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NASCAR Texas Truck race preview

by Dave Grayson
Friday, June 04, 2010

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Todd Bodine (Top) and Kyle Busch won the two Texas truck races in 2009
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be transporting their high energy tailgate party to the massive Texas Motor Speedway Friday night with the running of the WinStar World Casino 400. The series will be sharing the weekend with the Indy Racing League which is not that unusual. This marketing strategy has been known to work plenty of times in the past.

THE STORY BREAKDOWN

There may be a collective sigh of relief among the series' regular competitors heading into the Texas race. The names Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick are not on the official entry list. They are a little busy with NASCAR Sprint Cup commitments in Pocono-Pennsylvania this weekend. The travelling distance, along with the tight schedules between the two tracks, has made it virtually impossible for them to perform double duty in both events.

However the pair of series race winners and team owners will be represented when the green flag falls on Friday night's race. Harvick is sending NASCAR veteran Ken Schrader to drive his #2 Chevrolet truck. Meanwhile Busch will be sending former series champion Johnny Benson to Texas to drive his #18 Toyota.

Meanwhile both Harvick and Busch will be busy examining some rather surprising financial restraints that has recently hampered their teams. Recent changes in federal law now has Kevin Harvick Inc looking for a new sponsor for their #33 truck driven by series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. That's because Longhorn Smokeless Tobacco, one of the team's primary sponsors this year, will not be allowed to advertise their products on Harvick's trucks after June 22nd.

That new law is under the auspices of the FDA, Federal Food and Drug Administration, and further restricts the means available to tobacco companies for marketing their products. Those new restrictions covers the areas of athletic, musical, social, cultural and team related events.

A spokesperson from Kevin Harvick Inc recently said they will race the #33 truck for the entire season. The team will also be very busy searching for a new primary sponsor for the last half of this racing season.

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The situation at Kyle Busch Motorsports is also based on a series of surprise moves that has now compromised the organization. Late last year Busch announced the formation of the team and their plans to participate in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The team's line up included Kyle Busch in the #18 truck with up and coming driver Brian Ickler driving the truck in events when Busch could not be available. Up and coming driver Tayler Malsam was recruited from Randy Moss Motorsports to drive the team's #56 truck. There were also plans to field a third truck with Johnny Benson behind the wheel but unfortunately a sponsor for that team was never found.

In January KBMS was hit by a major surprise from their primary sponsor. Miccosukee Indian Gaming, a long time supporter of NACAR teams, had signed to sponsor Busch's #18 truck for the 2010 season. But in mid January the tribal council elected a fiscally conservative group of leaders. Some sweeping changes were announced that included an end to their NASCAR sponsorship program. Since that time KBMS has been operating their #18 organization on a race to race sponsorship program from small companies.

While the racing continued, Kyle Busch was renting a temporary home for his teams while also constructing a state of the art permanent facility outside of Charlotte-North Carolina. In early May it was revealed that there was a dispute between Busch and the construction company regarding cost over runs with the project which has now involved attorneys representing each side of the issues. But in the meantime the sub contractors, hired to work on the KBMS shop, have not been paid and they, according to reports from "The Charlotte Observer", have recently filed official contractor's liens. The report indicate their may be as many as a dozen contractor seeking payments for an approximate one million dollars.

In a May 19th press conference Kyle Busch himself practically admitted that he wished he would have never created the truck racing teams to begin with and was quoted as saying "it was a bad idea, I was kind of misled on some things and didn't fully understand the financial burden of getting started."

Over the past two weeks KBMS recently announced some major changes in both their personnel and game plan status. Driver Brian Ickler was given permission to accept a part time NASCAR Nationwide Series ride with Roush Fenway Racing. That was followed be the announcement that said Tayler Malsam was released from his contract which allowed him to accept a potentially lucrative Nationwide Series opportunity with Braun Racing.

According to reports operations for Malsam's #56 Toyota has been shut down at least for the remainder of this season. The team will solely concentrate on the #18 truck for the remainder of the season and a quest to win the series' owner's championship. They presently lead the points standings for that title. Busch will remain primary driver of the truck when schedules allow it. Ickler will continue to participate in that program driving in selected events.

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Todd Bodine will be one of the key players to watch in Friday night's race. The former champion is currently on top of the series' points standings but it's a very slim two point margin over driver Aric Almirola. Bodine and company will be looking to snap a 24 race win less streak and the Texas Motor Speedway is the perfect place for that to happen. In 11 starts there Bodine has a series high five wins along with eight top five finishes and eight top tens.

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The series' Raybestos Brakes Rookie Of The Year battle is also very tight heading into the Texas race. Justin Lofton, driver of the #7 Visit-Pit.Com/Tom DeLoach Toyota, leads the rookie standings with 78 points. However it's only a two point lead over Austin Dillon, driver of the Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats’ Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.

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THE RACE BREAKDOWN

The WinStar World Casino 400 is 167 laps/250.5 miles around the Texas Motor Speedway's 1.5 mile oval and is race number eight on the series' schedule.

The race has 36 entries for the 36 truck field which means all entries will see the green flag.

The defending race champion is Todd Bodine driver of the #30 Germain.Com Toyota.

Toyota leads the manufacturer's win column at Texas with four trips to victory lane.

The race will be broadcast live by the SPEED Channel with the pre race show beginning at 830 pm eastern time.

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