Race Weekend Central

Truckin’ Thursdays: A Former Racer Returns To The Fold

After more than a month sitting dormant, the Camping World Truck Series returns to action tomorrow night for the first ever race under the lights at Kansas Speedway. Having sat dormant for so long, most news in the series was silent until this week.

Camping World Extends Partnership

A long-term extension by Camping World, announced this week ensures the Truck Series’ viability in NASCAR for years to come.
A long-term extension by Camping World, announced this week ensures the Truck Series’ viability in NASCAR for years to come.

Just in time for Friday night’s race, Camping World, the series sponsor since taking over for Craftsman in 2009, expanded their series sponsorship through the end of 2022. Back in March, the word was the the new extension was due sometime in April, and NASCARconfidently stated they expected the deal to be done. Fast forward to Monday this week, and the long-rumored announcement became official.

“Camping World and NASCAR are mutually invested in the growth of a national series that is celebrated for its exciting brand of racing and the most loyal fan base in the country,” said Camping World and Good Sam Enterprises Chairman and CEO Marcus Lemonis. “Six years ago, we felt strongly that the sponsorship would dramatically increase our customer base and it’s delivered. We expect to see continued success in the coming years.”

In addition to the series sponsorship, several of Lemonis’ companies were included in the deal. Camping World’s Good Sam Roadside Assistance will serve as the “Official Roadside Assistance of NASCAR.” Meanwhile, CarCash will also become the “Official Auto Buying Service” and the “Official Pre-owned Automobile Retailer” will be AutoMatch USA.

Camping World Trucks saw an 11 percent increase in their ratings this year at the season-opening Daytona event. Martinsville was impossible to judge, considering the rain delays but it’s the most positive NASCAR TV news we’ve seen out of any series so far in 2014. Add in Lemonis’ additional investments, in races like the Phoenix Cup event and extending his presence in the Truck Series was only a matter of time. Now, this deal begs the next-level question: will more teams enter the series, struggling to fill a 36-truck field these days now that the title sponsorship provides a near-decade of once-uncertain stability?

Tayler Malsam Returns

Turner Scott Motorsports announced earlier this week that Tayler Malsam had joined its Truck Series operation for 12 events this season, sponsored by Outerwall, a company behind the popular RedBox and Coinstar machines at many grocery stores. The 25-year-old will make his first start Friday night at Kansas Speedway and will also run the No. 32 Chevrolet at Charlotte, both Texas events, Gateway, Kentucky, Iowa, Michigan, Chicagoland, Las Vegas, Talladega and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Mike Hillman, Jr. will sit atop the pit box as one of the sport’s “young guns” returns to series competition.

“It’s great to be back in the NASCAR garage and back on track with the Truck Series,” said Malsam. “I can’t thank Outerwall and Turner Scott Motorsports enough for their support and for giving me this opportunity. Mike (Hillman Jr.) is an accomplished crew chief and I think, together, we can get the Outerwall Chevy Silverado in victory lane this season.”

Malsam made his Truck Series debut in 2008 and ran full-time during 2009, all before dropping back to a part-time schedule in 2010 and ’11. In 39 previous starts, he scored 11 top 10s and a single top 5, posting a best run of fifth at Gateway.

Joe Nemechek to Recognize University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Joe Nemechek, who is sharing the SWMNEMCO Toyota with his son John Hunter, will sport the logo for the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center at Kansas Speedway this weekend. Sid Mauldin, owner of SWM and partner with the organization, is receiving treatment at the facility in Houston, Texas. He chose to share his experience with the NASCAR community while honoring the hospital for their treatment options.

So far, the Nemecheks have held their own in the Truck Series, posting two top-11 finishes total to start the season. Father Joe, at 50 years old will run the big tracks like Kansas while his 16-year-old son will tackle the short tracks and road courses on the schedule.

Worth Noting

– Ryan Blaney will make his Sprint Cup Series debut Saturday night behind the wheel of the No. 12 Ford for Penske Racing. Assuming his father, Dave, makes the field, the pair will be the first father/son duo to race against each other in the Cup Series since Bobby Hamilton Sr. and Jr. faced each other at Atlanta in 2005.

– Following two starts in 2013, former Truck Series champ Austin Dillon will make his 2014 series debut this weekend with NTS Motorsports. The elder Dillon brother ran at Eldora and Chicagoland Speedway for the organization last year, winning at the dirt track in its debut on the schedule. He’s hoping to build on that experience and add another Truck Series trophy to his shelf. Jeff Hensley will serve as crew chief for the renumbered NTS No. 20.

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