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NASCAR Trucks at the Mile
Truck at Milwaukee, (Roy Schmidt)
Truck at Milwaukee, (Roy Schmidt)

By: Mark W. Theisen

WEST ALLIS, WISCONSIN June 20, 2009: What a difference a day makes! Last night’s NASCAR scheduled Camping World Truck Series Copart 200 at the Milwaukee Mile was lost due to a major downpour and postponed until today which dawned bright and warm and despite not being able to view a race here under the bright MUSCO lighting that is brought in especially for this NASCAR sanctioned weekend at Milwaukee the pleasant weather was a respite from the devastating storms of the past two days and in the end it was Ron Hornaday Jr. making it unpleasant for the rest of his competitors as he thoroughly dominated today’s race picking up his second series win of the season vaulting into the series point lead in the process.
Hornaday’s win, also his second Camping World series win at Milwaukee, came on his 51st birthday, the second time he has won a series race in his birthday. He is the only driver in the series to have won on his birthday and now has done so twice, the other time coming in 1998 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Virginia.
Johnny Benson, the defending series champion and winner of the past three consecutive Camping World series wins at Milwaukee, saw his ride “parked” after the 8th race of this season at Texas Motor Speedway and was not here to defend his race win and continue his streak but it is doubtful that anyone could have held off Hornaday, whose truck was stout from lap one.
The race was lined up and started by the current series’ owner point standings and that put rookie Brian Ickler on the pole by virtue of him driving Billy Ballew’s Toyota this weekend while regular driver Kyle Busch was in California for the Sprint Cup series qualifying, Matt Crafton lined up alongside Ickler at the start with Hornaday and Mike Skinner in row two.
Ickler led the first lap, while Crafton ruled the second but on lap three it was Hornaday taking the lead and once in front it was clear he was the truck to beat today steadily pulling away from the rest of the field.
Ickler, his experience on flat tracks showing, began to fall through the field as Skinner, Todd Bodine and Rick Crawford established them as the trucks that may have something for the powerful Hornaday.
T.J. Bell brought out the first caution of the race on lap 38 when the engine in his Toyota erupted sending debris all over the truck to set up the first round of pit stops.
New pit stop procedures in place this year in the Camping World series mandate that either fuel can be added or tires changed per stop and not both. This was designed to add more strategy to the race and add to the excitement of the fan in watching as all this unfolds.
Chad McCumbee led one lap during the yellow pit stop sequence that saw all the lead lap trucks make two stops, one for tires, the next fuel and when all the stops were made it was Bodine in his Toyota in front as the green flag came back out.
It took Hornaday, who came out of the pit stop sequence in fifth place, just four laps to negotiate the lapped trucks and the pass those in front of him to reclaim the top stop and just as he did so before, he began to leave the rest to battle for second place.
Jason White spin in the first turn striking the outside SAFER barrier on lap 55 to bring out the second caution of the race with none to the top running trucks electing to make another pit stop at this juncture of the race.
It took just four laps to check and clear the track and green flag racing resumed on lap 59 with Hornaday leading Skinner, Bodine, Crawford, Crafton and Timothy Peters.
Lap after lap Hornaday built his lead over the rest of the field and was ahead by over 5 seconds when the possibility of green flag pit stops began to be contemplated as the race passed the 110 lap mark.
Those green flag stops began on lap 120 when Crafton started the series off by stopping for fuel. He was followed in subsequent laps by Hornaday for fuel, David Starr for fuel, Colin Braun for fuel and Skinner, also for fuel.
On lap 123 Skinner became the first of the front runners to make his second stop and that for tires and that proved to be his undoing as the caution flag was waived for the third time on lap 128 when Aric Almirola spun between the third and fourth turns to effectively put him two laps down and host of top running trucks running down one lap.
The big benefactors were those that had not made any of their stops at all including Bodine, Brian Scott, Dennis Setzer, James Buescher and Taylor Malsam.
Hornaday, who had made only one stop under green, and who had not lost a lap during the procedure by virtue of being so far out in front when the pits stops started, was the last of the 8 cars on the lead lap when the caution flag was waived.
As the trucks in front of him made their two stops during the caution Hornaday marched back to the front and was the leader, again, when the green flag came back out on lap 132.
Some of the unlucky drivers: Braun, Crawford, Terry Cook and Stacy Compton got a break when a quick caution for debris came out on lap 143. Compton was the beneficiary of the “Lucky Dog” pass to the driver being one lap down when a caution flag came out while the other three had managed to stay ahead of Hornaday before the caution came out.
This put 12 cars back on the lead lap when the green came back out on lap 146 with Hornaday leading Bodine, Setzer, Scott and Braun.
As the laps wore on it was Bodine whose truck began to loose grip as he surrendered the runner-up spot to Setzer on lap 182 and then lost third to Scott on lap 186.
The caution came out for the final time on lap 188 when McCumbee spun and hit the wall coming out of the fourth turn wiping out a seven second lead that Hornaday had built to set up a 10 lap dash to the finish.
But the dash was really a race for second as once back under green Hornaday, the master of the restart in any series he competes in, pulled away leaving Setzer and Scott to duel for second. Braun came up to challenge Bodine for fourth on lap 195 but lost control of his truck in the third turn and washed up allowing five other trucks to get by him before regaining control.
In the final four laps it was Braun recovering to take 8th while the top four remained unchanged.
It was Hornaday’s 41st series victory as he finished ahead of Setzer, Scott, Bodine and Buescher, who is a rookie in the Camping World series this year.
“I just have to thank my team, again,” said Hornaday in victory lane. “We were great off the truck and lucky when the time came to make out pit stops. We would have been in the same shape as Mike (Skinner) in another lap or so as we were coming in for the second time when the caution flew. Timing is everything.”
For Setzer, who was the last winner here before Benson began his winning streak, it was the second time he has finished in the runner-up spot this year. “We run well and the short tracks,” said Setzer, “and I’ve always run well here. It helps that we made the right pit calls today, which helped. I was not good in traffic but the track position gained helped stabilize the truck. I had nothing for Ron (Hornaday) but it was a good day for us.”
Scott, who broke a bone in his right wrist in a crash last week at Michigan International Speedway, did not let that injury slow him down today. “We ran well and the wrist really was not a bother,” said Scott, whose team had veteran Ted Musgrave take a few laps in the truck and stand by as a precaution. “We were in the hunt all day long and were lucky by not having pitted before the caution that jumbled the field. It was a great day for us”
Bodine felt his tires gave way in the final laps and Buescher credited his previous races at Milwaukee in other racing series’ for familiarizing him with the track and allowing him to be comfortable racing here.
Compton, Malsam, Braun, Starr and Cook rounded out the top ten.
Hornaday took a 36 point lead in the series’ standings as the Camping World Truck Series heads to Memphis Motorsports Park for its next event on June 27th.