Toni Montgomery · Thursday June 23, 2005
Someone recently mentioned that the Craftsman Truck Series always has an exciting, close points race. I wonder why that is? They use the same points system as the Busch Series, as did the Cup Series before the Chase was added. And yet some Busch seasons have been snoozers as have some in Cup while the truck series seems to have several drivers still fighting for the title going into the final race each and every year. How can that be?
I hope you're not looking to me for the answer because I'm really not sure I can give you one. I can make some guesses, but who could really say why it always works that way. For every reason I came up with, I came up with something else to shoot that same reason down. My first thought was that it is the deep field in the truck series. There are so many teams running on almost equal footing with solid trucks and solid drivers. That sounds like a great reason. With all of those good competitors it stands to reason that no one is going to run off and get a sizeable points lead. It also means no one should be out there winning all of the races, which is something else that doesn't happen any more in trucks than it does in the other NASCAR series. A seven or eight win season is nothing to sneeze at but it isn't all that uncommon in any of NASCAR's big three, but a season where the win column is in double digits is an accomplishment for any driver although it's also very rare. So it's the deeply competitive field in the truck series that keeps the points race close every year. Isn't it?
Maybe, but the Cup Series arguably has an even deeper field of competitive cars and drivers and they needed the Chase to guarantee an exciting points battle. That isn't to say the Cup series wasn't capable of having a tight battle, but it just didn't happen every year. There's also the fact that the truck series didn't always have this much strong competition and the points battles were still close. If there were six strong teams, all six were taking the championship down to the wire.
A close field does not guarantee a close points race because points are based on consistency. Being competitive with the other trucks is just one part of it. Being competitive every week without fail and not having problems is more important. That's how you get a driver that runs off to a big lead. So does that mean there are no consistently good competitors in trucks which helps keep the points close? That might be the case in a given year here or there, but I just don't think you could have a good tight battle based on that every year.
Maybe it's the fact that there are fewer races in a truck series season than in Cup or Busch. The Craftsman Truck Series season has stayed at around 24 or 25 races while Busch is around 34 and Cup is currently at 36. The shorter season doesn't allow as much time for any one driver to build that large of a lead. Sounds good but I don't think so. In the other series, when a driver has run off and left the competition behind, that driver usually grabs the lead within the first few races. By the halfway point of the season everyone else was already hitting desperation mode trying to catch up. The halfway point of a Cup season is 18 races which is fewer than a full truck season.
The truth of it is that things have changed over the years in the truck series. Some years there were more competitive teams than others. Some years there were a different number of races. The drivers in the series have come and gone, even some of the early champions and contenders who have left and returned. Tracks have come and gone and changed in size and speed. Trucks have changed and new manufacturers have come aboard. Almost nothing has stayed the same in the Craftsman Truck Series over the ten years it has been around except for the fact that it is always an exciting championship battle.
So why does the truck series have a competitive points race every year without having to resort to a "Chase for the Championship" format to do it? Beats the heck out of me. I can't seem to come up with any reason that gives a definitive answer to that question. I just stay tuned and enjoy it every year.
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