Keeping Pace

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series News And Notes - Iowa

Austin Dillon (Photo Credit: Charles F. Ward/NASCAR)  (Charles Ward / The Spokesman-Review)
Austin Dillon (Photo Credit: Charles F. Ward/NASCAR) (Charles Ward / The Spokesman-Review)

Austin Dillon, grandson of Richard Childress Racing president and CEO Richard Childress, will be behind the wheel of the No. 3 Chevrolet. The No. 3 is certainly not new to the series by any means. Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota) took it to Victory Lane in the series’ first race at Phoenix in 1995 and then on to claim the series’ first championship that same year.

Courtesy: NASCAR Media Relations

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 31, 2009) – Austin Dillon will be making his series debut this weekend and with that, he’ll return Richard Childress Racing to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for the first time since 1999. Dillon, grandson of RCR president and CEO Richard Childress, will be behind the wheel of the No. 3 Chevrolet. The No. 3 is certainly not new to the series by any means. Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota) took it to Victory Lane in the series’ first race at Phoenix in 1995 and then on to claim the series’ first championship that same year.

"RCR was fortunate enough to win the first race and the first championship in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 1995 with Mike Skinner driving the No. 3 Chevrolet, so it's great to see the No. 3 truck back on the track," said Childress. "We had a great deal of success with that program so I'm excited to see what Austin (Dillon) can do behind the wheel to continue the legacy that's been established. The Truck Series is always very competitive and they put on a great show so Austin driving the No. 3 truck at Iowa will be a good opportunity for his career."

Dillon will be only the third driver in the No. 3 truck. In addition to Skinner, Jay Sauter was behind the wheel from 1997 to 1999.

While he’ll be a rookie to the series, Dillon isn’t a rookie when it comes to Iowa Speedway. The young driver has four starts at the track: One start in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for the series’ inaugural race this season; two starts in the NASCAR Camping World Series East where he has one pole (2008) and two top-ten finishes and one start in the ARCA Re/MAX Series this season where he started 30th and finished second.

“I couldn't have picked a better race track to make my debut,” Dillon said. “I've raced at Iowa Speedway three times this season and feel confident heading back. We think we can be competitive during the race once I get a feel for how the truck handles during the practice sessions. Overall, our goal is to learn as much as we can during the race, earn a solid finish and, more importantly, have fun."

Anything Can Happen With Nine To Go

Last week at Chicagoland Speedway, Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Longhorn Chevrolet) didn’t have the results that have typified his season so far. He qualified outside of the top five for the first time and finished 11th, his lowest finish since a pair of tough races at Dover (26th) and Texas (19th).

Despite a non-typical night, Hornaday holds a solid lead over Matt Crafton (No. 88 Menards Chevrolet). Hornaday is 220 points ahead of the second-place Crafton. But with nine races to go, anything can happen. Just look back to 2005. Ted Musgrave trailed Dennis Setzer by 227 points with ten to go. With nine to go, he trailed the leader by 178 points. In the last nine races, Musgrave had a 233-point swing and ended up winning the championship by 55 points over Setzer.

While they head to another new track this weekend, chances are both these drivers will be a factor.

Hornaday holds the series record for most wins on short tracks. Twenty of his 45 wins in the series have come on tracks of less than a mile in length. During his record-setting, five-race win streak this season, two of those came on short tracks (Memphis, O’Reilly Raceway Park).

Crafton has made it very clear the battle isn’t over. He’s had strong performances on some of the tracks with a length of a mile or less. He scored a sixth-place finish at Dover, fifth at Memphis, and most recently was runner-up to Kyle Busch at Bristol.

"We're definitely still in this thing,” said Crafton. “There's a lot of racing left. We've all seen examples of how points can swing one way or another pretty quickly, so there's no reason to think it won't happen for us. Our focus remains on being as strong as we can be each week, and letting the chips fall where they may. We show up each week expecting good things to happen, and the guys are working their tails off.”

Germain Racing Hoping Past Testing And NASCAR Nationwide Series Notes Get Them To Victory Lane

While the series heads to a new venue this weekend, some members of Germain Racing have a little experience on their side, be it from past testing sessions or the recent NASCAR Nationwide Series race in early August.

Todd Bodine, driver of the No. 30 Toyota, Mike Hillman Sr., Germain Racing’s General Manager and crew chief for the No. 15 Toyota team in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and Bodine’s crew chief, Mike Hillman Jr., share their thoughts on what to expect at the second new venue of the season:

What does Iowa compare to?

Hillman Jr.: “We used Iowa to test for Richmond and places similar to that a couple years ago. The track has gotten a lot rougher, and we’re going to put a basic one-mile package in our truck—something we’d run at a Richmond or Phoenix.”

Hillman Sr.: “Iowa Speedway is a little like Richmond. There are a lot of similarities between the tracks, really. Iowa is a little short track. It’s tough to race there. The cool part about it is there are a couple grooves and you can race two or three wide there—that’s a real bonus for the fans.”

Do you think veterans will have an advantage for the new turf?

Bodine: “Really going to a new track makes it a much more level playing field for the guys that haven’t done it much because we all have to learn the track, we all have to find the setup. The difference is having experience may allow us to get to a good place with our truck a lot faster. Hopefully my experience will help us get to that place even faster.”

Does having notes from the Germain Racing No. 15 Nationwide Series team help?

Hillman Sr.: “I think that having our No. 15 Toyota with Michael Annett in the Nationwide Series race there maybe means we have a little more knowledge, maybe even a little better starting point, but the practice day that NASCAR is giving the Truck Series teams will even things out for everyone.”

Hillman Jr.: “I think the notes from our No. 15 Toyota will help us some, to see what the car went through during the race weekend.”

What to look for or expect at Iowa?

Bodine: “The fans of that area are awesome. We brought a fair amount of people into the stands when we were there for a test.  They had a great turnout for the Nationwide Series race so we’re looking forward to seeing the fans come out again for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

“The track is different than when we tested there. It has been through a few more winters, the pavement is a little rougher, it’s had more tire rubber on it since we were there. We have the notes from the No. 15 team but we don’t really know what to expect.”

Etc.

Brian Ickler will be back behind the wheel of the No. 51 Miccosukee Resort & Casino Toyota for Billy Ballew Motorsports. Ickler made his debut earlier this season at Kansas Speedway where he finished fifth. In his eight starts in the series so far this season, his best finish of third came at Michigan in June. Ickler may have an advantage this weekend. He’s not only raced at Iowa Speedway before, he’s made it to Victory Lane in the NASCAR Camping World Series East race in 2008. He has also competed in the NASCAR Camping World Series West, ARCA Re/MAX Series, and the inaugural NASCAR Nationwide Series race in August.

Iowa fans can be sure to catch the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series haulers as they parade through downtown Newton this Thursday, Sept. 3 at 6 pm. The haulers will head down First Avenue through downtown to Highway 14 before ending at Iowa Speedway to prepare for the action there this weekend.

Loop Data: Almirola, Hornaday Own Short-Track Know How

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series was built on short- track racing, and 14 years after its inaugural season, another one gets added to the schedule.

This weekend’s race at Iowa Speedway will be the fifth of seven short-track races in 2009 (15 of the 20 races in 1995 were on short tracks).

Obviously, this is a statistical blank slate when trying to analyze the race. No previous races equals no previous data.

One driver might have a bit of an advantage: Aric Almirola (No. 15 Billy Ballew Motorsports Toyota). He ran the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Iowa earlier this season, though the results weren’t exactly telling.

Almirola started 28th, finished 34th, had an Average Running Position of 30.7 and posted a Driver Rating of just 55.1.

In other words, Almirola might consider this weekend’s event a mulligan of sorts.

Almirola has certainly performed well in the three short-track races he has run in NASCAR Camping World Truck competition this season. Combined at Memphis, O’Reilly Raceway Park and Bristol this season, Almirola has an average finish of 4.3, an Average Running Position of 10.2, a Driver Rating of 99.1 and 28 Fastest Laps Run.

But the short-track master thus far this season is also the points leader, Ron Hornaday Jr. Hornaday has finished in the top five in all four short-track races, and won two of them (Memphis and ORP).

Combined at short tracks, Hornaday has an average finish of 1.8, a Driver Rating of 133.4, an Average Running Position of 3.5, 258 Laps Led and 137 Fastest Laps Run.

Wayne’s Words: New Short Track For Trucks To Tame

“The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is really looking forward to heading to Iowa this weekend. This will be the second week in a row for us to compete at a new venue. It’s fun to have something new added to the mix every now and then. And it’s always great to hit the short tracks; it’s the root of the series.

“The Midwest fans are great. Last week in Chicago an awesome crowd stuck out some rainy weather for the inaugural race there. It’s cool to stick around in this part of the country to give them another opportunity to see in person what truck racing is all about.

“Newton is a small Iowa town but offers some big excitement as we saw with the NASCAR Nationwide Series last month. They put on a great show and I expect we’ll see nothing but the same this weekend when the trucks hit the track.

“The facility is pretty awesome. Some drivers will relate it to Richmond International Raceway where the series raced from 1995 to 2005. While it may be similar, this track will have its own bumps and grooves the competitors will have to figure out.

“It’s going to be interesting to see who figures it out first and who figures out how to make it to Victory Lane for the first time at Iowa Speedway.” - Wayne Auton, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Director

Rookie Battle

Tayler Malsam’s (No. 81 One-Eighty Toyota) one-point lead dissipated following the series’ inaugural race at Chicagoland Speedway. Johnny Sauter (No. 13 Fun Sand/Rodney Atkins/Curb Records Chevrolet) takes the lead this week, but only with a small seven-point lead.

James Buescher (No. 10 International MAXX Force Diesel Ford) isn’t far behind. He’s only 10 points behind Malsam in third. Iowa won’t be new turf for Buescher, who has three previous starts—one in NASCAR Camping World Series East competition in 2008 and two with the ARCA Re/MAX Series (2008, 2009).

And don’t discount motocross star Ricky Carmichael (No. 4 Monster Energy Chevrolet) at Iowa. He has one start there with the NASCAR Camping World Series East last season.

“I really like this track,” said Carmichael. “I’m really excited to go back to a place where I have been before. I feel like that will give me an advantage. Even though the cars and trucks are very different, I am excited to already have an idea of where to run on the track and what kind of things to expect.”

Raybestos Rookie Of The Year Standings

Rk  Driver                  Points
1.   Johnny Sauter       166
2.   Tayler Malsam       159
3.   James Buescher    149
4.   Ricky Carmichael   103
5.   J.R. Fitzpatrick        79  
6.   Brian Ickler              67
7.   Brent Raymer          59
8.   Chris Jones             53
9.   Chase Austin          16
10. Ryan Hackett           6

Manufacturers' Standings

Toyota pulls away slightly from Chevrolet in the battle for top manufacturer honors following Kyle Busch’s back-to-back wins at Bristol and Chicago. Chevrolet had swiped the lead after Nashville thanks to Ron Hornaday Jr.’s five-win streak. The manufacturer held the top spot but by only one point as the trucks rolled to Bristol.

The series heads to new territory this weekend where each manufacturer has a clean slate as far as records go. Ford had a strong weekend at Chicago with Colin Braun (No. 6 Con-way Freight Ford) and Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar/International Truck Engine Ford) finishing third and fourth, respectively. Maybe they’ll be the first to visit Iowa’s Victory Lane.

2009 Manufacturers' Championship Standings following Race 16 of 25 at Chicagoland Speedway:
Toyota     120
Chevrolet 113
Ford         70
Dodge       49

Up Next: Gateway

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will continue the racing action in the Midwest as they head to Gateway International Raceway for the Copart 200 on Saturday, Sept. 12.

In 11 races at Gateway, only one driver, Ted Musgrave, has been able to make repeat trips to Victory Lane (2001, 2005). Ron Hornaday Jr. is the defending race winner. The win was one of six for him last season. So far this year, he already has six wins with nine more chances to add to the season total.

Other former race winners expected to compete include Terry Cook (2002), David Starr (2004) and Todd Bodine (2006).

Fast Facts

Next Race: Lucas Oil 200

The Place: Iowa Speedway

The Date: Sat., September 5, 2009

The Time: 8:45 p.m. CT

Race Distance: 175 miles / 200 laps

TV: SPEED, 9:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM. Listen locally on KWQW-FM 98.3.

Track Layout: .875-mile Oval

2008 Winner: Inaugural race

2008 Polesitter: Inaugural race

Schedule: Friday: Practice, 10:10 - 11:20 a.m., 12:30 —2:30 p.m., 3:30 - 4:20 p.m., and 6:10—7:30 p.m.; Saturday: Final Practice, 1:00—2:30 p.m., Qualifying, 5:45 p.m.

2009 Standings
Rk Driver                  Points
1   Ron Hornaday Jr. 2,593
2   Matt Crafton        2,373
3   Mike Skinner       2,277
4   Todd Bodine        2,169
5   Brian Scott          2,154
6   David Starr          2,110
7   Colin Braun         2,096
8   Dennis Setzer     2,065
9   Rick Crawford      2,051
10 Terry Cook           2,015




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Keeping Pace

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




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