Friday, November 2, 2012

Turner's Trucks Top Texas Time Trials

The TMS crew works on the No. 31 of Buescher in practice.
Credit Lisa Janine Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs
Three of the top four qualifiers in the WinStar World Casino 350 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race hail from transplanted Texas team Turner Motorsports. The Brazilian rising star Nelson Piquet Jr. won his third pole of the season - and his career. Points leader and Texas son James Buescher starts beside him. Also flying the Brazilian flag above his hauler, Miguel Paludo rolls off fourth.

Now operating out of Mooresville, NC, the family-owned team grew quickly and in the 2012 season the crew has experienced what must be satisfying success with all three driver in the top ten in championship points standings. Ted Bullard, Chief Marketing Officer of TMS said via email that their year has been "Surreal. I’m thrilled with what our team has been able to accomplish in such a relatively short amount of time at this level." He continued, "It’s easy to forget that only a few years ago, Turner Motorsports consisted of  two trucks – period. Today, we’re operating three truck and three NNS teams, plus fielding part-time teams in the Truck & ARCA series…pretty phenomenal. I think it demonstrates the unrivaled commitment of not only Steve Turner, and Harry Scott, but the entire organization. Our drivers are the most visible components of this stellar organization, but there are so many unseen heroes that go into making a team successful. I’m so proud to be a part of it!"

When asked if he expected the level of success the group has achieved, Bullard said, "Yes. I know that’s bold, but when we attracted Nelson Piquet Jr. and Miguel Paludo, I knew we would have to elevate our game and deliver on our commitments. When we brought back Kasey Kahne, Brad Sweet, Justin Allgaier, and James Buescher, I believed it validated our program’s commitment from the previous season.Over the past 2 seasons, we've attracted some of the top thought-leaders and innovators in the sport."

Continuing with his praise for his team, "From engineering and operations, our Director of Operations (Stewart Cooper) has done an outstanding job in building an incredible framework for success. With marketing & PR, I believe our people are truly some of the brightest minds in the sport. Our GM (TJ Puchyr) is responsible for communicating our strengths and weaknesses on and off the track throughout the entire organization in pursuit of excellence. (think Dr. Phil meets Simon Cowell) We’ve even attracted arguably the best hauler drivers in the sport, with Tony Sessions winning the 2012 Hauler Challenge. Seriously, how could we NOT have an incredible year?!"

Buescher hails from Plano, Texas, not far from Texas Motor Speedway. He's steadily climbed to the top of the points standings throughout the season with four wins, 10 top fives, and 14 top tens in 19 starts. Bullard says, "James is an anomaly. He’s extremely competitive as I’m sure you know, but he’s one of the most laid-back and humble guys in our sport. It’s hard to describe James without mentioning his wife, Kris. I’m sure he would agree that she’s helped to keep him grounded and humble despite all the success."

He said, "James is a throw-back in some ways, meaning he’s content to dominate on the track, then simply head home and hang out with Kris and their dogs. He doesn’t need the spotlight to be on him or the notoriety to feel like he’s achieving success. That kind of clarity and maturity at his age and success level is very rare but extremely attractive." You can read more about the adventures of James and Kris in Amanda Ebersole's piece here and here.

Piquet Jr. scored the first wins of his NCWTS career this season. With seven top fives and 12 top-ten finishes, he sits seventh in points. His future looks bright in a style of driving that's much different that the world of international open-wheel racing from which he came. Bullard's take on Piquet Jr. may raise some eyebrows, but here it is, unedited: "Well, I say this as a happily married husband and father of 4 amazing kids – the guy’s a stud! I don’t mean to get all bromantic on you, but Nelson is good looking, incredibly fit, insanely talented on the track, yet one of the most grounded guys you’ll ever meet."

On a more serious note, Bullard said, "Considering the resume this guy boasts, and the pedigree he comes from, I don’t know that I could demonstrate that level of humility. He’s also demonstrated, I think, all that is right and great about the evolution of our sport. In times when he could have lashed out at some of his competitors for less than professional behavior, and tried to prove his masculinity, he took the high road. He’s also proved something about our amazing fans, that those of us that truly follow it know very well. Talent is talent, regardless of where you’re from, your gender, or your last name. He’s gone out there and simply proved himself on the track, conducted himself like a professional, and like Maximus from Gladiator, he’s won the crowd in the process."

In his second full season of Trucks, Miguel Paludo's results don't reflect the level of talent he's demonstrated. While he only has four top 10s, he's finished 99% of laps run and holds 10th in the points standings. He comes from the world of GT3, where he won championships in 2008 and 2009, so he's got the potential to be a success in NASCAR.  What did Bullard have to say about Paludo?

"They say “never meet your heroes.” I can honestly say, if your hero is Miguel Paludo, walk the extra mile and try to meet him, you won’t be disappointed. Miguel is the most devoted family man/driver I've had the pleasure to be around. His love for his wife and son flows from his pores, there’s no attempt to hide the fact that racing is his second passion. I love that!"

Bullard continued, "On the track, I think Miguel has proven that he’s a future star in the sport. I think he’s making all the right moves by being patient and learning this sport in a very granular way, and resisting the urge to go out there and prove something. Seat time is absolutely everything in our sport, and Miguel is getting great seat time. In the process, he’s qualifying well, racing smart, and finishing strong. What more can you ask?"

Of course, Bullard closed with, "Also, I have to give a shout-out to the TMSFanCrew for their incredible support! Thank you to all of our TMS fans for all you do, we appreciate it so much." If you don't know what and who that is, find out here

Keep your eye on Texas-born Turner Motorsports. Consider they're an organization with no Cup affiliation, their achievements become even more impressive. Thanks to Ted Bullard for his input...and stay tuned for an in-depth interview with him in the near future. 

Janine, aka Lisa or LJ, Cloud, a fifth-generation Texan, lives in Houston and considers Texas Motor Speedway her home track.

She's been a part of the Skirts and Scuffs team since May 2011, going from contributor to media rep, photographer, and associate editor covering both NASCAR and IZOD IndyCar. Janine considers it a privilege to represent the site at the track and to share with readers the excitement of the world of motorsports.

Follow her on Twitter @ljc777.

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