Two to go -- Phoenix up first
Ron Hornaday Jr.
has faced this situation before. A year ago, it was a 57-point deficit to Mike Skinner with two races remaining. Because he overcame that for his third Truck series title, perhaps a six-point gap to Johnny Benson doesn't seem as daunting.
He has a chance to erase the deficit on Friday if the No. 33 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet he's bringing to Phoenix International Raceway is as good as it was in previous appearances this season. The same truck that Hornaday used to win at the short, flat tracks of Gateway (Ill.) and New Hampshire in back-to-back weeks in September will be hauled to the 1-mile Phoenix oval.
On the other hand, Benson won at Phoenix in 2006, and among his five wins this year are triumphs at the Milwaukee Mile and Nashville, a relatively flat 1.333-mile track.
It's still anyone's guess as to how all this will shake out.
Benson-BDR picture gets clearer
Regardless of what transpires during the final two weeks of the championship chase, Johnny Benson
appears finished in the Bill Davis Racing No. 23 Toyota.
"It basically stands that I won't be at Bill's," Benson said Wednesday on Sirius Radio, adding that he is unsure of his 2009 plans.
might not take Benson's No. 23, but he will pilot a BDR Toyota full time in 2009. Malsam, 19, is moving from the ARCA Series to Trucks.
is signed to drive the No. 5 for another season, and Brian Scott
will run the full schedule next year in the No. 16. Plans have not been announced for the No. 22, which has been driven by three drivers, including Scott Speed
, a winner in May at Dover, Del.
Toyota on top, again
's second-place finish at Texas in a Billy Ballew Motorsports Tundra Toyota won the Truck Series Manufacturers' championship for Toyota for the third consecutive year.
Toyota, also the top brand in the Nationwide Series this year, has won 12 of 23 races this year and more than half -- 37 of 73 -- of all races since 2006. Toyota won a driver's championship in 2006 with Germain Racing and Todd Bodine
, finished second in points last season with Bill Davis Racing's Mike Skinner
and will finish no worse than second this year with BDR's Johnny Benson.
"When we entered the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 2004, we knew that our success would be a product of the teams and people we aligned ourselves with to carry the Toyota banner," said Lee White, president and general manager of Toyota Racing Development. "To win a third straight manufacturers' championship in this highly competitive series is a testament to the hard work and dedication of all our race teams and everyone at TRD and Triad."
TJ Bell's streak of five consecutive top-10s, the longest active in the series coming into Texas, ended abruptly with a Lap 2 crash on Friday.
will drive the KHI No. 2 Chevrolet at Phoenix, where he won in 2002-03 when his Truck team was in its infancy.
If preliminary entry lists hold true, Phoenix should feature a full 36-truck field, the 11th full field in 24 events this season.