08 February 2013

2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Season Preview

For the second straight season, we had a Camping World Truck Series champion in his early 20's. James Buescher did not lead the points standings until the 19th race of the season but the 22-year old Texan claimed the lead after a sixth place finish in Martinsville and went on to win the title. He will return to defend his title, can he become the first repeat champion in series history? It's time for my 2013 season preview.

Sprint Cup Preview
Nationwide Preview

1. James Buescher, #31 Rheem Chevy, Turner Motorsports
Yeah, it's not fun or that original but to be honest, I am not loving the championship contenders this year in the Truck Series, and I think it will be a two man race between Buescher and Ty Dillon. It's hard to pick against a talent like Buescher repeating because he's got the skill, the equipment, the financial backing and experience and the confidence to win it all once again.

2. Ty Dillon, #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevy, Richard Childress Racing
Nobody should be surprised if Dillon makes out like his older brother and win the title in his second full season. Dillon showed himself to be a tremendous qualifier last season with four poles and an average start of sixth and that is critical in this series and he was in the points lead with only four races to go after Talladega. Richard Childress is going to give his grandson every opportunity to win the title and while I don't think he will, I wouldn't be surprised if he did.

3. Timothy Peters, #17 Toyota, Red Horse Racing
Peters may be the best short track racer in the series and both of his victories this past year came at short tracks at Iowa and Bristol and he was leading the points as late as August 31st before three inconsistent finishes set him back. He did finish strong with top tens in his final six. The key for him will be funding as Red Horse always seems to have sponsorship troubles.

4. Joey Coutler, #18 Dollar General Toyota, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Coulter was great last year driving for RCR with a win, eight top fives, fifteen top tens and three poles and ended up third in the series standings. As he will now drive for Kyle Busch, I do not expect that much of a drop-off as he will still be in very good equipment, as long as the money is flowing.

5. Matt Crafton, #88 Menards Chevy, ThorSport Racing
I picked Crafton to win the series last year but he ended up finishing around where my expectations should as he was rock-solid consistent as usual. Crafton rebounded after a poor start with four finishes outside the top ten in his first five races to finish in the top six. He may not be a title driver because he doesn't win a whole lot but he will certainly be in the mix.

6. Brendan Gaughan, #62 South Point Chevy, Richard Childress Racing
It's great to have the former Georgetown basketball player in the series full time and he shined in limited action last year for RCR with four top fives in eight races. I think Gaughan will definitely break his streak of finishing outside the top ten in points with excellent equipment and solid financial backing and look for him to win a couple of races this year.

7. Ryan Blaney, #29 Cooper Standard Ford, Brad Keselowski Racing
A lot of people were surprised when BKR dumped Parker Kligerman halfway through last year when he was sixth in the points but when you do it for a talent like Blaney, it makes a little more sense. The Penske developmental driver took over the #29 at Bristol and he was in victory lane in three races and over his nine races, he finished in the top ten five time, not too shabby for an 18-year old. And now, with the team moving to Ford, they will get some manufacturer support which they did not get from Dodge so look out.

8. Johnny Sauter, #13 Curb Records Chevy, ThorSport Racing
After a brilliant 2011 in which he almost won the series championship, Sauter was really inconsistent in 2012 as while he won twice, he only had six top fives and nine top tens with nine races in which he finished 20th or worse. That maddening inconsistency I think limits how high he can finish in the standings.

9. Miguel Paludo, #32 Duroline Chevy, Turner Scott Motorsports
Paludo cracked the top ten in points for the first time in his short NASCAR career last year, despite only finishing in the top five once and in the top ten five times but that speaks to his consistency at running at the finish, which he did in every race save for the opener at Daytona, when he had the strongest car and led the most laps. He should be able to find victory lane thanks to the excellent Turner equipment, and don't be surprised if he has the fastest car at Daytona again.

10. Ron Hornaday, Jr., #9 Smokey Mountain Chevy, NTS Motorsports
Ron Hornaday may be in his mid-50's but he is always a contender in a truck, however his days as a championship contender are probably done as he does not have the equipment. He could still bag a race or two but one should be concerned with how he finished 2012 as he dropped from eighth in the final standings to 13th after Bristol in August with one top 15 in that stretch.

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