The Frontstretch: Tearing Apart the Trucks : Four Reasons to Watch the Truck Series by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Friday March 21, 2008

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Tearing Apart the Trucks : Four Reasons to Watch the Truck Series

Beth Lunkenheimer · Friday March 21, 2008

 

Once again, Craftsman Truck Series fans have to wait another week to see anymore on track action when the series returns to the track next weekend at Martinsville Speedway. The ratings for the American Commercial Lines 200 a couple weeks ago in Atlanta showed a 31 percent jump, netting 753,000 households compared to the 565,000 for the same race in 2007. Despite climbing ratings reports, the truck series remains the least popular of NASCAR’s top three series. Inspired by a column earlier this week by fellow writer Danny Peters, I give you four reasons why you should watch the Truck Series.

Better Racing

Week in and week out, the drivers of the truck series put on a show Sprint Cup drivers could only dream of. Side by side racing for the lead and last lap passes for the win are only the beginning.

The drivers in the truck series drive their hearts out in the name of racing and not necessarily a points lead week in and week out. Of course they’re all in it for the ultimate prize, the championship and a spot at the head of the table at the yearly Craftsman Truck Series banquet, however, they’ll still race as hard as their equipment will allow.

New Talent

The truck series has continually brought new talent to the attention of team owners and fans alike. Each year, you can count on at least one new face making preparations for a future in the Nationwide or Sprint Cup series, and 2008 is no exception. A rookie class of six full time drivers this year provides plenty of new talent. At Daytona, all six of those rookies finished in the Top 15.

In 2007, three drivers went into the final race of the season at Homestead-Miami with a chance to come home as the Rookie of the Year. Willie Allen, Tim Sauter and Joey Clanton found themselves separated by just nine points in a battle won by Willie Allen.

Currently, four of the seven rookie of the year contenders this season sit in the Top 20 in points, with Phillip McGilton leading the way in tenth. Over the years, guys like Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle and others have made their NASCAR starts in the truck series and gone on to successful careers in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series, and that will continue to be the case as time goes on.

Close Championship Battles

Year after year, the truck series never fails to present a close battle for the championship right down to the very end. Near the end of the 2006 season, I examined how close most of the points battles have been in the history of the series.

The battle between Mike Skinner and Ron Hornaday, Jr. last season was a perfect example of these close points battles. Skinner and Hornaday, Jr. swapped the points lead multiple times while each running for their championship. Week after week, the two swapped the top spot until it came down to the final race. Going into the race, Skinner held a solid 29 point lead, but he needed a smooth 200 mile race to seal the deal. It wasn’t meant to be, and a faulty tire hub ultimately sealed the deal for Ron Hornaday, Jr. who won the championship by 54 points.

With Kyle Busch currently tearing up the standings and leading for the third week in a row, most of the focus has been on him, but positions two through nine show a close points battle with eight drivers separated by a mere 100 points.

Kyle Busch

Kyle “Rowdy” Busch is a driver many fans love to hate.

Before you have a cow, hear me out. Kyle Busch has made it no secret he loves to race in the Truck Series. The only real problem with Kyle Busch in the truck series is the fact that he’s Kyle Busch. He’s a driver fans love to hate; there never was much complaining when Mark Martin spent some of his free time racing with the truck series drivers.

In his first start in the series, a 16-year-old Kyle Busch ran the No. 99 for Roush Racing and brought his truck home to a ninth-place finish. Shortly after, NASCAR put a rule in place requiring drivers to be at least 18 years of age before they were eligible to run in any of the top three series. In just 38 starts since then, the 22-year-old has eight wins and 24 Top 10 finishes under his belt.

So far this season, Busch has two wins and a runner-up finish in three starts and looks to add to that total in a ride that he’s sharing with David Stremme. Sure he makes some edgy moves early on in the race and sometimes makes you wonder what he’s thinking, but the younger Busch is an asset to the series.

This is the perfect time to give the Craftsman Truck Series a chance even if you don’t get the Speed Channel. The Kroger 250 from Martinsville Speedway will be televised on Fox Friday, March 29th at 7:00 pm EST. Check it out; you may find you like it.

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©2000 - 2008 Beth Lunkenheimer and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

mark
03/21/2008 07:32 AM
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Just think…. if the NIC series were being “run” the same way as the CTS; young tallent, up and coming teams, a real testbed for new drivers. That would be a very different animal. And probably pretty fun to watch. Instead, it’s more like a playground for the Cup drivers. Don’t get me wrong they are there for a reason; to satisfy a sponsor, a team owner, or whomever. It think the true purpose of the series has been lost, or at best greatly misdirected. With the swamping of the series with NIC-Whackers (yes you heard it here first) I have pretty much stopped watching…unless I’m at the track and have been forced to attend – you know – bulk ticket deals.

I think the best way to solve the NIC Series problem: Let some cup driver in, lets say there are 10 spots available for them. Let how ever many Cup drivers want to qualify go for it, but just allow the top ten to play. NA$CAR are you listening…. I know you guys read the FS, I’ve heard the rumors.

mark
03/21/2008 07:38 AM
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PS….. sorry, I live and work in the world of acronyms…. NIC Series stands for the Nationwide Insurance Company Series…thus Busch whackers are now NIC whackers….

Claim Jumpers…. how silly… more accurate…. but pretty darn silly….and that’s for you Jaws… I know you read the FS too.

Johnboy60
03/21/2008 08:36 AM
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No reason to watch what used to be the best series out there. Now it just a matter of which toyota wins…..

Judy Burke
03/21/2008 08:58 AM
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I watch the trucks because of the great racing from the Rookies & the Champions .

Gerry Blachley
03/21/2008 01:58 PM
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“NA$CAR are you listening…. I know you guys read the FS, I’ve heard the rumors.” listening infers they have control, NASCAR does not, the money has all the control IT’S A SHOWNOT A RACE” go to a local short track if you want to see a racing, the commercials are on TV interrupted by the “TAXE CAB RACING SHOW” (TS)

John C
03/22/2008 11:08 AM
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The truck series is the only NASCAR I even watch anymore… Although I’d watch the Whelen Modifieds if they were on friggin’ TV.

mike
03/22/2008 01:18 PM
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I’ve loved the truck series since it started. When they first started I said to myself, “this is what cup racing used to be.”

It’s a damn shame it’s not on “regular” TV. Not everyone has Speed. And it’s the best of the three series by far.

It kills me that craftsman is leaving.

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