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Truckin’ Thursdays: Breaking Down the New Faces for COTA

Frontstretch’s Truck Series content is presented by American Trucks

This weekend, the Camping World Truck Series descends on Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

The purpose-built Formula 1 track will host a tripleheader with the Xfinity and NASCAR Cup series. It’s a 3.41-mile, 20-turn road course that offers multiple elevations and stunning views. The Toyota Tundra 225 will run just 42 laps with stages ending at laps 12, 26 and 42.

With 44 trucks on the entry list for a field of 36, eight drivers will go home. After the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt heat races were rained out, this will be the first race with qualifying since prior to the COVID-19 pandemic stoppage last season.

Qualifying will be held on Saturday (May 22) just a few hours prior to the race, and trucks will be impounded after the field is set. Because it’s a road course, there will be two rounds of qualifying, the first of which will run 25 minutes. The top 12 fastest single-lap drivers in that round will advance to round two, which will run 10 minutes following a five-minute break.

Positions 13-31 will be set based on qualifying speed following the first round, while 32nd-36th will be set using owner points (36th is a past champion’s provisional if there’s a driver eligible for it). Positions 1-12 will be set based on single-lap speed during round two. We won’t get into the what-ifs about whether qualifying could be rained out, but know that Goodyear has rain tires that could end up being used if necessary.

As you would expect the addition of a road course, especially one where the Truck Series hasn’t ever run, there are a plethora of new faces.

In total, seven drivers will attempt to make their series debuts this weekend. Three of those will be running for CMI Motorsports. John Atwell, Samuel Lecomte and Brad Gross will pilot the Nos. 49, 72 and 83, respectively. The trio has experience in Trans Am and SCCA, giving them a road course background that might come in handy this weekend.

Cameron Lawrence is set to pilot one of the Reaume Brothers Racing entries in the No. 33. He’s got seven starts in the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship Series, including four podium finishes.

Michele Abbate, the 2020 Trans Am Fan Favorite Series driver, will step into the No. 30 for On Point Motorsports in place of Danny Bohn, who’s run the truck all season to a best finish of 17th (twice: Daytona International Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway).

GMS Racing and Niece Motorsports will also each have a debut attempt on their roster. Logan Bearden will pilot the No. 44 for Niece. Meanwhile, Jack Wood, who runs in the ARCA Menards Series for GMS, is set to run the No. 24 for the organization.

In addition to those debuting drivers, several will also make their return. Roger Reuse will make his first start of 2021 behind the wheel of the No. 3 Jordan Anderson Racing Chevrolet. He’s made a single start in the Truck Series in each of the last three seasons. His brother Bobby Reuse piloted the truck at the Daytona International Speedway road course earlier this season.

See also
Paul Menard Returning to NASCAR With ThorSport at COTA

Meanwhile, Paul Menard, who gave up running full time in the NASCAR Cup Series at the end of the 2019 season, will run the No. 66 Toyota in a fifth entry for ThorSport Racing. He has just six truck starts with his most recent coming at Martinsville Speedway in 2007. His best finish of eighth came at Kansas Speedway in 2003.

Kaz Grala, Camden Murphy, Sam Mayer and Lawless Alan each ran at the Daytona road course in the second race of the season. Grala, who’s driving the No. 02 for Youngs Motorsports this weekend, drove to an eighth-place finish in that race. Murphy, who’s been used largely as a start-and-park driver for several years, took home a 13th-place finish for NEMCO Motorsports. Alan and Mayer finished 36th and 37th, respectively, at the Daytona road course earlier this season.

While there are plenty of new faces, a short list of those entered do have prior Truck Series wins on road courses. Sheldon Creed and Ben Rhodes each have victories on the Daytona road course in 2020 and 2021, respectively. You have to look back to 2016 when John Hunter Nemechek won at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park for his road course win in the series.

Heading into a weekend of unknowns, this race will definitely be one to watch for all of the new faces and what it might bring for the championship hopefuls. Don’t forget that it’s also the second race of the Triple Truck Challenge.

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Joshua Farmer

And this is why “group” qualifying sucks. 1 lap, 2 rounds. Thanks for this piece.

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