All four contenders from the championship round of the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series return to kick off the 2017 season on Friday night for the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona. (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1).
A mix of experience and youth has become the theme of the Truck Series over the past several years.
Along with the familiar faces of Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton and Timothy Peters comes the youth of Christopher Bell in his second season and Rookie of the Year candidates Noah Gragson, Chase Briscoe, and Cody Coughlin.
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After the success of William Byron in the No. 9 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports, Noah Gragson could be in line for a similarly impressive season behind the wheel of the No. 18 for KBM.
“It’s awesome racing for Kyle Busch in the Camping World Truck Series. I went into the shop ‑‑ when I started racing a few years ago in legend cars, I was running the Summer Shootout in legend cars at Charlotte Motor Speedway. I’m from Las Vegas, so we were back there for about a month, and we actually got to tour Kyle Busch Motorsports four or five years ago, and to walk back in there and see all the trophies and everything that I remembered touring it the first time, it’s been a dream come true.”
The creation of teams by Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regulars like Busch and Brad Keselowski have created a revolving door of talented young drivers in the Truck Series and not to be outdone, Keselowski puts RoTY contender, Chase Briscoe in the No. 29 Ford F-150.
While the rookies will look to make their names in NASCAR, Sauter, Crafton, and Peters look to use their veteran knowledge to get back to the Championship 4 in 2017.
For Peters, coming up short for a championship has been a cloud hanging over his head.
“It eats at me. I’m not going to sit here and say it doesn’t. I would be lying,” Peters said. “During the off season, Tom DeLoach has done a lot to help our program. Not that they have been bad in the past, but we’re just excited and more along the lines of what we feel we need to be competitive, more competitive. We were always competitive. Hopefully, that consistency that we had last year and the past year will parlay into wins and a championship for 2017.”
With the changes in the format for 2017, consistency will be even more important for the drivers in the Truck Series with the same stage rules in place across all three national touring series.
“The old system I think rewarded me better just because I always seem to be able to put a whole season together and just giving and taking, just being a little bit smarter, and I wasn’t real big on the Chase last year, but I was ecstatic about the Chase once we got there because I wouldn’t have even been close to having a shot at winning a championship when we got to Homestead just because we lost our shop, and I had five DNF’s,” Matt Crafton said of the changes over the past few seasons.