NASCAR Truck New Hampshire preview
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be playing a major role, this Saturday, in the big racing weekend at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The Heluva Good 200 is expected to be the latest live wire event from NASCAR's racing truck division at a facility that is considered to be a short track. Making this 1.058 mile oval even more interesting is the fact that the track is completely flat on the straightaways and is accented by progressive banking in the turns that only measures two to seven degrees. That also means that brakes, and the conservation of them will be a major factor in this race.
THE RACE BREAKDOWN
The Heluva Good 200 is 200 laps, or 211.6 miles around this very challenging speedway. Saturday's race will mark the 14th time the series has raced there.
The race has 34 entries, for a field that normally features 36 trucks, meaning all entries will earn a starting berth following Saturday's qualifying session.
Ron Hornaday Jr is the defending race champion. In fact, the driver of the #33 Copart/Kevin Harvick Inc Chevrolet has won this race the last two years in a row. He also won the series' inaugural race at New Hampshire back in 1996 and remains as the only multiple time winner at this facility.
Going into Saturday's race Hornaday controls all of the major stat categories. Since the 2005 inception of NASCAR's loop data scoring system, Hornaday's New Hampshire numbers includes the best driver rating, 132.3, the best average race position, 3.4 as well as the number of fastest laps run, 99, and he has led a series high 379 laps.
Hornaday will also be looking to add some padding to his series points lead as well. Going into Saturday's race he has a 197 point advantage over Matt Crafton and a 212 point lead over Mike Skinner in third.
Mike Skinner in his Exide Toyota will be another driver to watch on Saturday because he's on a hot streak. Skinner has won the last two series events in a row and he would love to make it three in a row at Loudon, New Hampshire. That's because the headquarters of the National Football League's New England Patriots is just a short two hour drive from the race track. That's where you'll find Skinner's team owner: Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss.
Yet another truck to get a sharp eye on will be the #51 Miccosukee Gaming/Ballew Motorsports Toyota driven by Kyle Busch. He will be making his first series appearance since the Chicago race last month due to a hectic schedule in NASCAR's other two national touring series. The four time series winner is always a force to be reckoned with.
The same can be said for Kevin Harvick who will be making a rare visit to the truck series this Saturday. He will be driving a self owned, Kevin Harvick Inc, #2 Chevrolet with sponsorship from Sherwin Williams Paints. He's also a master at driving on flat race tracks.
The New Hampshire Motor Speedway is well known for close finishes. The truck series' record for the closest margin of victory, 0.189 seconds, was set by race winner Terry Cook in 2002. But a finish can also go the other direction at New Hampshire. Ron Hornaday Jr holds the largest margin of victory, 4.211 seconds, in a run away race held in 2007.
The track record for lead changes in a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at New Hampshire is 17 set in 2005. On the opposite extreme is the 2006 race that didn't have any lead changes at all because Johnny Benson led all 200 laps.
Track position is always an important commodity in any NASCAR race. The track qualifying record, 129.626 MPH, was set by Mike Skinner in 2006. It also needs to be pointed out that every truck series race at New Hampshire, since 2005, has been won from a top ten starting berth.
In the series manufacturer's standings Toyota has been padding its lead over the last month. That's due to the fact that the Japanese automaker has won the last four consecutive races thanks to the efforts of Mike Skinner and Kyle Busch. Toyota goes into Saturday's race with 138 points followed by Chevrolet with 123, Ford-80 and Dodge-55.
The Raybestos Brakes Rookie Of The Year standings remains too close to call between drivers Johnny Sauter, 188 points, and Tayler Malsam, 172 points.
THE TELEVISION BREAKDOWN, (ALL POSTED TIMES ARE EASTERN)
Saturday. Qualifying 10 am Speed.
Saturday. Pre race set up 230 pm. Race broadcast begins at 3 pm on Speed
Sunday. race re air 2 am on Speed.