Finally. After five weeks of sitting dormant, the Camping World Truck Series returns to action Friday night at Kansas Speedway. Following three practice sessions Thursday afternoon, drivers will qualify for the Toyota Tundra 250 this afternoon at 3:30 p.m. local time. But before that, we might as well get caught up on the many things …
Sunday afternoon presented one of the rare times for the Camping World Truck Series to be in the spotlight; they put on just the race I expected them to. And though Kyle Larson thoroughly dominated the field, leading all but a handful of laps, there was still plenty of action throughout the race right up to the final caution.
That’s when things went, well, crazy for lack of a better word. When Timothy Peters and Ryan Sieg got together, causing the yellow it was clear the field would be set up for an exciting green-white-checkered finish. But more than half a lap after the yellow came out, Darrell Wallace, Jr. was sent spinning and out of the race off the bumper of Ron Hornaday, Jr. Several replays later, it became clear that the veteran had spun the rookie intentionally in retaliation for earlier contact between the two.
That’s right. The Truck Series boasts seven winners and counting to begin the 2012 season. If you take out the two Cup drivers who have won–Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne–you’ve got truck regulars, including three first-time winners–John King, James Buescher and Justin Lofton–that have taken the checkers in the other five races.
James Buescher because the first repeat winner this season with his victory Thursday night in the UNOH 225 and it was definitely a win the Turner Motorsports driver earned. Having started third, the driver of the No. 31 Chevrolet led three times for 119 of 150 laps en route to his second career victory.
When the Camping World Truck Series takes the track Friday night for the WinStar World Casino 400 at Texas Motor Speedway, Miguel Paludo’s No. 32 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet will have a completely different look. In an effort to raise more awareness for diabetes, the Brazilian, who has been named as the most recent–a first South American–Blue Circle Champion for the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), will run a “Unite for Diabetes” paint scheme this weekend.
IDF is an umbrella organization that encompasses over 200 diabetes associations covering more than 160 countries all over the world. Their mission is to “promote diabetes care, prevention and a cure worldwide.” Founded in 1950, IDF has united organizations worldwide that are all united for one purpose: finding a cure.
The return of NASCAR racing to Rockingham this weekend is a joyous event, but a complicated one as well. The on-track product is going to well worth watching, and for the fans in the stand, seeing the Truck Series take to the worn asphalt and high banks of southern North Carolina a stone’s throw from the sport’s heart in Charlotte is going to be a welcome sight.
On the other hand, it’s a standalone Truck race, over a thousand miles away from Fort Worth, Texas, and the Cup Series. Like it or not, stock car racing’s focus is not going to be at home this weekend, but in the southwest. And though Sunday’s upcoming 200-miler is nothing short of a triumph for jack-of-all-trades owner Andy Hillenburg, there’s arguably a hollowness to this victory; the new centerpiece of Rockingham’s schedule is NASCAR’s AA.
With March 31st and the Kroger 250 at Martinsville just about a week and a half away, it’s time to start thinking Camping World Truck Series racing once again. But sadly, with just one race in the books, it’s almost impossible to have built any kind of momentum for the teams _or_ the fans. That’s exactly what I’m here for today, though. With so many changes across the board and last season’s champion Austin Dillon moving on to the Nationwide Series, there are plenty of drivers to keep an eye on as the season unfolds.
Though road course racing is no longer present on the Truck Series schedule, it used to be. From 1995 through 1998, the series visited Infineon Raceway and Heartland Park in Topeka, Kansas each season, and at least one road course was on the schedule through 2000. Beginning in 1999, drivers visited Portland International Raceway, a 1.967-mile course in Oregon, but that only lasted until the 2001 schedule came out, and since then road courses have been absent.
But is this type of track what the Truck Series needs?
It seems like it was yesterday when the Camping World Truck Series hit the track at Daytona International Speedway to open the 2011 season, but nine months and 24 races later, the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway is once again upon us. And while Austin Dillon needs only a 16th-place finish to clinch the championship regardless of what competitors James Buescher (20 points behind) and Johnny Sauter (28 points behind) do, that only begins to tell the story of what has been an entertaining season. From James Buescher and Ron Hornaday, Jr. each making unlikely runs at the championship to costly mistakes, there are plenty of reasons–both good and bad–to remember the 2010 season.
With just three races remaining to determine the Camping World Truck Series champion, four drivers find themselves separated by a mere 16 points. As the series heads into Martinsville Speedway tomorrow afternoon for the Kroger 200, each and every driver needs to step up and show their competitors what they’re made of, but it’s even more important for the four vying for the championship. But who will emerge as the victor next month in Florida?
*Stats:* 22 starts, five poles, two wins, eight top 5s, 16 top 10s, avg finish 9.9
2011 may not have been quite as successful as the 2010 Rookie of the Year had hoped for, but there’s nothing for him to be ashamed of.
Just two months ago following the O’Reilly 200 mid-week showdown at Bristol Motor Speedway, it looked like Ron Hornaday, Jr. was out of the championship race. Having scored just one victory and four finishes outside the top 20 in the first 16 races, Hornaday found himself 68 points behind the leader (comparable to a more than 200-point deficit under the old point system) in ninth place in the championship standings. But that has since changed and the four-time champion once again finds himself in the midst of another title race.
Currently 21 points behind the leader, Ron Hornaday, Jr. has cut 47 points out of his deficit in just five races with three wins and a pair of additional top-10 finishes.
With just seven races remaining on the Camping World Truck Series schedule, Kyle Busch Motorsports is set to debut another driver: German Quiroga. The 31-year-old will pilot the No. 51 Telcel Toyota Tundra in a one-race deal for the F.W. Webb 175 this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Earlier this week, he spent time with the team getting fitted for the truck.
“On Monday we [spent] almost all day with the engineers and mechanics who [work with] Kyle Busch’s truck team to make the necessary adjustments to the seat, pedals and safety of the two trucks that are at our disposal,” Quiroga said.
This weekend’s race will serve as a test session for the two-time champion to determine whether he’s interested in continuing in the series in the future.
Just last week when Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter re-signed with ThorSport Racing, I mentioned that Ron Hornaday, Jr.’s job was likely in danger with the “changing landscape” that Kevin Harvick mentioned for the Truck Series team. And last Friday at Richmond International Raceway, Harvick ended up announcing that the team would be shutting down at the end of the 2011 season.
“The one thing I can tell you is there will be no trucks that run out of KHI (next season). But, as far as what happens with the truck teams, that will come in the weeks to come,” Harvick said. “The reason that the Truck program is really–it’s just tough; it’s a tough model business-wise. We have scrimped and scraped and got the sponsorship and things you need. But from a business standpoint, sometimes you just have to make the decisions as to what you want to do and for us it just didn’t make sense.”