The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will again be given a well deserved opportunity to take center stage during a stand alone event at the beautiful but challenging Kentucky Speedway. Friday night’s Built Ford Tough 225 is going to feature 36 race trucks running door to door on a 1.5 mile, multiple groove, oval that easily allows two, even three, wide racing. Fans can expect to see action very similar to last week’s race at the Chicagoland Speedway and Chicago was a very good race.
THE STORY BREAKDOWN
Any NASCAR race with Kyle Busch on the entry list automatically creates its own story lines. Busch will be driving his self owned Dollar General Toyota Tundra in Friday night’s race. He will also be going after his fifth consecutive NASCAR win in one of their national touring series, his 80th national touring series win and his third consecutive truck series win.
There has been somewhat of a series tradition over the years that say victory at the Kentucky Speedway is usually owned by a series veteran. A perfect example of that is the fact that four time series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. is a two time winner of the Built Ford Tough 225 at Kentucky including last year’s event which he won from the pole position.
But there is a rather eyebrow raising exception to this theory and it involves Todd Bodine. The driver of the Germain Racing Toyota excels on the 1.5 mile, so called cookie cutter, tracks and has plenty of statistics to back that up. One would think that Bodine would own the 1.5 mile oval at Kentucky. Amazingly this particular track seems to shut down the former series champion every time. His average finish ratio at Kentucky is 13.2 and the only reason it’s that high is because of a second place finish there in 2005. Look for Bodine and company to arrive in the bluegrass state this week determined to rectify this situation.
However, the good news surrounding Todd Bodine is the fact that his lead in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship standings has grown and it’s starting to look like a second series title will be coming his way. While it’s still too early to start engraving his name on the championship trophy, Bodine will be arriving at Kentucky with a 236 points advantage over Aric Almirola based on three wins and 12 to five finishes. It’s not exactly an insurmountable lead, but it’s going to take a free fall that is not likely for Almirola to pass him in the standings.
That same finish consistency that has placed Bodine on top of the championship standings has also placed Germain Racing on top of the owner’s points race. Registered owner Steve Germain is on top of those standings with 2,708 points.
However, unlike the championship standings, this points race is extremely too close to call. That’s because Kyle Busch Motorsports is right behind the Germain brothers and only 48 points away from taking the lead. Over the past several years, the owner’s points championship has reached new levels of respectability and has become extremely important to both the owners and their drivers. Look for this points battle to go all the way to November before it’s resolved.
We also need to maintain an awareness of the presence of some young drivers who could turn out to be the future stars of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Chief among these drivers will be Jeffrey Earnhardt, the grandson of you know who. Earnhardt will be making his second series start at Kentucky behind the wheel of the #47 Fuel Doctor/Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet.
Also very noteworthy is the series debut of young Will Kimmel III who will be driving the #44 Lucas Oil Ford. Kimmel is the nephew of Frank Kimmel, the nine time ARCA Series champion, and is already being regarded as the coming of the next generation of the famed Indiana based Kimmel racing family.
Also bearing a great deal of scrutiny will be the second series start by Miguel Paludo who will be driving the #77 Toyota for Germain Racing. Frankly, I owe this man and his team owners an apology. The Brazilian sports car champion made his NASCAR debut last month at Brazil. A lot of motorsports writers, including yours truly, noted that a Bristol debut in the truck series was absolutely crazy for anyone let alone some sports car driver from another country.
Much to our surprise, Paludo ran a smart and patient race, kept himself on the lead lap and then amazed us with a ninth place finish in his NASCAR debut on a track that specializes in surprise mayhem. He’s going to be on the receiving end of a lot of attention when he takes the green flag at Kentucky Friday night.
THE RACE BREAKDOWN
The Built Ford Tough 225, presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers, is 150 laps/225 miles around the Kentucky Speedway’s 1.5 mile oval.
The race has 39 entries vying for the 36 starting berths. 13 of those entries are on the go or go home list meaning they do not have a guaranteed start because they are currently outside of the top 25 in owner’s points. These 13 teams will have rely on an expected intense qualifying session to earn a starting berth in Friday night’s race.
The Built Ford Tough 225 will be broadcast live by the SPEED Channel beginning at 730 pm eastern time.