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Once again, the Camping World Truck Series is in for another month off, before its first intermediate track event of the season at Kansas Speedway on May 9th. The four week wait notwithstanding, an exciting race at Martinsville was just what the doctor ordered for so many fans longing for the beating and banging that made the Truck Series what it is today. Less than a week removed from what was arguably one of the best NASCAR weekends all around in quite some time, I bring to you a few observations made while watching last Sunday’s Kroger 250.
It’s not yet time for Ron Hornaday, Jr. to hang up his helmet.
Ron Hornaday, Jr. has four championships, 51 wins, 154 top 5s and 226 top 10s in 346 Truck Series starts. But what about his last two seasons where he’s gone winless? It’s easy to look at the 55-year-old’s numbers through 2012 and 2013 and wonder if it’s just time for the veteran to hang up his helmet, right? Wrong. Hornaday has made just two starts this season and is two for two in top-10 finishes. Surviving Daytona on the way to a fourth-place finish is impressive in itself, but after leading 62 laps and making it through 10 cautions, that ninth-place run could mean even more.
It’s clear that Hornaday still has at least a few more races in him, perhaps even a win. The sad part of the story however is that since his release from NTS Motorsports last season, each race is a question of whether the veteran will be in the field. So far this season, Turner Scott Motorsports has managed to pull together financial backing for Hornaday to pilot their No. 30 truck, and it appears to be paying off. Between now and the next event at Kansas Speedway, TSM and Hornaday do have the time and the resources to find another sponsor to continue the season together. Make no mistake, if the two can combine to put enough companies on the truck, you better believe he’ll do everything he can to bring home a record fifth championship.
Could a new rivalry be brewing between Red Horse Racing teammates?
Short track racing typically brings along with it beating, banging and plenty of hot tempers to go around. In fact, several drivers left Martinsville Speedway pretty upset with their fellow competitors, and most of the drivers involved will likely have forgotten about their incidents by the time the series hits the track again early next month. With that said, there is definitely a potential rivalry brewing between teammates Timothy Peters and German Quiroga.
Peters started the race inside the top 5 and remained there for much of the day, even leading the field inside ten laps to go, but on a second green-white-checkered attempt, the driver of the No. 17 found himself outside teammate Quiroga, who subsequently ran Peters up the track and knocked him out of a top-5 finish.
“Just wild and exciting at Martinsville. First the 54 (Darrell Wallace Jr.) kind of moved us up out of the way, but I wasn’t expecting my own teammate to do it. It’s Martinsville, you know, tempers going to flare. I apologize to all of the guys back at the shop for two teammates getting into it but German (Quiroga) has got a lot to learn. Thanks to everybody that really helps out this organization. The fastest truck didn’t win again,” said Peters.
While Peters still managed to bring home a sixth-place result at this home track, it’s no surprise he’s upset with his Quiroga. That kind of contact can be expected in short track racing, but drivers don’t typically need to worry about their teammates. Of course, any potential teammate rivalry can go one of two ways. It can either simmer and build until it finally comes to a head in spectacular fashion, or the boss can sit them both down and tell them to knock it off. Peters may be quiet and reserved most of the time, but when it comes to his passion for the sport, you can bet that he won’t back down easily.
With more than a month to work out their differences, it’s likely all of this talk is for naught, but we all need something exciting to cling to while the series sits dormant, right?
Crafton made his statement in the championship battle.
After quietly finishing 13th in the season opener at Daytona, defending champion Matt Crafton headed to Martinsville Speedway looking to make a statement, and once again the No. 88 team proved that they are a championship caliber group that won’t give up until the checkered flag flies. Having started 10th, Crafton struggled with his truck and settled in for a long day, but crew chief Carl “Junior” Joiner, Jr. did the same thing he did throughout the 2013 season and dialed in the truck for a late race run to the lead and a first Grandfather Clock trophy for Crafton.
“I didn’t think we were going to get it right, there, on those first two runs but that’s just the way these ThorSport guys on my team never give up,” Crafton said after the win. “We made a track bar adjustment, another track bar adjustment, air pressure adjustment and finally we got that thing ‘on.’
“I can’t thank, like I said, every one of these guys (enough) — Menards, Ideal Door, Toyota Tundra and those guys that raced me clean. Peters back there at the end and Bubba (Wallace Jr.) was back there and he couldn’t move me.”
Following his victory at Martinsville, Crafton finds himself tied for third in the standings just four points behind leaders Timothy Peters and Johnny Sauter. While it’s still too early to think all that much about the championship battle, it’s worth noting that the defending champ sat 17 points out of the lead heading into the third race of the season last year. Obviously there are plenty of races where things could turn sour for the No. 88 team, however it’s certainly a decent start to his attempt to become the first back-to-back champion in series history.
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