NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Tearing Apart the Trucks: Bring On 2010!

For a good chunk of the off season, my retail job kept me busy enough that I didn’t have time to miss racing. But once January hit, work slowed down, news started pouring in and I caught the racing bug once again. Now, just two days before the Daytona 500, the Camping World Truck Series takes the track for the NextEra Energy Resources 200 tonight with new rules, new drivers and even new teams.

Perhaps the most exciting rule change is the implementation of double-file restarts. Rather than restarting with the lap-down trucks inside the leaders, all drivers on the lead lap will line up double-file, leaving the leader the choice of which lane they’d like to use.

For those drivers not on the lead lap comes another way to work their way back into contention. Those drivers one or more laps down will be given the opportunity to not pit under caution and earn a lap back by becoming one of the trucks that is “waved around” before the field goes back to green-flag racing. They would then be permitted to pit under green if service is needed.

As a result of the double-file restarts, NASCAR was forced to drop a rule that should never have been used during the 2009 season. Drivers will no longer be required to make separate stops if they need both tires and fuel. Thankfully this should place a little less emphasis on pit road and a little more where it belongs – on the drivers. Additionally, the number of crew members allowed over the wall on a single stop rises from five to six.

One of the latest changes made by NASCAR for the 2010 season is a change in those who will be locked into the field each race. Previously, the Top 30 in the owner points standings would be locked in, leaving just six spots open for those trying to race their way it. Now, the top 25 teams in the owner standings will be locked in, and 11 spots will be available to others attempting to make the race on speed.

According to series director Wayne Auton, teams who would have been locked in under the old rules will “have guaranteed starting positions at Daytona and for three additional races.” Also, the offseason featured some points swapping between teams. Those who benefited from the swap were:

No. 2Elliott Sadler (Internal points switch at KHI. This is why defending champion Ron Hornaday Jr. must qualify on speed)
No. 3Austin Dillon (RCR acquired the owner points from Fast Track Racing’s No. 48)
No. 47Brett Butler (Fast Track Racing acquired the owner points from SS-Green Light Racing’s No. 08)
No. 48Bryan Silas (Internal point switch at Fast Track Racing. The team is using the owner points from the No. 47)
No. 56Tayler Malsam (After the acquisition of Xpress Motorsports by Kyle Busch, this team received the owner points from the No. 16)

The 2009 season marked the departure of a few drivers and teams from the CWTS. Back in October, the team with the most Truck Series wins announced they wouldn’t return when their driver moved up to the Nationwide Series. The No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing team has moved to the Nationwide Series along with Colin Braun, and co-owner Jack Roush said he doesn’t “see a presence in the Truck Series for Roush Fenway for 2010.”

Along with Roush Racing, Xpress Motorsports ceased to exist when the checkered flag flew over Homestead-Miami Speedway last November. Brian Scott has landed with Braun Racing in the Nationwide Series behind the wheel of the No. 11 Toyota.

With two races remaining in the 2009 season, Terry Cook and HT Motorsports parted ways with little explanation. Cook ran just three laps for Corrie Stott Racing at Phoenix International Raceway to keep his record-setting consecutive start streak only to have it stop abruptly at 273 races when he didn’t start in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. For the 2010 season, the 41-year-old driver has landed at Whitney Motorsports.

Despite the loss of several drivers, there was an influx of new drivers and teams as well as moves between teams during the off season Red Horse Racing announced reigning ARCA champion Justin Lofton had signed on for the full 2010 season in the No. 7 Toyota. Lofton Cattle has signed on as an associate sponsor, and RHR is still working to secure more sponsorship.

Another part-time driver joining the CWTS in 2010 is Brad Sweet. The 23-year-old driver made his Truck Series debut at Phoenix International Raceway in November, and he is tentatively scheduled to pilot the No. 90 Great Clips Toyota fielded by Stringer Motorsports in eight races. Sweet will also continue to run in World of Outlaws Series races that don’t conflict with his Truck Series schedule.

Another new face in the Truck Series is Dillon. The 19-year-old driver made his debut last September at Iowa Speedway and will be a candidate for the Raybestos Rookie of the Year award. Dillon’s full time schedule this season marks the return of Richard Childress Racing to the Truck Series for the first time since 1995, when Mike Skinner won the championship for them. He will pilot the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet.

And speaking of rookies, Jennifer Jo Cobb plans to run the full schedule in 2010 for her self-owned team. In addition to trying to make a name for herself in the CWTS, Cobb also hopes to draw attention to her fashion lines Driver Boutique and Driven for Men.

Rick Ware Racing has added their name to the list of teams in the Truck Series for the 2010 season. The plan is for them to run two full time trucks. Butler is set to pilot the No. 47 Fuel-Doctor Chevrolet in hopes of scoring the Raybestos Rookie of the Year title. The No. 6 Chevrolet will be shared by Donnie Neuenberger, Chrissy Wallace, Tim Brown and Michael Guerity.

After quite a bit of back and forth about whether or not he’d be able to pull it off, Kyle Busch Motorsports will debut tonight. Team owner Kyle Busch purchased a race shop and trucks from Xpress Motorsports. Defending champion crew chief Rick Ren left Kevin Harvick Inc. during the off season to serve as the Director of Operations for KBM. As a result, Dave Fuge will now sit atop the pit box for Hornaday Jr. and the No. 33 team.

Kyle Busch Motorsports plans to field two full time teams with the possibility of a third for 2008 champion Johnny Benson if sponsorship can be found. Malsam will pilot the No. 56 Toyota Tundra full time, and team owner Kyle Busch plans to run the No. 18 Toyota in all Sprint Cup Series companion races. For non-companion races, Brian Ickler will take the wheel in his place.

Since Malsam went to KBM, he left the No. 81 Toyota vacant at Randy Moss Motorsports. Not too long ago David Starr and sponsor Zachry landed at RMM. Starr will team up with Skinner, who recently scored a full-time sponsorship for the 2010 season with Navistar.

The schedule saw very little change in the time wasted between races early in the season, but a couple of tracks are missing this season. The usual visit to Auto Club Speedway in California the second week of the season has been dropped in favor of a solo visit to Pocono Raceway on July 31st.

Additionally, after multiple unsuccessful attempts to find a promoter for the Milwaukee Mile, it has been dropped off of the schedule as well. In its place, the CWTS will visit Darlington Raceway for the first time since 2004. Kasey Kahne led 95 laps on the way to victory lane that day, but the late Bobby Hamilton is the only driver to score more than one win at the 1.366-mile track.

You should be all caught up on the offseason news and ready to settle in for another great CWTS race at Daytona International Speedway tonight. The 2009 season marked the highest rated season in the history of the Truck Series. Here’s hoping 2010 brings more of the same.

Did You Know?

  • Jason White is starting on the pole tonight for the NextEra Energy Resources 250 in the No. 23 GunBroker.com Dodge? White led the final practice and managed to hold onto the top spot after being the first on the track for qualifying.
  • Series veteran Rick Crawford picked up a sponsor for the season opener but is still looking for someone to back the No. 14 team for the rest of the season? Lilly Trucking first partnered with Circle Bar Racing in 2005 when they served as primary sponsor for the team.
  • Longhorn Moist Snuff has signed on to back Hornaday Jr. for nine races this season? The No. 33 Chevrolet went to victory lane four times last season wearing Longhorn’s colors.
  • James Buescher is schedule to run full-time in the Nationwide Series for the 2010 season? He is also set to pilot the No. 31 Chevrolet for Turner Motorsports in a minimum of 19 of the scheduled 25 races this season.
  • NASCAR announced a change to the green-white-checkered rule? Now NASCAR will make three attempts to finish the race under green provided the caution doesn’t fly after the white flag does.
  • Ted Musgrave returns tonight after a one-year absence? He is set to pilot the No. 15 Hope for Haiti Toyota for Billy Ballew Motorsports, but there is no word on whether Musgrave will return for any other races.
  • Landon Cassill has landed at ThorSport Racing for tonight’s race? He will pilot the No. 98 etc Easy to Install.com/Southern Candle Chevrolet.
  • KHI is bringing back the No. 2 team? Sadler will drive the Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet for 15 of the scheduled 25 races, and the rest of the driver lineup will be announced later.
  • Miccosukee Indian Gaming has withdrawn sponsorship from all three of NASCAR’s national series? A February 4th vote saw the withdrawal of what was planned to be a primary sponsor for KBM’s No. 18 Toyota.
  • Todd Bodine still doesn’t have a sponsor lined up for his No. 30 Toyota? He and Germain Racing pieced together sponsorship for the entire season on a nearly week-by-week basis in 2009 and may have to do the same for this season.
  • Dennis Setzer and 2008 champion Benson have teamed up with Team Gill Racing and Plane Guts for tonight’s race? Setzer starts 14th in the No. 46 Dodge, and Benson starts ninth in the No. 95 Ford.
  • Two-time Whelen Modified champion Donny Lia returns to the series with SS Green Light Racing? Lia will pilot the No. 21 Dodge tonight and share the No. 07 with Tony Jackson Jr. for the remainder of the season.
  • NASCAR has suspended William Wheeler indefinitely for violating their substance abuse policy. Wheeler was listed as the crew chief for Norm Benning‘s Truck Series and Sprint Cup Series entries.

Author’s Note: Need to know more about all of the new faces in the Camping World Truck Series? In the next edition of Tearing Apart the Trucks, I’ll fill you in on where everyone came from and shine a spotlight on this season’s rookie class. Don’t forget to check back on March 5th for the next edition as the Truck Series prepares for a visit to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the second race of the season.

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