Friday, December 4, 2009

The Best and Worst of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series In 2009

This past season will definitely be known for some of the best racing in the Truck Series that I have seen in years, however where were the fans, let alone the sponsors? Right now (2009) in the Truck Series, the racing has been heart-stopping most of the time, sure some races have seen runaway victories or two or a driver just dominate the race, but for the most part, Truck Series fans (what few there are) have seen amazing racing from Daytona in February to Homestead in Florida.

Best of 2009

Some of the best depends upon who you are and more so who is your favorite driver. Ron Hornaday Jr. in the #33 KHI Chevrolet Truck has to be a stand out in the series. In 2009 he won his fourth NASCAR Truck Series championship fending off a hard charging Matt Crafton and Kyle Busch. Hornaday Jr. made history during this past season when he and his team won an impressive five consecutive races, starting at The Milwaukee Mile and extending through Memphis, Kentucky, ORP and down to Nashville and I’m sure he didn’t smash the Nashville guitar that he won.

2009 was also filled with some success stories and first time winners were a big one in the Truck Series. NASCAR saw Brian Scott pick up his first career Camping World Truck Series victory at Dover, Colin Braun picked up his first victory at Michgan, Johnny Sauter in Las Vegas and Timothy Peters in Martinsville. And NASCAR fans also saw Kyle Busch win seven races in the #51, of course he was his usual self.

One of the best of 2009 would have to include the Television coverage by SPEED. SPEED had the fans covered from a half-hour pre-show, excellent race coverage and a post-race re-cap. For the most part, they were spot on all season long with of course the exception of the Talladega Halloween race, not their finest race, Batman and Robin oh brother and the batmobile. Of course SPEED also put on a chicken car, but not sure what coverage that was on.

Worst of 2009

The worst of 2009 had to center around some of the decisions in Truck Series made by NASCAR, let’s start with the pit stop rules. Already I can understand five crew members over the wall, but the tires or gasoline on a pit stop was too much. A lot of the time, we saw the Trucks coming on to pit road twice to first get tires and then get fuel.

Luckily enough in 2010, we will return to normal pit stop rules. Another one had to no double-file restarts. NASCAR introduced double-file restarts in (June) Pocono in the Cup Series and the Nationwide Series saw them a few months later, but nothing in the Truck Series despite the good racing in Cup and Nationwide and fans asking for it.

However I’m going to remember 2009 for one thing in particular which just so happens to be the worst and it’s the survival of the sport. Despite the fact that Camping World has come on-board as the title sponsor for the series, during the entire season, one couldn’t help but notice all of the blank trucks on track. One of the biggest stories shortly after Daytona was Todd Bodine not having sponsorship to continue the season despite his winner races.

Right now in the Truck series, there is a lack of manufacturer support and sponsorship dollars and while teams can get by without the manufacturer support, the sponsorship is what keeps a team going, without it, it’s over period. That is exactly what happened to many drivers during the season, one being the 2008 NASCAR Truck Series champion Johnny Benson. It’s sad when even the past champion can’t get sponsorship to race the entire season.

I honestly don’t have any idea what is going to happen to the Truck Series and if that wasn’t enough, even Roush-Fenway has decided to pull out of the series in 2010, I can’t imagine that that will look to potential sponsors trying to come into the series. The question is despite the good television coverage by SPEED, what is going to happen to the Truck Series with such little sponsorship available. NASCAR can only do so much.

I will leave you with this, I have been suggesting this for over a year now and I know that NASCAR wouldn’t consider it right now, but I think that the Truck Series and the Nationwide Series should merge. Just think about the possibilities, but for now, I wonder what is going to happen to the series, maybe it will be a cost effective, crate motor, pre-made truck series.

Now I can’t wait until February for Daytona, that should be good, but now that Rick Ren, the crew chief for the #33 Ron Hornaday Jr. has left KHI, who is going to be the new crew chief?