Ranking the 10 Most Exciting Talents in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Although not as established as the Sprint Cup Series or the Nationwide Series, NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series is without a doubt the site of some of the best racing you will ever see in NASCAR.
For example, remember the three-wide photo finish in the 2003 season opener at Daytona? What about when we were treated to a repeat at the 2007 season opener?
Along with the best and most exciting racing, we have also seen the dawn of some of NASCAR's best and brightest. Kurt Busch became a somebody in NASCAR thanks to his rookie season in the trucks in 2000. Greg Biffle became known due to his success in the trucks. Austin Dillon is a former truck rookie of the year and the 2011 champion.
And let's not forget Kyle Larson. He's had the talent, but it didn't really come to light for the rest of the world until he began his limited run in the trucks.
Young or old, veteran or rookie, these are the guys who give us a reason to watch when the truck series rolls into town.
10. Miguel Paludo
At 29, Brazilian Miguel Paludo may finally be comfortable in the Camping World Truck Series, as he has matched his 2012 top-10 total this season and currently sits eighth in points.
Paludo has had fast trucks and has been near the front more often than not. However, racing is a fickle business and Paludo has learned that more than anyone.
For example, at Daytona in 2012 he clearly had a race-winning truck. He sat on the pole, led some laps and kept his truck near the front until he was taken out in a spectacular accident. That has been the story of Paludo's career, it seems.
So as for him finally gaining his footing this year, let's hope he is able to capitalize on his run of momentum.
9. Matt Crafton
At first glance, the numbers aren't even close to staggering. In 12 years in the camping world truck series, Crafton has only won three times in 302 starts. Then you take a glance at his top-five total, to see that 61 top-fives isn't too bad. And then you see that his top-10 totals and see that he is a very consistent driver, with 164 top-10s. That's over half of his starts.
With a career-best second-place finish in points in 2009, Crafton has used consistency as his weapon during the championship run. It's not as fruitful as a win would be, but he has finished no worse than 15th in points throughout his career, during the 2002 season.
Only once has he strayed from the No. 88 in the truck series, and that was when he drove for Kevin Harvick Incorporated in 2004. He had his breakthrough season that year despite being winless, when he earned six top-fives and 17 top-10s. Despite placing fifth in the points that year, he was let go. He has been in the No. 88 ever since.
His third-place finish in his Nationwide debut at Kentucky last week showed that he could get the job done in other series, so we'll just have to see how this plays out.
8. James Buescher
It may seem strange that James Buescher isn't further up in this list, but although he won the 2012 title I haven't been that impressed with him.
Granted, he's gained some footing underneath him following his runner-up finish in the 2011 points standings and his 2012 championship. He's shown he can consistently run up front and post good results.
However, the Plano, Texas native has been racing for Steve Turner, who is perhaps one of the best owners in NASCAR's lower-tier series. Point being, without Turner's backing, Buescher's career would have remained iffy.
He's talented, don't get me wrong, but prior to racing Turner's equipment, he didn't have many accomplishments in NASCAR. But if he were to ever go to another team and prove himself as a worthy racer as opposed to a very fortunate driver, my opinion would change.
7. Joey Coulter
Joey Coulter is still at the beginning of his career, yet it seems that he may have hit a small bump in the road by moving to Kyle Busch Motorsports. That isn't an insult to Coulter or KBM, as both have done stellar jobs in the Camping World Truck Series. It's just that due to working as a new team, Coulter sits 12th in points after eight races with one top-five and two top-10s.
Taking into consideration his first two seasons with Richard Childress Racing where he finished seventh and third respectively, his string of bad luck is not indicative of Coulter's true talent. Along with his third-place points finish last season Coulter broke into Victory Lane for the first time at Pocono Raceway.
Coulter is an efficient driver as well as one of the more humble individuals in the series. As long as he is able to keep his focus he will be able to break out of this slump and take the No. 18 Toyota back to the front.
6. Timothy Peters
Until Timothy Peters took over the No. 17 Toyota, it was clear that he was a man adrift in the racing seas. He had produced some decent results in the trucks, while in the Busch/Nationwide Series he was lost.
However, everything changed on October 24, 2009.
That day Peters took an unsponsored No. 17 Toyota to Victory Lane at Martinsville for his first career win in the truck series. Just like that, Peters had his future solidly placed. He repeated again the following year during the season opener at Daytona, and has since won three more times in the No. 17.
One notable fact about Peters is that he has been in contention for the title for the past few seasons, so if he is able to turn around his 2013 he could be a dark horse contender.
5. Johnny Sauter
The 2009 Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year is surely becoming one of the best truck series drivers in recent memory. Coming from a stint in the Sprint Cup Series that proved disastrous and a Nationwide stint that was less than stellar, Sauter has finally found a home.
Sauter is a fiery competitor whose experience in stock cars has paid dividends while racing for ThorSport. Since coming onto the truck scene in 2009 he has one at least one race a year and finished a career best second in points in 2011 behind Austin Dillon.
At press time he currently sits fifth in points after going two-for-two to start the season. But sooner than later he'll be a series champion.
4. Ty Dillon
With less than five laps to go in the 2012 Camping World season finale, Ty Dillon was storming through the field with his sights set on first place. With a few more positions gained, he would be able to take the points lead and quite possibly the championship. He was tantalizingly close, so close he could smell it.
Then everything just slipped away thanks to a rookie mistake.
Kyle Larson dove to the inside of Dillon's No. 3, but contact sent both trucks into the wall. With that, Dillon's Rookie of the Year campaign saw him finishing fourth in points instead of first.
Keeping that in mind, the quieter of the Dillon brothers has kept his No. 3 in contention all year long, where he sits third in points at press time. He's already won this season at Kentucky, and if he just keeps doing what he has been doing, there is no doubt he'll follow in big brother Austin's footsteps and become a truck series champion.
Ty is obviously the more focused of the two. He's the realist, concentrated more on placing well than making noise. Those are important if he wants to seal the deal in 2013.
3. Darrell Wallace Jr.
Darrell Wallace Jr. turned heads during his limited Nationwide run in 2012. One such head happened to be Kyle Busch Motorsports proprietor Kyle Busch. Busch was impressed with Wallace so much that he decided to put Wallace in his No. 54 Tundra for the 2013 campaign.
Wallace's season hasn't been as successful as originally planned, but chalk that up to the rookie stripes on the back of his pickup. He has been fast and he has run up front, but crashes have a way of preventing good finishes.
Wallace is one of those few drivers who is an absolute natural. Week in and week out, his rookie plight is often the focal point of the fans' focus. So aside from having some of the best equipment around he also has the support of the fans.
Given time, he'll become a winner multiple times over. He's too good not to be.
2. Ryan Blaney
Ryan Blaney's win last season at Iowa only added to what was already known among the NASCAR community, and that was that this kid is the real deal.
Although his father's success was very limited in NASCAR, Blaney has already put to rest any notion that he will not do well. At press time, he sits sixth in points with one pole, three top-fives and six top-10s in eight starts.
Like fellow rookie Darrell Wallace Jr., Blaney too is a natural. In his limited Nationwide run last year he scored one top-five and seven top-10s. He was only 18!
Blaney is a threat to win every week in his Brad Keselowski Racing Ford, and look for him to ultimately pose a threat to the points leaders before the end of the season.
1. Jeb Burton
Whatever Steve Turner puts into his No. 4 Chevrolet, it has worked wonders. Kyle Larson piloted the truck to a stellar limited campaign in 2012, now 20-year-old rookie Jeb Burton sits second in points behind Matt Crafton after eight races.
The son of 2002 Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton, Jeb Burton has had a strong showing this year with three poles to go along with a win at Texas earlier this year. Not only is he leading a strong rookie contingent, he is now a legitimate championship threat.
This is only the beginning for Burton, who basically came out of nowhere this year. He's bound to win some more this season. He has a bright future in NASCAR.