Saturday, October 31, 2009

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: Kyle Busch does it at 'dega

Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR

Talladega Superspeedway has been the subject of urban legends claiming NASCAR's fastest race track was built on an ancient Native American grounds. With stories of the Talladega Jinx, what better place to run a Halloween day NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race.

With the Mountain Dew 250 start delayed by about 40 minutes for the track drying crews working out the moisture of the 2.66 mile Talladega Superspeedway surface, Roush-Fenway Ford truck driver Colin Braun led the field to green. As typical for Talladaga races, drifting and the contract jockeying for position played a part in every driver's day. While the lead swapped hands through on track passes and pit stops, Colin Braun held the top spot for much event's early stages until a four-tire stop on lap 43 shuffled him into the field.

The big wreck for the Camping World Truck Series occurred just 4 laps from the race's conclusion. The field had positioned themselves in two trains of trucks running side-by-side with the inner lane of trucks seeming to hold an upper hand over the outer lane. With little room to escape, the incident resulting in the damage of approximately 9 trucks took some big names out of the hunt for victory late. Mike Skinner's #5 Toyota Tundra drifted out of the draft briefly out of turn two allowing the #13 of Johnny Sauter to gain a run. Mike Skinner attempted to remerge with the outside pack of trucks but misjudged the positioning of Sauter's Chevrolet. Skinner clipped the front of Sauter (whose #13 truck escaped relatively unscathed) sending the #5 down into the #14 Ford of Rick Crawford. The impact led to a chain reaction that went on to collect Brian Scott, Max Papis, Ricky Carmichael, and recent Martinsville winner Timothy Peters. Most significant, Ron Hornaday Jr's #33 Chevrolet sustained heavy damage just barely able to limp the Copart-sponsored truck around. Hornaday finished 17th on the day.

Distant but second place points rival Matt Crafton also had an eventful day. The #88 Tide Chevrolet of Crafton needed to make an unscheduled green flag pit stop when his right rear tire went flat. In spite of completing alomst half a lap on the flat rubber, Matt Crafton skillfully crept the truck around to pit road without any further damage. Crafton successfully fought back onto the lead lap to finish 10th on the day.

As expected, the fight to win the Mountain Dew 250 at Talladega was a battle itself worth the price of admission. Todd Bodine led on the final lap until Kyle Busch's #51 and Aric Almirola's #15 (both owned by Billy Ballew) hooked up. Almirola pushed Busch into 1st place crossing the lane 1-2. Netting his 6th victory lane visit in 12 starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for 2009, Kyle Busch and his #51 Toyota took the Mountain Dew 250 at Talladega.

While the Busch's name on the trophy is becoming a regular deal, the circumstances for this latest win was based on the work of the 2nd place finisher Almirola. Grateful for his teammate's actions, Kyle Busch thanked him in his victory lane interview saying "I owe everything to Aric Almirola today". While Busch kidded that Aric should receive half of his paycheck (Busch isn't paid to run the Billy Ballew) Almirola deserves to have some honour for some teamwork. Losing his Cup series ride with Earnhardt/Ganassi Racing due to lack of sponsorship, the truck series is revitalizing the young driver's career.

Aric Almirola wasn't the only stand out in the race around the 2.66 mile superspeedway. Terry Cook and David Starr rounded out the top five behind Todd Bodine while 6th place held one of the hardest fighting trucks in the field driven by Mario Gosselin. The French-Canadian Gosselin rose from a 20th starting spot with the new sponsorship of on the hood. While the 14 position climb is impressive, the #53 of Justin Hobgood improved 21 spots to finish the Mountain Dew 250 9th.

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