The Frontstretch: Truckin' Thursdays: Dreaming Big HELP! by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Thursday July 5, 2012

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Truckin' Thursdays: Dreaming Big HELP!

Beth Lunkenheimer · Thursday July 5, 2012

 

With the Camping World Truck Series off this weekend, there’s not a whole lot of news going on at this point. In fact, most off weeks often make the series seem like a ghost town until they return. In the past, I’ve given you reasons to watch the Truck Series, and this time, I’m playing a little game of what if. If I were in charge of the Truck Series what would I change?

The Schedule

The schedule obviously has to be the number one thing to change. From the moment NASCAR announced the 2012 season had been cut by three races to just 22, I objected to it. Part of the problem came with the closure of Nashville Superspeedway and the removal of Lucas Oil Raceway Park from the docket, however it looks more like the sanctioning body was focused on solidifying the Nationwide and Sprint Cup schedules, while keeping the Truck Series on the back burner.

The Camping World Truck Series got off to a wild start at Daytona…then promptly killed any momentum with a six week layoff. Failing to replace dates lost from 2011 was another big miss for 2012.

The Truck Series didn’t always end in November at Homestead. Instead, it ended at the end of October and didn’t feature the ridiculous amount of off weeks it does now. While I’ve always felt like the excitement surrounding opening weekend at Daytona International and championship weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway had a special energy with all three of the touring series present to start and end their respective seasons, the idea has been thrown around multiple times in our Mirror Driving segments to shorten the length of the season rather than adding more events.

Ideally, I wouldn’t mind seeing the series continue with its start and end dates while adding other events to fill in the glaring gaping holes in the first four months of the year. However, that move would require NASCAR to pay out larger purses for each race while balancing the payout a little more between teams. Consider this for a moment: as I wrote Tracking the Trucks following last Thursday’s race at Kentucky Speedway, I noticed that Scott Riggs, who ran just three laps behind the wheel of the No. 186 Clay Greenfield Motorsports Chevrolet before retiring due to “overheating” problems, brought home $7,070 while 10th place finisher Kyle Larson took home $10,620 following 150 laps of competition. There’s something wrong with that picture if a driver who ran 147 laps more brings home only an additional $3,000.

Considering the cost of tires, personnel at the track, equipment, and even the wear and tear on that equipment, it’s no wonder so many teams choose to start and park.

With all of that said, given the choice, I’d like to see more short track races added to the schedule along with at least one visit to a road course, something I wrote on earlier this season though it would likely take two events on the schedule to make road course racing feasible.

Build the Series to Feature Regulars, Both Young and Old.

Though the Truck Series is typically used as a stepping stone for young drivers looking to make their way to the Sprint Cup Series, drivers like Ron Hornaday, Jr. and Todd Bodine have made the series their home. Because of that, I feel like NASCAR is dropping the ball by not working to help give the series more of its own identity with the consistent regulars who have been the backbone of the series for over five years. I’d assume part of the reason stems from the thought process that the Truck Series is where a guy who can’t compete at a higher level goes, but with the quality of competition that results every time the drivers hit the track speaks volumes to the contrary.

Todd Bodine has been a full-time driver in the Truck Series since 2005, capturing two championships along the way. Might it do the CWTS well to use one of its most successful alumni to help promote the series?

I’m not talking about having the entire 36-truck field feature regulars every week, but rather a handful of drivers—maybe six to ten of them—committing themselves to growing the series and the promotion surrounding it. Can you imagine if guys like Ty Dillon, James Buescher, and Timothy Peters hung around in the series rather than moving on with their plans to end up in the Cup Series? With drivers that would easily become the face of the series, you’d likely find even more fan involvement and the dedication that comes with it.

Obviously there are plenty of roadblocks to growing the amount of regulars the series features each week, not the least of which are the plans for moving up a level of competition, but I’m convinced that it would be a huge benefit that would ultimately result in more sponsor involvement both on the driver side as well as the track side — leading to the larger purses that I mentioned above.

What if you were in charge of the Truck Series? What would you change? Let me know in the comments below or contact my using the info at the end of the column. If I get enough responses, I’ll put together a follow-up piece with your suggestions.

Miguel’s Corner

Update: “Our long road trip continues! My wife, Oliver, my mother and I started this motorhome trip with a very eventful journey to Road America where we had air conditioning and power issues, but the people at Camping World got everything working properly for us. From Wisconsin, we headed straight to Kentucky for last Thursday’s Truck race, and we stuck around for Friday’s Nationwide race as well. With it being the holiday and an off-week for us, we decided to extend our vacation a little bit longer, after a brief stop in Charlotte, with a trip to Disney World in Orlando. It has been hot and exhausting at Disney, but Oliver is having so much fun (and so are we!) In total, we’re going to ultimately be gone for about 20 days and we’ll have driven nearly 3,000 miles. As my wife jokes, we now live like hippies traveling everywhere by bus, but we’re having a lot of fun.”

Congratulations! Tyler Jones, one of Miguel’s crew members, and his wife Holly had a baby on Monday, July 2nd. Their second daughter, Lyla Michelle Jones weighed in at 8 lbs 13oz.

Basic Portuguese:

Olá: Hello
Tchau: Goodbye
Sim: Yes
Não: No
Por favor: Please
Obrigado (male) / Obrigada (female): Thank you

Tweet of the Week:

@miguelpaludo: We are having a blast @Disney but it’s freaking hot and I’m getting freaking tired. #ButOliverisenjoying

@PatiSouzaPaludo: Since we are leaving like hippies,in the motor home, travel all around, having my nails done is like a dream come true! Lol

Photo of the Week:

Oliver rocking to sleep with Mickey. Photo from Patricia Paludo’s Twitter


Connect with Beth!

Contact Beth Lunkenheimer

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midasmicah
07/05/2012 09:53 AM
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Put the trucks back where they started. Short tracks. And the schedule is a farce. When I look at the trucks racing at tracks like Talladega, I’m reminded of….yes, the spring cup racing at Talladega.

john
07/05/2012 10:13 AM
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A thousand times yes, the Truck Series deserves better support than it gets.

As for the schedule, the biggest mistake is having a bunch of races on Super Speedways and Intermediates—for the Trucks, those should be a few big, marquee events, and everything else on short tracks.

Keep a race at Daytona; scrap the race at Talladega… Scrap all the mile and a halfs except Texas (they’re trucks, after all) and Charlotte. Make those double-header (or more) weekends with Cup and Nationwide to help draw more fans in.

Otherwise, bring this show to the “lesser” masses. They should be focusing on short tracks. Add one road course, but make it different from Cup and NWS… Give them VIR or Lime Rock, or go back to Topeka. Or have Ron Fellows bring them to the new and improved Mosport.

Tracks like Milwaukee, Iowa, Gateway, Phoenix, South Boston, New Smyrna, Delaware, IRP, Irwindale, Richmond, Martinsville, Bristol, Columbus, Oswego, Salem… Tracks that are small, but not so small that they can’t support a field of NASCAR Trucks.

The Trucks put on, by FAR, the best show on 1.5 Mile ovals of the big three series, but that doesn’t make it right. This is a development series, it should be developing talent AND showing off that talent at smaller venues to more frugal fans. Not third string to the other two.

john
07/05/2012 10:16 AM
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Oh, and enough of this “champion’s weekend” at Homestead to finish the season. They cut the season up to save team’s money, which is great, but the downside is that interest wanes during these huge gaps between races. I’m a HUGE Truck series fan and it even bothers me and hurts my interest.

Cram the season back together so there’s never more than one week off in between certain races, and finish the thing off in early September, maybe Labour Day or something.

Michael in SoCal
07/05/2012 12:04 PM
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John pretty much nails it with his comments.

Pete
07/05/2012 12:15 PM
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SHORT TRACKS, SHORT TRACKS, SHORT TRACKS!!!!

That would be a start. It seems almost as if nascar is trying to kill the truck series based on what they have done with it.

Matt L
07/05/2012 04:16 PM
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Amen. The Truck series remains the best series in the sport.

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