For those of you unfamiliar with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, we break down the series so you’re primed and ready to go on race day for the NextEra Energy Resources 250.
What is the Camping World Truck Series?
Sanctioned by NASCAR, the Camping World Truck Series features truck racing and is one of NASCAR's three premier national series, in addition to the Sprint Cup Series and XFINITY Series.
Founded in 1995, the Camping World Truck Series has provided fans with the only NASCAR series racing modified production-based pickup trucks. The series’ 2016 schedule will feature 21 tracks hosting 23 events in the U.S. and Canada.
During its 20-year history the series has become well-known as the home of some of the closest side by-side racing and tightest finishes in the sport.
As the story goes, in the early 1990’s NASCAR executive Ken Clapp was approached by a group of truck racers looking to compete in pavement truck racing. Clapp requested the men build a prototype truck before NASCAR fully considered the idea.
The truck was finished in time to be displayed during Speedweeks at DAYTONA in 1994. The experimental race truck took laps around Daytona International Speedway that year. After team owner Jimmy Smith took this truck around the "World Center of Racing," the conversations about a unique NASCAR truck series began to pick up speed.
After a series of tests and exhibition races, NASCAR announced the inaugural NASCAR SuperTruck Series season would take place in 1995.
Importantly, the new series was supported by several prominent Sprint Cup Series owners and drivers, boosting its popularity among NASCAR fans. The inaugural race at Phoenix International Raceway drew a crowd of 38,000 spectators.
The series has long attracted a wide-ridge of drivers, including drivers with backgrounds with stock car, sprint car, open-wheel and off-road competition.
It’s important to remember that this series uses trucks, unlike the stock cars used in the other two top NASCAR series.
Some of the biggest differences between the trucks in this series and stocks cars used in the Sprint Cup Series and XFINITY Series are as follows:
The truck height is 60 inches compared to the 54 and 51 inches of Sprint Cup and Xfinity, respectively. With a more vertical nose and windshield on the trucks, more air is redirected upwards, making it more difficult to get air to the rear spoiler on the less-aerodynamic trucks. This makes the heavier vehicles more challenging to handle as the rear tires have less grip on the track. Simply put, the body style of the trucks makes it much less efficient with air, when compared to the car bodies in the other two NASCAR series.
As mentioned above, the weight of the trucks is heavier than the stock cars. Without driver and fuel, XFINITY cars are 3200 pounds and Sprint Cup cars are 3300 pounds. The trucks, however, are carrying 100 to 200 pounds more around the track at 3400 pounds without driver and fuel. Once again, this make for a much more difficult-to-handle automobile.
New Postseason Format
During the offseason, NASCAR announced the introduction of a playoff format similar to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup for the 2016 Camping World Truck Series season.
A victory in the first 16 races all but guarantees a driver entry into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase, provided the driver is in the top 30 in points and has attempted to qualify for each race.
The Chase format consists of eight drivers across three rounds, with two drivers being eliminated after each round. The final round, the Championship 4, will race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, with the highest finishing Championship 4 driver crowned the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion.
Since its inception, the Camping World Truck Series has served a dual purpose as a series both for the veterans and a place to develop young talent.
In fact, over the past six years the ages of the series champions have varied dramatically:
2010 – Todd Bodine, 46 years old
2011 – Austin Dillon, 21 years old
2012 – James Buescher, 22 years old
2013 – Matt Crafton, 37 years old
2014 – Matt Crafton, 38 years old
2015 – Erik Jones, 19 years old
The series always has attracted new, young drivers at the start of their NASCAR careers. Current Sprint Cup stars such like Kurt and Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski all competed in trucks.
In addition, the series also blossomed into a scene for seasoned veterans with drivers like Mike Skinner, Jack Sprague, and Ron Hornaday Jr. becoming very successful. In fact, Hornaday leads all drivers in career wins (51) and championships (four), while Sprague recorded three championships and 28 victories, third all-time.
The 16th season of truck racing at Daytona International Speedway commences when the green flag waves for the 2016 NextEra Energy Resources 250 on Friday, Feb.19. The race will be the first truck race in the newly-completed motorsports stadium.