NASCAR Truck Notes – Michigan Preview

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 11, 2007) ? Last year at Michigan International Speedway, Johnny Benson (No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota) was able to deliver his first series win for his hometown fans. The win helped jump-start his season and propelled him to a second-place finish in the standings.

Benson is currently eighth in the standings and could use a similar bump this weekend.

?I am very excited about Michigan. It is my home track on the NASCAR side, and it is a great place to race,? Benson said. ?This is where we turned things around last year and I am hoping to do it again. We have had some unfortunate luck the last few weeks, even though our truck has been incredibly fast.

Hopefully we can come out of Michigan with another win.?

After last year?s win at Michigan, Benson went on to capture four more victories. Benson is hoping to earn his first of this year at home.

?We have a ton of family and friends here, so that always pumps you up when you are racing,? Benson said.

Wayne And Connie Spears Reach 300 Races
Wayne and Connie Spears, owners of Spears Motorsports, will become the first owners to reach 300 races this weekend. The Spears are the only owners to field a team in each of the series? 13 seasons, including the inaugural race at Phoenix International Raceway in 1995.

The Spears gave Kevin Harvick (No. 2 Camping World Chevrolet) his first permanent ride in a NASCAR national series in 1997, when he ran 13 of the season?s 26 events. The following year, Harvick competed full-time for Spears Motorsports in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series. He won the West Series championship that year, clinching the title in the final race of the year at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It was during Harvick?s title run that the Spears missed two NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races to attend the West Series races.

Spears Motorsports has four wins, three by David Starr (No. 10 International MAXX Force Diesel Ford) between 2002 and 2004. Current driver Dennis Setzer (No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet) won the Ohio 250 last month at Mansfield Motorsports Park.

Cook Will Be Third Driver To Compete in 250 Races
Terry Cook (No. 59 Harris Trucking Toyota) will hit a major milestone this weekend when he becomes the third driver in series history to compete in 250 races. Rick Crawford (No. 14 Power Stroke Diesel by International Ford) and Jack Sprague (No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota) share the series record with 256 starts.

?I hope to be here for another 250 races,? Cook said. ?I feel like I haven?t reached my prime yet as a driver and that I have a lot of racing ahead of me. To be affiliated with Jim Harris and the HT Motorsports Toyota Tundra team is one of the best opportunities I?ve had in racing and I think we have a bright future together. I?m proud to have competed in 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races and I?m equally excited about the next 250 on the schedule.?

Adding to the excitement of his 250th race is the fact that it comes at Michigan International Speedway. He hails from Sylvania, Ohio, a mere 50 miles from the track.

?To have my 250th career start at what I consider my true, hometown track is a very big deal to me,? Cook said. ?I never thought I?d compete in 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races, and it?s not a goal where I looked at the calendar and said ?I want to do that at Michigan.? It?s just something that?s worked out that way. To do both is more than I ever dreamed of.?

In his 12-year career, Cook has racked up six wins, 26 top fives and 92 top 10s. He has experienced success at Michigan, where he has five top-10 finishes in seven starts.

Cook has competed in 231 consecutive races, a series record. He has started every race since the beginning of 1998.

NCTS Etc.: Poles, Politics and Pulling Double-Duty

Skinner?s Pole Streak Ends ? Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) saw his streak of consecutive Budweiser Poles end at six last Friday, two short of the series record he set in 1995. Skinner was knocked off the pole by Todd Bodine (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota) by 0.081 of-a-second.

Skinner is the most proficient qualifier in series history. He has 38 career poles in 138 starts, leading 2nd place Jack Sprague by eight poles.

Skinner set the series record with eight consecutive poles in 1995, the series? inaugural season. He went on to win four of those races.

Skinner won two of the six races he started on the pole this season. He has won seven races from the pole in his career, one short of Sprague?s series record.

Team Owner Hits Political Road ? Gene Christensen, owner of Green Light Racing, announced his candidacy to run for U.S. Congress on Friday. The Colin County resident is seeking to represent Texas? 4th Congressional District.

Green Light Racing fields two trucks in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series ? the No. 07 Lester Buildings Chevrolet driven by Tim Sauter and the No. 08 Chevrolet driven by Chad McCumbee.

In addition to his duties as owner and president of Green Light Racing, Christensen is a businessman and philanthropist. He is the Executive

Director of People Against Drugs and the Affordable Public Housing Agency.
NEXTEL Cup Stars Go Truckin? ? At least six NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series stars will trade in their cars for trucks this weekend to compete in the Michigan 200.

AJ Allmendinger (No. 00 Aaron?s Lucky Dog Toyota), Kevin Harvick, Bobby Labonte (No. 4 Open Joist Dodge), Ken Schrader (No. 18 Fastenal Dodge), Mark Martin (No. 21 Ford), and Kyle Busch (No. 51 Chevrolet) are all expected to compete in Saturday?s race.

Martin and Labonte finished two-three to Johnny Benson at Michigan last year.

Toyota Leads Manufacturers? Standings
Todd Bodine became the first Toyota driver to go to Victory Lane since Mike Skinner won at Martinsville in March. With the win, Toyota was able to stretch its lead in the Manufacturers? Standings to 12 points over Chevrolet.

Chevrolet had closed the gap to seven points after reeling off three straight victories ? two by Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet). Hornaday Jr. was the top finishing Chevrolet on Friday, but the manufacturer lost points after finishing behind a Toyota and a Ford.

Rick Crawford finished third in Friday?s race, the highest finish for a Ford. Ken Schrader finished eighth, the highest for a Dodge.

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Manufacturers’ Championship
Toyota 67
Chevrolet 55
Ford 48
Dodge 28

In The Loop: Skinner and Bodine Stay Near Top Of Loop Data
The hits just keep on coming for Mike Skinner.

Skinner?s pre-race numbers for last Friday?s race at Texas Motor Speedway were near or at the top of most of the Loop Data statistics. He finished second.

Now, Skinner returns to a track where he has had similar success ? Michigan International Speedway.
In two races at the track, Skinner has an average Driver Rating of 114.1 (third-best), an Average Running Position of 8.026 (third-best) and the third-fastest Green Flag Speed at Michigan over the past two years.

He also has 182 Laps in the Top 15, which is the second-most.

Last week?s winner, Todd Bodine also has good numbers at Michigan. He has a 96.3 Driver Rating and an Average Running Position of 11.424.

Adding intrigue will be the participation of a number of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series regulars. Kevin Harvick, Mark Martin, Kyle Bush, AJ Allmendinger and Bobby Labonte will all pull double duty and run the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race as well.

Harvick and Martin, in particular, have excellent numbers in the Craftsman Trucks. Thanks to a second-place finish in last year?s race at Michigan, Martin has the top pre-race Driver Rating at 143.1 and an Average Running Position of 2.696. He also has 33 Fastest Laps Run, which is more than any driver.

Harvick, with a fourth-place finish in 2005, has an Average Running Position of 5.670 and a Driver Rating of 122.7.

This Week?s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Leaders
(Through 9 races of the 25-race season)

Points leader ? Mike Skinner (1,543)
Driver Rating ? Mike Skinner (123.9)
Winnings ? Mike Skinner ($328,475)
Laps led ? Mike Skinner (526)
Victories ? Mike Skinner (3)
Budweiser Poles ? Mike Skinner (6)
Top-five finishes ? Mike Skinner (7)
Top-10 finishes ? Mike Skinner (9)
Raybestos Rookie Leader ? Aaron Fike (30 over Tim Sauter)
Races led ? Mike Skinner (9)
Weeks in Top 10 ? 9 drivers tied with 9
Raybestos Rookie of the Year Standings

Driver Points
1. Aaron Fike 101
2. Tim Sauter 71
3. Willie Allen 70
4. Blake Bjorklund 65
5. Joey Clanton 59
6. Tyler Walker 51
7. Kelly Bires 44
8. Jason White 33
9. Kevin Hamlin 18
10. Casey Kingsland 5
11. Brian Sockwell 1

Next Race: Michigan 200
The Place: Michigan International Speedway
The Date: June 16
The Time: 3 p.m. (ET)
TV: SPEED, 2:30 p.m. (ET)
Track Layout: 2-mile oval
Race Purse: $617,811
2006 Winner: Johnny Benson
2006 Pole: Mike Skinner

No. Driver Points
1 Skinner 1,543
2 Hornaday Jr. 1,461
3 Bodine 1,362
4 Crawford 1,274
5 Musgrave 1,265
6 Kvapil 1,253
7 Sprague 1,129
8 Benson 1,126
9 Crafton 1,123
10 Fike 1,120

Schedule: Friday ? Practice 10 a.m. ? 11:25 a.m.; 1:10 p.m.. ? 1:40 p.m. (rookies) and 1:50 p.m. ? 3 p.m.
Saturday – Qualifying 11:05 a.m.

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