For Peters, it’s a night that reminds us how strong his No. 17 team has been throughout the season. He clearly leads the team in his performance, grabbing his second victory (Iowa) in six races and the fifth in his career. After starting in the runner-up spot, the driver of the No. 17 Toyota wasted little time, taking the top spot before the field completed a single lap. And despite charges from teammate Todd Bodine, Brad Keselowski and even runner-up Parker Kligerman on each restart, Peters always left his competitors eating dust. It’s no easy feat to lead every single circuit at the world’s fastest half-mile, where anything can happen, especially after a recent reconfiguration. Heck, it’s near-impossible to do it at _any_ racetrack: Wednesday night marked the first time since Louisville in July, 1997 a Truck Series driver led every lap of a race.
*In a Nutshell:* Nelson Piquet, Jr. took the checkered flag nearly ten seconds ahead of Jason White in Saturday afternoon’s VFW 200 at Michigan International Speedway. Piquet, Jr. used a fuel mileage gamble and had enough in the fuel tank to score his first career victory. Dakoda Armstrong, Parker Kligerman, and James Buescher rounded out the top 5. Pole-sitter Joey Coulter failed to lead a lap and finished seventh.
*Who Should Have Won:* Nelson Piquet, Jr.
As the Camping World Truck Series heads to Michigan International Speedway, a couple of drivers won’t be in the rides you’ve become accustomed to seeing them in.
Parker Kligerman, who was released from Brad Keselowski Racing following a solid seventh-place finish at Pocono, announced last week that he had joined Red Horse Racing to pilot the No. 7 Toyota vacated when Daytona winner John King was released just five races into the year.
Saturday’s Pocono Mountains 125 marked the halfway point of the Camping World Truck Series schedule. That’s right … it took nearly six months to get the first half completed, a bit unbalanced as the series will run its final 11 events in right around three months. But despite the lack of momentum, thanks to a poorly designed schedule there have been plenty of exciting moments to keep viewers interested.
In just 11 events, the Truck Series has seen four different drivers grab their first career victories, a potpourri of new personalities gracing the top spot.
*In a Nutshell:* Nelson Piquet Jr. was the class of the field all day Saturday, winning the pole and running away and hiding during a long green flag run to start the season’s shortest race. But a rash of late-race cautions left the No. 30 vulnerable on a lap 44 restart, allowing Joey Coulter to snag the lead entering turn 1 and driving off to his first career Truck Series victory. James Buescher, Piquet, Matt Crafton and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top 5.
Not that long ago, many though the Camping World Truck Series was in danger of dissolving thanks to sponsorship woes that resulted in teams scaling back at the least and shutting down at the worst. But the 2012 season has brought with it a breath of fresh air in what appeared to be a quickly dying series. Despite having the best racing on the track, the division suffered from a variety of maladies that could have easily seen NASCAR make the decision to quit supporting it. Now, the Truck Series stands on a much healthier ground and has even surpassed the Nationwide Series in lasting power.
First and foremost, fans finally have the opportunity to get to know the drivers that make up the fields week in and week out. Having endured a 2011 season that focused mostly on Kyle Busch and rest the of the Sprint Cup drivers overshadowing the series regulars, there has been a rebound in the popularity and coverage.
Chicagoland was a great race for us. We were just in the wrong place one, two, even three times. But we had a really great truck. We went from 30th to the top 10 after the first problem and even lead or stayed in second for a while. Then we ran up there toward the top 5 but kept having problems. I’m really proud of my team though because we were finally headed the right direction.
The problem we’ve had has been entry into the corners. We’ve always been too loose or too tight, but we changed a rear end housing and used something different. We had been using the same one we used all last season, but with the new one, it gave me a much better feel for what I was looking for. We were actually neutral going into the corners this weekend and that made it easier to drive. Plus Mike (Hillman, Jr., Crew Chief) is getting a better feel for what I like on the track every week and that helps a lot.
*In a Nutshell:* James Buescher took the checkered flag 0.247 seconds ahead of Brendan Gaughan to win the American Ethanol 225 at Chicagoland Speedway Saturday night. Buescher went two laps down thanks to a carburetor change, but managed to get both back before bolting on a set of four fresh tires and making quick work of the field en route to his third win this year. Timothy Peters (who started at the back of the field thanks to an engine change), Matt Crafton, and Parker Kligerman rounded out the top 5.
As the Camping World Truck Series heads to Chicagoland Speedway for a companion weekend with the Nationwide Series, Todd Bodine will make his 200th career start. While there have been other drivers that have reached this milestone–and others, including David Starr, who will make his 300th start this weekend–Bodine will become the only driver to have made at least 200 starts in each of NASCAR’s top three series.
The 48-year old made his debut during the series’ inaugural 1995 season at Heartland Park Topeka, a 1.8-mile road course in Topeka, Kansas. Piloting the No. 61 Roush Performance Products Ford, Bodine qualified third and finished fourth behind race winner Ron Hornaday, Jr., Joe Ruttman and Terry Labonte. Though he only ran five races that season, his worst finish came when he finished eighth at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, California.
*In a Nutshell:* Timothy Peters took the checkered flag 1.586 seconds ahead of Ron Hornaday, Jr. to score his first win of the season in the American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway. Peters took the lead on an uncharacteristically bad restart for Hornaday and never looked back. Matt Crafton, Johnny Sauter, and Justin Lofton rounded out the top 5.