More Questions Than Answers For The Truck Series

Charlotte, NC (November, 26, 2012) – What’s up with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series?

Even the staunchest supporters of the division have to be scratching their heads as the 2013 season looms on the horizon.

Here are some reasons for the concern.

While both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide 2013 schedules were announced prior to the end of the 2012 season, NASCAR is still trying to put together a full season schedule for the Truck division.

Simply stated, most tracks can’t afford the division. A six-figure NASCAR sanctioning fee, along with the various additional infrastructure and operating costs associated with hosting a Truck Series race, make the division a financial impossibility for most tracks – big or small.

With that heavy financial millstone firmly around its neck, NASCAR has unabashedly been pitching the division to any track that will listen. Consequently, NASCAR has shown that it is willing to move the division backward in hopes of moving it forward.

After all, why would NASCAR consider a Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway, a dirt-surfaced oval in Ohio? And as silly as holding an event featuring purpose-built asphalt racing vehicles and drivers with little or no experience on a dirt surface sounds, offering the division to tracks that have insufficient safety provisions is even more difficult to understand.

Seriously, why would NASCAR even consider compromising safety by allowing tracks without SAFER Barriers to host a Camping World Truck Series race? The barriers, which cost upwards of $1 million for even the smallest short tracks, have been a requirement at all NASCAR ‘Big Three’ events since 2005. They have proven their worth countless times since then. The public relations fallout from the perceived compromise in safety – much less the fallout if a serious injury or fatality occurred at a track without the barriers – should be reason enough for NASCAR not to consider any track that doesn’t currently have or can’t install SAFER Barriers.

The lack of a schedule – and direction – for the Trucks in 2013 has had other implications as well.

Teams scrambling for funding don’t have a solid event schedule to point to when trying to network sponsorship for next season. Consequently, if you look at a 2013 Truck Series team chart, few have sponsorship in place for next season.

More importantly, only a handful of organizations have drivers in place for next season.

To that end, NASCAR announced last week that drivers 16 years of age will be able to compete in Truck Series races on road courses and tracks 1.1-miles in length next season. This latest version of the ‘Chase Elliott Rules’ as they is called in the NASCAR garage area, will hopefully bring more young drivers with fat wallets to the division.

As someone who has participated in and supported the Truck Series since its inception, a return to the division’s short-track roots would be greeted with applause. Then again, dirt tracks events, compromised safety, and drivers/kids who probably should still be working their way through their local speedway’s racing divisions isn’t a top-tier NASCAR property.

If the division were headed in the right direction, most tracks – including all 13 International Speedway Corporation (NASCAR’s parent company) tracks – would be clamoring to host a Truck Series event. Currently, only nine ISC tracks host Truck Series events.

That should tell you something right there.

Derby Time

One place where there won’t be a shortage of cars and drivers will be the 45th-Annual Snowball Derby in Pensacola, FL this coming weekend.

At last check, more than 70 Super Late Models and 50 Pro Late Models have entered the end-of-season racing classic. Included in that group is NASCAR drivers Kyle Busch, Steven Wallace, Nelson Piquet, Jr., Landon Cassill, Johanna Long and Cale Gale.

Meanwhile, Mike Garvey, Paul Kelley, David Rogers, Brian Campbell, Ross Kenseth, Bubba Pollard, Augie Grill, Jeff Fultz, Johnny VanDoorn and Elliott head a roster of top short-track stars too long to list them all.

The four-day, can’t miss event gets underway Thursday with the Snowball Derby rolling off at 2 p.m. local time Sunday.

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