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NASCAR Kentucky Truck race preview

by Dave Grayson
Saturday, July 18, 2009

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Ron Hornaday and Kevin Harvick
No doubt about it, break time is over for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. For the first time in two weeks NASCAR's definitive definition of a tailgate party returns to the race track this Saturday night at the Kentucky Speedway for the running of the Built Ford Tough 225, presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers.

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SOME GOOD NEWS REGARDING "JB"

Keep sending those good thoughts to former series champion Johnny Benson because they seem to be working very well. Despite some upcoming surgery, Benson continues to mend well from his injuries sustained in a super modified racing accident at Wisconsin's Berlin Raceway.

Sometime next week Benson will be undergoing surgery to repair what was described as a grade four shoulder separation. This procedure was delayed approximately three weeks ago to allow time for a bruise on his lung to heal. He's also being treated for a burn on his elbow but that's coming along nicely due to his nurse Deb, aka Mrs. Benson, who treats the wound on a daily basis.

But the focal point on Benson's mind is returning to racing as soon as possible. From a statement, recently made on his website, the truck series champion said "when one door closes another one opens. We'll hopefully sign on with a good team and win another truck championship. We've had some interesting calls and have listened to some great opportunities. I can't imagine not doing this, I'd like to race another three or four years before I retire."

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HAPPY ANNIVERSARY MR. MOSS

It was this time last year when Randy Moss, the NFL Superbowl great from the New England Patriots, surprised everyone by deciding to get into the NASCAR racing business. Moss bought into Morgan Dollar Racing and the team was quickly renamed Randy Moss Motorsports.

In 2008 the team used a variety of drivers trying to establish a niche for themselves and finished the season 20th in owner's points. During the off-season the Moss team enlisted the services of former series champion Mike Skinner. They teamed the veteran with a young up-and-coming driver named Tayler Malsam. It appears to be a perfect fit. Eleven races into the 2009 season has both drivers within the top seven in championship points. It also appears that Malsam has a better than good shot at winning the series' rookie of the year title.

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SOME VERY SPECIAL VISITORS

Stacy Compton, driver of the #60 Toyota for Wyler Racing, spent Thursday taking in the other great American pastime. Compton visited the Great American Ball Park which is the home of Major League Baseball's Cincinnati Reds to watch the Reds take on the Milwaukee Brewers. The invitation to the game came from Compton's team owner, John Wyler, who also happens to own a minority interest in the Reds. Talk about working your way to your great American dream. In his younger days Wyler used to sell tickets at the stadium while working his way through college.

Meanwhile the Wyler family is planning on turning the Kentucky Speedway race into a big party. David Wyler, President of Wyler Racing, said "we're bringing a few hundred family members, friends and employees to the race. We only live about one half hour from the track and we're going to make a night of it."

Three time truck series champion Ron Hornaday Jr spent Thursday working on a tobacco assembly line in Owensboro, Kentucky. Hornaday was visiting the Swedish Match Assembly Plant where they make Longhorn Moist Snuff who is one of his primary sponsors on his Kevin Harvick Inc Chevrolet Truck. The always fun Hornaday also did a meet and greet with the employees and was happy to sign autographs.

Meanwhile series driver Rick Crawford displayed his long time loyalty to Ford by visiting the auto maker's plant in Sharonville-Ohio last Thursday for a meet and greet. This particular plant produces the five speed transmissions used in Ford's F Series super duty pick up trucks.

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THE RACE BREAKDOWN

The Built Ford Tough 225, presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers, is 150 laps around the Kentucky Speedway's 1.5 mile, D shaped, tri oval. This very spacious track has plenty of room from side by side racing from its upper and lower grooves.

The race has 39 entries meaning three of the teams will have to go home after qualifying. 15 of those entries are on the "go or go home list" meaning they are not guaranteed a starting berth in the field and will have to race their way into the starting lineup on speed. That means the Saturday afternoon qualifying session could get a little dramatic.

The defending race champion is Johnny Benson.

Saturday night will mark the series' 10th visit to the Kentucky Speedway. Amazingly, the last nine races has produced nine different winners. Drivers in the field for the race, who have a really great chance of becoming Kentucky's first repeat winners, include Ron Hornaday Jr, Mike Skinner and Dennis Setzer.

After winning the last two series' races, Ron Hornaday Jr will be gunning for his third consecutive win Saturday night en route to seeking his fourth series championship. Hornaday tops the series' points standings going into the Kentucky race and leads Matt Crafton by 76 points.

The series owner's points championship reflects the Hornaday vs. Kyle Busch battles we've seen all season long. DeLana Harvick, Hornaday's team owner, leads the standings. Billy Ballew, Busch's owner, is ranked second but only 31 points away.

The really interesting points battle involves the Raybestos Rookie Of The Year title. Tayler Malsam, from Randy Moss Motorsports, holds a one point lead over Johnny Sauter, from Curb Motorsports, in a tight race that has been going on all season long.

The series' manufacturer's title is also too close to call. Toyota leads the standings with 84 points followed closely by Chevrolet with 76 points. Ford has 48 points, Dodge has 34.

The race will be broadcast live Saturday afternoon by the Speed Channel beginning at 6:30 pm eastern time.

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