Rookie Stripe: The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

NCWTS driver John Wes Townley's No. 9 truck; Texas Motor Speedway, June 2012
Credit: Lisa Janine Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs
By Logan Stewart

"Where I grew up, we rode in trucks.” – Luke Bryan

Learning how the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series works can be mind-boggling for a rookie fan, but strap yourself in for the long haul, because there’s more. The Sprint Cup Series is NASCAR’s top tier, but beneath it are two others of which the new fan should be aware: the Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Yes, they race trucks in NASCAR. Some people actually call NCWTS the truest form of racing in NASCAR, because it's reminiscent of the sports’ roots of hard-nosed, aggressive competition.

NCWTS driver Todd Peck at Charlotte Motor Speedway, May 2015
Credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs

The best way to think of NCWTS -- as well as the Xfinity Series -- is as minor leagues that feed into the big league. NCWTS is a training ground for emerging drivers looking to move up through the ranks into the Xfinity and Sprint Cup eschelons, and it isn’t an easy playing field.

The relatively short 20-year history of this series has produced some of the most exhilarating, close and dangerous finishes in the sport. The amped-up modified trucks feature engines that produce about 750 horsepower and can go as fast as 180 mph, depending on the race track.

Here are some facts about the NCWTS:

· An experimental test truck was first driven in 1994 at Daytona International Speedway after a group of truck enthusiasts helped develop the idea to create a racing truck prototype.

· Sprint Cup Series owners and drivers supported the new series, which helped make it popular in the NASCAR world. The inaugural race was held at Phoenix International Raceway in 1995.

· NCWTS ranks as the third tier sanctioned by NASCAR, behind the Xfinity Series and Sprint Cup Series and is the only NASCAR series that involves pickup trucks.

· Just like the other tiers, NCWTS has sponsors with naming rights. It was originally called the NASCAR SuperTruck Series presented by Craftsman and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series before becoming the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

· The field consists of 32 trucks each weighing 3400 pounds.

· Sprint Cup cars are 54 inches in height; Xfinity cars are 51 inches and trucks are 60 inches.

NCWTS driver Ty Dillon at Texas Motor Speedway, June 2012
Credit: Lisa Janine Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs
· The trucks are harder to handle than stock cars because of their aerodynamics, including a more vertical nose and windshield that makes it a challenge for air to reach the rear spoiler.

· Races are shorter than Xfinity and Sprint Cup Series races.

· Future Xfinity and Sprint Cup drivers often use NCWTS as a catalyst for their racing careers -- for example, Erik Jones, 19-year old 2015 Truck champion, has driven in the Xfinity Series and filled in for Sprint Cup drivers Kyle Busch (who also started in the Truck Series) and Matt Kenseth. (See also: Fast Facts: 2015 Camping World Truck Series Champion Erik Jones)

· There are some drivers who are perfectly happy driving in the Truck Series with no intention of becoming Xfinity or Sprint Cup drivers.

· Eldora Speedway is the only dirt track that hosts a race for one of NASCAR's three national series -- the Trucks.

· The NCWTS pole position winner gets the Keystone Light Pole Award. However if the pole-sitter is younger than 21 years, the award is renamed the 21 Means 21 Pole Award.

· The recently added NCWTS Chase format features eight drivers and three rounds. Two drivers are eliminated after each round. The final round is the Championship 4, which takes place at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The highest-finishing driver in that round wins the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship.

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will run 23 events in 2016, hosted by 21 tracks in the U.S. and Canada.

2016 Camping World Truck Series schedule
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Rookie Stripe: The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rookie Stripe: The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Reviewed by Logan Stewart on Wednesday, February 24, 2016 Rating: 5