After taking a weekend off, the Camping World Truck Series is back on track this weekend alongside the Sprint Cup Series at Michigan International Speedway. The track has produce 12 different winners in 14 previous events, leaving Travis Kvapil and Greg Biffle as the only competitors to have visited Victory Lane twice. Since the facility has favored a variety of different victors, this weekend’s race is really anyone’s to win … or lose.
And that’s where Travis Kvapil‘s name comes up. He’s only raced part-time in the series since 2008, making just 25 starts over the past seven years, but this weekend, he’ll pilot the No. 05 Zaxby’s truck for John Wes Townley, who is sitting out another week following a hard wreck at Pocono two weeks ago.
“It is really hard sitting out and watching someone else drive your truck,” John Wes Townley said in a team release. “I am hoping to be back behind the wheel of the #05 Zaxby’s truck Wednesday at Bristol.” Townely returning to action depends on when the results of his baseline testing are received by NASCAR. The report is scheduled to be received on Tuesday of next week, however the Truck Series race at Bristol is a mid-week Wednesday night affair; cutting it close to say the least.
Kvapil’s performance at Michigan has been arguably the strongest he’s had at any track, having scored two victories and an average finish of third in four starts. In fact, his worst finish at the 2-mile oval came in 2003 in the form of a seventh-place run. While he’s made just two starts this season, you can’t count Kvapil out when talking about potential victors this weekend.
Kvapil will have his work cut out for him though. Any time a Cup driver’s name is on the Truck Series entry list, it’s too easy to choose them as possible favorites for the win. This week, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon and Joey Logano are all on the entry list, so it’s highly likely that one of the three will end up in Victory Lane. If I had to put my money on which one would win of this group, it would be Kyle Busch hands down since he’s won all five races he’s entered this season. While he hasn’t won at Michigan in the Truck Series previously, five top 5s and six top 10s in seven starts, combined with an average finish of 6.1 make him a pretty strong shot at the win.
But aside from those Cup drivers in the field, there are plenty of series regulars that have what it takes to head to Victory Lane. Last season, Jeb Burton broke a track record and led 41 laps before eventually settling in for a 10th-place finish, but that was with Turner Scott Motorsports. This year, he’s with ThorSport Racing in a ride that originally began as a race-by-race deal when sponsor Arrowhead failed to make their payments to keep him with TSM. While he hasn’t been burning up the track, Burton has been quietly making progress, though he doesn’t have the finishes to prove it.
And speaking of Turner Scott Motorsports, veteran Ron Hornaday, Jr. has made it very clear that, while he’s running well this season, he’s not content to just finish inside the top 5. Still on what’s technically a race-by-race schedule, though he’ll likely be with TSM through the remainder of the year, Hornaday has yet to close a race win. It’s not like he’s not running well, though. He has five finishes inside the top 10 in the last seven events since crashing out at Charlotte Motor Speedway back in May. Hornaday’s No. 30 team has definitely been on a bit of tear the last several races, and the high speeds of Michigan might be just what it takes for him to find the winning combination.
Of course, these choices aren’t to count out the rest of the field looking to add their name to this year’s winners list. Point leader Ryan Blaney has not yet visited Victory Lane, though he finished 32nd in this race last season after crashing on the backstretch before even completing a single lap. Then there’s Johnny Sauter, who has been quietly building a consistent season, having scored nine top 10s in 11 races. While he seems to have dealt with his share of struggles this season, Sauter and the No. 98 team have made the most out of what they have at the track and are poised to break through to Victory Lane soon.
The sad part about this weekend’s event is evident by a quick look at the entry list. As of Wednesday morning, just 28 drivers had entered for the 36-truck field. It’s a statement about the health of the series and the state of the sport all around, as many drivers have been sidelined simply for a lack of funding to put them on the track. But that’s a story for another day … assuming the series is around at that point.
News: CWTS Crew Member Suspended Indefinitely
Though the Camping World Truck Series was off last weekend, NASCAR handed out an indefinite suspension on Wednesday to crew member Troy Cupples for violating the Substance Abuse Policy. According to the sanctioning body’s release, Cupples was found in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 19 (violation of the NASCAR Substance Abuse Policy) on August 11th.
Cupples is listed as Engine Tuner on Brad Keselowki Racing’s No. 29 truck, driven by Ryan Blaney according to their website.