Frontstretch Staff · Sunday January 8, 2006
Dear guys ‘n’ gals,
It’s that time again! A new year brings with it a chance to start with a clean slate, not only in life but in the NASCAR realm as the 2006 season is now but a month or so away.
But before we open the book on 2006, it’s time to write the final chapters in the 2005 NASCAR season that was. Join us as our Frontstretch Staff gives their take on some of the best and worst moments of the year, as well as the biggest challenges facing the sport as we head into a new season. And here’s the best part: we’ve left space underneath for you to add your own opinions! As always, we’d love to hear your own take on what should be remembered about NASCAR in 2005.
The final installment in our seven-part Year in Review tackles the rough-and-tumble world of the Craftsman Truck Series. Truth be told, 2005 represented a banner year for a series that was celebrating its 10th anniversary. A steady mix of former Nextel Cup veterans in Ted Musgrave, Todd Bodine, and Bobby Hamilton mixed it up with returning Truck Series regulars Dennis Setzer, Ron Hornaday, and Jack Sprague to produce fireworks both on and off the track. And with a few youngsters entering the mix in Brandon Whitt, David Reutimann, and Todd Kluever, the series still presented itself as one for all ages, producing a heated championship battle that raged on for most of the season.
When the dust cleared, Musgrave had won his first Series title, perhaps one of the best feel-good stories of the year in any series considering Musgrave’s courageous battle with cancer a few years before. The fact Musgrave and his Ultra Motorsports team had come oh-so-close several times in the past few years only to come up just short each time made their accomplishments in 2005 taste that much sweeter.
But that sweet taste had a sour ending, with Ultra Motorsports unable to obtain a sponsor and dissolving in the offseason, reminding everyone that the Truck Series still faces several challenges ahead. Dodge has decreased its support in 2006, and Toyota is expected to do the same in 2007 with its jump to the Cup Series, leaving concern about how many teams may be in danger of folding over the next year or two. Also, with the continuing influx of Nextel Cup castoffs, the Trucks may be facing an identity crisis: is the Series its own brand of unique racing mixing youngsters and veterans, or is it on its way to simply becoming NASCAR’s version of a Senior Tour?
With those thoughts in mind, we asked some of our Truck Series experts for their thoughts on what transpired in 2005 and what needs to happen in 2006 for the series to continue to be a success story.
Truck Series Review
Nikki Krone, FS Editor
What was the Best Truck Series Moment of 2005?
Ted Musgrave winning the championship. In an age where youth seems to be dominating NASCAR, it was refreshing to once again see a veteran outrun the “kids” and take the top prize. Also, Jimmy Smith is one of the “founding fathers” of the CTS and deserves to finally win a championship after 10 years supporting the series.
Mike Neff, FS Columnist
What was the Worst Truck Series Moment of 2005?
The race ending at Memphis. Ron Hornaday’s spotter at didn’t mention to him that there weren’t any trucks in the middle of the track in that cloud of tire smoke so he could go through the turn at normal pace and win the race. Instead, Hornaday near stopped entering Turn 4, was tapped in the rear by Brandon Whitt, and found himself crossing the finish line in the back of the pack as Whitt streaked to his first win.
Tom Bowles, Assistant Editor / FS Columnist
Who was the Biggest Surprise in the Truck Series in 2005?
Without question, Todd Bodine. After a strong finish in the Germain Motorsports #30 at the end of 2004, both team and driver moved on to what they thought were bigger and better things for the start of ‘05. But by midseason, Bodine’s new team had folded and the #30 Team was struggling with Chad Chaffin, setting the stage for a reunion that clicked from the very start. Bodine won five races in the second half of the season, including the last three in a row, and would have easily been a championship contender had he stayed with the team for the full season. With the key pieces of the team intact for 2006, who wouldn’t label Todd a championship favorite?
Nikki Krone, FS Editor
What was the Biggest Disappointment in this year’s Truck Series?
Bobby Hamilton. After winning the CTS Championship in 2004 and pretty much dominating the series, Hamilton started strong in 2005, but couldn’t put together another championship winning season, dropping to sixth in the final standings with only two victories.
Mike Neff, FS Columnist
What is the Biggest Challenge Facing the Truck Series in 2006?
The challenge for the Truck series is simply, “don’t screw it up.” They have awesome racing and great championship duels with a mix of veterans and youth alike. Like the Busch Series, they just need bigger purses. When the winner of a truck race takes home half of what the last place driver in the Cup race gets on a given weekend, there is a problem.
While the Frontstretch Year in Review session has come to a close, never fear…the 2006 season is nearly upon us! Join us in the coming weeks as Frontstretch begins to take a look at the upcoming season with exclusive driver interviews, previews, and more…
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