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Forget Texas, truck race at Rockingham could produce the unexpected

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com | ThatsRacin.com
Thursday, Apr. 11, 2013
Next race NRA 500 Where: Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, Texas When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday TV: Fox Radio: Performance Racing Network Last year’s winner: Greg Biffle

My two cents

Texas may be bigger, but Rockingham could well be better this weekend.

Johnny Sauter has won the first two NASCAR Truck Series races of the season and is looking to become the first driver in series history open the year with three consecutive victories by winning Sunday’s N.C. Education Lottery 200 at Rockingham Speedway.

To do so, however, he’ll have to beat at least one driver from the Sprint Cup Series, who will rush back from Saturday night’s race at Texas Motor Speedway to participate.

The Truck series regulars did not fare well in that scenario last year.

In series’ inaugural race at The Rock in 2012, Kasey Kahne was the only Cup driver to enter the event, and he won even though he had to start the race from the rear of the field because he missed qualifying.

Joey Logano is the sole Cup driver entered this season, driving an entry for Brad Keselowski Racing, but he won’t face the hurdle Kahne did. Qualifying is on Sunday this season and Logano will be able to participate as long as there are no unforeseen delays coming from Texas. Logano will only miss some practice time on Saturday.

“I watched that race last year on TV and I was so jealous of the guys that were out there racing. Rockingham is one of the coolest tracks around,” Logano said.

“I’ve run a lot of testing laps around there in Cup cars and Nationwide cars, so I feel like I know what it takes. It should be a blast to get out there and race with the Truck Series regulars.”

Will Sauter start the year an unprecedented 3-0? Will Logano continue the dominance of the “fly in to win” Cup drivers?

Or will Rockingham produce something completely unexpected?

Notes

Eldora Truck race format set: NASCAR has set the qualifying and race format for the July 24 Truck series race at Eldora Speedway, the first national series race on dirt in more than 40 years.

There will be a traditional two-lap qualifying session, five qualifying races, one last-chance race and a champion’s provisional (if needed) to set the 30-truck starting field.

The top-20 in owners’ points entering the race event will have a guaranteed starting position.

The race will be 150 laps divided into three segments, of 60, 50 and 40 laps. There will be pit stops between each segment, with teams having the opportunity to change tires and work on their trucks.

Daytona tire test: At least nine drivers are scheduled to take part in a two-day Goodyear tire test Tuesday and Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway.

Among those scheduled to attend: Jamie McMurray, Kasey Kahne, Regan Smith, Danica Patrick, Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Trevor Bayne, Austin Dillon and Carl Edwards. A driver from Joe Gibbs Racing is also likely to attend.

The test is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

Ragan to run at Milwaukee Mile: Cup series regular David Ragan has entered the July 9 ARCA Midwest Tour late-model race at the Milwaukee Mile. It’s the second consecutive year Ragan has competed in the race.

Pocono race name announced: A fan vote promoted by Walmart has chosen the name of the June 9 Cup series race at Pocono Raceway. The race will be called the Party in the Ponocos 400.

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