It was the year of youth. It was the year of history. It was a year of firsts. It was the year of series regular. It was a year dominate consistence. It was the year the guard began to change starting in this series for the future.
This is the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Twenty two races were run in the Camping World Truck series with thirteen different drivers. Only two of those drivers were not series regulars, but both drivers were under 30. Twice the record was broken for youngest driver ever to win a race. The first time the record fell this year was with Chase Elliot at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, and the second was Erik Jones in Phoenix.
The oldest driver to win this season was Matt Crafton who is 37. A number far different when drivers Todd Bodine at 49, and Ron Hornaday Jr. at 55 were dominating the series just a few years ago. The youth movement can be traced to Austin Dillon entering the series and winning the Championship in 2011.
With drivers like Jeb Burton, Ryan Blaney, Darrell Wallace Jr., and Erik Jones winning races in the series along with many others, the Nationwide program is no longer the building block for drivers. And with this change in the Camping World Truck series, it’s only a matter of time before the word of the entire sport is youth.
Two records fell for the first time this season. The first one we discussed, with the youth movement hitting the Camping World Truck series. The second may be a much more important and historical record.
Wendell Scott in 1963 became the first African American to ever win a NASCAR national series race. At the time of the racist culture of the sport, and let’s be honest the country Wendell was not given the win right away. It would be forty-seven years after his victory before he’d receive the trophy deserved for the event.
Fifty years later, Darrell Wallace Jr. came to Martinsville Speedway and won the Kroger 200. A product of the Drive for Diversity program, Wallace Jr. had tears in his eyes as he drove into victory lane.
An obvious student of history, Wallace later admitted his second thought after the shock of winning was the realization of his accomplishment, where it stood in history. And what this not only meant for himself, but for Wendell Scott, for anyone else looking to drive a stock car of a non-Caucasian ethnicity. It truly was history.
History was also made by youth in a first this season beyond age and racial history. It had been thirty-three years since NASCAR raced on dirt in any series. Sometimes old school is exactly what the new school needs for a boost.
So when the Midsummer Classic was announced to be coming to us from the legendary Eldora Speedway many fans and drivers started salivating. It was due to the thought of these 3400 pound trucks sliding around on dirt. Many drivers, some never heard of outside of their local dirt tracks attended the race.
It was one of the best races of the season, resulting in Austin Dillon to become the first driver in thirty-three years to win a NASCAR national touring series race on dirt. The fans and drivers instantly asked two things. Are we coming back next year? And can we bring the other two series here?
Sometimes a first isn’t necessarily history making. Sometimes a first is just a major first for a company. Red Horse Racing had never won on a mile and a half track. Wins on Restrictor plates, and the smallest tracks in the circuit seemed to be the group’s forte. So when they finally managed to win on a mile and a half track at Las Vegas, it was huge for the team. It was a validation that they do belong, that they can run on any track, with any team in NASCAR.
In every series, there is a cross over. All three series have drivers who will come to the lower, or try their hands at higher series on the national tour. The problem is the Nationwide series has become so diluted with Cup stars the stat of regulars winning is a outrage.
In the Camping World truck series? Totally different story. Of twenty two races ran, fourteen were won by a series regular. It’s a good and comforting stat to know with as bad as the Nationwide series is, that sixty-three percent of the races the driver in victory lane was a series regular.
ThorSport Racing and Matt Crafton let it be known early that this year would be theirs. Johnny Sauter and Crafton won the first three of four events in the season. Adding to that for the first sixteen races, Crafton didn’t finish outside the top ten. As a matter of fact, nineteen of twenty-two events saw Crafton finishing tenth or above.
The win, coupled with the string of top ten finishes put Crafton out front, his lead never in jeopardy. It even allowed the 88 to contend for the driver’s championship against the truck of Kyle Busch Motorsports that had won more races.
When we reached Homestead for the final race of the season, all Crafton needed to do to clinch the driver’s title was roll off pit road. After doing so, his focus turned to the owner’s title which he narrowly lost for ThorSports. However, the ease in which he won the driver’s title was attributed to his dominate consistence.
Guard began to change for the future.
A youth movement that began in the lower series about three years ago is beginning to go full circle into the Sprint Cup series. Kyle Larson (officially) and Austin Dillon (unofficially) will contend for Rookie of the Year honors in 2014. Chase Elliot is a potential Nationwide driver, with James Buescher, Ty Dillon, and Jeb Burton also planning appearances. The guard has began to change for the future.
The Camping World Truck series has had some of arguably the best racing in NASCAR recently. The failed Gen-5 car from a racing stand point, and cup stars spoiling the Nationwide series keeps the Truck series clean. Pure almost, in some ways.
As the series becomes the true training ground for future cup stars, it looks bright. Amazing races like the Canadian Motorsports Park, and Eldora will keep the future alive and bright for many years to come.
Random Sports/Non Sports Thought:
Hey, hey, heyyyyy! Guess what day it is! No, it’s not hump day, it’s Sons of Anarchy Night!
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I’ll be back here tomorrow as promised with a review of the 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series!