NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Truckin’ Thursdays: The 2014 Season Dawns

Frontstretch’s Truck Series content is presented by American Trucks

Welcome back readers! Here we are on the eve of another season in the Camping World Truck Series. In some ways, the off-season was incredibly short, but there were also times when it seemed to drag along. As we get ready to go back to racing, there are plenty of changes you should be aware of coming into the 2014 season.

First and foremost, NASCAR officially unveiled the newly redesigned bodies for the trucks on Wednesday. They were designed to increase the similarities to their showroom partners and make it easier for fans to recognize their favorite brands. The sanctioning body worked with all three manufacturers for several years before putting the new body into use.

The Truck Series is raring and ready to start the 2014 season at Daytona.
The Truck Series is raring and ready to start the 2014 season at Daytona.

The Truck Series is raring and ready to start the 2014 season at Daytona.

“The truck has a new look that fans can relate to with their own truck at home,” said Chad Little, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series managing director. “The competitors have been happy with the new trucks in testing in January and we expect to continue to have some of the best racing in NASCAR for our fans at Daytona.”

Along with the new truck bodies, there have also been major changes made to the qualifying process. Instead of the traditional two-lap run, drivers will run in groups in three separate sessions on tracks 1.25-miles or longer. The first will last 25 minutes, and those who posted the 24 quickest laps will move on to the second session of 10 minutes. Finally, the fastest 12 will move on to the last round of five minutes where the pole will be set. There will be a ten minute break between sessions where teams will be able to have three crew members over the wall for adjustments.

At first, I groaned at NASCAR changing yet another thing that wasn’t necessarily broken, however after extra thought, the new rounds of qualifying are actually beneficial. Before, if a driver slipped and got loose, they were left with little ability to recover before race day. Now, the additional track time and adjustments should provide for better racing.

In addition to the qualifying changes, the sanctioning body also unveiled a brand new tiered penalty system. While confusing at a first glance, the new system clearly defines the levels of penalties based upon the severity of the crimes. I’m not convinced that the tiered system will work, however it’s a major step towards transparency that fans have wanted from NASCAR for many years now. Let’s hope they actually stand by it throughout the season.

Competition changes aren’t the only things that will be different when the green flag flies over Daytona on Friday night. Several drivers are struggling with sponsorship problems that have sidelined them, and in Jeb Burton’s case, pulled the rug right from underneath them. While many competitors have found single-race rides for this weekend’s event, there’s definitely a large amount of uncertainty as to just how many full fields the series will see this year. The only good news is that the extended break between the season opener and Martinsville the final week in March, is the amount of time teams will have to put together deals that didn’t make it in time for this weekend. Here’s hoping we see a few more full time teams compete.

News & Notes:

  • Todd Bodine announced via his Twitter page that he will join the FoxSports 1 broadcast team for Friday night’s season opener. I’d rather see him on track racing, however Bodine is well-versed in what drivers experience on the track and made a great addition to the broadcast the last time he was in the booth.
  • Jeb Burton, who was sidelined after former sponsor Arrowhead failed to make good on their payments to Turner Scott Motorsports, will join Johnny Sauter and defending series champions Matt Crafton at ThorSport Racing, for Friday night’s NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona. While nothing has been confirmed for the remainder of the season, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see that partnership extended if the sponsorship backing can be put into place.
  • This year three drivers are declared to be running for the rookie of the year honors. Ben Kennedy, Tyler Reddick and Mason Mingus will compete for the chance to be known as the best of the new additions to the series.

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