Series off-week news 2010-10-04

*Justin Lofton Rookie Season Success Not To Be Overlooked **Almirola Solid, Sauter Just A Tad Better *Dillon Set To Help Re-Open Nashville Bass Pro Shops Lofton's Rookie Season Success Not To Be Overlooked Most drivers would give anything...

*Justin Lofton Rookie Season Success Not To Be Overlooked **Almirola Solid, Sauter Just A Tad Better
*Dillon Set To Help Re-Open Nashville Bass Pro Shops

Lofton's Rookie Season Success Not To Be Overlooked

Most drivers would give anything to have a rookie season similar to the one Justin Lofton (No. 7 Toyota) has had in 2010.

With four top-five and six top-10 finishes plus a top-10 position in the series standings, he has easily made a name for himself.

Despite statistics that are comparable to the past four Raybestos Rookie of the Year winners in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series -- Johnny Sauter (No. 13 Curb Records Chevrolet), Colin Braun, Willie Allen and Erik Darnell -- Lofton finds himself mired in second place in the rookie standings, 54 points behind rookie standout Austin Dillon (No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet).

Lofton's, the 2009 ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards champion, season has not been without hurdles -- including two DNFs this season.

"The biggest challenge has been learning how to momentum race," said Lofton. "I was used to running the ARCA cars which had plenty of horsepower to carry you up and out of the corners. In the trucks, if you lose any speed, it takes a lap or two to regain it."

Luckily for Lofton he has had several veterans -- Todd Bodine (No. 30 Toyota) and Terry Cook -- to lean on in the series for advice.

And not a bad choice of veterans to reach out to ... considering the duo has 27 combined victories in the series.

"There have been many different factors that have played into our team's recent success," he said. "Bringing Terry Cook on board as driver coach/spotter has really helped me explain to my crew chief, Mark Rette, what the truck needs to handle. Todd Bodine helping me out has given me the confidence to run with them up front. And, a lot of it's Rette and the team bringing great trucks every weekend and standing behind me."

Even though Lofton may not bring home the Rookie of the Year honors this season, his early success should not go unnoticed.


*NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regulars Ricky Carmichael (No. 4 Monster Energy Chevrolet), James Buescher (No. 31 Wolfpack Rentals Chevrolet) and Aric Almirola (No.15 Zyclara/Graceway Pharmaceuticals Toyota) will attempt this weekend's 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race.

*Kevin Harvick Inc. will host their 2010 Kevin Harvick Fan Club gathering on Sunday, Oct. 17th. KHI truck series owner Kevin Harvick and drivers Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 E-Z-GO Chevrolet) and Ken Schrader (No. 2 KHI Chevrolet) will be on site for the event. New to the gathering this season will be the addition of Big Wheel races.

Almirola Solid, Sauter Just A Tad Better

Aric Almirola knows all about the tough competition in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Practically every week, Almirola hammers down a top-10 finish (he's working on eight straight, currently). Yet practically every week, his points deficit balloons.

Since relinquishing his points lead to Todd Bodine after the Charlotte event in May, Almirola has seen his deficit grow from a scant two points to triple digits (currently, it's at 262 points).

Yet over that time, Almirola has been very strong. In those 14 races since he lost the points lead, Almirola has an average finish of 9.1, a Driver Rating of 98.0, an Average Running Position of 10.2, a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 80.1 and 29 Fastest Laps Run.

Another sign that Almirola needs to finish better than he has already is: his stranglehold on second place is loosening.

The reason: As well as Almirola has run, Johnny Sauter has been that much better.

Almirola's points lead over third place was at a high of 110 points. It's now down to 38.

Over that same span of 14 races, Sauter has an average finish of 6.1, a Driver Rating of 102.9, an Average Running Position of 7.5, a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 93.7 and 72 Fastest Laps Run. Though Sauter has not won over that period, he does have four runner-up finishes.

Dillon Set To Help Re-open Nashville Bass Pro Shops

It is no secret that when Austin Dillon is not at the race track piloting the famed black No. 3 he can be found fishing on the lake or enjoying the scenery from the deer stand -- a perfect match for his sponsor, Bass Pro Shops.

Later this month Dillon will have the opportunity to partner with his sponsor for the grand re-opening of the Bass Pro Shops located at Opry Mills Mall in Nashville, which received devastating damage due to a massive flood earlier this year.

The Music City location has been closed for four months

"I always enjoy checking different Bass Pro Shops locations when I travel to races, so I am anxious to see how the Nashville store has changed since the remodeling," said Dillon (No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet). The flooding in Nashville was a pretty bad deal. Many people were affected, including race fans, so it's neat to see some of the places devastated by the flood rebuilt."

The "re-grand" opening will take place on Thursday, Oct. 14. Dillon will be on site to help raise money for flood victims still recovering and sign autographs.

$Most Popular Driver

More than 29,630 votes have been cast for the 2010 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series most popular balloting. Fans can visit and vote for their favorite driver on the NCWTS page.

Fans also may write-in their favorite driver who is not among the nominees by sending an e-mail to to submit their write-in vote. Voting ends on Nov. 12.

The winner will be announced at the NCWTS postseason banquet. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series awards will again take place in South Florida at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel on Monday, Nov. 22.

The Race: Kroger 200

The Place: Martinsville Speedway (.526-mile oval)
The Date: Saturday, Oct. 23

The Time: 1 p.m. ET
Race Distance: 200 laps/105.2 miles TV: SPEED, 12:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS NASCAR Radio Channel 128 (Listen Locally on WZBB-FM 99.9.)

2009 Polesitter: Mike Skinner
2009 Winner: Timothy Peters

Schedule (All times ET):
Friday: Practice, 10-11:20 a.m.,1:10-2 p.m. Qualifying, 4:40 p.m.

-source: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , Ken Schrader , Kevin Harvick , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Colin Braun , Terry Cook , Johnny Sauter , Ricky Carmichael , Timothy Peters , Aric Almirola , Willie Allen , Erik Darnell , Justin Lofton , James Buescher , Austin Dillon