The Frontstretch: Truckin' Thursdays: Who's Next? Three Drivers Vying for First Series Win by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Thursday June 14, 2012

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Coming off of two straight races, the Camping World Truck Series is off until the June 28th showdown at Kentucky Speedway. In the meantime, that’s given me extra time to digest this past weekend at Texas Motor Speedway and lessons learned as we move closer and closer to the halfway point of the year. With seven races already in the books, we’ve had seven different victors and broken a series record in the process. Combine that with a lack of Sprint Cup drivers entering and you’ve got a recipe for one of the best seasons yet.

Who Will Be The Next First-Time Winner?

In Mirror Driving on Wednesday, the question of which driver will become the next first-time winner came up. Suggestions from Ty Dillon, the current Sunoco Rookie of the Year leader to Joey Coulter, who scored his career-best finish Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway, so I decided to take a closer look at those who are just about to break through to victory lane.

Most of the writers in Mirror Driving agreed that RCR teammates Joey Coulter and Ty Dillon would be the next to become first-time winners. Experience alone automatically makes you point toward Coulter, who is now in his sophomore season, since he has a better knowledge of what to expect with each race on the schedule. However, if you consider how each of the two started out their rookie seasons, it becomes apparent that Dillon is in a better spot this early in his career for a victory.

The other non-related driver at RCR, Joey Coulter, is ready to get back to the tracks a second and third time, and possibly break through for his first career victory

Compare Coulter’s first seven races behind the wheel of the No. 22 Chevrolet to Dillon’s. Coulter scored just two top-10 finishes and finished outside the top 20 on three separate occasions. And while Dillon could have become the victim of multiple wrecks at Daytona or even fared worse at Texas last weekend when he and James Buescher tangled after some intense side-by-side racing for the lead, he’s managed to recover and make the most of each and every start. It’s only a matter of time before he breaks through with a victory, and once he starts, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him tack on a couple more before season’s end.

Another driver that comes to mind for scoring their first career win is Parker Kligerman. He has four top 10s and a trio of 11th-place runs to start the year, including a runner-up finish to Todd Bodine at Dover. Heading into Kentucky in a couple weeks, the 21-year-old boasts a runner-up finishes at both Texas and Kentucky last season, and he’s sure to visit victory lane sometime soon, if not as soon as the next race in Sparta, Kentucky.

Parker Kligerman is poised to pick up his first career win. Last year he scored back to back second place runs at Texas and Kentucky – with Kentucky next up on the docket.

With the strength several drivers and teams have shown so far this season, it’s impossible to pick the next first-time winner, however at this point, the numbers point strongly to Dillon.

Can Justin Lofton Maintain His Dominance?

Justin Lofton grabbed the points lead following his first career victory at Charlotte and has expanded that lead to five after his seventh top-10 finish at Texas. In just seven races this year, he’s nearly matched the four top 5s and eight top 10s he had during his entire rookie season with Red Horse Racing. Fast forward to 2012 where the driver who scored just two top 10s in 14 starts with Eddie Sharp Racing—the team he currently races for—last year, and seven consecutive top-10 finishes is pretty remarkable.

However, it shouldn’t come as a surprise as it reunites the successful pairing of Sharp and Lofton who won six races and scored 19 top 10s in 21 starts en route to the 2009 ARCA Racing Series championship. That coupled with Dan Bormann atop the pit box, a crew chief he’s worked with for a while now, have combined for a potent recipe that has brought out strong on-track competition. With each passing week, the No. 6 team’s performance and ability to overcome a problem have shown they are definitely a team to beat come November when the championship will be settled.

Assuming Lofton doesn’t pick up Johnny Sauter-like luck, he’s well on his way to a strong run on the big trophy.

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Having started out the year with seven different winners, we’ve already seen more parity and excitement than the Cup Series has in twice as many races. And with the top 5 drivers in the standings separated by a slim 25-point margin, each and every week should be exciting as young drivers continue to establish their identities while the veteran drivers quietly show they’ve still got it. It’s just a shame the next event is two weeks away.

Miguel’s Corner

NASCAR Português
Estratégia de pit: Pit strategy
Tanque cheio e quatro pneus: Full tank and four tires
Estratégia de pit: Pit strategy
Todo mundo vai fazer mais uma parada por combustível: Everyone will make one more stop for fuel
Vários pilotos não pararam: Several drivers did not stop

Reader Question of the Week:
Author’s Note: Do you have a question for Miguel Paludo? Send them to me using the contact info below and watch for them each week here in Miguel’s Corner.

How do you manage your diabetes on the track during the race when you can’t test your sugar?

Before I get in the truck, I check my levels. Let’s say it’s 120, so I drink Gatorade with sugar and it’s pretty quick for your levels to go higher when you drink liquid. Within 20 to 30 minutes, the sugar level can be 200 to 210. Then I’m good for at least two hours, the time I would be racing. I have Gatorade in the truck, so if I start feeling bad, I can drink some. Once I come out of the truck, I check it again, the level is still 180 to 200 and I take insulin until the levels come back. I have a window of two to three hours after I drink the Gatorade and then I don’t think about it once I’m racing. It’s not a concern in my mind that my sugar will go low because I have plenty of time.

Photo of the Week

Miguel and Oliver Paludo hanging out before pre-race ceremonies at Texas Motor Speedway. Photo by Rick Lunkenheimer

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Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
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