After a season that saw more different winners (16) and a close points battle in 2012 which saw James Buescher win the title over Timothy Peters and Ty Dillon, how will the 2013 Camping World Truck Series live up to that billing?
Plenty of new faces and combinations make the 2013 season as unpredictable as last year. However, Buescher will be back to defend his title in the Rheem Chevrolet for newly named Turner Scott Motorsports.
Dillon returns in the Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet for grandfather Richard Childress with an eye on the title after winning Rookie of the Year honors in 2012. Peters leads a Red Horse Racing Toyota team into 2013, with two young teammates (John Wes Townley and German Quiroga) after having veterans Todd Bodine and Parker Kligerman in 2012.
One of the big moves in the off-season was Pocono winner Joey Coulter moving from Richard Childress Racing to Kyle Busch Motorsports. For the first time, KBM will run for a championship and Coulter comes over with crew chief Harold Holly to make a potent combination.
Busch will run a limited slate in a third truck for the team and only recently added a second full-time operation for diversity talent Darrell Wallace, Jr. The 19-year-old, a.k.a. Bubba, will run for rookie of the year honors with support from Joe Gibbs Racing.
Coulter’s spot at RCR was filled by Brendan Gaughan, who returns for a full-season attempt at the title with the best equipment he has had since contending in 2003. He also gets crew chief Shane Wilson back (formerly in Cup with Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick for RCR), after running together for many years.
Look for third-generation driver Ryan Blaney to have a say in the title battle, driving for Brad Keselowski Racing in the Cooper Standard Ford. Blaney became the youngest winner in Truck Series history last year at Iowa Speedway and the 2012 Sprint Cup Series Champ hired the son of former World of Outlaws champion Dave Blaney for a full-time opportunity in 2013.
Blaney is a development driver for Penske Racing and the Trucks provide an opportunity for experience before advancing to Nationwide and Sprint Cup. One team that definitely has experience is ThorSport Racing with Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter running their Toyota’s full-time. Both drivers have won races in the series and have contended for titles. Look for Crafton in the Menards Toyota and Sauter in the Hot Honey’s/Curb Records Tundra.
Tonight’s Daytona 250 race is as much of a wild-card event as any in a series that will race on dirt for the first time ever later this summer at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway. They will also make their first road course appearance in many years at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Mosport, Ontario, Canada.
The trucks usually provide some of the best racing during Speedweeks, so check them out tonight on SPEED and stay here for more coverage of the series as the season goes on.