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The Camping World Truck Series heads into Texas Motor Speedway this weekend for one of three remaining events before going into off season hibernation mode. And as is typical of this time of the year, there are several things to keep an eye on as the season winds to a close.
Having gone into Martinsville Speedway as the points leader, Ty Dillon suffered his worst career finish of 28th after a blown right front tire caused significant damage to his No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet. As a result, James Buescher has taken a pretty substantial 21 marker advantage heading into the type of track Turner Motorsports has accelerated at for much of the year–intermediate. Early season leader Timothy Peters find himself just 25 points behind in what is likely now just a three horse race.
I documented Buescher’s struggles at the remaining three tracks in “Pace Laps on Monday,”:https://frontstretch.com/tbowles/41951/ but what I didn’t look at were the other two. Dillon is the only driver in the trio that has yet to make a Truck Series start at Phoenix, however he does have two K&N Pro Series West starts at the one-mile oval. His results? Third and fourth, so it’s safe to say the 20-year-old knows his way around. Dillon has also found some limited success at both Texas and Homestead. In just three combined starts, he’s finished inside the top 10 each time, including a best result of third last fall at Texas.
And that brings us to Peters. His numbers haven’t been all that impressive at the remaining three tracks either. In a combined 17 starts, the driver of the No. 17 Toyota has just three top-10 results (one at Texas and two at Homestead) and has yet to find the front of the field for all that long (a combined eight laps led at all three tracks) much less victory lane.
That’s not to say Red Horse Racing hasn’t grown by leaps and bounds this season, something that has definitely helped to keep Peters within striking distance of the championship lead. In fact, what other team can say they’ve been to victory lane with four _different_ drivers? The problem for Peters, though, is that his team may have peaked a bit too soon. Consider his results since that his second trip to victory lane on the year at Bristol back in August: 13th, 19th, 21st, 8th, 5th, 7th. While a trio of top-10 finishes isn’t all that bad, it is when you consider he posted just one sub top-10 result in the first ten events.
So who’s going to come out on top?
I’ve said all season long that anything can happen, and that’s truly the case in the Truck Series. But Buescher and Peters definitely hold an edge over Dillon based on their experience alone. Add that to the marked improvement Turner Motorsports has seen all season long and it looks like the rest of the field will be chasing Buescher for the remaining three weeks despite the numbers that say otherwise.
*Sponsorship Climate Looking Up*
NASCAR in general has been hit pretty hard with sponsorship woes across the board, however none have been hit harder than the Camping World Truck Series. Most teams have been forced to cut back, run with patchwork support or just take their costs out of pocket. But this week has brought several announcements that bring just a glimmer of hope for the future of the series.
Here’s a list of those that have been announced just within the last few days:
* Cale Gale (Ruud, a division of Rheem–Texas)
* Aric Almirola (Rimrock Designs–Texas and Homestead)
* Joey Coulter (OneMain Financial–Texas)
* Ron Hornaday, Jr. (Smokey Mountain Herbal / SWM–Texas)
* Nelson Piquet, Jr. (TAG Heuer–Texas)
Granted most of those partnerships are just single-race deals, it’s a welcome sight just the same. I’ve watched in horror over the last few years as the group of teams willing to run the full distance has shrank considerably wondering whether the lack of sponsorship out there would kill what’s arguably the best racing back on track. But it’s encouraging to see other companies joining the sport and making a difference. Here’s hoping the positive trend continues as it’ll help to bring back the healthy fields that once raced each and every week.
*Did You Know …*
* Miguel Paludo will be running a special paint scheme promoting World Diabetes Day this weekend at Texas. The scheme is primarily blue, the color for the International Diabetes Foundation that represent the sky that unites all nations.
* Kyle Busch returns to the Truck Series this weekend, a year removed from his weekend suspension following his decision to wreck Ron Hornaday, Jr. as the field came around to take the caution flag last November. Busch has just one start this year, a runner-up result in Atlanta.
* Nelson Piquet, Jr. will make his 50th career Truck Series start this weekend at Texas? He made his series debut in the season opener at Daytona back in 2010, a race where he started 22nd and finished an impressive sixth. In 49 races, the Brazilian boasts two wins, 13 top 5s and 25 top-10 finishes.
_Author’s Note: I’ll be live at Texas Motor Speedway with photographer and Grand-Am writer Rick Lunkenheimer. Be sure to follow us on Twitter: “@TheFrontstretch,”:http://www.twitter.com/thefrontstretch “@Beth_Frntstrtch,”:http://www.twitter.com/Beth_Frntstrtch “@FrntstretchRick”:http://www.twitter.com/FrntstretchRick and “Facebook”:http://www.facebook.com/Frontstretch for all of the latest breaking news all weekend long!_
*Update:* “I’m very excited about the paint scheme we’re running for World Diabetes Day this weekend; it’s very personal for me. November 14th is all about the 366 million people worldwide living with diabetes, but for me, it’s just about one person, my son. We’re going to be celebrating the day within our family, no different than a birthday or a holiday. I want to make it a day for Oliver to feel special and to remind him that diabetes can’t stop you from doing anything in your life. I can’t wait for people to see the paint scheme on the racetrack, and when you’re out there with your child’s name on the truck, it makes a race extra special; it gives you that extra push to bring it to victory lane for him.”
“The intermediate tracks are hands down my favorite places to race, and Texas is probably my favorite of them all. This is the home track for the Turner family and a place where Turner Motorsports has run well in the past. We’re bringing a chassis that we’ve had good races in and learned a lot about, so it just keeps getting better and better every time we race it.” _Miguel Paludo_
*Tweet of the Week:*
“*@miguelpaludo:*”:http://www.twitter.com/miguelpaludo Great day today with a bad finish. Unfortunately pit stops killed us, but we lose as a team and win as a team. #OntoTexas
“*@PatiSouzaPaludo:*”:http://www.twitter.com/patisouzapaludo I just love to listen @miguelpaludo s radio! Apprecciate the communication between @EddieDHondt @Jeff_Hensley and Mimo!#confidence
*Photo of the Week:*
Did you know Beth is participating in the Step Out Walk to end diabetes this November in Dallas, TX? Want to know how you can help? Click on the Step Out image above to learn why she’s walking and what you can do to make a difference.
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