Series off-week notes 2011-03-01
Competition Revs Up Several Notches In 2011
Two races into 2011 one thing is certain: Perform or go home.
It doesn't matter whether you are relative newcomer, seasoned veteran or former NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion.
With Daytona and Phoenix complete, and more than 40 trucks in the garage at both stops, qualifying has produced more than its share of surprises.
Mike Skinner (No. 45 PaytasHomes.com Toyota), the series' inaugural champion, missed making the field at Daytona.
Former Daytona winner Rick Crawford (No. 73 Trans Pecos Trucking/Superseal Chevrolet) also failed to qualify for the 36-truck field and was shut out for a second time at Phoenix
James Buescher (No. 31 Wolfpack Rentals Chevrolet), who led 55 laps in Daytona before coming home ninth, wasn't fast enough to make the Lucas Oil 150 the following week.
Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates -- there now are 12 of them -- are among those coming fast out of the chute. Two cracked the top 10 in Daytona; three at Phoenix. Cole Whitt (No. 60 Red Bull Chevrolet), Jeffrey Earnhardt (No. 1 Fuel Doctor Chevrolet) and Miguel Paludo (No. 7 K&N Toyota) rank among the top 10 in current points standings.
Las Vegas native Justin Johnson made an impressive debut, finishing eighth with a solid Driver Rating of 95.0. His teammate Dusty Davis, also from Las Vegas, ran among the top 10 before being collected in a late-race accident. ... Ron Hornaday Jr. finished third in Phoenix, bouncing back from a 28th at Daytona. Hornaday gained 13 points positions from 23rd to 10th as he bids for a fifth championship. ... Austin Dillon, Brad Sweet and Jason White likewise regained ground. Dillon went from 16th to sixth; Sweet 17th to 11th and White 25th to 15. ... Phoenix winner Kyle Busch became the quickest NASCAR national series driver to reach 25 victories. Busch did it in 87 starts -- 13 fewer than Hornaday. Busch has won four of his past six series starts. ... Hornaday recorded his 192nd top-10 finish to match Jack Sprague's career record.