AP Photo/John Amis
Atlanta to drop one of its truck dates in 2009The changes to the Craftsman Truck Series next season won't be limited to a new title sponsor. Atlanta Motor Speedway will host one truck race in 2009, not two as it has since 2005, track president Ed Clark told ESPN.com Tuesday. Atlanta will retain its spring date on the truck calendar and relinquish its fall race. "It was a tough decision to make. The trucks have been fabulous. I don't think we have had a bad truck race since the very first one -- you'll recall, [Mike] Skinner came across the line sideways, going for the win [and finishing second to Bobby Hamilton]," Clark said. "It just kind of got into how the schedule would fall, which kind of activities would fall on which day, that kind of thing. We'd rather do one and do it extremely well and have good results than kind of spread out two." Iowa Speedway, reported this week to be a candidate to replace Mexico City on the 2009 Nationwide Series schedule, may also be in contention for Atlanta's vacated spot on the truck schedule, a source said. Rusty Wallace, the 1989 Cup champion and designer of the .875-mile short track, has lobbied for Nationwide and/or truck events at the 2-year-old facility, but NASCAR has not made any commitments. NASCAR officials would not comment on the 2009 truck schedule but said they would again have 25 races. If a new track does not join the fray, previous hosts of truck series races have expressed interest in returning. Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, which held its first NASCAR race in 1950, staged truck events from 2001 to 2004 at various times of year. When it couldn't come to terms with a truck race over its Mother's Day Cup weekend for 2005, the series went elsewhere. The track has completed $10 million of capital improvements in recent years and has hosted truck team tests this season, with drivers raving about the new, smoother racing surface. "We all as a full group are missing out on running Darlington," said points leader Johnny Benson of Bill Davis Racing. "With the history of the racetrack, we should be part of that, too. We're part of the NASCAR family, we should be part of that deal, also." Track president Chris Browning agrees. "I know our fans have asked us the last few years if we were going to bring the truck series back," Browning said. "The track seems to be a great fit with the trucks, for whatever reason we just haven't been able to work it out. There's a couple different scenarios we could certainly look at, but we would probably want to tie it in with our Cup weekend." Richmond International Raceway was the most recent track to leave the schedule in 2005 after hosting races since the series' inception in 1995. NASCAR swapped Richmond for Talladega in 2006, putting the trucks on the 2.66-mile giant superspeedway. "We hated to lose them, but we didn't want to stand in the way of growth. Talladega had that opportunity to run on a Saturday afternoon of a Cup weekend -- it was tough for us to stand in the way," RIR president Doug Fritz said. "I'd like to think the trucks one day might return to Richmond. It comes up in every conversation with Wayne [Auton, truck series director]. I've said, 'If there's an opportunity for you and works for us, let's explore it.' Our fan base likes the truck series." Representatives at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway confirmed that their tracks would continue to host two truck races next year. John Schwarb is a freelance journalist covering motorsports and a contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Braun will keep on truckin' in '09