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Keeping Pace

Truck Series Raybestos Rookies Have The Foot To The Floor

The two top drivers in 2008’s Raybestos Rookie of the Year class, Washington state native, Tayler Malsam (No. 81 One Eighty Toyota) and James Buescher (No. 10 International MAXX Force Diesel Ford), are continuing to impress out of the gate.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 26, 2009) – This weekend the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to Dover International Speedway for the AAA Insurance 200, the seventh stop this season on the 25-race schedule. The 2009 season has lived up to the bill of competition.

►There have been four different points standings leaders over the first six races of the season — Todd Bodine (No. 30 Toyota), Kyle Busch (No. 51 Miccosukee Resorts Toyota), Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota) and Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Longhorn Chevrolet). 

►84 points separate first and second in the standings; while first to 10th in the standings are separated by 207 points.

►There have been five different winners in the first six races this season — Bodine (Daytona); Busch (Auto Club Speedway and Atlanta); Kevin Harvick (No. 2 KHI/Bounty Chevrolet, Martinsville); Skinner (Kansas) and Hornaday (Charlotte).

►Kyle Busch has led the most laps in the first six races of the season, leading 285 laps or 34% of the total 847 laps run.

Dover International Speedway will be hosting its 10th Anniversary of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competiion on the 1-mile banked concrete speedway this weekend. Duplicating success at Dover is very difficult; there have been no repeat winners in the first nine series events. Kyle Busch and Ron Hornaday Jr. are the only previous winners in the field this weekend. And with the momentum both the No. 33 and No. 51 teams have built coming out of Charlotte, it wouldn’t be surprising if either are up front this weekend.  

Kevin Harvick Inc. Looking Towards The Future

Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) announced this week that J.R. Fitzpatrick (No. 4 KHI Chevrolet) will compete for the team in selected events in both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series throughout the remainder of the 2009 season. The Cambridge, Ontario, Canada native will drive in eight NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events, beginning with the AAA Insurance 200 at Dover on May 29.

“This is a great opportunity for me and I firmly believe that I am joining the best team in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series,” said Fitzpatrick. “I believe racing is all about confidence and I have that knowing that I am going to be in great equipment driving for Kevin Harvick Inc.”  

“We’re glad to have J.R. Fitzpatrick join KHI for the remainder of the 2009 season,” said KHI co-owner Kevin Harvick.  “J.R. and I both got our starts in go-karts and he has taken a path similar to mine, moving up through the stock-car ranks, during his career.  It will be exciting to watch him attempt to take that next step in his racing career.”

In addition, Fitzpatrick will compete in two NASCAR Nationwide Series events, the first being at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International Raceway and the second at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Terry Cook Starting To Find His Stride

Terry Cook (No. 25 Cajun Industries Toyota) started driving for James Harris and HT Motorsports in October of last season at Martinsville and since then he has made 11 starts, posting five top-10 finishes including three top fives in the first six races in 2009 — Daytona, Atlanta and Charlotte.

Cook has gotten off to a hot start.  He moved up three spots last weekend from ninth to sixth in the points standings after his fifth-place finish at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

The 2009 NASCAR Season-To-Date Loop Data shows Cook has improved considerably over his 2008 stats. In 2008 after the race at LMS, Cook was ranked ninth in Driver Rating with (86.0); this season he ranks sixth with a rating of (89.4).  Last season in Average Running Position he was ranked 10th with (13.399), while in 2009 he ranks sixth with an Average Running Position of (10.967). Cook’s largest improvement is in Laps In The Top 15. Last season at this time he was ranked eighth with 66.7% of his laps run in the top 15; this season he ranks fourth with 81.6% of his laps run in the top 15.

Cook has made nine starts at Dover International Speedway posting one top five and three top-10 finishes.

In 2008, he finished 13th at Dover driving for Jeff Wyler in the No. 60 truck. 

Raybestos Rookies Have The Foot To The Floor

The two top drivers in 2008’s Raybestos Rookie of the Year class, Tayler Malsam (No. 81 One Eighty Toyota) and James Buescher (No. 10 International MAXX Force Diesel Ford), are continuing to impress out of the gate.

Malsam has posted two top-10 finishes in the first six races this season to set himself apart as the rookie to beat this season. He is five points ahead of Buescher (second) in the rookie standings.

Malsam’s consistency is playing a big part in his early success. He has  posted five top-15 finishes in the first six races of the season. Sitting 12th in the series standings, he’s only 224 points behind standings leader Ron Hornaday Jr.

Buescher, currently second in the rookie standings, is also having an impressive early  season. Like Malsam, Buescher has also  collected five top-15 finishes in the first six races of 2009. He is 14th in the series standings, 25 points behind Malsam in 12th.

Though Malsam leads the rookie standings, Buescher is gaining on him. The 2009 NASCAR Season-To-Date Loop Data shows Buescher ahead of Malsam in three key categories: Driver Rating–Buescher has (79.3) while Malsam has (79.0); Average Running Position–Buescher has (13.727) while Malsam has (14.548); and Laps In The Top 15, Buescher has 63.3% of laps run in the top 15 and Malsam has 59.4% of laps run in the top 15.

Neither driver has a series start at Dover International Speedway which could shake up the rookie standings this weekend.

Raybestos Rookie Of The Year Standings

Rk  Driver    Points
1.   Tayler Malsam      62
2.   James Buescher   57
3.   Johnny Sauter       54
4.   Ricky Carmichael  45
5.   J.R. Fitzpatrick     42
6.   Brent Raymer       24
7.   Chris Jones          19
8.   Chase Austin       16
9.   Brian Ickler            8

Wayne’s Words: Dover

“As we get ready to head north this weekend for the AAA Insurance 200 at Dover International Speedway, several things come to mind when I think of Dover. The first thing is fast, fast, fast.

“This track can be very unpredictable because of the high banks and the high speeds, which can lead to a self-cleaning race track.

“The concrete surface also provides an added challenge that the competitors don’t normally see at some other tracks.

“The action really heats up at this time of the year. Last year’s race was the third in a row for first-time winners which is a record in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. 2008 rookie contender Scott Speed captured his first win and there is a good chance we could see a rookie grab the checkers again this year.

“The biggest obstacle all the competitors will be facing this weekend at Dover will be the new pit road. Getting on pit road and down to pit road speed could be the catalyst to some doing well and some not doing so well.”

Wayne Auton
-NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Director

The Monster Mile
will host the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for the 10th year this Friday, May 29. The fast, concrete track has a new pit road for competitors to maneuver.

Mike Bliss Could Make It Two Wins In A Row

This weekend, Mike Bliss can repeat 2002, arguably his most successful season in NASCAR racing.

That season, Bliss won five NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races en route to capturing the series championship.

He also won on back-to-back weekends (at Kansas and Kentucky), a feat Bliss hasn’t matched since.

This weekend might be the weekend. Bliss won the rain-shortened NASCAR Nationwide Series race last Saturday night, and has tremendous statistics at Dover in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Bliss has finished in the top five in all three of his Dover starts in the series. In his last two (a fourth-place finish in 2006 and a fifth in 2007), Bliss racked up impressive Loop Data statistics.

At Dover, Bliss has a Driver Rating of 106.3, an Average Running Position of 6.3, 35 Fastest Laps Run, a Pass Differential (passes minus times passed) of +13 and has run all 400 of his laps among the top 15.

The leader in the telling Laps in the Top 15 category is Ron Hornaday Jr., who won the Dover race in 2007. At Dover, Hornaday has run 796 of the 800 laps among the top 15. Additionally, he has a Driver Rating of 124.0, an Average Running Position of 4.8, 89 Fastest Laps Run and a series-best Pass Differential of +36. He has finished in the top 10 in all four of his races and has led laps in three of the four.

Chevrolet Gaining On Toyota In 2009 Manufacturers’ Standings

With the win at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, series standings leader Ron Hornaday Jr.  closed the gap in the 2009 manufacturers’ standings to six points between Toyota  and Chevrolet.

Toyota has led the manufacturers’ standings for six straight weeks since Todd Bodine won at Daytona and Kyle Busch posted two consecutive wins at California and Atlanta.

Though the other manufacturers are trying to keep up with Toyota, it is no surprise the Japanese automaker is out front. Toyota has led the most laps this season, leading 450 of a possible 847 laps. That is 53% of laps run in 2009. Toyota has the most poles with two and the most wins this season with four — Daytona, California, Atlanta and Kansas.

Chevrolet is not far behind Toyota, the manufacturer has two wins this season — Martinsville and Charlotte.  Chevrolet drivers have led 246 of a possible 847 laps this season totaling 29% of the total laps run in 2009.

Dodge also is making gains on third-place Ford, just six points behind.  Though Toyota made it to Victory Lane for the first time last season at Dover International Speedway with Scott Speed, Dodge leads the series in wins at the famed 1-mile concrete track.

2009 Manufacturers’ Championship Standings following Race 6 of 25 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway:

Toyota:     48
Chevrolet: 42
Ford:        24
Dodge:     18

Up Next: Texas Motor Speedway

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will head west to the state of Texas for the Winstar World Casino 400 at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday, June 5.

Ron Hornaday Jr. swept both Texas Motor Speedway events last season.

Former winners Todd Bodine (No. 30 Toyota) and Brendan Gaughan share the series record for most wins at TMS with four each — (Bodine, 2004, 05, 06, 07; Gaughan, four straight wins, swept  2002 and 2003).

Fast Facts

Next Race:
AAA Insurance 200
The Place: Dover International Speedway
The Date: Fri., May 29, 2009
The Time: 5 p.m. ET
Race Distance: 200 miles / 200 laps
TV: SPEED, 8:00 p.m. ET (tape delay)
Track Layout: 1-mile Concrete
2008 Winner: Scott Speed
2008 Polesitter: Mike Skinner
Schedule: Thursday–Practice, 2:30-3:45 p.m. and  4:15-5:30 p.m.; Friday—Qualifying, 10:10 a.m.

2009 Driver Standings
Rk Driver                 Points
1   Ron Hornaday Jr. 966
2   Mike Skinner       882
3   Matt Crafton        877
4   Kyle Busch         852
5   Todd Bodine        837
6   Terry Cook          786
7   Johnny Benson    779
8   Chad McCumbee 770
9   Stacy Compton    762
10 Brian Scott          759

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

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