemed to come out of nowhere, Randy Moss has had thoughts of running a NASCAR team for a while.
Q: Hi Matt! My husband and I were trying to remember the last time brothers won three straight races before Kyle and Kurt did so. We can’t think of a time it has happened unless Terry and Bobby Labonte did it. Or maybe Kurt and Kyle themselves? Can you help us out?