Race Weekend Central

Tearing Apart the Trucks: Camping World Joins the Truck Series

The Camping World Truck Series kinda has a nice ring to it doesn’t it? After a nearly season-long search, the wait is finally over. There’s no more need to wonder who might sponsor the truck series and what might have happened if NASCAR hadn’t been able to find a sponsor.

Last week, NASCAR announced that Camping World will take over for Craftsman, who will be stepping down as series sponsor after 13 years at the end of the 2008 season. The seven-year-deal gives Camping World exclusive sponsorship of the series. They will remain the title sponsor of the Camping World East and West series as well as the teams they’ve been involved with.

Craftsman has been with the Truck Series since its inception in 1995.

“I can’t say enough about the commitment and leadership that Craftsman has provided for the Truck Series over the past thirteen years,” NASCAR CEO and Chairman Brian France said. “We thank Craftsman for all it’s done with the series and the fans.”

Camping World was founded in 1966 and is America’s largest direct marketer and specialty retailer of recreational vehicles and outdoor camping accessories and services. The company has also taken an active role in NASCAR for several years, including sponsoring the No. 33 Chevrolet driven by Ron Hornaday Jr.

“I think it’s great that Camping World is getting more involved in the sport,” said Hornaday, driver of the No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet. “For them to partner with NASCAR to form the Camping World Series is exciting news. Since I raced in the West Series earlier in my career and have sponsorship from Camping World now at KHI, I think they will do great things for our sport. This is a great series that has produced some really good drivers over the years.”

The signing of Camping World brings a sigh of relief and visions of a bigger and better truck series next season. Don’t get me wrong though, I liked Craftsman as a sponsor of the Truck Series. They stood behind a brand-new series and watched it become what it is this day. One of my favorite parts of the race broadcast, aside from the racing of course, was the Craftsman Tools of the Trade.

Now that it’s time for Craftsman to step down, I can’t think of a more fitting replacement than Camping World. After having already had an extensive relationship with NASCAR, Camping World can bring only good to the series. They’ve already been a major part of the NASCAR by sponsoring KHI in both the truck series and the Nationwide Series while also sponsoring numerous races throughout NASCAR.

Fans have resisted change in so many different aspects of NASCAR, but this is one change that should be a positive one. A new face on the series actually brings about a new sense of curiosity. Sure the Truck Series has been around for 13 years, but now that there’s a new name on it, it’s suddenly a new toy.

I find myself already looking forward to what the 2009 season brings to the table before the checkered flag even drops on the last race of the 2008 season. Hopefully the new feel of the series will also bring new interest. I have long said that the Truck Series is some of the least watched, best racing in NASCAR. Perhaps the new name will help to draw new fans to the series.

The Truck Series will no longer have the longest standing current sponsorship, but Camping World will help the series grow more than it has in the 13 years since it debuted. The next seven years will bring many great things.

Fire Damages Billy Ballew Motorsports Hauler, Trucks

Billy Ballew Motorsports’ No. 51 hauler was heavily damaged by a fire on Interstate 20 just west of Shreveport, La. The driver reportedly ran over debris and found a small leak in one of the tires. He continued down the road but noticed smoke and flames coming from the trailer wheels.

With the help of former Craftsman Truck Series owner Jeff Milburn, the crews from both BBM teams worked to clean the truck and salvage what they could. The team was able to recover chassis No. 11, some uniforms and a tool box. The brand-new backup truck, along with various equipment and radios, were melted.

“The biggest thing on the truck is just the water damage from the fire department shooting water on it,” crew chief, Richie Wauters said. “It just ran down into the motor and everything. The fire itself made everything just black. The primary truck, everything was just nasty black from the fire.”

Kyle Busch will still race tonight at Texas Motor Speedway, and the team will use Busch’s Nationwide Series pit boxes for the race. The driver of the No. 51 topped happy hour with a speed of 178.560 mph.

Did You Know?

  • Television ratings are on the rise yet again? Atlanta marked the 16th time Nielsen ratings have increased on SPEED.
  • Cale Gale will be racing at Texas Motor Speedway? Gale will pilot the No. 2 American Commercial Lines Chevrolet for KHI; Gale drove the No. 2 for KHI and scored a best finish of ninth at Bristol in five races last season.
  • Paul Tracy and Max Papis will make their Truck Series debuts tonight? Tracy will pilot the No. 9 Bombardier Learjet/Sports Clips Toyota for Germain Racing, and Papis will pilot the No. 07 SS-Green Light Racing Chevrolet.


“I grew up about three and a half hours from here. It would be really cool to get your first win, obviously in Texas. I feel like we have a good truck. I don’t know if it’s a truck to win the race. From a driving standpoint, I don’t know if we’re ready for that quite yet, but I feel like we definitely have a fast truck. ” – Colin Braun, driver of the No. 9 Con-way Freight Ford

“Texas is cool. I like that track. It’s a fast racetrack, and it’s a finesse-style track, but it’s also very difficult to be fast there. Even though from the air it looks like Charlotte, or it looks like Atlanta, or it looks like other tracks, it’s not. It’s a fun place to race, and we’ve had some good success there, and we’ve had some failure there.” – Johnny Benson, driver of the No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota

“Texas is a fast track. It’s like Atlanta and Lowe’s where you can carry a lot of speed out of the turns. I’ve had some good runs there and finally got my first win at Texas back in June this year. It’s so awesome to win at Texas. We’ve always had good trucks there and to get a win, it was great. It’s a great racetrack and the fans are great. They always make it exciting to race there. Eddie Gossage (TMS president) and his staff do a great job promoting the Truck Series races and it shows every time we race at Texas Motor Speedway.” – Ron Hornaday Jr., driver of the No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet

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