The Frontstretch: Tracking the Trucks: North Carolina Education Lottery 200 by Amy Henderson -- Saturday May 18, 2013

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Tracking the Trucks: North Carolina Education Lottery 200

Amy Henderson · Saturday May 18, 2013

 

In a Nutshell Kyle Busch overcame an engine change and a pit road penalty to lead laps win by over Brendan Gaughan. Max Gresham, Matt Crafton, and Ty Dillon rounded out the top-5 finishers.

Kyle Busch may have won Friday night, but the big winner in the Truck Series was Brendan Gaughan.

Who Should Have Won: If you’re OK with the Sprint Cup drivers taking the wins in this series, Kyle Busch. He had a fast truck and was able to use the advantage of clean air to hold off Gaughan when it counted.

If you think a CWTS regular should have won, then go with Gaughan. He appeared to have a faster truck in the closing laps, but Busch was able to squeeze away on the final restart while Gaughan had to race traffic to get to second from fourth, allowing Busch to gain an insurmountable advantage.

Race Rundown

Welcome to the newest addition to Tracking the Trucks! In this section for each race, we’ll take a look at the most important things to know just in case you weren’t able to watch it. Love it? Hate it? Let me know in the comments below.

German Quiroga is improving The rookie driver took some lumps early in the race after contact with Caleb Holman resulted in Quiroga getting into the wall. Quiroga had to start from the back of the field; he nearly wrecked in qualifying but made an outstanding save to qualify in the top 10. Having to fight through the field probably contributed to Quiroga’s shortened night; he crashed again under caution after the initial incident. Still, his practice and qualifying efforts show that he’s gaining speed overall.

Gaughan’s gamble to stay out on the lap 17 caution didn’t gain him the advantage he hoped at the time; there wasn’t another caution at the right time to get the No. 62 back in sequence. However, being off-sequence later allowed Gaughan to take a wave-around and from there, the No. 62 team was able to leave Charlotte with a second place finish. It’s Gaughan’s third top-4 finish in a row after some bad luck in the first two races. He gained three spots in points and is looking like the early title threat many figured him to be.

Tire trouble turned up. Several teams had problems with tires Friday night that resulted in brushes with the walls at Charlotte. Joey Coulter, in particular, had issues, coming to pit road early for a tire going down and then slamming the wall just a handful of laps later as another Goodyear gave out. The tire company needs to find a way to make tires that wear out, not blow out—it would improve the racing across all three national touring series.

It was insult added to injury for Timothy Peters as it was announced after Peters was involved in an early crash that NASCAR had confiscated his rear end housing when it was discovered that the wheel camber was beyond the legal tolerance in pre-qualifying inspection. NASCAR will take a closer look at the piece at its Research and Development Center. That most likely means a penalty on top of Peters’ 26th–place finish. Ouch.

The outside was the way to go on the restarts. We saw it early when Gaughan was able to pull away on older tires, and we saw it late when Busch was able to easily clear the field for the win. It’s a case of momentum trumping the shortest distance around, and when the high groove is working as well as it was in Charlotte, it also makes for some great racing, as we saw throughout the race, when drivers were able to race two- and three-wide.

Kyle Busch was lightning fast and able to overcome whatever obstacles were thrown his way. And not only was Busch sitting on a rocket ship, but so were his two regular CWTS drivers, Darrell Wallace Jr., who was fighting for a top 5 before spinning in the closing laps; and Joey Coulter, whose night was crippled by tire problems before he could show his hand. If Kyle Busch Motorsports is finally past the growth stage, they will be contenders for years to come.

Questions You Should Be Asking Yourself After This One

1. Is it good for the series when the Cup regulars win?

The Cup regulars aren’t as rampant in the Truck Series as they are in Nationwide, but it’s better, in the long run, if series regulars are winning. NASCAR needs for these two series to have their own identity, and there is little incentive for fans to get to know the drivers and choose one or more to pull for if they can simply follow their Sprint Cup favorites from series to series. While it’s not as bad as the Nationwide Series (at least Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski were running their own equipment and not their Cup owners’), with the string of companion races on tap for the series, there will be Cup drivers in the races.

The solution? With this series especially, it’s simple: run fewer companion races and the Cup drivers will generally stay home. The trucks are better suited to the short tracks anyway; and a schedule that included some unique markets would give the series a chance to draw better crowds and gain more fans of its own. Case in point: Rockingham, where the crowd is one of the biggest of the year. Iowa also draws very well, and Eldora was sold out months ago. Surely full stands at smaller tracks are at elast as good as mostly empty ones at the bigger ones, and people are turning out even without a large number of Cup regulars. That kind of flies in the face of NASCAR’s claim that they need the companion races and the Cup drivers to draw fans.

2. How many first-time winners will we see in 2013?

From the look of the field in Charlotte, it could be quite a few. Kyle Larson has already won. Jeb Burton won his third pole of the year, so we know he’s got fast equipment; when luck falls his way he’ll find Victory Lane. Miguel Paludo looks to be staring down victory as well; he’s come close the last two races only to be foiled by late cautions (one of which, at Kansas, was for him). Max Gresham really found his stride at Charlotte as well, and Darrell Wallace, Jr. has been the victim of a couple of wrecks, but he’s running fast. Even the much –maligned John Wes Townley has been running better and does have an ARCA win on a superspeedway, and the trucks do visit Talladega later this year.

And that’s great for the series. There is a lot of talent in theis series, and with a dearth of top rides in the Cup and Nationwide Series, they could be here for a couple of years, giving fans enough time to get to know them and form a strong fan base for when they do move up, which, in turn, is good for the teams and sponsors. Like a lot of things in this series, that’s a win-win.

Truck Rookie Report
2013 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Ryan Blaney (No. 29)
Jeb Burton (No. 4)
Brennan Newberry (No. 14)
German Quiroga, Jr. (No. 77)
Ryan Truex (No. 30)
Darrell Wallace, Jr. (No. 54)

No. of Rookies in the Race: 8 Ryan Truex did not race; add in Tyler Young (6th start), Chris Cockrum (7th start), and Blake Koch(6th start) based on number of career CWTS starts.
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 0 Rookie of the Race: Jeb Burton Burton took rookie honors again this week after starting from the pole and finishing 13th.

Rookie Quotes:

“I am lucky to be driving for such a great team. These guys work hard for me. They believe in me and give me great trucks every week. They have been making me look good.” -pole sitter Jeb Burton

“We had some ups and downs and unfortunately during the race we couldn’t finish. We crashed very early. I was passing some of the cars that were in front of me, and I don’t know—my spotter cleared me and I think I wasn’t clear enough.” -German Quiroga, finished 35th after a pair of crashes

Championship Checkup:

Matt Crafton continues to hold a solid points lead in the Truck Series, holding a 22-point advantage over rookie Jeb Burton, who moves up a spot this week after Johnny Sauter’s early exit. Ty Dillon moves up two spots to third, 27 back of Crafton. Brendan Gaughan is up three places to fourth after he was the highest-finishing CWTS regular Friday night. James Buescher moved to fifth, 31 points behind Crafton.

Johnny Sauter tumbled four spots to sixth after a crash rendered him 28th in the finishing order. Ryan Blaney, Dakoda Armstrong, Miguel Paludo, and Darrell Wallace, Jr. round out the top 10. Joey Coulter fell out of the top 10 after his tire troubles, while Paludo moved into that group.

With the top 10 separated by 58 points and top teams having bad luck, the title hunt in the series is still wide open at this time. If you have to pick an early favorite, Crafton, Dillon and Gaughan are showing strength, and don’t count out Burton, who is showing poise beyond his years so far in 2013.

Quotable:

“We were really, really fast. I don’t know how Brendan (Gaughan) makes the top work like that; it’s crazy. Anytime I go up there I slow down. I got up there and it freed my truck up enough where it would actually help me rotate. I couldn’t hold it wide open through three and four. I would roll the truck up and it would really help my truck turn. Tha was the benefit there; I was taking away Brendan’s air, but it was helping my truck turn.” -Kyle Busch, race winner

“For the last eight years, the last eight years, you look at Kevin Harvick get out of the racecar pissed off because he finished second. I’d sit there and think, I’d give anything to get a second-place finish right now. But when you’re driving Chevrolets that are this good, you can be mad. I had a truck that was gaining on Kyle Busch. If I had been able to up my game, when he goes to take my air, I go to the bottom, I continue to gain on him and make a race out of it at the end. That’s what I was mad about. I do know how to do these things. It’s been a while since I’ve done them. It feels good to be mad about second place. That’s how good Richard Childress Racing is; that’s how good our Chevrolets are. It’s a great feeling to be mad about second.” -Brendan Gaughan, finished second

“I’m really proud to be running Leavine Children’s Hospital on our No. 32 Chevrolet this weekend at Charlotte. As a father, there is nothing more important than your child being healthy and happy, and it’s great that we have one of the best pediatric hospitals in the country right nearby. Some of the other Turner Scott Motorsports drivers and I are going to be doing a visit there next week, and I can’t wait to see the facility and meet the kids.” Miguel Paludo, finished 7th, on having Leavine Children’s Hospital as sponsor this weekend

“We (had) a group of guests from Barium Springs—one of the homes that the Kyle Busch Foundation supports and is located near our shop in Troutman—out there on Friday night. Thanks to a kind donation from the trackwe were able to provide them with a block of tickets. Little things like this mean a lot to kids that don’t have a lot, so it’s always cool when you can be a part of providing them with a special opportunity.” Kyle Busch, race winner , on having some special guests in the stands for the race

Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series will race Friday, May 31 at Dover International Speedway. will be televised on SPEED at 4:30 PM Eastern; it can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate or SiriusXM Channel 90.

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©2000 - 2008 Amy Henderson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

Michael in SoCal
05/20/2013 11:19 AM
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Cup drivers winning in a lower series – YAWN!!!

 

Contact Amy Henderson

Recent articles from Amy Henderson:

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Want to know more about Amy or see an archive of all of her articles? Check out her bio page for more information.