November 18, 2007 - Homestead, FL - Toyota Camry and Tundra drivers helped close out the 2007 NASCAR season at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a triple-header weekend. Dave Blaney finished 12th after running with the leaders in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series (NNCS) season finale on Sunday. David Reutimann and Jason Leffler earned a pair of top-15 finishes on Saturday and secured second and third in the NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) championship point standings. Johnny Benson secured the Tundra's 13th victory of the 2007 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) season on Friday placing him third in the driver point standings, while Mike Skinner finished second in the championship point standings.
In Sunday's NNCS 400-mile event, Matt Kenseth won his second race of the year and Jimmie Johnson became the NEXTEL Cup champion for the second consecutive season.
Dave Blaney ran with the leaders -- spending 192 laps in the top-10 -- before finishing 12th at the Florida oval.
"We had a top-10 car almost all night -- I slipped a little at the end and gave up a couple positions, but overall it was a good night for us," said Blaney, following the race.
His No. 22 Caterpillar Camry led two laps and moved up to 34th in the unofficial owner point standings. The Bill Davis Racing team is guaranteed starting positions in the first five races of the 2008 season.
"It's a different world to be in 35th versus 36th," said Blaney, following the race. "We had to get in there and our whole team did a great job to get us there. We get a head start on those first five races (of 2008) and we just have to do better in the first five. This year we had DNFs (did not finish) in the first three so that really put us behind right from the start. We're in so we have to take advantage of it."
Dale Jarrett closed out his 23rd and final full Cup season with a 17th-place finish. The driver of the No. 44 UPS Camry has 32 wins, 16 poles and 260 top-10 finishes in 663 starts. He will compete in the first five races of 2008 before turning the wheel over to Reutimann.
Reutimann finished in the 25th-position in his No. 00 Burger King Camry. Brian Vickers finished 42nd after being involved in an incident on lap 159 that took him out of the race. Johnny Benson fell out of the race early and was credited with a 43rd-place result.
The 50th running of the Daytona 500 will kick-off the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Daytona International Speedway on February 17.
In Saturday's NBS season finale, Jeff Burton took the checkered flag in the 300-mile event as a pair of Toyota Camrys registered top-15 finishes in the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Jason Leffler (14th) and David Reutimann (15th) scored Toyota's best finishes of the night, but it was a disappointing race for the Camry duo at the 1.5-mile south-Florida oval.
Both drivers were knocking at the top-five door with 40 laps to go when they made green flag pit stops. An on-track incident brought out the race's final caution before the field cycled through the stops, catching both cars a lap down and ending Toyota's chances for a third trip to victory lane its inaugural season in the Busch Series.
"We pitted at an inopportune time and got caught a lap down when the yellow flag came out," said Reutimann, after Saturday's race. "That's the way it goes. You take your chances. Everything went just like it needed to go with the exception of getting the yellow at the wrong time. I'm disappointed with that, but I'm proud of my guys because we had a great car."
Dave Blaney finished 26th in the No. 10 Hass Avocados Camry after starting third. Blaney led 27 laps, but a mid-race spin eliminated the Braun Racing driver from race win contention.
Michael McDowell finished 32nd in the No. 00 NAPA Camry for Michael Waltrip Racing, while Todd Bodine finished 37th in the No. 03 Germain Racing Camry.
Reutimann finished second in the unofficial NBS season point standings, behind champion Carl Edwards. Leffler unofficially finished the season third – his highest-career NASCAR point's finish.
The NASCAR Busch Series will enjoy a short off-season before returning to action with a newly named sponsor-- the NASCAR Nationwide Series -- February 16, 2008, at Daytona International Speedway.
In Friday night's NCTS season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Johnny Benson charged past Kyle Busch during a green-white-checkered finish to take his ninth career series victory and fourth win of the 2007 season.
"We were more than likely going to finish second until we got that last caution," said Benson, in victory lane. "We were fast enough to catch (Kyle Busch), but getting around him was something else. The ‘green-white-checkered' really played into our favor this time and that was pretty cool. I know Mike Skinner had his problems and I felt like we were going to have tire problems, too -- that caution was timely for us. The rest just made for an exciting finish."
Skinner, who was leading the series point standings heading into the 200-mile race, saw his championship hopes roll away when he lost the left rear wheel in turn four on lap 74. He brought his No. 5 Toyota Tundra down pit road before taking it behind the wall to fix the damaged studs.
"We were doing what we were supposed to do and our Tundra was really good," said Skinner, who eventually finished 35th. "We had a good motor, just like we had all year. I guess a hub was coming apart. The brake pedal was going to the floor and it was vibrating really bad. We thought it was a right-front because there was so much vibration in the wheel. We changed right-side tires and that didn't fix it. It got worse and worse and finally came apart.
"I got up next to the wall because I knew it was going to break sooner or later. The left-rear hub fell apart. It was a tough night, but congratulations to Ron (Hornaday). We were leading the race when it all came down and that's where we were supposed to be. We led every race except for one this year, so I can't go stick my head in the sand. We were where we were supposed to be when the truck broke."
Tundra drivers Jason Leffler (fifth), Justin Marks (eighth) and Dave Blaney (10th) finished among the top-10. A total of 12 Tundras competed in the race, including Todd Bodine (14th), Jack Sprague (17th), Ted Musgrave (18th), Terry Cook (20th), Donny Lia (25th), Andy Lally (33rd) and Jacques Villeneuve (36th).
Ron Hornaday took his third NCTS title (1996, 1998 and 2007) by 54 points over Skinner in the unofficial championship point standings. Benson's win moved him into third-place in the championship standings. Last year's series champion, Bodine, finished the season fourth in the points. Musgrave finished the year in seventh, while Sprague closed out the year in ninth to give Toyota five Tundra racers in the top-10 championship point standings.
The 2008 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season kicks off in Daytona on Friday, February 15.
Toyota NNCS Finishing Positions at Homestead-Miami Speedway
12th, DAVE BLANEY
17th, DALE JARRETT
25th, DAVID REUTIMANN
42nd, BRIAN VICKERS
43rd, JOHNNY BENSON
DNQ, AJ ALLMENDINGER
DNQ, MICHAEL WALTRIP
Toyota NNCS Drivers in the Point Standings following Homestead-Miami Speedway **
31st, DAVE BLANEY 2,781 points
38th, BRIAN VICKERS 2,065 points
39th, DAVID REUTIMANN 1,878 points
41st, DALE JARRETT 1,584 points
43rd, AJ ALLMENDINGER 1,165 points
44th, MICHAEL WALTRIP 1,149 points
Toyota NBS Finishing Positions at Homestead-Miami Speedway
14th, JASON LEFFLER
15th, DAVID REUTIMANN
26th, DAVE BLANEY
32nd, MICHAEL MCDOWELL
37th, TODD BODINE
Toyota NBS Drivers in the Point Standings following Homestead-Miami Speedway **
2nd, DAVID REUTIMANN 4,187 Points
3rd, JASON LEFFLER 3,996 Points
22nd, DAVE BLANEY 2,491 Points
Toyota Finishing Positions at Homestead-Miami Speedway
1st, JOHNNY BENSON
5th, JASON LEFFLER
8th, JUSTIN MARKS
10th, DAVE BLANEY
14th, TODD BODINE
17th, JACK SPRAGUE
18th, TED MUSGRAVE
20th, TERRY COOK
15th, DONNY LIA
33rd, ANDY LALLY
35th, MIKE SKINNER
36th, JACQUES VILLENEUVE
Toyota Drivers in the Point Standings following Homestead-Miami Speedway race*
2nd, MIKE SKINNER 3,982 Points
3rd, JOHNNY BENSON 3,557 Points
4th, TODD BODINE 3,525 Points
7th, TED MUSGRAVE 3,183 Points
9th, JACK SPRAGUE 3,001 Points
14th, TERRY COOK 2,568 Points
* Unofficial Point Standings
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