NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Tearing Apart the Trucks: 2008 Season Preview Part II

Last week we talked about Craftsman leaving the series, team mergers and splits, and the 2008 rookie class. This week, we examine which drivers find themselves with new teams during the offseason and what to expect from the series.

Jack Sprague, winner of the 2007 season opener at Daytona, joined Kevin Harvick Inc. and will be driving the No. 2 Chevy. American Commercial Lines will be primary sponsor for the first 15 races, but there has been no word yet on the last 10. Sprague joins rival and defending truck series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. In 2007, the two combined for three wins and 32 top 10s, and Sprague finished ninth in the series standings. Sprague and Hornaday Jr. have six championships between them, the only two drivers in the Truck Series to have three championships to their individual credit.

Terry Cook was pulled from the No. 59 HT Motorsports Toyota prior to the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in favor of Whelen Modified driver Donny Lia making his Truck Series debut. Cook was “really excited” to join Wyler Racing during the offseason and will pilot the No. 60 Toyota Tundra. The veteran driver steps into a ride vacated by Sprague, the defending winner of the season opener at Daytona. Cook acknowledges that there will be expectations following Sprague’s performance at Daytona last season.

“Jack [Sprague] and the Wyler Racing team did a great job here at Daytona last year. They sat on the pole and won the race. It was a phenomenal race effort,” Cook said. “We want to live up to those expectations and come back and repeat, but there are a lot of good teams that can win.”

Germain Racing did not renew Ted Musgrave‘s contract following the 2007 season in favor of rookie Justin Marks. After talking with Morgan-Dollar Motorsports, Musgrave has joined HT Motorsports and will pilot the No. 59 Toyota. Team ASE followed Musgrave to HT Motorsports and will remain his primary sponsor.

After taking a year off from NASCAR’s top-three series, Erin Crocker is set to make her return to the Craftsman Truck Series. Crocker ran a 12-race schedule in the ARCA Re/Max Series in 2007 and finds herself piloting the MDM No. 46 Chevy for at least the first two races of the season. “There’s a possibility of running a partial schedule and there’s a possibility of running a full schedule,” Crocker said.

The 26-year-old ran two races in 2005 before running the full schedule in 2006. Her best finishes in the No. 98 Dodge were a pair of 16th-place finishes at Kansas and Phoenix. “We can confirm that we’re running the first two races. It will be sponsored.” A report from MDM said the No. 46 is planned for the full season, and they’re “hoping that Erin is a part of those plans going forward.”

The Truck Series has often been known for its competitiveness week in and week out, and 2007 turned out the same way. That makes picking a champion before the checkered flag falls on the final race of the season a crapshoot. Mike Skinner led the points for 14 races before he and Hornaday Jr. swapped it several times in the closing weeks of the 2007 season. Skinner has some unfinished business to attend to in the 2008 season in the matter of a championship that he saw slip through his fingers in the final race of the season.

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