Race Weekend Central

Tracking the Trucks: 2009 Mountain Dew 250 at Talladega

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In a Nutshell: Kyle Busch took the checkered flag 0.057 seconds ahead of Aric Almirola to win the Mountain Dew 250 Saturday afternoon (Oct. 31) at Talladega Superspeedway. Busch led only 10 laps on the night and received help in the form of a push from Almirola to score his sixth win of the season. Todd Bodine, Terry Cook and David Starr rounded out the top five.

Who Should Have Won: Bodine. It’s no secret that Bodine and Germain Racing have restrictor-plate racing figured out, having won the four previous restrictor-plate races. The driver of the No. 30 Copart Toyota took the lead with one lap to go on a green-white-checkered finish, but the combined power of teammates Busch and Almirola moved ahead on the final lap. Bodine led 24 laps Saturday afternoon after starting sixth and went on to finish third.

Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race

1. What happened to points leader Ron Hornaday Jr.?

Ron Hornaday Jr. started in the 13th position Saturday afternoon but was deep in the field two laps down when the checkered flag flew. Early in the running of the Mountain Dew 250, Hornaday Jr. teamed up with teammate Ricky Carmichael and quickly moved into the top five within the first seven laps.

Following a lap 38 caution, Hornaday Jr. pitted for fuel and repairs to his truck but stalled when he tried to take off from that stop. He teamed up with Bodine and the two drafted their way through the field and into the top 10. When Bodine had to move away from Hornaday Jr., he dropped quickly back to the 18th position and radioed his crew that he felt they were in danger of losing the draft altogether.

On lap 91, Hornaday Jr. was one of 10 trucks collected when Mike Skinner made contact with Johnny Sauter, causing heavy damage to the right front. Despite the late-race accident, the No. 33 crew quickly worked to repair the truck and allow Hornaday Jr. to get back on the track for the GWC finish.

To add insult to injury, the driver of the No. 33 blew a tire on the final lap but managed to limp his way around to the start-finish line to finish 17th, two laps down. Understandably, Hornaday Jr. sounded pretty disappointed after the checkered flag flew.

“It’s Talladega. I’m not really sure how we were involved in that wreck,” Hornaday Jr. said. “Before I knew what was happening we were in it. I’m really proud of this No. 33 Copart team for never giving up and working to get the truck back out on the track to finish with so few laps left. We will just got to Texas next week and try to get back what we lost.”

As a result of the 17th-place finish, Hornaday Jr.’s points lead shrank to 202 points, but he is still well in command of the standings and will likely earn a record fourth championship.

2. How did Mike and Chrissy Wallace fare in their historic race?

Father-daughter duo Mike and Chrissy Wallace set out to make NASCAR history Saturday afternoon when the two raced together in the Mountain Dew 250. It was the first time ever a father-daughter combination raced against each other in any of NASCAR’s top-three series.

Chrissy Wallace started her No. 08 Fuel-Doctor.com Chevrolet in the 27th position and her father Mike wasn’t too far behind in the 33rd position. The first caution flew on lap 7 and Mike and Chrissy chose not to pit when the rest of the field did. The father-daughter duo briefly ran 1-2 under that caution.

On lap 43, Chrissy Wallace found herself out front on a restart before Brian Scott took the lead from her. A little later with 32 laps remaining, Mike Wallace simultaneously started to lose his left-front fender and hood, resulting in a black flag. He retired from the race and was credited with a 28th-place finish for the No. 48 Rockingham Speedway Polar Bear 150 Chevrolet, while his daughter Chrissy finished in the 13th position, a career best for her.

Mike Wallace may want to forget the race at Talladega Superspeedway, but it’s certain Chrissy should be happy after her performance Saturday afternoon. She hopes to gain more exposure to help find a sponsor to run full time in the 2010 season for Rick Ware Racing. And since her goal was to beat her dad this weekend, the 21-year-old driver has some bragging rights she can hold over his head.

3. Did NASCAR make the right move with the 2010 rule changes announced this week?

As the Camping World Truck Series moves closer to the end of the 2009 season, it’s time NASCAR started thinking about the 2010 season and rule changes. Earlier this week, several rule changes were announced that will go in effect in February for the season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

One of the most anticipated changes will likely be the implementation of double-file restarts “shootout style.” The format will mirror the ones used in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series. For each restart, the trucks will be lined up the same way they are at the beginning of the race. Additionally, the leader will be able to choose which lane to restart the race in. Lapped trucks will have the option to stay on the track and be “waved around” to gain a lap. If a pit stop is needed by the driver, it will have to be done after the green flag flies.

Perhaps the most important change is the pit-road rule change necessitated by the double-file restart rule. For the second consecutive season, NASCAR is changing pit-road rules and will allow drivers to take tires and fuel on a single stop in the 2010 season. Because teams will be able to get all service at once, one extra crew member will be allowed over the wall, changing the number from five to six.

In a related change, teams will now have the option to use a self-venting fuel can that teams can use in addition to the conventional fuel can. Additionally, Goodyear’s tire-lease program will continue with a few minor changes. Tires will be allowed to be transferred between the different national series at companion events, provided they both carry the same D-codes. Goodyear also plans to provide extra tires for the teams and they will be notified in advance of the availability of extra tires.

NASCAR made a very smart decision to get rid of a rule that never should have been implemented in the first place. The reasoning behind the change at the beginning of the 2009 season was to save teams money, but quite a few teams were burned by green-flag pit stops that cost them finishing positions and ultimately purse money.

Overall the changes for the 2010 season are something to look forward to. With the implementation of double-file restarts and again allowing teams to service their trucks in one stop, the racing should be more exciting than ever. Add to that a few new teams hoping to run full time next season, and the championship race should be yet another close one.

Truck Rookie Report
2009 Rookie of the Year Candidates
Chase Austin (No. 32 – on hold due to funding)
James Buescher (No. 10)
Ricky Carmichael (No. 4 – part-time, shared ride)
JR Fitzpatrick (No. 4 – part-time, shared ride)
Tayler Malsam (No. 81)
Johnny Sauter (No. 13)

No. of Rookies in the Race: 6
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 0
Rookie of the Race: Sauter, finished 13th

“I actually cost the No. 88 (Matt Crafton) the race. If I wouldn’t have pulled up in front of him he probably could have won it. We struggled from the word go to the end of the race. It’s just frustrating. I hate it, but that’s the way it is. Just glad to get the heck out of here.” – Johnny Sauter

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle

Steve Park made his return to the CWTS Saturday afternoon behind the wheel of the No. 02 KOMA Unwind/CorrieStottRacing.com Chevrolet. He started in the 31st position and finished 25th after losing his engine with 17 laps remaining.

See also
Tearing Apart the Trucks: Steve Park Returns to Series

Busch’s sixth victory this season allowed Toyota to clinch the CWTS manufacturers’ championship. This is the fourth consecutive title for Toyota in the six years since they joined the series in 2004. Last season, Toyota didn’t clinch the championship until after the Chevy Silverado 350 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Austin Dillon attempted to qualify for his third career CWTS race Friday at Talladega Superspeedway but didn’t get to race after his qualifying time was thrown out. The No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet was found to be too low in post-qualifying inspection due to an unintentional error in constructing the shocks.

Mario Gosselin debuted his new sponsor MyTireMonkey.com at Talladega this weekend. He ran second quickest in practice and started his No. 12 Chevrolet in the 20th position. When the checkered flag flew, Gosselin had moved up to the sixth position, a career-best finish for him.

Hornaday Jr. continues to sit atop the standings with a 202-point lead over Crafton. Skinner remains in third, 327 points behind. Bodine and Colin Braun, who moved up one spot round out the top five.

Scott dropped one spot and finds himself just 30 points behind Braun. Timothy Peters remains in the seventh position but has moved within one point of the sixth position. Sauter remains in seventh, just 17 points behind Peters. Starr and Rick Crawford round out the top 10.


“I owe everything to Aric Almirola [Saturday]. From that last pit stop to the end, I told him that, if he just stayed with me, they wouldn’t be able to beat the No. 15 (Almirola) and the No. 51 (Busch). Awesome job to Aric. He can take half of my pay after [Saturday]. I don’t get paid anything. I don’t know what Billy Ballew will work out with him.” – Kyle Busch

“I’m just proud of Billy Ballew and all these guys on his race team, man. His 300th start – for him to win in that fashion, that was pretty cool. I’m just disappointed. I told Bill before the race started that I wanted it to be a 1-2 finish, but I wanted to be ‘1’ some kind of bad.” – Aric Almirola, finished second

“We got used to winning for sure. We made the right move – we had a great truck and made the right move at the end and got the lead. We just didn’t have a teammate. I could have blocked him (Kyle Busch) coming to the checkers, but I didn’t want to be like Carl Edwards and end up in the fence. There’s nothing you can do but be happy with it, and we had a good day.” – Todd Bodine, finished third

Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway next Friday night (Nov. 6) for the WinStar World Casino 350. Coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. ET; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.

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