Tuesday, February 17, 2015

2015 Nascar Camping World Truck Series Preview: From Solid to Shaky

The Camping World Truck Series has always been a bit of a “niche” circuit for Nascar, appealing more to hard-core fans than casual ones.  While this often results in great on-track action, it can lead to some perilous off-track money situations for the teams and drivers involved.  With one top driver (Jeb Burton) already sidelined with financial issues, let’s take a look at the Truck Series and see who’s solid and who’s shaky—on AND off the track.
(listed in order of the TEAM’S predicted performance, from best to worst)

KYLE BUSCH MOTORSPORTS—the Truck Series mainstay returns as the Toyota racing flagship team, with three full-time entries for 2015, two featuring full-time drivers, and one featuring Kyle Busch “limiting himself” to just four races.
51 Kyle Busch, Daniel Suarez, Matt Tifft (Toyota, Arris)—Sponsorship is MOSTLY SOLID, but the non-Rowdy drivers are a BIT SHAKY.
54 Justin Boston (ZLoop, BitPay)—Sponsorship seems PRETTY SOLID, and the driver, though a rookie, is REASONABLY SOLID, even if he really isn’t from Baltimore.
4 Erik Jones (Toyota)—Sponsorship is MILDLY SHAKY, but this driver’s talent looks INCREASINGLY SOLID.

THORSPORT RACING—Always contenders for the championship, veterans Matt Crafton (the smooth, calm one) and Johnny Sauter (the easily-riled, unpredictable one) continue their buddy-cop routine without Jeb Burton (the rookie, underfunded one).
88 Matt Crafton (Menards)—About the MOST SOLID sponsorship there is, and the driver is QUITE SOLID as well.
98 Johnny Sauter (Carolina Nut, Nextant, Smokey Mtn, Curb)—Sponsorship is COLLABORATIVELY SOLID, and the driver is DECENTLY SOLID as well.

BRAD KESELOWSKI RACING—Ford’s only factory team returns with its usual lineup of a full-time driver and a hodgepodge collection in a second truck.  Brad will resume reminding people that its NOT BK Racing, nor does he really even like Whoppers.
29 Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Austin Theriault, Ryan Blaney (Cooper Standard)—Sponsorship is REASONABLY SOLID, and the driver selection, while varied, SHOULD BE SOLID.
19 Tyler Reddick (Broken Bow Records, Cequent)—Sponsorship is MODERATELY SOLID, but the driver is in a put-up or shut-up year, he’s A BIT SHAKY.

RED HORSE RACING—Down a wrecking machine, up a well-connected rookie.
17 Timothy Peters (Valvoline)—Sponsorship for Timothy is always SOMEWHAT SHAKY, but his talent for contending is SOLIDLY SOLID (if that makes any sense).
11 Ben Kennedy (?)—Sponsorship is IRRELEVANTLY SHAKY (he’s already been confirmed for the full-season), his talent remaining SHAKY BUT PROMISING.

NTS MOTORSPORTS—Yes, this is where Joe Dennette’s team wound up.  And no, he hasn’t lost his lottery winnings yet.
20 Gray Gaulding (Gemini Southern, Krispy Kreme, TruMoo)—Gray’s sponsorship support is SOMEWHAT SOLID, but his talent remains RELATIVELY SHAKY.
9 ? (Qore-24, possibly more)—Sponsorship is SLIGHTLY SHAKY, but the driver lineup is undecided, therefore VERY SHAKY.

GSM RACING—Owned by Spencer Gallagher’s dad, this team expands in its never-ending quest to get people to mispronounce and misspell “Allegiant”.
33 Brandon Jones, The Dillon Bros. (Russell, Rheem)—Sponsorship SEEMS SOLID, and the talent SEEMS SOLID as well—lets see if the team can support them.
23 Spencer Gallagher (Allegiant, Alamo)—Sponsorship is BLOOD-SOLID, but talent remains RICHLY SHAKY.

NEMCO MOTORSPORTS—The father and son duo return in 2015, with John Hunter preparing to take over full-time once he turns 18.
8 John Hunter & Joe Nemechek (SWM, D.A.B., Wiley X, Valvoline)—Sponsorship is usually COLLABORATIVELY SOLID, and the talent is INCREASINGLY SOLID on this strongest of the single-truck teams.

SS GREENLIGHT RACING—This Truck Series stalwart seems to be returning with only one full-time team in 2015.
07 Ray Black Jr. (ScubaLife)—Sponsorship SEEMS SOLID, though the driver is an unknown quantity, rendering him ASSUMED SHAKY.

05 John Wes Townley (Zaxby’s)—Sponsorship is FAMILIARLY SOLID, but the talent?  That’s VERY SHAKY.

BILLY BOAT MOTORSPORTS—Just don’t call them the ship of fools (sorry).
15 Mason Mingus (Call 811)—Sponsorship appears to be CONSISTENTLY SOLID, while Mason’s on-track performance appears to be POSSIBLY A BIT SOLID.

JAY ROBINSON RACING—The longtime “money man” of a number of small teams decides to go Truck racing in 2015.
94 Wendell Chavous* (Vydox)—Sponsorship is UNKNOWINGLY SHAKY, and the driver is UNKNOWINGLY SHAKY as well.  (*—Travis Kvapil will run this truck at Daytona).

YOUNG’S MOTORSPORTS—The apostrophe in the team’s name says it all.
02 Tyler Young (Randco, Arthur Krenzel)—Sponsorship is IN-HOUSE SOLID, but the driver is a bit more SHAKILY SHAKY (if that makes any sense).

NORM BENNING RACING—The CWTS’s independent returns, finger held high.
6 Norm Benning (?)—Sponsorship is SHAKY AS USUAL, while the driver is SHAKY BUT CONSISTENTLY SO.

JJC RACING—At the back, as always.

10 Jennifer Jo Cobb (Driven2Honor, etc. etc. etc.)—Sponsorship is BASELINE SHAKY, and the driver is SHAKY as usual.