Race Weekend Central

Tearing Apart the Trucks: A Halfway Checkup and a Veteran’s Return

After what was an agonizingly slow start to season–as usual–suddenly the Camping World Truck Series has already hit the halfway point of the season. With just 12 races remaining, the 2011 campaign has already shaped up to be one of the more competitive ones in a few years.

Following the Lucas Deep Clean 200 at Nashville Superspeedway two weeks ago, Johnny Sauter held a 42 point lead over third place James Buescher, but that lead closed up considerably after last week’s visit to Lucas Oil Raceway. After waiting too long to change out a tire going flat, the driver of the No. 13 Chevrolet broke a swaybar and was forced to limp his way around the track to a disappointing 23rd-place finish. As a result, the top 7 are now separated by just 46 points with 12 races remaining.

Tracking the Trucks: AAA Insurance 200

*In a Nutshell:* Timothy Peters took the checkered flag 2.645 seconds ahead of James Buescher to win the AAA Insurance 200 Friday night at Lucas Oil Raceway. With just six laps remaining, Peters passed Buescher during a more than 100-lap green flag run and went on to score his third career victory. David Starr, Miguel Paludo and Ron Hornaday, Jr. rounded out the top 5. Matt Crafton and Joey Coulter were the last two trucks on the lead lap, finishing sixth and seventh respectively.

*Who Should Have Won:* *Timothy Peters* After running 14th quickest in the first practice session and improving to fourth quickest in final practice, Peters qualified 16th. But at that point, the excitement was just beginning.

Tearing Apart the Trucks: A Farewell to Lucas Oil Raceway

The Camping World Truck Series rolls into Lucas Oil Raceway tonight for what is likely the last visit for the series to the 0.686-mile oval. Since its inception in 1995, the Truck Series has been visiting the Clermont, IN track each season–typically in late July or early August–but that changed when NASCAR chose to move the Nationwide Series over to the Brickyard.

Starting next season, the Nationwide Series will run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but the current plan leaves the Truck Series out at Lucas Oil Raceway as well.

“We are disappointed that the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the Camping World Truck Series will not return to Lucas Oil Raceway on their customary weekend,” said track GM Wes Collier. “The Kroger 200 and the AAA Insurance 200 have long been one off the can’t miss events for race fans in the Midwest.”

Fan’s View: Wishing for Just a Bit of Austin Dillon’s Youth

Ah, the exuberance of youth! Austin Dillon ran across the grass, his stride vigorous, a huge grin plastered across his face. He had, after all, just won the Lucas Deep Clean 200 at Nashville. Some kind of celebration beyond the obligatory burnout was clearly called for. He neared the huge, painted logo on the frontstretch …

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Tracking the Trucks: Lucas Deep Clean 200

*In a Nutshell:* Austin Dillon took the checkered flag 3.981 seconds ahead of Johnny Sauter to win the Lucas Deep Clean 200 Friday night at Nashville Superspeedway. Dillon took the lead for the final time with 23 laps remaining and never looked back to score his third career Truck Series victory. Timothy Peters, Nelson Piquet, Jr. and Parker Kligerman rounded out the top 5.

*Who Should Have Won:* *Austin Dillon* Dillon led the final practice session and started his No. 3 Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats Chevrolet on the pole. He led the first 30 laps before being overtaken by Timothy Peters. After a round of pit stops under the second caution, Dillon restarted out front with 97 laps remaining but was quickly passed by Johnny Sauter. It wasn’t until inside 30 laps to go that Dillon finally passed Sauter for the lead and opened up a large margin before becoming the fourth consecutive polesitter to visit victory lane in Nashville.

Tracking the Trucks: Coca-Cola 200 Presented By Hy-Vee

*In a Nutshell:* Matt Crafton took the checkered flag 0.337 seconds ahead of Austin Dillon to win the Coca-Cola 200 presented by Hy-Vee Saturday night at Iowa Speedway. After restarting fourth following the final caution of the night, Crafton spent just seven laps heading to the front and never looked back despite a tense side-by-side battle for the lead just inside ten laps to go. Polesitter David Mayhew, Johnny Sauter and rookie Joey Coulter rounded out the top 5.

*Who Should Have Won:* *Austin Dillon* For the second consecutive Truck Series visit to Iowa Speedway, Austin Dillon had a fast machine underneath him. Though he started fifth, Dillon wasted little time heading the front, taking the lead from Johnny Sauter by lap 30. At points throughout the race, Dillon held as much as a three-second lead and looked to be on his way to another victory at Iowa, but a late-race four tire pit stop left the driver of the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats Chevrolet mired in eighth. Though he worked his way to the runner-up position, he just didn’t have enough to make the pass on Crafton for the victory.

Tearing Apart the Trucks: Dakoda Armstrong to Debut With ThorSport Racing

Last April, a high school student by the name of Dakoda Armstrong made a thrilling last-lap pass to head to victory lane after starting on the pole for the ARCA 250 at Talladega Superspeedway. He also took home the “Rookie of the Year” honors for the 2010 ARCA season. But it didn’t stop there–in just 32 starts, the young driver has three wins and 18 top-10 finishes in ARCA, including a victory at Winchester Speedway this June.

Born in New Castle, Indiana, Armstrong began racing go-karts at the age of six, where he scored the World Karting Association (WKA) Championship in his first season of competition. Since then, he’s scored more than 200 victories combined in go-karts, Quarter Midgets, Bandoleros, Micro / Mini Sprint, Kenyon Midgets, 410 Non-Wing Sprint Cars and Midgets. But perhaps the biggest achievement in his young career came at age 13 when he became the youngest driver to win the USAC National Championship.

Tracking the Trucks: UNOH 225

*In a Nutshell:* Kyle Busch took the checkered flag 0.302 seconds ahead of rookie Parker Kligerman to win the UNOH 225 Thursday Night at Kentucky Speedway. Busch drove from the back of the pack after missing the drivers’ meeting to score his 29th career Truck Series victory. Brendan Gaughan, Todd Bodine and Jason White rounded out the top 5.

*Who Should Have Won:* *Kyle Busch* Busch posted the sixth quickest time in the first practice session and fifth quickest in final practice before qualifying his No. 18 Dollar General Toyota in eighth. However, because he missed the drivers’ meeting, he was forced to start from the rear of the field, and in typical Kyle Busch fashion, he drove right on up to the front, leading his first lap after winning the race off of pit road under the third caution. Though polesitter Johnny Sauter and rookie Nelson Piquet, Jr. both managed to drive past the No. 18 under green, it was Busch whose truck held on until the end (Sauter broke an axle and Piquet found himself involved in the seventh caution with five laps remaining).

Tearing Apart the Trucks: A Rookie Checkup

_The Camping World Truck Series returns to action next Thursday night at Kentucky Speedway for the UNOH 225. Just nine races in, the top 5 in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings find themselves separated by just 40 points. But how have those top 5 drivers fared so far this season?_

*Cole Whitt*
*Stats:* Nine starts, one pole, two top 5s, five top 10s, one DNF

Cole Whitt currently holds a commanding 22 point lead in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year Standings and has certainly shown promise this season. Piloting the No. 60 Red Bull Chevrolet, Whitt has led 65 laps over four races. Though he missed the field at Daytona, the young driver hopped behind the wheel of Shane Sieg’s No. 93 and finished a respectable 14th. His lone DNF came during the series’ most recent race at Texas Motor Speedway. He currently sits second in the Truck Series standings. The 20-year-old also has one start in the Nationwide Series at Charlotte where he started 14th and finished 15th, one lap down.

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