NASCAR Camping World Truck Series News And Notes Veterans Say 2010 To Be Most Competitive Season Yet Matt Crafton (No. 88 Menards Chevrolet) left Daytona International Speedway literally salivating in delight over his fifth-place finish in the...
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series News And Notes
Veterans Say 2010 To Be Most Competitive Season Yet
Matt Crafton (No. 88 Menards Chevrolet) left Daytona International Speedway literally salivating in delight over his fifth-place finish in the 2010 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season opener.
"It fits perfectly with what we want to accomplish this year," said Crafton, who finished runner-up to Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Longhorn Chevrolet) in last year's points standings. "We went down there with a plan this year to be really smart and stay out of any situation that would put us out of the race early.
"We did that and we ended up with the best finish we've ever had down there."
Crafton heads for Atlanta ahead of longtime nemesis Hornaday but that fact doesn't guarantee the Tulare, Calif., competitor's upgrade to his first NASCAR national series title. Crafton and other series veterans are convinced the competition level has reached unprecedented heights in 2010.
"It's really tough at the front of the field. The same guys that were tough last year are going to be tough this year plus there are some new faces in new places that are going to be fighting for top fives and wins all year long," said Crafton, who's beginning his 10th full season in the series.
Other former champions concur with Crafton.
"As a driver, you want to see the series grow and you look for new teams to join the competition," said Todd Bodine (No. 30 Toyota), a former Atlanta 200 winner.
Said Mike Skinner (No. 5 International Trucks Toyota), the 1995 series champion and 2007 Atlanta 200 winner, "The competition has stepped up its game. We are going to have to be on top of our game every week in order to have a shot at the championship."
Hornaday, who finished 27th at Daytona, hopes to channel 2008 when he was 25th in the opening race but rallied to finished only seven points behind champion Johnny Benson (No. 95 Plane Guts Ford).
"You have champions like myself, Todd, Skinner and Benson hoping to compete for more championships and young kids like Austin Dillon (No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) and Ricky Carmichael (No. 4 Monster Energy Chevrolet) coming up through the ranks," said Hornaday, the series' only four-time champion. "It's hard to tell who's going to be really tough after one race but from what I saw in Daytona, we have a bunch of new, high-quality teams that are going to contend for wins week-in and week-out. "
Kyle Busch Motorsports Off To Rocky Start; Atlanta An Elixir?
Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota) was typically blunt in his assessment of his new team's performance on Feb. 13 at Daytona International Speedway.
"It didn't go exactly how we'd hoped," said Busch, who saw both he and teammate Tayler Malsam (No. 56 One Eighty Toyota) involved in accidents.
That well could change at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where Busch is the track's only four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series winner.
"Now that we've got the first race out of the way, I think everyone will be more comfortable going into Atlanta," said Busch. "It's a pretty special feeling when you're driving your own equipment and the first time will be a moment I'll remember for the rest of my career."
Loop Data Say Peters, White Have Hill To Climb In Atlanta
Two names -- surprise ones -- were the big winners coming out of the season-opening race at Daytona.
One was Timothy Peters (No. 17 K&N Toyota), who nabbed his second career victory. The other was Jason White (No. 23 GunBroker. com Ford), who finished in the top five for only the third time in his career.
The next step: Continued success.
The statistics suggest that the goal might be tough to attain.
Peters doesn't not have a history of success at Atlanta. In three races there, he has an average finish of 22.0, a Driver Rating of 63.3, an Average Running Position of 21.3, no Fastest Laps Run and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of just 7.1 (28 out of 395 possible laps).
Same goes for White. In four career Atlanta races, White has an average finish of 25.0, a Driver Rating of 45.4, an Average Running Position of 23.6 and 32 Laps in the Top 15 out of a possible of 520 laps (6.2%).
Then there's Todd Bodine, a past series champion who finished second at Daytona and should continue his strong start. In terms of series- only regulars, Bodine is "the man" at Atlanta. Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005 -- a span of nine races for Bodine -- the 2006 series champion has an average finish of 9.1, a Driver Rating of 107.7, an Average Running Position of 7.6 and a series-high 1,049 Laps in the Top 15 (88.9%).
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series was off last week but that doesn't mean that Ricky Carmichael wasn't busy. Carmichael has a "second job" as a Supercross analyst for SPEED TV and was in the booth for last Saturday's event at Indianapolis. Carmichael, the sport's greatest champion, gets a leg up on his fellow truck competitors arriving in Atlanta a weekend early as the Supercross circuit moves to the city for next Saturday's race.
SS Greenlight Racing announced yet another driver to its extensive roster of veterans and newcomers. ASA North champion Chris Eggleston, a 20-year-old Colorado State University student, will be at the wheel of the team's No. 21 truck for the March 27 Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway. "He is a very fast and smart racer," said SS Greenlight's Butch Miller, whose only NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory in 1995 came in Eggleston's hometown of Erie, Colo. "I think he's got a very bright future in this sport. I'm excited to get the opportunity to work with him."
Kevin Harvick Inc. continues the search for a crew chief for Ron Hornaday Jr.'s No. 33 Longhorn Chevrolet. Harvick indicated at Auto Club Speedway over the weekend that he has a candidate in mind -- unnamed -- to replace Dave Fuge, who left KHI following the Daytona opener.
UK driver John Mickel is expected to announce this week his plans to return to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2010.
NASCAR and Darlington Raceway officials announced a Goodyear Tire test to be held Tuesday, March 9 at the historic track that returns to the schedule on Aug. 14.
Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender Jennifer Jo Cobb (No. 10 DriverBoutique.com Ford) spent the past weekend at home in Kansas City, Kan., and signed autographs for fans at the annual Kansas City Home Show, a home remodeling, decorating and lawn and garden expo.
Up Next: Atlanta Motor Speedway
Adjustments to the 2010 series schedule have created a three-week break between Daytona and the next NASCAR Camping World Truck race, March 6 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The 1.54-mile track has been "owned" recently by Kyle Busch, winner of three of the last four Atlanta races (and four overall), including last year's Atlanta 200. Busch is the only driver to have won more than once. Despite Busch's dominance, Chevrolet continues to be AMS' top manufacturer; Silverados have visited Victory Lane on five occasions.
The Race: Atlanta 200
The Place: Atlanta Motor Speedway (1.54-mile oval)
The Date: Saturday, March 6
The Time: 2 p.m. ET
Race Distance: 200.2 miles/130 laps
TV: SPEED, 1:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM. Listen locally on WEKS-FM 92.5 and WWLG-FM 96.7.
2009 Polesitter: Kyle Busch
2009 Winner: Kyle Busch
Friday—Practice, 1-2:20 p.m., 4:10-5 p.m.
Saturday—Qualifying, 9:35 a.m.