Wednesday NASCAR Truck Series Notebook
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to action this Friday to host a tailgate party at a fan favorite venue: the Milwaukee Mile. The Copart 200 is expected to be 200 laps of intense action on a track that has room for high speeds on the straightaways and tight side by side racing in the turns. The race has 34 entries for an event that can start up to 36 trucks. That means the teams on the series' "go or go home list" are guaranteed a starting berth.
Of course Johnny Benson, the 2008 defending race champion, will not be on hand Friday night. As previously reported Red Horse Racing shut down operations of his Toyota team due to lack of sponsorship approximately two weeks ago.
Then came the sad news from last weekend that Benson was seriously injured while participating in a super modified event. The horrific accident left him with broken ribs, a punctured lung and broken bones in his hand. Now we're hearing some good news that says Benson is doing much better and was released from the hospital on Tuesday morning.
Friday night's Copart 200 will also be Busch-less. Kyle Busch will be spending Friday and Saturday commuting between Milwaukee and northern California while racing both in the NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup events.
That means his frequently dominant Billy Ballew Motorsports Toyota will be occupied by driver Brian Ickler. Ickler has been most impressive lately with two top five finishes in his last five starts.
Aric Almirola has been called in to drive Ballew's #15 Toyota normally campaigned by Ickler. Almirola is on loan from Earnhardt Ganassi Racing's Sprint Cup team. However this team has temporarily suspended operations until they can locate a new sponsor.
Series veteran Terry Cook will be celebrating a career milestone in Milwaukee Friday night. The driver of the Harris Trucking-Cajun Industries Toyota will be making his 300th start. Cook, one of the nicest guys in the truck series, is enjoying a great start to the 2009 season. In nine starts he has scored three top five and five top ten finishes which places him seventh in the series' championship standings.
Brian Scott is now the latest NASCAR athlete who will be playing hurt. The young driver, who recently won his first series race, sustained a broken bone in his right wrist following an extremely hard crash during last Saturday's race in Michigan. Scott explained that the crash happened so quickly that he didn't have time to let go of the steering before the impact caught his hand.
The one driver, in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, who be arriving in Milwaukee riding a huge wave of momentum is Colin Braun. The young driver of the Conway Freight Ford, fielded by Roush Fenway Racing-RFR, was very impressive last Saturday at Michigan while in the process of winning his first series event.
Team co-owner Jack Roush, who celebrated his 50th series win, said that his young driver is really coming along and is destined to enjoy a great NASCAR career. Roush also said "there are three elements to winning these races. It takes a great manufacturer like the Ford Motor Company, it takes great technology from a team of engineers and working with a wind tunnel and it takes a great team and driver to put it all together. We have all of that with our #6 team."
However Jack Roush didn't mention the fact that RFR will not be participating in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2010. For several years now Roush has used the truck series to develop new drivers. It has worked very well for them and over the years their truck racing program sent drivers like Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch to NASCAR's big league.
It now appears that economics has greatly impacted that program. RFR President Geoff Smith commented on the situation last Sunday in Michigan. Smith first pointed out that RFR is only running one truck team this year and it's operating at a financial deficit. This was due to the Ford Motor Company's forced decision to scale down their racing investments due to the current economic crisis. After confirming that RFR will not be returning to the truck series next year Smith added "the only reason we're running the truck team this year is due to a sponsor commitment with Conway Freight."
The Copart 200, from the Milwaukee Mile, will be aired live by the Speed Channel Friday evening beginning at 8:30pm eastern time. by Dave Grayson