NASCAR to deep-six Truck Series after 2009?

UPDATE Let’s start with a theory that is actually more like a fact: For a racing series to be optimally competitive, it must first have enough competitors.

Sounds simple enough, right?

Unfortunately, there’s no simple fix to the waning participation haunting the newly named NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Barely a month away from the start of the 15th season for NASCAR’s No. 3 series, you can count the number of Truck drivers with confirmed full-time rides on two hands.

And the number of drivers with a confirmed full-time primary sponsor is even fewer.

At last check, Ron Hornaday (Kevin Harvick Inc.), Colin Braun (Roush Fenway Racing), Matt Crafton (ThorSport Racing), Johnny Benson (Red Horse Racing), David Starr (Red Horse), Rick Crawford (Circle Bar Racing) and Todd Bodine (Germain Racing) were the only definite driver-team pairings in place for the upcoming season.

Notably absent from the list are three-time series champion Jack Sprague (who may return to Wyler Racing, where he finished out ’08) and Mike Skinner, a former champion and 25-time Truck winner whose status is in limbo partly because of the change in ownership at the team formerly known as Bill Davis Racing.

Among the teams with a seat yet to be filled are KHI, Randy Moss Motorsports, ThorSport and possibly the new Triad Racing Technologies group that replaced BDR.

Meanwhile, at least two organizations that fielded trucks in 2008 – Bobby Hamilton Racing-Virginia and Wood Brothers Racing – won’t be doing so this year, now that BHR has closed its doors and the Wood Brothers have folded their Truck program until further notice.

So what does this dearth-of-sponsorship-induced madness mean for the series that has traditionally produced some of NASCAR’s most colorful characters and electrifying competition? (Look no further than last year’s championship battle between Hornaday and Benson for an example of the latter)

It means that while there will certainly be more than seven or eight trucks on the grid for the series opener at Daytona on Feb. 12, don’t expect there to anywhere near a full 36-truck field at the majority of the 25 scheduled races.

And with fewer trucks and fewer drivers on the track, the intense competition often associated with the series will inevitably suffer.

[Editor's Note: The USA does not need three NASCAR series. The truck series is only draining sponsors away from the Cup and Nationwide Series. It is time NASCAR deep-sixes the truck series.]

10/21/08 The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series may be on its final laps. [See related Rumors articles.] Expect 2009 to be the last season for the series. NASCAR is still searching for a title sponsor for next season. At the same time, another manufacturer announced it will be pulling financial support. NASCAR remains optimistic saying it will not reduce the field sizes for next season.

Only a couple weeks after the announcement Dodge would no longer provide support for the Truck Series, Ford announced this week it will also be pulling financial support. The only manufacturers left in the truck series next season will be Chevy and foreign auto maker Toyota.

The announcement from both Dodge and Ford only adds to the demise of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Craftsman is now in its final year of sponsoring the series. NASCAR has been searching for a new sponsor all year and has gave little to no updates on the progress. With the current state of the economy NASCAR may be forced to end the search soon, or reduce the asking price.

Television partner and exclusive broadcaster of the Truck Series, SPEED Channel, is offering little help in getting the series back on its feet. With the minimal television coverage offered by the network, the series is not receiving enough exposure. The network also is not helping NASCAR search for a new title sponsor. Many may remember ESPN partnered with NASCAR last year to help find a new sponsor the Busch Series. The partnership proved successful with Nationwide Insurance coming aboard to sponsor the series.

As the field sizes continue to dwindle it is only a matter of time before the series makes its final lap. If the series remains at its current state, don‘t expect to see the series back after 2009. The only way this series can be saved is if NASCAR gets its act together and admits there is a problem. Don’t expect that anytime soon. We have seen how hard it is for NASCAR to admit problems.

The stubbornness of NASCAR and television partner SPEED Channel are mostly to blame for the demise of this great series. First it was IROC, now it’s the Truck Series. Which racing series will be next to go? Speedway Media

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