Race Weekend Central

Tracking the Trucks: 2007 Mountain Dew 250 at Talladega

In a Nutshell: Todd Bodine took the checkered flag 0.014 seconds ahead of Rick Crawford to win the Mountain Dew 250 at Talladega on Saturday afternoon. Bodine survived an intense three-wide battle with Crawford and Johnny Benson to win his second race of the season. Jason Leffler and Dennis Setzer rounded out the top five. Rookie of the year contender Willie Allen finished sixth, his best finish of the season, followed by Ron Hornaday Jr. in seventh. Chad Chaffin, Regan Smith and Jon Wood rounded out the top 10.

Who Should Have Won: Bodine. Bodine started on the pole before finding himself deep in the pack with handling woes; however, the team worked hard to move the No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota back towards the front. The Toyota Tundra took the lead for the final time on lap 74, when Jack Sprague got caught up in a six-truck accident, and fended off all challengers the rest of the way. Bodine led a total of 46 laps, the most of any driver, in what was an impressive performance at the biggest speedway on tour.

Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race

1. Did Kyle Busch and Jacques Villeneuve learn anything they can take into Sunday’s Nextel Cup race?

Busch went into the Mountain Dew 250 this afternoon hoping to gain a little bit of insight on what to expect in Sunday afternoon’s Nextel Cup race. “The trucks, just like the CoT, have more drag and they both have more power so drafting is different, but similar to the truck,” said Busch. “The way both the CoT and the trucks are built, the bumpers line up, so I expect you’ll see a lot of bump-drafting in both races.” Busch started 29th and finished 14th, indeed participating in bump-drafts while putting together a solid all-around performance that can only help him moving forward.

Meanwhile, in his second start of the season, Villeneuve qualified his truck in the 10th position, but the team was forced to move to the back prior to the start due to unapproved changes made to the truck. On lap 54, Villeneuve was involved in an accident with TJ Bell and Bryan Silas that took him out of the race, leaving him with a 30th-place finish. “There was a truck in front of me,” said Villeneuve. “I slowed down to avoid him and got collected. Once you lose the pack, you’re done. I hope there won’t be a repeat tomorrow.”

While neither driver had a spectacular finish, both got some much needed track time. Only Busch and Villeneuve know what they got that might help them Sunday afternoon in the Nextel Cup race, but expect to see the two try something they learned. By the way, Villeneuve will make his Nextel Cup debut when he takes the green flag from the sixth position; Busch qualified 36th.

2. How did Leffler fare in his first start of the 2007 season?

Leffler made his first start in the No. 1 RFMS/Red Horse Racing Toyota Tundra Saturday evening. He replaced David Green, who took the ride after Aaron Fike was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR for violating their substance-abuse policy. Leffler started ninth with a 179.538-mph lap and finished in fourth.

Truck Rookie Report
2007 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Willie Allen (No. 13)
Blake Bjorklund (currently without a Truck Series ride)
Aaron Fike (suspended indefinitely)
Matt McCall (currently without a Truck Series ride)
Tim Sauter (No. 07)
Tyler Walker (suspended indefinitely)
Kelly Bires (currently racing the No. 47 in the Busch Series)
Joey Clanton (No. 09) (16 races)
Casey Kingsland (currently without a Truck Series ride)
Peter Shepherd (No. 50)
Jason White (No. 7)

No. of Rookies in the Race: 4
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 1
Rookie of the Race: Allen

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle

The 2008 Craftsman Truck Series schedule was announced earlier this week. The season will begin at Daytona International Speedway in February and ends at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November, with the same 22 tracks on the schedule this season all making a return appearance in 2008. The series will visit Atlanta, Martinsville and Texas twice.

The Truck Series has visited Talladega twice, and both times the winner started on the pole. In addition, Bodine is the only driver to finish in the top five in both of the Truck Series’ visits to Talladega. He finished fourth in 2007.

Toyota needs just one more win to clinch to 2007 manufacturers’ championship.

Hornaday Jr. once again took the points lead and now leads Mike Skinner by 14. Hornaday Jr. struggled in the early stages of the race but bounced back to finish seventh, four positions ahead of Skinner. Travis Kvapil lost over 50 points on the leaders and now sits 234 points out of first. Bodine and Benson round out the top five.


“We only made one change in practice to make this Toyota truck run better. It was awesome. It’s typical Talladega. The guys get racing hard and try to jockey for position at the end of the race. Somebody bumps somebody else and pretty soon everybody is crashing. Rick timed it just a little too late. If the start-finish line was down another couple 100 yards, he probably would have been by me. He almost timed it perfectly.” – Todd Bodine

“I was getting a really good run off of [turn] 4 , but if I had pulled out (too early), I would have finished 10th or 15th. So I had to take the draft, I had to use it as much as I could. I got the side draft off of Todd, I was just four feet short. [It was] a bold move there at the end to try to make it exciting for the fans in my home state of Alabama.” – Rick Crawford

“If [Crawford] would have had a manufacturer behind him the same as him, he would have gone on by [Bodine]. I just tried to win the race myself. I thought we were going to get there. Between first, second and third, it had to have been pretty tight.” – Johnny Benson, finished third

Up Next: The Craftsman Truck Series heads to Martinsville Speedway in two weeks for the Kroger 250 on Oct. 20. The qualifying record, set in 2005, is currently held by Crawford with a speed of 95.966 mph. Sprague won this race last year, and Skinner won this season’s spring event. Coverage begins Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. ET on SPEED; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.

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