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Keeping all of that in mind, who will be the champ when the checkered flag waves at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 18th? Here are my exclusive predictions for the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
1. Tyler Reddick, #29 Cooper Standard F-150, Brad Keselowski Racing
Reddick had himself a terrific first full campaign which a pair of wins and a runner-up finish in the points. In fact, save for a disappointing 19th place finish in Canada when he was leading in the points, Reddick may have come home with the championship instead of coming 15 points shy. This year with even more experience, I think he's the guy to beat.
2. Matt Crafton, #88 Menards Tundra, Thorsport Racing
Following back-to-back championships, Crafton finished only third place in the final standings. However, even then Crafton more than doubled his career win total with six wins last season. What sank with four finishes of 21st or worse. He's always a relatively safe pick to win the title and while I don't see him getting his third title in four years, nobody should be surprised if he does.
3. Cole Custer, #00 Haas Automation Silverado, JR Motorsports
Custer only recently turned 18 but this kid just may be the next Erik Jones. In only 19 races, Custer has won twice with four top fives, ten top tens and three poles. Now that he will be in a full-time ride, I think you could see him get right into the championship mix thanks to his obvious talent and some very good equipment as well.
4. Timothy Peters, #17 Tundra, Red Horse Racing
Peters has become one of the top regulars on the circuit as he enters his eighth full-time season, having won a race in all full-time seasons thus far. However, he has not been able to break through and get that first championship. He has got the talent to do it and the equipment is solid plus we have a relatively wide open series, this could be the year.
5. Johnny Sauter, #21 Silverado, GMS Racing
Leaving one of the better teams in the series, Thorsport Racing, for a team that is relatively unproven in GMS Racing, Sauter may be taking a risk. However, Sauter has proven to be a natural fit for the Truck Series to where I think that he should still finish in the top five in the final points for the fifth time in six years.
6. John Hunter Nemechek, #8 färbe technik Silverado, NEMCO Motorsports
Another one of the rising stars of the series, and one with some pretty solid bloodlines, Nemechek is entering his first full-time season and given the promise he has shown in his limited experience, I have high expectations for him. I don't think that a top five finish in the points is out of the question by any stretch.
7. Rico Abreu, #98 Curb Records Tundra, Thorsport Racing
Expectations are high for this rookie, in part because of his success in sprint cars including with two straight wins in the Chili Bowl, plus a strong K&N East series season a year ago, but also because he steps into one of the better rides in the series. The kid has got talent but the one thing that holds me back just a little bit is that Abreu didn't look all that great in his two truck starts last year.
8. John West Townley, #05 Zaxby Silverado, Athenian Motorsports
Townley was once a joke in NASCAR for his continuous crashing while getting solid rides thanks to the sponsorship of his from his father's company but he deserves credit for getting working hard in the CWTS and he even got his first career win a season ago. I'm not sure what his ceiling is but I don't see why he can't finish in the top ten in points once again.
9. Cameron Hayley, #13 Cabinets by Hayley Tundra, Thorsport Racing
Hayley is another key piece in the youth movement that is taking over the Camping World Truck Series and he had a very nice debut last year with a sixth place finish in the points and four top fives. It certainly doesn't hurt that he drives for a terrific team in Thorsport Racing and while I think he will take a slight step backward in the points, I also wouldn't be surprised to see him get his first win.
10. Daniel Hemric, #19 California Clean Power F-150, Brad Keselowski Racing
Despite a middling start and finish to his rookie campaign, Hemric had himself a solid season in the Truck Series with four top fives in a ten race stretch. Now he moves to a better team in BKR and so he has the opportunity to take a step forward in his career.