*In a Nutshell:* Parker Kligerman took the checkered flag under caution to win the Fred’s 250 presented by Coca-Cola Saturday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway. With a big push from runner-up Johnny Sauter, the driver of the No. 7 Red Horse Racing Toyota took the lead with just two laps remaining en route to his first career Camping World Truck Series victory. James Buescher, Ty Dillon, and Timothy Peters rounded out the top-5 finishers.
*Who Should Have Won:* Parker Kligerman. After starting ninth and remaining just outside the top 10 for much of the race, the driver of the No. 7 Toyota caught a break when the fourth caution flew. Having suffered a vibration, Kligerman got four fresh tires only to be forced to change his battery, too with just 16 laps remaining in the race. After restarting 19th, he drove to the front with Jason White before the pair separated and dropped back. But a second push, this time from Johnny Sauter sent Kligerman out front where he remained until the caution flew on the white-flag lap, freezing the field.
*Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race:*
*1. When will NASCAR release the 2013 schedule?*
A few weeks ago, I looked at the possibility of road courses and short tracks without SAFER barriers being added to the 2013 schedule. Although it looked like there was hope of getting those additions out soon, it’s clear that the Truck Series side of things has yet to be finalized.
Late last week, “NASCAR.com’s David Caraviello reported”:http://www.nationwide.nascar.com/nationwide-series/news/121005/montreal-off-schedule/ that Montreal had been removed from the Nationwide Series schedule. Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR Senior Vice President for Racing Operations, said in a phone call that the sanctioning body hopes to fill that void with another race in Canada next year and that it’s “fairly realistic” that replacement will come on the Truck Series side.
“We’ve got a good shot at that,” he said. “Nationwide [is] a much longer shot. You may be looking at 2014 for that. But I feel fairly good about our ability to bring a Truck event up to Canada in 2013.”
Those comments alone are exactly why I wouldn’t expect to see the schedule for next year come out anytime soon. Remember, the 2012 lineup didn’t come out until after the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. But after seeing the schedule trimmed to just 22 events this year, it’s worth the wait if NASCAR brings that number back up to at least 25 for the 2013 season.
*2. Can anyone catch Ty Dillon and James Buescher in the championship battle?*
With just four races remaining, Ty Dillon maintained his one-point lead over James Buescher in the biggest wild card in the closing weeks of the championship battle. Having come out of Talladega unscathed, the duo has truly separated themselves from the rest of their competition.
So does anyone else inside the top 5 even have a shot at the big trophy? While early season points leader Timothy Peters dropped two markers further behind Dillon, race winner Parker Kligerman gained five points and now finds himself 34 back. During the last few races, Peters has gone the wrong way in the standings, steadily dropping despite recovering from adversity when it happens. Although his team has shown their ability to make the most out of a tough day, the momentum break they’ve experienced could be a bit too much to overcome.
On the other hand, Kligerman has spent the last couple weeks making a run at the leaders, including Saturday’s solid victory but the problem is that he’d have to gain nearly nine markers per event to have a shot at the championship. To put it into perspective, if the driver of the No. 7 were to win the remaining events this year — which is a highly unlikely scenario given the level of competition in the series at this point — Dillon and Buescher would have to finish no better than sixth (not counting possible bonus points for most laps led). Considering that the duo leading the standings boasts 16 top 5s, combined, that may be a pretty tall order.
With the performance both drivers have shown throughout the year, it’s not likely for anyone besides Dillon and Buescher to join the battle as the year winds down.
*Truck Rookie Report*
*2012 Rookie of the Year Candidates:*
*Dakoda Armstrong* (No. 98–released from ride)
*Ty Dillon* (No. 3)
*Dusty Davis* (No. 15–team suspended)
*T.J. Duke* (No. 07–not entered at Talladega)
*Ross Chastain* (No. 08)
*Cale Gale* (No. 33)
*Max Gresham* (No. 24–released from ride)
*Paulie Harraka* (No. 5–team suspended)
*Caleb Holman* (No. 75–not entered at Talladega)
*John King* (No. 7–team suspended)
*Bryan Silas* (No. 99)
*John Wes Townley* (No. 09)
*No. of Rookies in the Race:* 8 (add Ryan Blaney, German Quiroga and Ryan Hackett)
*No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10:* 4; Ty Dillon, finished fourth; Ryan Blaney, finished sixth; German Quiroga, finished eighth; Cale Gale, finished tenth
*Rookie of the Race:* Ty Dillon
“Man that was fun. I’m glad it’s over, but it was fun. The No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet was fast in the draft. We hooked up with James [Buescher] there at the end and got a little loose. I thought we were going to wreck, but we held on to it and finished with a top-5 result.” _Ty Dillon, finished fourth_
“I just wanted to run the first half of the race and try to understand the draft and how the truck would handle. I could put [it] anywhere on the track and find speed. Man, we almost got a win. I think that Kurt [Busch] and me were coming there really fast at the end and had a shot to win this thing. We came off that last corner and were really hooked up before the caution flag came out. I had a lot of fun. I made some mistakes. Had to drop back, drive back to the front and led some laps. We were able to run back to the front every time that we got dropped back. Our RAM was fast.” _Ryan Blaney, finished sixth_
“My first top 10 in the series in my third race and I’m pretty happy. I feel very, very comfortable with my NET 10 Toyota Tundra. KBM [Kyle Busch Motorsports] did an awesome job. They helped me a lot here during my offseason in getting back to speed and helping me out with pit stops in the shop. Going to the race tracks to watch Kyle [Busch] and Kurt [Busch], I learned a lot. I’m really, really happy and I’m really thankful. Right now, I have to focus on the next race.” _German Quiroga, finished eighth_
*Worth Noting / Points Shuffle:*
After the Smith’s 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last weekend featured eight start-and-park drivers, Saturday’s race at Talladega saw just two — Mike Harmon and Brandon Knupp ran a combined 35 laps before retiring, citing a fuel pump and overheating issue, respectively.
Cole Whitt made his first start of the 2012 season behind the wheel of the No. 27 Hillman Racing Chevrolet. After starting 27th, he managed to avoid any trouble and brought home a solid 13th-place result. It was the team’s best finish since Charlotte in May when Jeb Burton finished eighth in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200.
Ty Dillon maintained his one-point lead over James Buescher after the pair finished fourth and third, respectively. Timothy Peters lost two markers on the leader but remains third followed by Parker Kligerman, who gained a spot and five points on Dillon. Joey Coulter, who dropped one position, rounded out the top 5.
Matt Crafton remains sixth followed by Justin Lofton and Nelson Piquet, Jr. Johnny Sauter jumped two spots and now sits ninth, 137 points behind the leader. It’s the first time this season the driver of the No. 13 ThorSport Toyota has found himself inside the top 10. Miguel Paludo, who dropped a spot after being involved in a last-lap crash, is tenth.
“When you get so close to something so many times, you can pick two paths. You can doubt yourself, you can doubt the situation you’re in, you can doubt everything around you. Or you can keep your self-confidence and look at the positive of what you did to get yourself in that position each and every time and say, ‘Hey, if I can do that, it’s just a matter of time.’” _Parker Kligerman on earning a first Camping World Truck Series victory_
“I’m proud of everybody at ThorSport. This Hot Honeys Curb Records Toyota didn’t qualify very good. We were 29th and just didn’t have any speed. I don’t know what it is about these Toyotas, but they just draft really, really well. I had Parker [Kligerman] pushed out pretty far and knew that I could come down to the finish line here and step out and get by him, but nonetheless I’m proud of everybody at ThorSport. It’s a good effort. I’m happy for Parker. I like to see guys that get shuffled out at places come back and have success, so he deserves it.” _Runner-Up Johnny Sauter_
“I’m satisfied with the day. You always want to gain, but not losing is good, too. Definitely with what happened in the tri-oval coming to the white flag, we could have been 25th. The fact that I was able to hang on to it and hang on to a third-place finish makes it a really good day.” _James Buescher_
“It was a typical, wild Talladega race. Parker [Kligerman] and I were hooked up there on the last restart and we had a good plan worked out to link up and head to the lead, but my Tundra was just too tight to keep up with him and push. We got disconnected but I was able to duck back in line, and coming away with a top-5 finish after having a fast Toyota Tundra all race long is nothing to hang our heads about for sure.” _Timothy Peters, finished fifth_
“A win on the 200th start makes it really special. The other thing that’s really special is every driver that we’ve had at Red Horse this year has won. We’ve got five wins among four drivers, so it’s pretty special that everybody that comes here wins. The combination of a very good organization with very talented drivers is magic. This is also a magic superspeedway truck; it won Daytona with Timothy Peters in 2010, it won again at Daytona earlier this year with John King and it just won again with Parker [Kligerman].” _Red Horse Racing Owner Tom DeLoach_
*Up Next:* The Camping World Truck Series takes a three-week break before heading to Martinsville Speedway for the Kroger 200 on Saturday, October 27th. Last season, Denny Hamlin led a race-high 68 laps en route to his first career victory. The race will be broadcast live on SPEED beginning at 1:30 PM ET; it can also be heard on your “local MRN affiliate”:http://www.motorracingnetwork.com/Affiliates/Affiliates.aspx#showFindStations or SiriusXM Channel 90.