With Ron Hornaday Jr. behind the wheel of the No. 33 Chevrolet, the Kevin Harvick Inc. owners grabbed their second owners’ title.
Courtesy: NASCAR Media Relations
There certainly were some outstanding performances – both from a driving and racing standpoint – that took place during the recently completed 2009 NASCAR season. The following is a look back at some of those standout performers and memorable races, as selected from discussions with the national series directors, competition department and NASCAR PR managers.
Top Drivers (in alphabetical order)
- Kyle Busch – In 15 starts this season, Busch collected seven wins, 11 top-five and 13 top-10 finishes. Busch had an average finish of 4.3. His strong performance in the final races of the season had his team owner Billy Ballew in contention for his first NASCAR owners’ title up until the season finale.
- Matt Crafton – Finished second in the championship standings, his best finish and fifth top-10 finish in the final standings in nine seasons as a full-time competitor. Crafton earned 11 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes and collected two poles this season. He held the lead in the point standings for two weeks before falling to second behind Hornaday.
- Ron Hornaday Jr. – At the age of 51 he becomes the first driver in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series to win a fourth championship. He joins first ballot Hall of Fame selections Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, along with Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson as the only drivers to have captured four national series titles. Hornaday added his name to another distinguished list by becoming only the third driver to win five consecutive races in NASCAR’s three national series. Petty and Bobby Allison both won five in a row in 1971 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Ron finished the season with six wins, 15 top-five, 20 top-10 finishes, and four poles.
Raybestos Rookie of the Year
- Johnny Sauter – In his first full season in the series, Sauter found the right mix with his ThorSport Racing team to pull ahead in what had been a close battle among the rookie class to win Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors. The Necedah, Wis., native grabbed his first series win at Las Vegas in September. Sauter finished the year sixth in the standings with one win, seven top-five and 13 top-10 finishes along with two poles.
Top Team Owner of the Year
- Kevin and DeLana Harvick – With Ron Hornaday Jr. behind the wheel of the No. 33 Chevrolet, the Kevin Harvick Inc. owners grabbed their second owners’ title. Their first came with Hornaday in 2007. Since entering series competition in 2001, KHI has collected 26 wins, 93 top-fives, 144 top-10s, and 14 poles. Nineteen of those 26 victories have been delivered by Hornaday who joined KHI in 2005.
Top Breakthrough Performers of the Year
- Timothy Peters – In his 64th series start, the Danville, Va., resident scored his first victory at what he calls his home track, Martinsville Speedway. Peters started the season with a single-truck team doing a lot with a little. By June he made the move to Red Horse Racing. In addition to his first win, he collected five top-five and 13 top-10 finishes and one pole. Peters ended his season eighth in the final championship standings.
- Brian Scott – Scored his first career win at Dover International Speedway in May in his 39th start in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The 21-year-old proved tough, finishing among the top of the field with a broken arm earning himself the nickname “One Armed Bandit” from series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. Scott finished the season with one win, seven top-five and 13 top-10 finishes, and seventh in the final championship standings.
Comeback Driver of the Year
- Mike Skinner – Rebounded from a disappointing 2008 to finish third in the final championship standings. Skinner, the 1995 series champion, had only one win and finished sixth in the 2008 point standings. With a new team in 2009, he collected three wins, eight top-five and 17 top-10 finishes. His three poles extended his lead in the series for the most all-time poles to 50.