NOTES FROM THE NASCAR NATION: A TAILGATE PARTY ON THE DOVER CONCRETE

[media-credit name=”FMCM” align=”alignright” width=”264″][/media-credit]After a three break in their schedule, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to action this Friday night, on the Dover International Speedway’s concrete oval, for the running of the Lucas Oil 200.

It’s already been duly noted that this event is being held on “Friday the 13th”. While luck is always going to be a major part of racing, this series doesn’t need superstition like formidable calendar dates, black cats or walking under ladders to generate a lot of action. This NASCAR style tailgate party is quite capable of generating intensity with the 36 trucks that will take the green flag.

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THE STORY BREAKDOWN

Once again the words feud and retaliation have entered the NASCAR news thanks primarily to the episode between Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch during the Sprint Cup race at Darlington last weekend. We are already reading and hearing about a possible appearance of round two in this fight during Friday night’s truck race. These reports are being enhanced by the fact that neither driver is eligible, under new NASCAR guidelines, to compete for the truck series championship.

That strikes me as being rather absurd and there are a few factors that supports the theory. First off, it’s a safe bet that NASCAR officials have already considered the possibility and the drivers have to be aware that they may be watched Friday night a little closer than usual.

Secondly, the Sprint Cup cars that Harvick and Busch crashed at Darlington are owned by Richard Childress and Joe Gibbs respectively. They are the one who had to pay the repair bills on those cars. In direct contrast, the trucks Harvick and Busch will drive Friday night are actually owned by Harvick and Busch. That means they’re both responsible for paying the bills generated by their respective race teams. When the driver is also the owner he has a tendency to be a little more protective of the equipment he’s using.

While it’s true that neither driver is eligible to win the truck series championship, there is another coveted title in the series they are racing for: the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Owner Points Championship. Going into the Dover race, Kyle Busch Motorsports leads those standings with a healthy 39 point lead over Mike Curb, the owner of record for Johnny Sauter’s Thor Sport Racing team. Somehow I can’t imagine Kyle Busch sacrificing any part of that lead so he can tease Kevin Harvick again.

Here’s one final question that could add to the fire already lit by the NASCAR conspiracy theorists: is it an omen that the Chevrolet Truck Kevin Harvick will be driving Friday night is sponsored by Bad Boy Buggies?

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The championship points profile for the series is also intense. Johnny Sauter remains on top of the standings with 187 points. But there’s only a 12 point separation between the top five with a Dover race coming up Friday night where anything can happen.

The one title contender to keep an eye on is veteran Ron Hornaday Jr. The 2011 season, for the four time series champion, got off to a terrible start. He left Daytona 28th in the points. But the drive for five is apparently on and Hornaday followed the season opener with four consecutive top five finishes that has quickly elevated him to fourth in the standings and only five points away from the lead. Also bear in mind that Hornaday is a former series winner at Dover and has ran a ton of laps on this track in the other two NASCAR national touring series as well.

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With Dover Air Force Base being so close by, it’s an great opportunity for NASCAR to salute the men and women serving in our armed forces. No fewer than 16 teams will be extending hospitality to men and women from Dover AFB who have declared honorary crew members. On Thursday night team members from ThorSport and Red Horse Racing were treated to a private tour of the Air Force Base.

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THE RACE BREAKDOWN

The Lucas Oil 200 is 200 laps/200 miles around the Dover Speedway’s challenging one mile concrete oval.

The race has 36 entries for the 36 starting positions. That means the go or go home qualifying system will not apply for this race and all entries will be allowed to take the green flag Friday night.

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has raced at Dover 11 times in the past and has produced 11 different winners. Five of the 11 won their first ever series race at Dover. The only previous winners in the field Friday night will be Ron Hornaday Jr and Kyle Busch.

Conservation of fuel and tires are going to be a must do situation in this race. The truck series events at Dover are notorious for long green flag runs. Some of those runs in the past have lasted as long as 150 laps.

The Lucas Oil 200 will be broadcast by the Speed Channel beginning at 830 pm eastern time.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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