NASCAR Truck Series rundown
|Max Papis #30|
NOTES FROM THE NASCAR NATION: IT'S TAIL GATE PARTY TIME AGAIN
By Dave Grayson
The Camping World Truck Series, NASCAR's official tail gate party, roars into its 11th season this Friday night at the Daytona International Raceway with the running of the NextEra Energy Resources 250. The first of 25 races for the 2010 season will feature some rather interesting rule changes, the return of some highly motivated series' veterans and champions along with some optimistic new comers.
THE STORY BREAKDOWN
Adding to the already growing level of anticipation to Friday night's race is the fact that the series will officially debut the implementation of NASCAR's double file-shoot out style-restart policy. Considered by many fans as being one of NASCAR's better ideas in recent years, the two by two return to green flag racing is guaranteed to bring the fans to their feet during this race.
Much to the relief of drivers, crew chiefs and owners, NASCAR allowed the teams to return to the use of standard format pit stops, performed by six man crews, beginning with this new season. Last year, in the name of cost cutting measures, teams couldn't change tires and refuel the trucks during the same stop. The two functions had to be performed during separate visits down pit road.
The teams will also have the option of using a newly designed gas can with a built in air vent. The use of this new can will eliminate the need of the traditional catch can man standing at the rear of the truck.
In recent days another new rule change came from NASCAR regarding their owner points system. Under the old system any team within the top 30 of the series' owner's points was guaranteed a starting berth in a race. The new rule reduces that number to the top 25. With the starting fields in the truck races set at 36, that new rule opens up the field to 11 teams outside of the top 25 and allows them to race their way into the field based on qualifying speed. It's also hoped that this new rule will become an incentive for new teams to join the series.
THE DRIVER BREAKDOWN
Former series champions will be expected to play a huge role in this race. Heading that group, without question is driver Todd Bodine aka "the Onion." The driver of the #30 Geico Toyota for Germain Racing has won the season opener at Daytona for the last two years in a row. He will be looking to become the first NASCAR driver to win three consecutive races at Daytona this Friday night. Add to recent wins at Talladega then it's safe to say that Bodine rules the truck series at super speedways. Bodine and crew chief Mike Hillman Jr have again opted to return to Daytona with the same truck they have raced since 2005. Why wouldn't they make that call? That particular truck has delivered the team two Daytona wins, a second place finish and has never finished out of the top five.
Ron Hornaday Jr will be looking for his first series win at Daytona. The four time series champion will also be launching his drive for five in his #33 Longhorn Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick Inc. However the new season will bring some new changes for Hornaday. Highlighting that change will be new crew chief Dave Fuge who assumes command of the pit box following the departure of Rick Ren. Like his predecessor, Fuge also knows how to lead a team to a series championship. He was a principal in the championships for Mike Bliss is 2002 and Travis Kvapil in 2003.
The other major change for Hornaday this year is the fact that he's no longer entrenched in the series' top 25 in owner's points. His 2009 points were transferred to Kevin Harvick Inc's #2 Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet. That ride will be shared by Sprint Cup driver Elliot Sadler and team owner Kevin Harvick. No one anticipates a problem with this move. You can bet that Hornaday will have no problem qualifying his way into a race and will be firmly in the top 25 by the fifth race when the 2010 owner's points becomes a factor.
Never to be overlooked in a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race is the presence of two time champion Mike Skinner who returns to driving the #5 International Trucks/Monaco RV Toyota for Randy Moss Motorsports. Skinner was fifth in the 2009 event at Daytona and has logged top ten finishes in three of his last four starts there.
The entry list for the NextEra Energy Resources 250 features the return of two former series champions. 2008 champ Johnny Benson returns driving the #95 Plane Guts Ford for team owner Danny Gill. 2005 series champ Ted Musgrave makes his return driving the #15 Toyota for Billy Ballew Motorsports. The team will be promoting the charity Hope For Haiti on the hood of their truck at Daytona.
But the one driver to watch, at any race on any race track, will be Kyle Busch who makes his team owner debut in his #18 Heluva Good Toyota. Over the past couple of seasons Busch was a moonlighting Sprint Cup driver having some fun, not to mention success, running in both the Camping World Truck Series and the Nationwide. Series. In 69 truck starts he's won 16 of them which computes to a winning average of 23 percent. He was second in the 2008 and 2009 series events at Daytona. He was also second on the speed charts during last Wednesday's practice session.
THE RACE BREAKDOWN
The NextEra Energy Resources 250 is comprised of 100 laps around Daytona's massive high banks.
The race had 42 pre event entries, for the 36 truck field, meaning six of the teams will be going home early.
This very intense race is famous for surprise winners, one or more lead changes on the final lap and door to door finishes within one-one thousandths of a second.
During the first nine years of this race the event sent nine different winners to victory lane before driver Todd Bodine broke the chain.
No Daytona winner has won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship in the same season.
The NextEra Resources 250 will be broadcast live, Friday night, by the SPEED Channel beginning at 8pm eastern time.