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This weekend, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series sits idle once again while the Cup and Xfinity series head off to Dover Motor Speedway to race alongside the ARCA Menards Series.
But it hasn’t been all that long that the Truck Series hasn’t run at Dover. The series made its debut at the one-mile oval in 2000, a race narrowly won by Kurt Busch during his rookie season. It was Busch’s third of four wins that year, though he lost the championship to Greg Biffle.
For the first 13 seasons on the Truck Series schedule, Dover featured a different winner every year. It wasn’t until 2013 that Kyle Busch became the first repeat victor at the track, and he’s since scored a total of three wins at Dover, a feat matched only by Johnny Sauter, who won three straight times from 2017 through 2019.
Fast forward to the 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic turned the sports world upside down, and Dover’s race, originally scheduled for the first weekend in May, was postponed to August. Zane Smith, a rookie at the time, scored the victory after leading 50 laps; it was his second win in three races (Michigan).
— Zane Smith (@zanesmith77) August 22, 2020
No one knew it at the time, but that’s the last time the Truck Series raced at Dover. In a deal that included giving up one of its races to Nashville Superspeedway, Dover now hosts just a single NASCAR weekend and the Trucks no longer race there.
It’s unfortunate that such a unique track has been removed from the Truck Series schedule, but at least to NASCAR’s credit, there’s only one track that has multiple races this year, a definite improvement over previous schedules.
Dover has long been known as the Monster Mile, a nickname given to the track by Denis McGlynn, who was the CEO of Dover Motorsports Inc. in the 1970s.
“The track was becoming known as a monster, one that was very tough on drivers and tough on equipment,” Gary Camp, the speedway’s director of communications told Delaware Online in 2014. “Back then, it wasn’t uncommon for the driver to have a relief driver because they couldn’t finish the whole race. Or they would get out of the car at the end of 500 miles and collapse and need oxygen.”
But despite its challenges, several Truck Series drivers have broken through to score their first career wins at the track.
Jason Leffler: 2003 MBNA Armed Forces Family 200
The late Jason Leffler raced in the Truck Series in seven seasons on a mostly part-time basis from 2000 until 2012, including a single full-time campaign in 2002. But it wasn’t until 2003 when he scored his first career win behind the wheel of the No. 2 Dodge. Leffler led 57 laps en route to a three-second victory over the late Bobby Hamilton in a race where just 16 drivers ran to completion.
It was Leffler’s lone victory in the Truck Series, and despite only running 16 of the 25 events on the schedule that season, he ended up 16th in the championship standings.
Chad Chaffin: 2004 MBNA America 200
Chad Chaffin ran just two full-time seasons throughout his nine years in the Truck Series. During his second year racing the entire schedule, the driver of the No. 18 Dodge led 52 laps on the way to a narrow win ahead of Rick Crawford. In this race, there was a seven-truck accident on the frontstretch just eight laps in.
The victory was the first of two for Chaffin in that season and his career for Bobby Hamilton Racing. After his second win that season, he struggled to find the top 10 for the remainder of the schedule and ultimately ended the year 10th in the standings.
Scott Speed: 2008 AAA Insurance 200
Scott Speed spent just a single season in the Truck Series, and he snagged his lone victory, thanks in part, to some poor luck for Busch, who led a race-high 96 laps. Speed took advantage of Busch’s misfortune and sailed to the victory after holding the top spot for 51 circuits.
Brian Scott: 2009 AAA Insurance 200
Brian Scott was one of those drivers you expected would find victory lane at some point. But when he did, it was in spectacular fashion. In a race plagued by tire problems that emerged less than 30 laps into a run for several drivers, somehow Scott made a set last 50 laps en route to his first career win.
Scott found victory lane one more time in his career while running a part-time slate for Kyle Busch Motorsports in 2012, but remained winless in his attempts to move to the Xfinity and Cup series before ultimately hanging up his helmet to spend more time with his family.
Aric Almirola: 2010 Dover 200
Aric Almirola became yet another driver who capitalized on misfortune for Busch. After leading 172 laps, a fuel pump issue ultimately sidelined Busch with just two laps remaining. Almirola drove on to a nearly 1-second victory over James Buescher.
It was Almirola’s first of two wins during the 2010 season, and despite scoring an incredible 21 top 10s in 25 races, he came up short in the championship battle to Todd Bodine.
Ultimately, losing any track on the schedule is a disappointment, especially for a series that only runs 22 races to begin with. But to lose one that’s as challenging for drivers as Dover can be is a bigger loss. After all, even though the Truck Series is considered a development series, it would be nice to see these lesser experienced drivers have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the track before moving to the Xfinity or Cup series.
About the author
Content Director Beth heads up management of our 30-person staff, acting as Tom’s main assistant with technology and personnel while working as Frontstretch’s Truck Series expert. The author of Truckin’ Thursdays and the coordinator of the site’s pre and post-race coverage, she also runs a periodic charity column that spotlights when NASCAR gives back. A childhood transplant to Texas, Beth is a 15-year writing veteran who has contributed content to BRANDT and Athlon Sports, among other outlets.