Darrell Wallace Jr. Leads Truck Series Youth MovementFor much of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ first 16 years of existence, the division was viewed as the property of seasoned veterans – many with significant NASCAR Sprint Cup experience.
Generation Y has arrived with a vengeance. Austin Dillon became the series’ youngest champion at age 21 in 2010, followed by 22-year-old James Buescher a year ago. Millennials comprised seven of last season’s top 10 and were winners of 14 of 22 races. That trend figures to continue in 2013.
Young drivers to watch this year include Darrell Wallace Jr., 19, a graduate of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program and a six-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series East winner; Ryan Blaney, 19, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ youngest winner (18) last summer at Iowa Speedway; and Jeb Burton, 20, son of Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton.
Four Previous Winners Among NextEra Energy Resources 250 EntriesNo one was more surprised by John King’s 2012 Daytona victory than King himself. The Kingsport, Tenn., native’s season pretty much went downhill from there – just one additional top-10 finish in a seven-race, abbreviated campaign.
King returns Friday to defend his NextEra Energy Resources 250 victory and become just the second repeat winner of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ season-opening event. Todd Bodine captured the 250-mile, 150-lap race in 2008-09.
King is one of four former Daytona winners expected to compete. The others are Bodine, Timothy Peters (2010) and Rick Crawford (2003). King will drive the No. 33 Chevrolet for Eddie Sharp Racing.
"They have great equipment and more importantly a great team, which I believe are the keys to success in this sport," said the 24-year-old King, who had competed in just seven NCWTS events prior to winning the year’s biggest race.
Peters is the only one of the four to return to Daytona with the same team – Red Horse Racing – with which he won on the 2.5-mile speedway and finished second in 2012. King also won in a truck fielded by the Tom DeLoach/Jeff Hammond-owned organization.
"We have a win and a second at Daytona so I know we have a good speedway program and it gives you confidence heading into the first race of the season," said Peters, who finished runner-up in last year’s championship to James Buescher. "It’s always cool to go to Daytona and kick off the new year, especially after the season we had last year. I feel like that’s a ton of motivation for our team to improve one spot in the championship standings."
Back-To-Back Titles Remain Elusive GoalJames Buescher’s 2013 goal is to defend last year’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title. The odds, however, are against that happening.
Since Mike Skinner won the inaugural championship in 1995, no driver has been able to fashion back-to-back titles. Two have come close: Jack Sprague won the championship in 1997 and finished second to Ron Hornaday Jr. by just three points the following season. In 2008, Hornaday’s defense fell seven points short to Johnny Benson.
Buescher, who’ll return in the No. 31 Turner Scott Chevrolet, will face many of last year’s rivals. At least seven of last year’s top 10 will be back, including numbers two through four Timothy Peters, Joey Coulter and Ty Dillon. Veterans Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter, teammates at ThorSport Racing, also are in the mix – each having finished second in points in past seasons.
Hornaday continues to seek a fifth championship, putting behind him a season in which he failed to win as a fulltime driver for the first time in 13 campaigns. The 51-time NCWTS winner will drive the No. 9 NTS Motorsports Chevrolet, jointly owned by Bob Newberry and Joe Denette.