Tearing Apart the Trucks · Beth Lunkenheimer · Thursday May 12, 2011
In what has been a very sporadic schedule to start the season, the Camping World Truck Series is back in action tonight at Dover. In 11 Truck Series races at the track, there has never been a repeat winner, but there have been five first-time winners crowned at the Monster Mile.
It all started with Jason Leffler, who scored his first and only Truck Series victory at the historic track after leading just a little over a quarter of the laps run. The following season Chad Chaffin led 52 of 200 laps on the way to his first career victory behind the wheel of the No. 18 Dickies Dodge for Bobby Hamilton.
Fast forward to 2008, when Dover saw Scott Speed score his first career victory by more than three seconds over series veteran Jack Sprague. A two-tire pit stop with 67 laps remaining gave Speed the track position he needed to score his only win in the series.
The following year, it was Brian Scott’s turn to celebrate in victory lane. In the rain-delayed race, Scott led just 14 laps—six more than he had led in his first six races combined—on the way to a nearly half-second victory over Dennis Setzer. Scott added six more top-10 finishes that season on his way to finishing seventh in the series standings.
Aric Almirola went on to add his name to the first-time winners list at Dover last season when he beat out James Buescher by nearly a second. After making an unscheduled pit stop for a cut tire that left him two laps down, Almirola took advantage of the wave-around and a lucky dog to get back on the lead lap. Then, through hard work and a series of evasive moves on the track, he set himself up to pull away on a green-white-checkered finish. He went on to visit victory lane just three races later at Michigan before finishing runner-up to champion Todd Bodine.
With only two previous winners at Dover in tonight’s field, odds are there will be a 12th different winner tonight, but the real question is will there be a first-time visitor to victory lane? So many young drivers that have shown promise this season would love to take home such a special trophy, but I’d like to take a look at three that currently sit in the top 10 in the standings.
After failing to qualify for the season-opener at Daytona, Cole Whitt hopped into Shane Sieg’s No. 93 and took home a 14th-place finish. Since then, the 19-year-old has scored three top 10s and has started in the top 10 for all four races he’s made on his own, including a pole at Darlington. Whitt currently sits atop the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings and hopes to stay there through the remainder of the season.
Joining Cole Whitt inside the top 10 is fellow rookie Parker Kligerman. Though he has only a single top-10 finish, the driver of the No. 29 Dodge for Brad Keselowski Racing has finished outside the top 15 just once—he finished 32nd at Phoenix after being involved in a crash. While he isn’t tearing up the track and has yet to lead a lap this season, consistency is the key to improving performance, and it’s only a matter of time before Kligerman has his turn in victory lane.
And of course we can’t forget about early season points leader Clay Rogers. After scoring a third-place finish in the season-opener at Daytona, Rogers has unfortunately not been able to score a top-10 finish since. However, before a disappointing 31st-place finish three laps down in Nashville, Rogers did manage to finish on the lead lap and inside the top 20 in all four races to open the season. With such a small team, it’s likely a long time before they can expect to make a visit to victory lane, but with the Cup Series wins by Trevor Bayne and Regan Smith, it’s certainly possible for the lesser known teams to snag the spotlight. And that’s especially true at a place like Dover.
Regardless of who takes home the trophy this weekend, the Truck Series is sure to put on a great show as usual.
“This place is the racetrack of all racetracks and has certain lines that will take you out. Fuel management is huge, so you have to have a lot of trust in your crew too.” Johnny Sauter
“Dover is like an oversized Bristol. It’s a high-banked, high speed concrete track. It’s a crazy place. Dover is a mentally tough race track. It’s indescribable, really. There’s a reason they call it the Monster Mile.” Ricky Carmichael
“I’m excited to head to Dover this weekend. It’s a unique animal that has high-banked turns and long straightaways, which usually provides for exciting racing no matter what you race.” Brad Sweet
“I’ve had concussions here, been life-flighted out of here, had good days and had bad days. Welcome to the Monster Mile: it can eat you alive or give you the best ride you’ve ever driven. It’s one of my favorite race tracks, and I really mean that. It’s crazy to say at a place that’s beaten me up before, but that’s the beauty of Dover. You have to trust your instincts and not make any mistakes.” Matt Crafton
“The concrete surface is very slick. Some drivers don’t like the concrete feel one bit; other drivers like it. For me, I enjoy going to Dover, Nashville and Bristol. They are all fun places to race because they are challenging and other drivers don’t necessarily get it. The race tracks are slick and having the right mindset going into those races can give you an advantage over the guys that aren’t looking forward to racing there.” Kyle Busch
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