Going into each season, there are always a couple of storylines that both the fans and media focus on.
Sometimes those storylines can be due to a recent change that has happened, while others are due to expectations that have been put forth. Heading into the upcoming NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season, here are five storylines to keep your eye on.
After running a partial schedule last season, @TylerReddick will be tackling the full schedule in 2015 for Brad Keselowski Racing. The California native had some success, scoring two poles, three top-fives and nine top-10s in his 16 career starts.
As the season went on, Reddick only continued to get stronger, finishing off the year with five straight top-10s. With the trend heading in a positive direction, Reddick is expected to crack the top-five more often in 2015 and possibly contend for a couple race wins.
Brad Keselowski Racing continued to get stronger each year with Ryan @Blaney placing the team in the championship contention last year. After scoring the victory at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, Blaney would finish second in points. With the team having proven that they’re championship caliber, it will only be a question as to whether the 18-year-old can get it done.
The Canadian Connection
For the third straight year, the trucks will head north of the border with a trip to CTMP, located in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada.
While being a new date to the NASCAR schedules, the road course has already begun to make a name for itself with great racing. The past two years have seen a pair of solid races, with the battle for the win coming down to the last lap side-by-side battle between a pair of drivers. In 2013, @chaseelliott took home the victory after contact with @tydillon on the last lap. Last year, Blaney would edge @gerspeed1 at the line to score the victory. With a pair of thrilling races, there’s only intrigue to be left as to what could happen this coming season.
Beyond having produced solid races, the Canadian connection has extended to drivers participating in the series. Alberta native @CameronNHayley ran three races last year for Turner Scott Motorsports, scoring a pair of top-10 finishes while Quebec native @AlGuRacing ran the Martinsville races, scoring a ninth place finish in the fall.
The outlook for 2015 doesn’t look positive right now as neither driver has announced plans for the upcoming season. However, given their success, an announcement may be made for either or both in the next couple of weeks as teams are still finalizing plans for the new season.
However, while Hayley and Guenette have had success, there are still questions that are begged to be asked.
Many people expected when the trucks started coming to CTMP that NASCAR Canadian Tire Series drivers would jump at the chance to get behind the wheel. While Martin Roy jumped at the opportunity, there haven’t been any other drivers accomplishing the same feat. The problem, as stated by @J_R_Fitzpatrick last September post-NCAT race, is funding. If Fitzpatrick or another driver could find the funding to run the event, it would certainly be a welcoming sight for the Canadian fan base.
New Driver Line-Up at KBM
After having success last season with Darrell @BubbaWallace behind the wheel of the No. 54 Toyota Tundra, while @KyleBusch and @erik_jones split driving duties for the No. 51 Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports has revamped their driver line-up for the upcoming season.
Now at the age of 18 and eligible to run every track on the schedule, Jones is set to run the full schedule for the time in his first career. With four wins, seven top-fives and 13 top-10s in 17 starts, Jones is expected to contend for the championship this season. Reunited with Randy Fugle, who led Jones to his first career win at Phoenix International Raceway in 2013, he should be up front all year long. It’ll depend on how the young man handles the pressures of winning a championship and being consistent over the course of an entire season.
KBM will run two trucks full-time as @jbossracing joins the team after having success in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards with Venturini Motorsports. Boston posted two wins, seven top-fives and 13 top-10s last season en route to finishing fifth in ARCA points, to follow up his third place points finish in 2013. With only one previous truck start under his belt (30th place finish at Bristol due to a crash), there may be an adjustment period for Boston in getting used to his new equipment. However, once he gets used to his Toyota Tundra, he should be running within the top 10 each week.
The third truck will be split between Busch, @dnlsuarez, and @Matt_Tifft. Busch proved that he could get it done behind the wheel of one of his trucks, producing seven victories last season. He will, though, be joined by a pair of drivers who don’t quite have as much experience. Suarez is running the full NASCAR XFINITY Series schedule for Joe Gibbs Racing and is using his limited truck schedule to get some extra seat time.
Last year, Suarez made two XFINITY starts and a Truck Series start, with his best finish being a 15th at Chicago in XFINITY and in the truck at Talladega. Entering the year with NASCAR Mexico Series success on his side, all eyes will be on Suarez to see how he adjusts to the trucks and XFINITY Series cars. Tifft, meanwhile, made three truck starts last year, scoring an eighth place finish at Martinsville Speedway. Tifft will be looking to keep the good momentum rolling this year as he comes into the truck series with some solid K&N Pro Series and ARCA finishes under his belt.
ThorSport Racing Looking for Repeat
After scoring their second consecutive championship with @Matt_Crafton to become the first ever back-to-back champions, ThorSport Racing will be looking to keep the good times rolling in 2015.
Crafton’s consistency has been unmatched by his series competitors over the past two seasons, and with both Crafton and crew chief Carl Joiner returning this season, it’s hard to bet against the veteran. He has shown no signs of slowing down as he only wants to get faster, so he makes his championship seasons add up to more victories under his belt.
However, if anybody could stop Crafton from scoring the championship again, it could be his teammate. @JohnnySauter has been fast over the past couple of seasons but has run into bad luck and wrecks, resulting in being taken out of championship contention. If the pieces fall in place in 2015, Sauter could break through for his first championship.
Youth Vs. Experience
A couple seasons ago, NASCAR made the decision to lower the age limit for the truck series to 16-years-old for tracks smaller than a mile, and road courses. As a result, a bunch of young drivers have been getting their start behind the wheel of a truck sooner than they would’ve otherwise. While being young may be seen to be a disadvantage, it has proven to work out for some with drivers like Jones, @JHNemechek and @colecuster00 having success in their limited amount of starts.
With more young drivers entering the fold at a younger age, with other young drivers like Reddick looking for the championship, it brings forth the old adage debate of youth vs. experience. No doubt this will be a headline once again in 2015 with more young drivers set to tackle the full schedule while Crafton returns to try and hold reign at the top of the field.
Which will play out to be stronger at season’s end, that is a question that will be answered in 11 months.
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