With less than two weeks until the season opener at Dayona, here are my predictions for the 2014 Truck Series season.
1. Matt Crafton, #88 Menards Tundra, ThorSport Racing
Yes, I think Crafton will make more history this year and get that third straight championship. First, he has shown the remarkable consistency to stay out of trouble and finish up front. And perhaps more importantly, there simply are not that many championship contenders for him to fend with. I don't have any reason to think that Crafton will not be able to take the crown this year.
2. Erik Jones, #4 Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Can Jones pull a Chase Elliott and win a title in his rookie season, albeit in a different series? I do think it is possible considering all the success Jones has already had in his limited experience. He had only run 17 truck races but has four wins (three last season) with seven top tens and 13 top tens. He also does not turn 19 until May, furthering how impressive it is. Jones will be in very good equipment and he should be able to be a title contender right away.
3. Johnny Sauter, #98 Nextant Aerospace/Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff, ThorSport Racing
Sauter led the points standings for several weeks this past season, as late as the 14th race of the season before struggling down the stretch with inconsistency. In fact, inconsistency has been a recurring theme during his years in the Truck Series. He has shown enough speed to win a title but not the kind of consistency that his teammate, Matt Crafton, has shown in his championship seasons. I wouldn't be surprised if he were to break through and finally win a title but I don't see him besting Crafton.
4. Timothy Peters, #17 Tundra, Red Horse Racing
Peters has been a consistent front-runner since joining Red Horse in 2009, winning at least one race every season since and has finished in the top ten in the points every year as well. He has proven himself to be one of the top mainstays in the series but save for the 2012 season, he has not been a contender for the title. Considering his team consistently struggles with sponsorship, that may stay the same.
5. Tyler Reddick, #19 Broken Bow Records F-150, Brad Keselowski Racing
There is a good drop-off from four to five this season as the Truck Series is not as deep as it has been in the past. Reddick will benefit from having quality equipment and the teenager really improved over the course of limited action last season and he only had one DNF (being parked at Pocono for retaliation). He may very well be able to slide into the top five in his first full season in trucks.
6. Ben Kennedy, #11 Tundra, Red Horse Racing
Kennedy is another driver that will benefit from the weaker field this season. He showed some flashes last season for the now-defunct Turner Scott Motorsports in winning Rookie of the Year but I think his presence in the series largely has to do with his family (his mother, Lesa France Kennedy, is the sister of NASCAR CEO Brian France). That said he could get his first ever win this season and I wouldn't be surprised.
7. Justin Boston, #54 BitPay/ZLoop Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Boston makes the step up from ARCA where he has been a contender the last two seasons. He will benefit from the quality of equipment from KBM and while he did struggle in his sole truck race last year, he was solid in the two Xfinity races he ran. Boston could be a sleeper once he gets his feet wet.
8. John Wes Townley, #05 Zaxby's Silverado, Athenian Motorsports
Townley is still having to fight off the well-earned reputation he cultivated as a mess on the track, hence the nickname "John Wrecks Weekly," but he definitely has shown improvement over the past few seasons. He started off last season really well as he was in tenth after Eldora before missing a few races with an injury and then struggling down the stretch. I think he can definitely take a step forward in collecting some top fives and getting into the top ten in points.
9. Mason Mingus, #15 811 - Call Before You Dig Silverado, Billy Boat Motorsports
While he did not light the Truck Series on fire in his rookie campaign, Mingus did improve as the season wore on as he largely kept his trucks out of trouble. He narrowly missed out on the top ten last season, missing out by three points, he should get there in his sophomore campaign.
10. Bryan Silas, #99 Bell Trucks America Silverado, T3R Motorsports
Silas edged out Mingus for the tenth place spot in the final points standings. He is not anything special but he has steadily gotten better ever year he has run in trucks and he should be able to bag some more top tens this season.
Xfinity Series Predictions
Sprint Cup Series Predictions