Beth Lunkenheimer · Thursday September 6, 2012
Ty Dillon’s victory in last Friday night’s Jeff Foxworthy’s Grit Chips 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway marked the 11th different—and sixth first-time—winner in the Camping World Truck Series this year. The current record for most wins in a single season sits at 14—set in 1998 and 2005—and with eight races left on the schedule, it’s a mark that could be broken.
But the question that remains: who might break through and add their name to the list of victors?
At Talladega anyone could make a trip to victory lane in that race – assuming all 36 trucks aren’t wiped out in a massive wreck. After all, remember what happened at the last superspeedway race the Truck Series had in Daytona this February. John King executed an ill-timed bump on Johnny Sauter, sending him spinning and ended up snagging the victory. But that wild card aside, there are plenty of drivers that have yet to win this year and could easily do so before season’s end.
Parker Kligerman remains as the only driver inside the top 6 in the standings without a victory, and if he were still with Brad Keselowski Racing, there’s no way he’d be on the list of possible winners for the remainder of the season. But since leaving BKR and joining Red Horse Racing before the series headed to Michigan International Speedway, the 22-year-old has posted finishes of fourth, second, and fourth behind the wheel of the No. 7 Toyota. In fact, that runner-up finish at Bristol could just as easily have been a victory had it not been for the dominance of teammate Timothy Peters. Because Kligerman has yet to visit victory lane, it’s hard to pick a particular track where he may excel, however given that all three of RHR’s teams have visited victory lane so far this season, it’s only a matter of time before the sophomore driver grabs his own win.
Another obvious choice would be Kyle Busch, assuming he returns to pilot the No. 18 Toyota in one of the eight remaining races. One needs only look back at his 2011 results where he scored six victories and 13 top-10 results in 16 starts to see that he’s a threat at nearly every race track. And despite having been beaten by rookie Ty Dillon last weekend in Atlanta, you can bet he’ll work on a more aggressive setup that could lead to yet another series victory.
Matt Crafton may only have two career victories, but one of those came at Iowa Speedway, the next track on the schedule. And while the entire ThorSport team has struggled for much of the year, teammate Johnny Sauter did manage to break through and grab a much needed victory at Texas Motor Speedway in June, a race where the driver of the No. 88 Toyota finished in the runner-up spot. Additionally, Crafton has just one finish outside the top 10 in his last nine races, a 16th-place result at Michigan, and he could very easily snag a win at one of the four intermediate tracks left on the schedule.
Of course you can’t count out veteran Ron Hornaday, Jr., a driver who boasts 51 career victories spread out across 15 years of racing in the series. While he’s struggled a bit this season with Joe Denette Motorsports, the driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet has six top-10 finishes so far this year, including an eighth at Bristol last month. With the help of new ideas atop the pit box in the form of crew chief Richie Snyder, who joined the team following Jeff Hensley’s departure, Hornaday could grab the momentum he needs to break through to victory lane within the next couple of races. Remember, he’s got a combined 11 wins at the remainder of the tracks on the schedule.
And that brings us to the only Turner Motorsports driver that has yet to find his way to victory lane. Miguel Paludo has shown steady improvement throughout the season, but even in his strongest races, the driver of the No. 32 Chevrolet has faced his fair share of adversity. It’s hard to guess where Paludo may have finished at Chicagoland if not for the three different incidents that left him relegated to a disappointing 17th-place finish. Despite those multiple incidents, Paludo returned to the track each time his team made repairs only to find he’d gained speed on the rest of the field. But with winning crew chief Jeff Hensley atop the pit box, it’s only a matter of time before the pair builds the chemistry to produce a setup that ends with a trip to victory lane.
From young guns to veterans, there’s plenty of talent still yet to visit victory lane, and with a championship battle that has the top 5 separated by a mere 31 markers, the action has only just begun. And regardless of whether the series manages to break the record of most victors within a single season, this year will still come out as one to remember based on what has occurred throughout the first 14 races.
Update: “I was really excited going into Atlanta, but we just struggled with a free truck for pretty much the entire race. Jeff [Hensley] made great calls on the adjustments and on taking the wave around, but it just wasn’t enough to overcome how loose we were. I’m glad we were able to stay out of trouble and keep chipping away on the top-10 in points. It was a rough night, but I trust my team completely and I know that we will regroup and keep getting better.” Miguel Paludo
Nossa! Quanto tempo!: Long time, no see!
Boa sorte!: Good luck!
Uma só língua nunca basta: One language is never enough.
Tweet of the Week:
@miguelpaludo: Voando de volta pra casa. Dia longo e positivo hoje. / Heading back home. Long and positive day. #lookingforward
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