The Frontstretch: Tracking the Trucks: Lucas Oil 150 by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Saturday November 9, 2013

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Tracking the Trucks: Lucas Oil 150

Beth Lunkenheimer · Saturday November 9, 2013

 

In a Nutshell: Erik Jones took the checkered flag 1.616 seconds ahead of Ross Chastain to take his first career win in Friday night’s Lucas Oil 150 from Phoenix International Raceway. Jones took the lead for the final time on lap 142 and drove away from the rest of the field en route to victory lane. Brendan Gaughan, Ty Dillon and Matt Crafton rounded out the top 5.

Who Should Have Won: While Ross Chastain started on the pole and was able to pull out ahead of the field easily early in the race, it was Erik Jones who truly had the truck to beat. He ran second quickest in the first practice sessions and led happy hour on Thursday afternoon and evening. The 17-year-old followed up his speeds in practice with a solid front row starting spot. He went on to lead three times for a race-high 84 laps.

Race Rundown
Did you miss the race? In this section of Tracking the Trucks, you’ll find the major storylines that went on all in one place.

Ross Chastain Still Looking for 2014 Ride

Ross Chastain, who has bested his 2012 top 5 and top 10 count in less events this season, looks like he’ll currently be on the sidelines for the 2014 season, according to a report from Dave Moody. Chastain

“Things aren’t looking too good right now. There is nothing in place right now for me at BKR, or anywhere else, for that matter,” Chastain said. “Hopefully, winning this pole and maybe a race or two before the end of the season will help, but as of now, there’s nothing. My goal for the 2014 season is to be at the race track every week and not back on the farm. But right now, it’s not looking very good.”

I find it amusing that people look at Chastain and make mention that he’s only 18th in points. Considering he’s made just 13 starts this year, compared to 20 by Brennan Newberry, who he leads by 10 markers, 18th really isn’t that bad. In fact, let’s play with the numbers a little bit. In the 13 events he’s competed in, Chastain has scored an average of 34 points per race. If you were to add that number of points to his current total for the events he hasn’t run, the 20-year-old would be sitting a solid 13th in the standings. While he hasn’t exactly burning up the track, Chastain has definitely shown promise in his limited career, and the team that picks him up would be getting a strong driver to add to their stable.

Hornaday Loses His Ride

Fox Sports 1’s Ray Dunlap reported before Friday night’s race that Ron Hornaday, Jr. would not be behind the wheel of the No. 9 Chevrolet for NTS Motorsports next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. After emerging from the infield care center following a blown tire and hard hit to the outside wall, Hornaday confirmed that he had been told ten minutes prior to the race that he wouldn’t be in the No. 9 next week by team owner Bob Newberry.

“We at NTS Motorsports appreciate everything Ron (Hornaday) has done this year to help build NTS Motorsports in its first year competing at the national level in NASCAR,” said team owner Bob Newberry in a statement released Saturday morning. “Ron has been a great asset to our organization and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

Meanwhile, Hornaday will not miss the race next weekend. He announced that he had been contacted by Steve Turner of Turner Scott Motorsports and will pilot a sixth truck for the organization next weekend. Nelson Piquet, Jr. is rumored to be the leading candidate to pilot the No. 9 Chevrolet next weekend. In 43 starts with NTS Motorsports, Hornaday had just 15 top 10s, six top 5s, including a best finish of second last season at Iowa Speedway. He also had eight DNFs.

Quick Hits

- With the help of Erik Jones’ victory, among other things this season, Toyota clinched the manufacturer’s championship on Friday night. It was the sixth for the manufacturer in the last ten years, including four straight from 2006 through 2010.

“Everyone at Toyota and TRD are extremely proud of earning another manufacturer’s championship and it demonstrates our company’s continued commitment to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series,” said Les Unger, Toyota’s national motorsports manager. “We’ve been extremely fortunate to partner with championship-caliber teams and exceptionally talented drivers that enable our Tundras to prove their excellence on the race track.”

A combined 33 drivers, including seven full-time, have piloted Toyotas this season to 12 wins, 42 top 5s and 88 top-10 finishes. Additionally, Toyota drivers have led a combined 1,278 of 3,243 laps (39.4%) with one more event remaining.

- Fans who tuned in to Fox Sports 1 to watch the CWTS Setup show and the race were instead treated to overtime in an NCAA basketball game between Providence and Boston College. As a result, the race broadcast picked up 19 laps into competition, after already being slowed once for a caution. The good news is that next week’s season finale from Homestead-Miami will be preceded by a variety of standard shows and shouldn’t be delayed in coverage. And while disappointed fans is definitely not something any network should want, there are other implications when it comes to the sponsors that pay plenty to get the exposure via television coverage. Should the same thing happen more often, you can expect sponsors to consider pulling out since they wouldn’t be getting the coverage they feel like they deserve.

- Erik Jones and Ross Chastain, who share an average age of just under 19 years old, combined to lead all but three laps in Friday night’s event. The other three circuits saw Brendan Gaughan, who remained in the top 5 throughout the entire race, out front. He went on to score his ninth top-5 finish of the season.

Truck Rookie Report
2013 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Ryan Blaney (No. 29)
Jeb Burton (No. 4)
Brennan Newberry (No. 14)
German Quiroga, Jr. (No. 77)
Ryan Truex (No. 30)
Darrell Wallace, Jr. (No. 54)

No. of Rookies in the Race: (add Erik Jones, D.J. Kennington, Steve Smith, Chad Frewaldt, Mason Mingus, John Hunter Nemechek, Chase Elliott, Daniel Hemric)

No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 3; Erik Jones, finished first; Ryan Blaney, finished seventh; Chase Elliott, finished tenth

Rookie of the Race: Ryan Blaney

Author’s Note: Only drivers who have declared for the rookie of the year battle are eligible for the Rookie of the Race award.

Championship Checkup:
Each week we’ll take a look at the championship picture and find out which drivers were affected the most by the racing on track.

Biggest Winner: Ryan Blaney and Brendan Gaughan, who both finished inside the top 10 on Friday night, each move up two spots to sixth and seventh, respectively. Both drivers have had considerably strong seasons but had seen bad luck drop them through the standings late in the year. Blaney is just eight points behind fellow rookie Jeb Burton for a spot in the top 5 to close out the year, while Gaughan is 13 markers out.

Biggest Loser: Meanwhile, Darrell Wallace, Jr. and Miguel Paludo both suffered misfortunes on Friday night and finished 20th and 31st, respectively. Paludo had a blown tire that sent him hard into the outside wall, causing terminal damage to the No. 32 Chevrolet, and Wallace, Jr. had a late-race spin after contact on the track to bring out the final caution. Both drivers dropped to spots in the standings to eighth and ninth.

Points Update: Matt Crafton now holds a 46 point lead over Ty Dillon, who moved up one position on the strength of a fourth-place finish. Crafton will only need to start the race at Homestead-Miami Speedway next weekend to clinch his first career championship. Defending champion James Buescher dropped one spot to third. Johnny Sauter and rookie Jeb Burton round out the top 5.

Ryan Blaney and Brendan Gaughan each jumped two spots to sixth and seventh. Darrell Wallace, Jr. and Miguel Paludo find themselves down two spots to eighth and ninth, respectively. Timothy Peters rounds out the top 10.

Quotable:

“Being able to be the youngest winner here and get this deal done in the Truck Series is amazing. Never would have ever thought I’d have the opportunity in the Truck Series this year before they lowered the age for these tracks. It’s just amazing to get a win here with these guys in our fifth start. It’s hard to put into words what this means for me. I’ve dreamed of it for a long time. I don’t think it’s even set in yet, but just couldn’t be happier here to get in victory lane with our Wake Up Narcolepsy Toyota. This is just amazing, can’t thank Rudy (Ryan Fugle, crew chief) enough for all he’s done for this year and all these five races. It’s really amazing. KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports), Kyle (Busch, owner), Samantha (Busch, owner) for all they do. They’ve been so big in my career this year for letting me get in this truck and letting me prove myself to the NASCAR world. I can’t thank Joe Gibbs engines enough, Camping World for all they do for the sport and just couldn’t be happier right now. This is it — this is what it’s all about.” Erik Jones

“We had a really fast Draw-Tite Ford tonight, proud of our pole winning qualifying effort. I wish I could have held on just a little bit longer, but I’m so happy for my team and thankful for the opportunity Brad and Draw-Tite have provided me this year. I’m really looking forward to returning home to Florida next weekend with the goal of putting our Melon 1 Ford F-150 in victory lane.” Ross Chastain, finished second

“This was a great run for our South Point Hotel & Casino team tonight. I had to be careful at the end when I was racing Ty (Dillon) because you don’t want to do anything that could jeopardize your teammate’s run, but I knew we were a little bit faster at the end, and I really wanted the extra position. I was really hoping for a slightly better finish, but my team put forth a great effort and we’ll continue to fight for position in the championship point battle all the way to the end.” Brendan Gaughan, finished third

“We didn’t get the qualifying spot that we wanted. We really had to dig ourselves out of a hole starting from 12th. Marcus (Richmond, crew chief) made a great call for two tires and helped us gain track position. This Bass Pro Shops team has a lot to be proud of, we’re going to fight until the end.” Ty Dillon, finished fourth

“I wish we were a few more spots ahead, but we just had a brake problem all night. I could run about 15 laps and would lose like 90 percent of my brakes and I would have to pump and pump and as soon as I came off Turn 4, I would probably pump the brake pedal 10 times by the time I’d get into (Turn) 1. I could run hard for about five laps, then I was done — I was a sitting duck. I would have to lift just past the start/finish line. We did what we had to do.” Matt Crafton, finished fifth

Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway next Friday night for the 2013 season finale. Last season, Cale Gale pinned Kyle Busch to the outside wall on a green-white-checkered finish and just barely edged the Cup regular for his first career victory. The Ford Eco Boost 200 will be televised on live FOX Sports 1 beginning at 8:00 PM ET; it can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate or SiriusXM Channel 90.

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Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
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Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
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