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NASCAR Notebook: Truck Series kicks off big weekend

by Dave Grayson
Tuesday, February 10, 2009

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America's favorite truck racing series launches its 2009 season this Friday at the Daytona International Speedway. It's also the debut of a brand new series' sponsor: Camping World. There are 38 truck teams entered in the NextEra Energy Resources 250 that hope to run the full 100 laps around Daytona's two and a half mile tri oval.

This is the tenth anniversary of NASCAR's truck series at Daytona. In the past there has been nine different winners. Defending race champion Todd Bodine hopes to break that streak this Friday. The race will be aired on the Speed Channel, starting with their pre race set up show, at 430 pm eastern time.

From its initial inception in 1995, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series flew out of the box like the proverbial bat out of hell. It quickly became an instant success as well as a fan favorite. It frequently features two, and sometimes even three, wide runs to the checkered flag. The series likely has more green-white-checker finishes than any other form of motorsports that you could name.

This year the series will again feature a nice blend of former champions and veterans mixed with some young drivers who will looking to use this year as a ways and means of moving up the NASCAR ladder. The series has a most interesting group of drivers vying from the Rookie Of The Year title. Sadly, it also appears that there are some highly significant names who, for the moment, are on the outside looking in due to sponsorship issues.

Here is a look at the status of some of the major players in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' class of 2009:

#1 JOHNNY BENSON. TOYOTA. RED HORSE RACING.

Last year Benson won the series' championship for Bill Davis Racing. However, BDR got caught up in the economic crisis and eventually sold their entire racing operation. In the midst of all this Benson reportedly contemplated retirement until he received the telephone call from Red Horse Racing. This operation is owned by renowned NASCAR crew chief turned broadcaster Jeff Hammond along with his business partner Thomas DeLoach Jr. Benson is a proven winner, and now a champion, in the truck series. It's likely he will become one of the best things that has ever happened to Red Horse Racing. This will be a team to watch in 2009.

#4. RICKY CARMICHAEL. CHEVROLET. KEVIN HARVICK INC.

This is the first of the 2009 rookie class and without question will be one of the most closely monitored drivers in the series this year. Anyone who has ever attended a major motocross event, or at least watched one on television, is already aware of Carmichael's legendary status in the American Motorcycle Association. At the still young age of 29 Carmichael has a record shattering 15 AMA national championships and is five time AMA Rider Of The Year which is another record. Carmichael has a 14 race deal with Harvick that is backed by Monster Energy Drink. Another major positive here is Carmichael will be guided by veteran crew chief Billy Wilburn. There has been no formal announcement regarding who will drive this truck in the remaining 11 races. It's expected to be a variety of drivers from the Sprint Cup ranks. Harvick himself will drive the truck at the Phoenix race later this year.

#5. MIKE SKINNER. TOYOTA. RANDY MOSS MOTORSPORTS.

Here's another driver who got caught up in the economic woes of Bill Davis Racing. When BDR sold their operation late last year, the new owners reportedly told Skinner that he would be back in 2009 in the #5 Toyota Tundra. However, by Christmas time Skinner started hearing whisperings that said the team would not be running the truck series at all. Meanwhile football great Randy Moss, of the New England Patriots, was preparing to launch his second season as a series team owner and was looking for an established driver. The timing of all this could not have worked out any better for Skinner and Randy Moss Motorsports. Moss now has a proven winner, as well as a series champion, that is capable of taking his racing team to new heights.

#07. CHAD MC CUMBEE. CHEVROLET.  SS-GREEN LIGHT RACING.

Chad McCumbee reunites with this team although it wasn't supposed to be that way. McCumbee was a development driver with Petty Enterprises and was expected to make his debut as a full time NASCAR Sprint Cup driver this year. Unfortunately sponsorship problems, enhanced by the merger of the Pettys with Gillette Evernham Motorsports, left him standing on the Cup sideline. McCumbee has a 12 race truck deal with SS-Green Light Racing that is sponsored by ASI Limited. What happens after that will depend upon available sponsorship.

#10. JAMES BUESCHER. FORD. CIRCLE BAR RACING.

This is the second driver from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' 2009 rookie class. Series veteran Brendan Gaughan was in this ride last year but left to purse an opportunity in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. That move may pay some huge dividends for Circle Bar Racing this year. Buescher is an outstanding talent and a proven winner. The 18 year old Texas driver did an outstanding job last Saturday in the ARCA REMAX Series and won the race at Daytona in convincing fashion. The team has rock solid sponsorship from International Maxx Force Diesel this year. This is definitely going to be a team to watch.

#13. JOHNNY SAUTER. CHEVROLET. THORSPORT.

This is the third member of the 2009 rookie class although he's already a NASCAR veteran and is also from a very famous mid west racing family. Sauter's new venture into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series could turn out to be a major blessing for team owners Duke Thorson and music mogul Mike Curb. The team has a good sponsorship program from Fun Sand, country music star Rodney Atkins and Curb Records.

#14. RICK CRAWFORD. FORD.  CIRCLE BAR RACING.

Here's a series veteran who capable of winning a series race on any given weekend. He's already proven that he knows how to win at Daytona. Crawford returns with crew chief Kevin Starland along with full sponsorship from Circle Bar Truck Corral and International Truck and Engine.

#24. DAVID STARR. TOYOTA. HT MOTORSPORTS.

Series veteran David Starr moves from Red Horse Racing to his new Toyota ride owned by Jim Harris. Zachary Holdings also makes the move with Starr but will only be the primary sponsor for selected races and an associate sponsor for the remainder of the season.

#25. TERRY COOK. TOYOTA. HT MOTORSPORTS.

Veteran Terry Cook moves to the Jim Harris two truck team as David Starr's team mate but there appears to be a major sponsorship issue here. The team has a sponsor for the Daytona race, Cajun Industries, but anything past that remains to be seen.

#30.  TODD BODINE. TOYOTA. GERMAIN RACING.

Here's a championship team, with a series champion driver, that should be set to take on all comers this year including defending their Daytona win from 2008. Unfortunately this is a team in serious financial trouble if they don't find another sponsor soon. The Germain Brothers were caught off guard, during the winter off season, when they learned that long time sponsor Lumber Liquidators will not be returning for 2009.

#33. RON HORNADAY JR. CHEVROLET. KEVIN HARVICK INC.

Despite the fact that Camping World is the new title sponsor for the truck series, they still are going to maintain their relationship with Hornaday simply because they know a good thing when they see it. There is also primary sponsorship from the VFW and Swedish Match's Longhorn Snuff who will be on the hood at the Daytona race. Crew chief Rick Ren will also be returning to the team's pit box. Hornaday will be aggressively pursuing an unprecedented fourth series championship and has a better than great chance of making that happen.

#40. MIKE BLISS. CHEVROLET. KEY MOTORSPORTS.

Mike Bliss will be driving this truck for six races, with sponsorship from Westerman Companies. in the midst of his NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule. Team owner Curtis Key Sr hopes to be able to sign Bliss and Westerman for more races.

#51. KYLE BUSCH. TOYOTA. BILLY BALLEW MOTORSPORTS.

Every body's favorite rowdy one returns to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for 12 to 15 races with Miccosukee Resorts and NOS Energy Drink on the hood. It's not certain who will drive the truck for the remainder of the races.

#60. STACY COMPTON. TOYOTA. WYLER RACING.

Veteran driver Stacy Compton returns to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Wyler Racing's fourth season. An announcement regarding sponsors is reportedly forthcoming.

#81. TAYLOR MALSAM. TOYOTA. RANDY MOSS MOTORSPORTS.

Young Taylor Malsam is the fourth and final member of the series' 2009 rookie class. He ran the ARCA REMAX Series last year and finished ninth in the standings. Malsam has landed a dream ride with Randy Moss Motorsports. Sponsorship is being provided by One Eighty with Doug Wolcott named as the crew chief. Malsam will also benefit from a wealth of experience that comes with having Mike Skinner as a team mate.

#88. MATT CRAFTON. CHEVROLET. THORSPORT RACING.

There's no real changes here but there is a lot of momentum from late last season that could translate into a terrific year for Crafton who scored his first series win in 2008. Menards returns as the primary sponsor.

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