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NASCAR Truck Series Iowa Preview

by Dave Grayson
Thursday, September 03, 2009

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For the second week in a row the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be racing at a venue for the first time. They ran on a blank slate, meaning there was no data from a previous race to rely on, at the Chicagoland Speedway last week.

This week they're racing at the beautiful Iowa Speedway and the inaugural running of the Lucas Oil 200 this Saturday. This seven-eighths of a mile speedway was designed by NASCAR champion Rusty Wallace. Wallace and Associates created a beautiful short track with speedway characteristics including progressive banking that allows for three wide racing. The track is located in Newton-Iowa, an area that many think is the heartland of racing country. The rapid support of the fans in this area certainly lends credence to that theory every time this speedway opens its gates for a race weekend.

PRE RACE NOTES OF INTEREST

The debut of young Austin Dillon, in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, this Saturday will bear a lot of scrutiny. The grand son of team owner Richard Childress will be driving the famed black number three in this race with the logo "Richard Childress Racing's 40th Anniversary " on the hood of the Chevrolet Truck.

The black #3 Childress truck is a retro flashback to the history of NASCAR's truck racing series. This truck, with driver Mike Skinner behind the wheel, won the first ever series race back in 1995 at the Phoenix International Raceway. The team also finished the series' inaugural season by winning its first championship. Jay Sauter took over the ride from 1997 to 1999 before Childress decided to disband the team and place increased focus on the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Austin Dillon is only the third driver to ever sit behind the wheel of this famed racing truck.

Just because this is Dillon's series debut doesn't mean that he has no experience at the Iowa Speedway. The young driver has four starts there including the recent debut of NASCAR's Nationwide Series as well as two starts in the NASCAR Camping World East Series and one start in the ARCA ReMax Series .

Keep an eye on that black #3 Chevrolet this Saturday during the Lucas Oil 200. You'll be looking at a piece of series history and, at the same time, getting a glimpse at the future of Richard Childress Racing.

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When the green flag falls on the Lucas Oil 200 this Saturday there's one major factor that the starting field will not have to deal with: the presence of Kyle Busch. NASCAR's rowdy one will be extremely busy with full time duties in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup events in Atlanta-Georgia this weekend. The schedule and time changes are not conducive for him to perform another one of his famous triple duty weekends.

That means that driver Brian Ickler will be behind the wheel of the #51 Billy Ballew Motorsports Toyota at the Iowa race. Ickler is considered an up and coming driver who has made starts at Iowa before especially in the NASCAR Camping World West Series.

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Todd Bodine, and his Germain Brothers Racing Toyota team, are all fired up about the series debut at the Iowa Speedway this weekend. In recent years they have used this speedway as a testing site to prepare for series events at other race tracks such as Richmond. The team also sent their Nationwide Series team, with driver Michael Annett, to the recent series debut race at the Iowa Speedway. They are confident they have enough notes from this track to create a winning effort Saturday night.

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Absolutely never overlook the presence of reigning NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday Jr and his Kevin Harvick Inc Chevrolet team. This driver is a master on short tracks. In four previous series short track races this season Hornaday has a 1.8 average finish, a driver rating of 133.4 and has led 258 laps in the four events. In his 45 career series wins, 20 of them have been on short tracks.

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THE RACE BREAKDOWN

The Lucas Oil 200 is 200 laps/175 miles around the Iowa Speedway's seven-eighths of a mile oval.

The race has 37 entries vying for the series traditional 36 starting berths meaning the slowest qualifier will be going home early. 13 of those entries are on the "go or go home" list meaning they do not have a guaranteed starting berth based on their owner's points and must make the race via qualifying speed.

Ron Hornaday Jr is the series points leader going into this race and holds a seemingly commanding lead of 220 points over Matt Crafton in second. But there are still nine races left in the season and series history proves that anything can happen. For example, in 2005 Dennis Setzer had a 178 point lead over Ted Musgrave with nine races left only to watch the Musgrave catch fire and win the title by 55 points.

There was a recent change in the series' Raybestos Rookie Of The Year campaign. Tayler Malsam has dropped to second in these standings after getting involved in a late in the race accident at the Chicago race the week before.

Johnny Sauter, representing Curb Racing, is the new leader with 166 points. But that's only a nine point lead over Malsam from Randy Moss Motorsports. Still very much in the rookie standings picture is James Buescher, representing owner Tom Mitchell, who has 149 points.

In the race for the manufacturer's championship Toyota holds the lead based on back to back wins by Kyle Busch at the Bristol and Chicago races. Toyota goes into Saturday's race with 120 points. However Chevrolet, based on Ron Hornaday Jr's good season, is only seven points away from the lead. Ford, with 70 points, and Dodge, 49, rounds out the standings.

Saturday's Lucas Oil 200 will be broadcast live by the Speed Channel beginning at 930 pm eastern time.

With all due respect to the NASCAR Sprint Cup's Chase For The Championship drama going on in Atlanta on Sunday, don't be too surprised if these racing trucks at Iowa turns out to be the class act of the NASCAR weekend.

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