Fresh off of the exciting season opener at Daytona International Speedway, the Camping World Truck Series heads west for some fun in California, and the rookies this season have already shown they can run with the veterans.
The 2009 CWTS rookie class could be the toughest group in a few years. Four drivers will be competing full-time for Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors, and two are scheduled to run a handful of races throughout the season. Chase Austin (No. 32 Chevrolet), James Buescher (No. 10 Ford), Tayler Malsam (No. 81 Toyota) and Johnny Sauter (No. 13 Chevrolet) are expected to compete full-time; Ricky Carmichael (No. 4 Chevrolet) is scheduled to run 14 races and JR Fitzpatrick (No. 7 Chevrolet) is expected to run several races.
Fitzpatrick finished fourth in the NextEra Energy Resources 250 and was awarded the Raybestos Rookie of the Race honors; he was also the first rookie to finish in the top five at Daytona since Ricky Hendrick finished second in 2001. But Fitzpatrick wasn’t the only member of the 2009 rookie class to impress Friday night.
Malsam, driver of the No. 81 Randy Moss Motorsports fielded Toyota, scored a top-10 finish, and Austin worked his way up to a 13th-place finish after starting 22nd.
Texas native Buescher started 10th and worked his way into the top five before the race reached the halfway point. Buescher pulled alongside the leader and looked to be headed to take the top spot away when Todd Bodine drifted up the track into the No. 10 Int’l Maxx Force Diesel Ford, sending it spinning. That wreck collected fellow rookies Carmichael, who qualified fourth in his debut, and Sauter, who started ninth.
Who knows what would have happened if Buescher, Carmichael and Sauter had been able to continue? I’m not going to sit here and guess, but I’d be willing to bet the three of them would have finished in the top 15 and could have been serious contenders when the checkered flag flew. Only time will tell if Daytona was a fluke or if the rookie class is something special this year.
DiCarlo to Attempt CWTS Debut
This weekend, Gabi DiCarlo will attempt to make her CWTS debut. She will pilot the No. 90 Great Clips Toyota fielded by Stringer Motorsports. DiCarlo competed in ARCA in 2007 and 2008, finishing 11th and 14th in the final points standings.
Originally scheduled to debut March 28th at Martinsville Speedway, DiCarlo was approved to run at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway after running the ARCA race at DIS. Before she was caught up in a wreck that happened ahead of her on the track, the 23-year-old had managed to work her way up to eighth after starting 32nd; she was credited with a 31st-place finish.
With 38 trucks currently listed on the entry list, DiCarlo will have to qualify on time, but the Arizona native is looking forward to making her debut.
“To make my first start in a NASCAR-sanctioned event is something I have been waiting for, for a long time,” DiCarlo said. “Having the support and encouragement of Doug Stringer and Great Clips through all of the highs and lows over the last several years has made all the difference and has helped me get to this point in my career. I am 100% ready to face the challenges ahead and cannot wait to get started.”
Hornaday Penalized for Daytona Violation
NASCAR announced Thursday that Ron Hornaday Jr. has been penalized 25 driver points for violations found during post-race inspection last Friday at DIS; owner DeLana Harvick was also given a 25-point penalty. Crew chief Rick Ren was also fined $5,000 and placed on probation until June 30.
The No. 33 Chevrolet was found in violation of Section 12-4-1 (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules) and Section 20B-12.3B (all approved shock absorbers must be of nitrogen-gas pressurized mono-tube, deflective disc valve type with an integral gas reservoir with all components as displayed on each manufacturer’s display board: unapproved shock absorber piston).
The penalty drops Hornaday to ninth in the CWTS standings, 60 points out of first.
Did You Know?
- The CWTS race at Daytona saw a 21% increase in viewership over the season opener in 2008? The NextEra Energy Resources 250 was the most watched cable show in its time slot last Friday night.
- Terry Cook is one of only two active drivers to make all 12 CWTS starts at ACS? Cook has finished in the top 10 only four times and posted a best finish of fourth in this race last season.
- There have been nine different winners in 12 Truck Series races at ACS? Only two drivers, Jack Sprague (1998-1999) and Ted Musgrave (2001-2003), have multiple wins at the 2-mile track.
- Kyle Busch is the defending winner of the San Bernardino Country 200? Busch’s win in this race last season was the first of 21 wins across NASCAR’s three series in 2008.
- The San Bernardino County 200 can be seen on FOX Saturday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. ET? Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds and Mike Joy will be in the booth, Chris Myers, Jeff Hammond and Phil Parsons will be in the Hollywood Hotel, and Krista Voda, Dick Berggren and Matt Yocum will report from the pits.