The Frontstretch: Truckin' Thursdays: Relishing a Return To Road Course Racing by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Thursday March 15, 2012

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Truckin' Thursdays: Relishing a Return To Road Course Racing

Beth Lunkenheimer · Thursday March 15, 2012

 

As the long break in the early season schedule drags on, I find myself thinking about where NASCAR could have made changes to the Camping World Truck Series schedule. And wouldn’t it figure that I’d come across a story about the possibility of additional races added to next year? Could the Truck Series be headed back to road course racing?

Road course critics, take heart; turning left and right can’t be any less costly to teams than completely scrapping a truck at 190 mph.

According to a report from The Toronto Sun, that could be just what the series is poised to do for the 2013 season. Reports have the series headed to Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin next season with a strong possibility of a second road course race to make it economically feasible for teams. Road America, founded in 1955 in the quiet Wisconsin farmlands, hosted one Cup Series race back in 1956, an event won by Tim Flock. But it wasn’t until 2010 when the Nationwide Series started visiting the 4.048-mile facility.

Though road course racing is no longer present on the Truck Series schedule, it used to be. From 1995 through 1998, the series visited Infineon Raceway and Heartland Park in Topeka, Kansas each season, and at least one road course was on the schedule through 2000. Beginning in 1999, drivers visited Portland International Raceway, a 1.967-mile course in Oregon, but that only lasted until the 2001 schedule came out, and since then road courses have been absent.

But is this type of track what the Truck Series needs?

It certainly would be a step in the right direction, bringing the schedule from 22 events up to 24, assuming no other ovals close between now and then. More importantly, though, it would bring a different level of competition to the series. Consider that the Truck Series still consistently puts on the best show — when they’re on the track — each week, but add in a completely different type of strategy and you’ve got a recipe for success, showcasing where the drivers and the crews can really shine. Road course ringers, like former series regular Boris Said and Ron Fellows would also try and find rides for these events; that also brings additional exposure and fan support.

Of course, it’ll be at least midsummer before we know anything about next season’s schedule, but even the rumblings of additional events are enough to get me a little excited. With any amount of good luck, the series will get back a couple of the dates lost when the 2012 season’s schedule was trimmed by three events from 25 down to 22.

News Around the Series

Natalie Sather Joins MAKE Motorsports, Set to Debut at Martinsville

MAKE Motorsports announced Tuesday afternoon that they’ve signed sprint car racer Natalie Sather as a development driver. The 27-year-old Fargo, North Dakota native is set to make her Truck Series debut March 31st at Martinsville Speedway and is also scheduled to run in April at Rockingham.

“I have been racing for more than 18 years with one goal in mind: NASCAR competition,” Sather said in a release from the team. “This opportunity to work with MAKE Motorsports will assist me in furthering my dreams and honing my skills for an eventual run to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.”

Just last season, Sather ran in the Whelen All-American Series where she scored 14 top 5s and 18 top-10 finishes in 26 starts.

Author’s Note: For more about Natalie Sather, be sure to tune in to Truckin’ Thursdays in two weeks when I’ll take an in-depth look at her background.

Gale Wins Mobile ARCA 200

Cale Gale, driver of the No. 33 Rheem Chevrolet for Eddie Sharp Racing, has spent some of his off time running in ARCA. Last weekend, in his hometown of Mobile, Alabama, Gale held off Chad Hackenbracht in a green-white-checkered finish to score his second career win in 11 starts.

“This worked out better than we ever could have expected it to. We came here with intentions to win but actually being able to pull it off is awesome and it comes at a good time,” Gale said in Victory Lane. “It’s especially special, because my grandfather passed away last year, and we spent many a night down here on Saturday nights and it’s my first race to win since he passed away.”

Gale started ninth and led 76 laps in a race mired by 11 cautions for 65 circuits.

Contact Beth Lunkenheimer

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john
03/15/2012 10:11 AM
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I’d love to see the Trucks back on the road courses, especially if it’s a different one from the same ol’ Watkins Glen or Sonoma.

You know, Ron Fellows has completed upgrades on my home track of Mosport, hoping to entice a NASCAR race…

grumpiestoldman
03/15/2012 11:46 AM
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I remember my NASCAR 1999 game had some cool road courses for the trucks to race on!

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