This weekend, that Camping World Truck Series heads off to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200. And when you think of Truck Series racing at Charlotte, you’ve got to think of Kyle Busch. In seven starts at the 1.5-mile oval, Busch has four victories—including the last two events he entered—and an average finish of 3.6, the highest of any driver at the track by three positions. In fact, the Sprint Cup driver has finished no worse than 11th at Charlotte. But which of the drivers entered Friday night have a shot to leave Busch in their dust?
Statistically, the only driver that’s even remotely close to Busch in his success at Charlotte is Ron Hornaday, Jr. In eight starts, he has two victories and six top 5s, however the most recent win came back in 2009 behind the wheel of Kevin Harvick, Inc. equipment. And while NTS Motorsports does have the same equipment that KHI race back then, their performance hasn’t been nearly as dominant. But with that being said, Hornaday did finish a solid fifth last year and the organization as a whole has been slowly making improvements since their merger with Joe Denette Motorsports during the offseason.
But Hornaday is far from the only driver with a shot at Busch. You can’t talk about potential winners this season without talking about the ThorSport duo of Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter. Of the two, Crafton’s previous statistics point to him as the one with a better shot at victory lane. After all, he did score his first career victory at the 1.5-mile oval in 2008, and in ten starts, he’s got seven top-10 finishes. Add in the momentum coming off of a trip to victory lane a few weeks ago at Kansas Speedway, and it’s easy to expect he’ll be a threat for the win come Friday night. But that’s not to take away from Sauter—though he’s got just one top 10 in four starts at Charlotte, he’s been red hot since the season began back in February.
From there, you’ve got Turner Scott Motorsports, an organization that showed tremendous strength all last season on the mile-and-a-half tracks. And that strength continued right into Kansas, the first track of that type on the schedule for this season. Remember that all three of the TSM drivers were running up front at Kansas until Miguel Paludo suffered damage after on-track contact and Jeb Burton struggled with handling late in the race. In fact, Jeb Burton happens to be the rookie that sits the highest in the standings at this point—he’s tied with Johnny Sauter for second, just 13 points behind leader Matt Crafton. And that’s not to count out defending champion James Buescher, who scored four mile-and-a-half victories last year. While their results don’t show the strength they’ve had all season long, don’t be surprised to see the TSM trio up front for much of the night.
Last, but not least, I can’t leave out Brad Keselowski. Though he has yet to visit victory lane in the Truck Series, take a look at his results in the last three mile-and-a-half races he’s entered: third, second, second. And one of those runner-up finishes came at Charlotte last May after he lost to lead to eventual winner Justin Lofton on the final restart.
In the end, it’s really hard to bet against Kyle Busch given his success at Charlotte, but with that said, I’m partial to the Truck Series guys beating the Cup guys any day. And there are plenty of drivers with the skill and the momentum this season to get the job done.
This weekend, Miguel Paludo’s truck gets a little more colorful with Carolinas Healthcare System’s Levine Children’s Hospital as the primary sponsor. The No. 32 Chevrolet will feature the hospital that has been recognized twice by the U.S. News & World Report as one of “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals.”
Update: I’m really proud to be running Levine Children’s Hospital on our No. 32 Chevrolet this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. As a father, there is nothing more important than your child being healthy and happy, and it’s great that we have one of the best pediatric hospitals in the country right nearby. Some of the other Turner Scott Motorsports drivers and I are going to be doing a visit there next week, and I can’t wait to see the facility and meet the kids.” Miguel Paludo
“I have been looking forward to getting to the track in Charlotte since we left Kansas Speedway; I feel like that could have been a win and it got away from us. We were probably the best we’ve been all season, so I feel really confident going into a similar track in the same truck we brought to the last two races. I could not be prouder of my team and the direction we’re going this year. I’m ready to get to Charlotte and set it on fire.” Miguel Paludo
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