Race Weekend Central

Truckin’ Thursdays: Rule Changes, Off Weekends and Back to Dirt?

The Camping World Truck Series takes another week off in its final extended break before the end of the year. While most of the drivers are taking their time to relax and refresh, I’ve got a few more odds and ends to take a closer look at before everyone heads back to the track next weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

*Truck Series on Dirt in 2013?*

Earlier this week, “ESPN.com’s David Newton reported”:http://espn.go.com/racing/nascar/truck/story/_/id/8513382/truck-race-possible-eldora-speedway-dirt-sources-say that NASCAR may be looking at the possibility of hosting a Truck Series event on the dirt at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. According to Newton, “multiple sources with the series said they’ve been told a dirt track could be added to the 2013 schedule.”

Sources have told me that Richard Childress Racing set up a truck that track owner Tony Stewart ran in a test at Eldora earlier this week. He actually tore the spoiler off the back end of the truck while testing. The rumor is that Stewart actually footed the bill for the test in hopes of putting the bug in NASCAR’s ear to bring the Truck Series to the facility.

It’s no secret that Stewart has wanted NASCAR to visit the half-mile clay oval for a while now, however officials for the sanctioning body wouldn’t specifically say whether it was one of those sites under consideration. Spokesman Kerry Tharp did allude that officials are taking a look at venues the series has not visited before.

“We’ve made several site visits over the past few months to look at possible future venues for our Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series,” Tharp said on Tuesday. “We expect the 2013 schedules for both of those series to be finished up and released within the next couple of weeks.”

I’m not gonna lie … I got a little more than excited about even the possibility of seeing the Truck Series head off to Eldora Speedway. The series tends to put on a pretty spectacular show already at places like Bristol, Martinsville and even the one-mile oval at Phoenix Raceway, but when you add in the excitement and wild card of dirt racing on top of that, it’s a recipe for instant success. And while it’s not a guarantee by any means, I’d imagine there are plenty of fans and media alike that would embrace a visit to Eldora wholeheartedly.

But with all of that said, I have to wonder whether it’s truly feasible. Yes, NASCAR has said they were considering tracks without SAFER barriers and that they’ve been thinking outside the box to help beef up a schedule that was trimmed considerably this season. However, would they really consider a return to dirt? The obvious question is why not? After all, many have said that NASCAR as a whole was better back in the good ol’ days and it would certainly be a step in the right direction. And it may be just the change needed to put the Truck Series on the radar for so many fans that have missed out on their tremendous action and tight championship battles throughout the years.

*NASCAR Announces 2013 Rule Changes*

NASCAR announced a few rule changes for the 2013 season on Tuesday. While most of the changes affect the Sprint Cup Series, there are a few that spill over into the Truck Series as well. While the sanctioning body dropped the top 35 rule in the Cup Series, according to NASCAR’s VP of Competition Robin Pemberton, the top 25 rule remains in effect for the Truck Series.

“The qualifying formats [will] remain the same when it goes to the Nationwide and Truck Series,” Pemberton said. “We feel like those series having their races impound with a practice and qualifying, how those events unfold, the thing that we currently do there is best served for them.”

Honestly, it’s not surprising to see the top 25 rule stay in the Truck Series. While I’d rather see the fastest trucks make the field, the impound procedures used do help keep the costs down for the teams that run on a shoestring budget as it is, and it allows for drivers–most of whom are often just learning stock cars–to make a mistake in qualifying and not take a huge hit like missing the race.

One of the changes that did affect the Truck Series is that provisional positions at the beginning of the year will be determined by the previous season’s owner points for just the first three events rather than the first five. It’s a move that’s effective across all three of NASCAR’s premier series.

Really? It’s about time! There’s no reason to wait five full races before moving on to the current year’s owner points should a driver find themselves struggling with qualifying. Especially in a series that has just 22 events on this year’s schedule, there’s no reason for almost a quarter of the schedule to use the previous year’s owner points to sneak into a race. Instead, it should encourage teams to race to their abilities and work toward finding themselves inside the top 25 to guarantee a chance to run each week.

With the Truck Series dominated by so few teams, is a Top 25 rule really needed in a series that spans just 22 weeks?

Perhaps the biggest change that has been implemented for 2013 is that teams will now be allowed to test at tracks where one of the top three series races at. Granted those tests will be limited to just two per organization with an additional awarded for any team with a declared Rookie of the Year contender, but it’s an advantage just the same. Yes, testing at a track that doesn’t host a NASCAR-sanctioned race is definitely helpful, but the advantages for

*Truck Series Drivers on Track During Open Weekend*

Despite the Truck Series finding itself in the middle of an extended break, you’ll still have a chance to see a few of your favorites running int he Nationwide Series at Kansas Speedway this weekend. James Buescher, who scored his first career Truck Series victory at the 1.5-mile oval earlier this year, Jennifer Jo Cobb and Ryan Blaney are all racing this weekend.

But is running in the Nationwide Series when not racing for points really that beneficial? Buescher, who currently sits just one point out of the championship lead in the Truck Series thinks so.

“I feel like racing in both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series has been beneficial to me for technical aspects,” Buescher said. “There are certain style tracks you can learn more from than others, like lines and lifting points. Some of those aspects I feel I can apply to both series.”

And it makes perfect sense, really. I’ll use the annual trek my husband and I make to Orange Beach, Alabama as an example. The first year we drove down there, I listened intently to the GPS as it spouted off the directions to ensure that we didn’t get lost on the way, and while we were in town, we’d take note of which turns we made in hopes of not getting lost. Now, I can rattle off the route we’ll take from beginning to end and hardly listen to the GPS (though we still run it just in case) on the way down there. We know the quickest way to get to our favorite spots and alternate routes if we need them.

It’s no different for a driver that’s never been to a track. Seat time is everything when it comes to learning lines around the track and the best way to make it around quickly. So for those that frown upon Cup Series drivers that run in the Nationwide Series, calling it a trophy grab, consider that there may be more behind their decision than you know. After all, to be successful you must never stop learning.

Miguel’s Corner

*Update:* “Patricia, Oliver and I are definitely enjoying our last off-weekends before the end of the season. It’s been nice to spend a little more time at home. I’ve also spent a little more time in the shop with my guys. I love Rita’s lemon ice so I brought that for the whole No. 32 team earlier this week. But we never stop working completely, we did a test at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Virginia in preparation for Martinsville.” _Miguel Paludo_

*Tweet of the Week:*

“*@miguelpaludo:*”:http://www.twitter.com/miguelpaludo Na torre dos spotters para assistir a corrida da Nationwide. / On the spotter’s stand with @EddieDHondt to watch Nationwide race.#NASCAR

“*@PatiSouzaPaludo:*”:http://www.twitter.com/patisouzapaludo 3 years ago I married with the most special men in the world. Happy anniversary @miguelpaludo “http://instagr.am/p/QpGpN4vcPw/”:http://instagr.am/p/QpGpN4vcPw/

*Photo of the Week:*

Miguel and Patricia Paludo on their wedding day. The couple celebrated their three year anniversary last Thursday. Photo Courtesy of Patricia Paludo

Did you know Beth is participating in the Step Out Walk to end diabetes this November in Dallas, TX? Want to know how you can help? Click on the Step Out image above to learn why she’s walking and what you can do to make a difference.

*Connect with Beth!*

“Contact Beth Lunkenheimer”:https://frontstretch.com/contact/14353/

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