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Toni Montgomery · Thursday May 12, 2005
Welcome to Craftsman Truck Series week. The trucks are in action this week at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway in Mansfield, Ohio. This is the second time for the series in Ohio after a very successful debut last season. That means a dose of the short track excitement the series excels in. All of NASCAR’s top series will be at short tracks this season with the Cup and Busch Series drivers taking on Richmond International Raceway, but I have to argue that no one does the short tracks quite like the trucks do.
My personal theory is that the size of the trucks combined with the beating they can take is what makes the series lend itself so well to this style of racing. I’ll admit the cars can be exciting at Richmond or Bristol, but not as exciting as the trucks. Look at a Craftsman Truck. While the cars have slick lines that let them slip through the air at superspeedways, the trucks are about as aerodynamic as a tree stump. Not conducive to superspeedways although they still put on a good show anywhere. However the trucks are big. Part of what makes short track racing exciting is the constant traffic that comes from having a track full of cars. Change that to having a track full of big trucks all jockeying for what little space is available and you have excitement.
I still remember the first time I saw a Craftsman Truck in person. I went to see the series at Nazareth and several of the trucks were lined up on the outside of the pit lane. In contrast, the trucks were paired that weekend with the Featherlite Modified Series, several of whose cars were also out on the pit lane at the time. It really made the trucks look like behemoths but it’s still not hard to eyeball the difference between a truck and a Cup car if you ever see the trucks in person.
Now you have a field of big trucks and a little racetrack. Inevitably, that formula means that many times those trucks are going to need to squeeze into the same piece of real estate. That’s what creates all that side by side, beating and banging racing so many fans love. That’s when we see why they’ve always called them tough trucks. They take a licking and keep on trucking. OK, that didn’t rhyme very well but give me some credit for making the effort.
The point is in the Craftsman Truck Series, drivers can use the chrome horn and not ruin their own nights. A little rubbing is not going to turn a winning truck into a back marker. Granted they don’t bounce of walls much better than the cars do, but they still take a lot more abuse without compromising their own performance. Cars used to be like that once upon a time too, when NASCAR was still young. So there you have it. By default, I would guess that makes the Craftsman Truck Series the closest thing we have to the good old days of racing anymore.
Will you look at that. I think I may have just hit on a whole new audience niche for the truck series. The so-called “old fans” who are unhappy with the direction NASCAR is moving with the Cup Series may consider giving the trucks a look. Think about it. The toughest vehicles, the most short tracks, the most full contact racing. Even the drivers are in many cases some of the toughest on any NASCAR circuit. Many of these guys will be familiar faces to any old fan.
Best of all, if you want to catch the action in person, I guarantee you this is probably the most economically priced ticket of the weekend. Disgruntled fans everywhere, come join us over here on the truckin’ side. We’d love to have you and I’d be willing to bet you’d find a lot to love in the Craftsman Truck Series.
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Recent articles from Toni Montgomery:
IndyCar Race Recap: MAVTV 500
Five Hundred Miles For All The Marbles
IndyCar Roundtable: Season Grades, Schedule Tweaks, And Possible Title Upsets
IndyCar Race Recap: Hunter-Reay Makes It A Repeat Performance
IndyCar Race Recap: Milwaukee IndyFest Presented by XYQ
IF you want to know more about Toni Montgomery or to see all of her Frontstretch articles, check out her archive and bio page.