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Random Lugnuts: The Camping World RV Sales 200

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Stock Car Racing Topics:  Camping World RV Sales 200
What is Random Lugnuts?  It's random bits of stock car racing commentary written on an irregular basis by an irregular racing fan.  The name is a reference to the lugnuts that go flying off a car during a pit stop:  you never know where they are going to go, what they're going to do when they get there, they can be annoying, they're often useless after a race, and every once in a while someone gets hit and they don't know exactly where it came from.
Opinions expressed by Bill Crittenden are not official policies or positions of The Crittenden Automotive Library. You can read more about the Library's goals, mission, policies, and operations on the About Us page.

Random Lugnuts: The Camping World RV Sales 200

Bill Crittenden
June 23, 2008

A few days ago I got to take in my first Craftsman Truck Series race in person.  It was the Camping World RV Sales 200 at the historic Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wisconsin.

If you want a summary of what happened on the track, you've come to the wrong place.

Well, I for one was a bit disappointed with my first truck race.  First of all, there were plenty of merchandise trailers outside.  I love these things, they're full of stuff you can't normally get in stores, and I don't like to order online (yes, me, a website owner, someone technologically inclined who doesn't like to send my money by transmitting my credit card information over a computer connection of unknown security and hoping something looks like it did on the screen when I get it 3-4 weeks later).  Except they were all full of Cup driver stuff.  I don't know, maybe I was expecting truck races to actually have truck swag for sale.  Something with Erik Darnell on it, or maybe a Rowdy Busch in the #51 truck.  Sure, I could find Kyle Busch stuff, all the #18 M&Ms shirts I could possibly want.  And I could only find one trailer that had Nationwide Series stuff (for the #5 and #88 teams) even though that series was racing the next day.

I guess I have to convince my wife to let me have the credit card and go to the Northern Tool Racing Store at http://www.northerntool.com/racing/store.htm.  Thankfully, I'll know what it looks like when it comes in the mail, thanks to a couple of friendly Darnell fans who let me know where they got their t-shirts.

The second disappointment, and this is a local thing, is that the bratwurst joints weren't open.  The grandstands back up to the State Fair Park, technically the racetrack is part of them, and I always park in the infield when I go to the fair (yes, I have "driven" the Milwaukee Mile, straight across the backstretch in my Chevrolet Venture minivan).  When the State Fair is going on, all the buildings along the grandstand are lined with brat stands and restaurants selling all types of bratwurst and cheese curds.  I've talked to a few old racers who went south at one point or another in their lives, and having been raised on either Wisconsin brats or Chicago-style hot dogs (for those more local to my Illinois home) they can't understand how people eat the hot dogs at Martinsville.  And the announcers make such a big deal out of them on TV!  I have just one word for them:  Johnsonville.  If you're in Charlotte, go down to the local Harris Teeter, grab a pack, and remember to use tongs and don't puncture them with a fork.  If you're outside Charlotte, use the Johnsonville Store Locator like I did (I've never heard of a Harris Teeter before!) and find yourself some.  You're on your own for the cheese curds.

Once the race started, though, all that was forgotten.  While there's nothing like getting to see all your favorite drivers in person, there's not a lot of information available.  On TV, you get commentators, crew chief interviews, the little running ticker of positions & lap times across the top of the screen, and occasionally a tech explanation with a cutaway car.  At the track, you get an announcer that can only be heard when the trucks are all bunched together on the backstretch, the flag man (if you can understand his hand signals), a scanner (which I didn't rent, $55 for the ticket was enough spent on the race), and a pole with the lap number, lap speed, top 10 and the rest of the field's positions rotating through a handful more spots on the pole.  That pole is the best way to keep track of who is running where and how many laps there are to go, and when that pole gets shut off about halfway through the race, as it did last Friday, it was hard to keep track of who was on the lead lap.  Except for Johnny Benson, who was running away with the thing, followed by Matt Crafton, Landon Cassill (an impressive performance) and Erik Darnell (who also did a great job).  I also thought Michael Annett did well, finishing sixth after spinning out early in the race.

Johnny Benson during pre-race introductions
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden

If you watched it on TV, you might have seen that there was a weather delay.  It rained a little bit on the track, and the trucks were sent down pit road to get stopped.  But they also had the fans clear the stands, just in case something bad happened with thousands of people all standing together on a giant piece of four-story high aluminum with lightning coming down nearby.

After we returned to the stands, we didn't climb all the way back up to the seats we had before but stayed in the "cheap seats" down by the track.  It's odd to think that in other sports, front row seats are desired and expensive.  In racing, they're vacant.  I enjoy getting down there every once in a while.  While the visibility down the fenceline isn't great, and the backstretch is obscured by more objects in the infield, there's a definite difference between watching the trucks go by and feeling them go by.  It's also puts you really close to watching the winning driver celebrate:

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