Keeping Pace

MONDAY, APRIL 20, 2009, 12:14 A.M.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series News And Notes

 (The Spokesman-Review)
(The Spokesman-Review)

The Midwest is familiar territory for Stacy Compton. While he has only two starts at Kansas Speedway, he has raced at both I-70 Speedway and Heartland Park Topeka, which hosted the series from 1995 to 1999.

Series Well-Represented In West Coast Hall Of Fame

Courtesy: NASCAR

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series notables will be among the 2009 inductees into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame. Founded in 2001, the Hall of Fame was established to honor those who have contributed to racing’s development and history.

On July 3 at Irwindale Speedway, Rick Carelli, Doug George and Wayne Spears will become some of its newest members.

Carelli, who currently serves as general manager at Kevin Harvick Inc., is no stranger in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series garage. As a driver, he won the 1993 NASCAR Camping World Series West championship before moving to the series. In 134 NCWTS starts, he collected four wins, 22 top-five and 60 top-10 finishes with a best points finish of sixth in the inaugural 1995 season.

"I think it is a really great honor,” he said. “I mean, look at all of the West Coast guys who are in the Series now making it happen. I am truly thankful for all of the people I met while I was still racing on the West Coast. With the addition of all us West Coasters to NASCAR, I like to think we helped it evolve into what it is today, not just a southern sport."

Like Carelli, Doug George made his mark as a driver before moving to a leadership position within the series. The Atwater, Calif., native won six times en route to winning the 1995 NASCAR Camping World Series West championship. These days George is found atop the pit box calling the shots for Kyle Busch (No. 51 Miccosukee Resorts Toyota) with Billy Ballew Motorsports. Together they have collected two wins so far this season. “Its truly an honor to be put in a class with these other inductees who I grew up watching, working with and racing against,” said George. “They’re the reason I’ve continued my career in racing.”

Former team owner Wayne Spears was among some of the founding teams in the NCWTS. In 13 seasons, Spears Motorsports racked up 317 starts, four wins, 37 top-five and 108 top-10 finishes with drivers such as fellow California native Kevin Harvick, David Starr (No. 25 Zachry Toyota) and Dennis Setzer. Spears’ No. 75 Chevrolet was among the top 10 in points four different times, the highest of fifth in 2002 with Starr.

Compton Riding Wave Of Momentum To Kansas

Veteran driver Stacy Compton looks ahead to the next stop on the schedule with much optimism. He and his No. 60 Wyler Racing Toyota team are riding a wave of momentum coming off a sixth-place finish at Martinsville Speedway. The finish was his best so far this season, and with new crew chief Marcus Richmond guiding the team, he believes there is more to come.

“Things are really turning,” said Compton. “We unloaded good in Martinsville and were among the fastest in practice. Marcus is a great fit. I’m really excited and the guys are excited.”

His solid finish also moved him closer to the top 10 in the 2009 standings. Compton sits 11th, a mere one point behind Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Truck Corral/International Truck Engine Ford). At this point last season, he found himself back in 19th in the standings.

Another motivating factor for the Wyler Racing team – a new sponsor. Safe Auto Insurance, which was on board at Martinsville, liked what they saw and will remain with the team.

The Midwest is familiar territory for Compton. While he has only two starts at Kansas Speedway, he has raced at both I-70 Speedway and Heartland Park Topeka, which hosted the series from 1995 to 1999.

Heartland, a road-course track about 60 miles west of Kansas Speedway, marks the place where Compton grabbed his last win in the series in 1998.

“The Midwest is a good place for me,” he said. “It’s always fun to go out there.”

In The Loop: Points Position Belies Braun's On-Track Performance

On the surface, Colin Braun (No. 6 Con-Way Freight Ford) looks mired in the dreaded sophomore slump.

But statistically, he is not faring as badly as his 21st-place points position would suggest. 

Braun, the 2008 Raybestos Rookie of the Year, has suffered two consecutive DNFs – both due to accidents.

Still, Braun ranks well inside the top 10 in almost every key statistical category. He has a Driver Rating of 80.3 (11th-best), an Average Running Position of 13.8 (11th), a 14th-fastest Green Flag Speed and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 58.3.

All those numbers could be better, if not for his early-race accident at Martinsville. Braun ran only 32 of the 251 laps that race. It was the first time this season he had an Average Running Position outside the top 10 (32.5) and a Driver Rating below 82.9 (42.8).

Braun’s in-race progression – or lack thereof – tells the story of his struggles. He has a strong average starting position of 5.3 – second-best of drivers who have started all four races this season. Then his numbers start falling. Braun has an average mid-race position of 14.8 and an average finish of 22.5.

But Braun can take solace in his 11th-best Driver Rating, which is 10 positions better than his points position – the largest differential between points position and Driver Rating rank on the series. His Driver Rating of 80.3 suggests that if Braun continues his current performances, his luck should swing.

Etc. ...

NCWTS sophomore Brian Scott (No. 16 Albertson’s Toyota) made his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut over the weekend at Nashville Superspeedway in the No. 10 Dollar General Toyota for Braun Racing. He finished his first outing in the 25th position. Veterans Dennis Setzer and Terry Cook (No. 24 Harris Trucking Toyota) also spent their off weekend in Nashville with the series.

Three-time series champion Ron Hornaday Jr  (No. 33 Longhorn/VFW Chevrolet) and team co-owner and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick spent their off week visiting injured military members at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, April 7.

David Starr and Chase Austin (No. 32 Trail Motorsports Chevrolet) head to Kansas City Tuesday, April 14 for a visit to Kaufman Stadium. The veteran and rookie will see if they have what it takes as they will hit batting practice with the Kansas City Royals. Both will also be on hand to throw out the first pitch as the Royals face off against the Cleveland Indians.

Help support earthquake victims in Italy, native home of driver Max Papis (No. 9 GEICO Toyota). Papis will be auctioning off a race-worn helmet as well as other various autographed  items on eBay.
Raybestos Rookie Standings after four races of the 2009 season:

1. J.R. Fitzpatrick    42
2. Tayler Malsam     38
3. James Buescher  38
4. Ricky Carmichael 37
5. Johnny Sauter      32
6. Chase Austin       16
7. Brent Raymer       12
8. Chris Jones            5 

Up Next

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will head to Kansas Speedway for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 on Saturday, April 25.

In eight trips to the Midwest track, Victory Lane has yet to see a repeat winner. The winners have come from all experience levels, from rookie of the year contenders like Ricky Hendrick in 2001 and three-time series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. a year ago.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 2009 Manufacturers' Championship Standings
following Race 4 of 25 at Martinsville Speedway:

Toyota     33
Chevrolet 27
Ford        16
Dodge      12

Fast Facts

Next Race: O’Reilly Auto Parts 250
The Place: Kansas Speedway
The Date: Sat., April 25, 2009
The Time: 6 p.m. ET
Race Distance: 250.5 miles / 167 laps
TV: SPEED, 5:30 p.m. ET
Track Layout: 1.5-mile paved
2008 Winner: Ron Hornaday Jr.
2008 Polesitter: Ron Hornaday Jr.
Schedule: Friday–Practice, 1:30- 2:30 p.m. and   3:30-5 p.m. Saturday–Qualifying, 12:45 p.m.

2009 Driver Standings

Rk Driver                 Points
1   Kyle Busch          682
2   Todd Bodine         644
3   Ron Hornaday Jr.  611
4   Mike Skinner        606
5   Matt Crafton          561
6   Terry Cook            528
7   Johnny Benson     515
8   Chad McCumbee  505
9   Timothy Peters     503
10 Rick Crawford       496

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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.