Race Weekend Central

Truckin’ Thursdays: Is the NASCAR Truck Series Schedule Too Short?

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will next compete at Kansas Speedway on Sept. 9 to conclude the first round of its playoffs, where the field will get cut from 10 to eight. On Aug. 13, Chandler Smith put on a clinic at Richmond Raceway to lock himself into the next round.

The problem with this? Sept. 9 is almost a month after the race at Richmond.

This isn’t the first time the Truck Series has had long gaps in between its races. Before the schedule was overhauled in 2020-2021, there used to be over a month’s time between the series’ season opener at Daytona International Speedway and its second race of the season, usually at either Martinsville Speedway or Kansas. This is because the Truck Series only runs 20-23 races in a given season, compared to the Cup Series’ 36-race slate every year.

Because of these long gaps in the schedule, every so often, the question arises: Is the Truck Series’ schedule in need of expansion?

There are multiple factors that suggest that it’s fine where it is. The Truck Series is still a development series, where drivers who are making their way up the NASCAR ranks still aren’t used to racing week after week and need to ease their way into the jam-packed schedules that come with moving up through the premier series of NASCAR.

See also
Dropping the Hammer: Kyle Busch & the Wind of Change

There’s also the idea that sponsors of the series maybe want less races so they don’t have to pay teams as much to sponsor a full season. And on the subject of cost, teams may not have the funds to run an expanded schedule.

However, there are several reasons suggesting that maybe the Truck Series should expand its schedule a little bit. The 2022 season consists of 23 races. The ARCA Menards Series consists of a 20-race schedule. Granted, a lot of the tracks ARCA runs are different than that of what the Truck Series runs, but if it’s only two races less than the Truck Series, then there’s a question of why a driver should race in the Truck Series if they race in ARCA.

Drivers like Sammy Smith, Ty Gibbs, Riley Herbst, and even Chase Elliott passed up on running a full-time season in the Truck Series, and instead jumped straight to the Xfinity Series.

Then there’s the aspect that drivers in the Truck Series that move up are still not prepared for how much racing they will do in the Xfinity Series. The Xfinity Series runs 33 races in a season. That is a 10-race difference compared to the Truck Series.

But it shouldn’t be a problem like it has been in years past. Truck Series drivers who wish to move up in NASCAR have taken it upon themselves to find rides in the Xfinity Series on an off-weekend for the trucks. John Hunter Nemechek and Chandler Smith have previously gone and driven Sam Hunt Racing’s No. 26 on off-weekends as a way to keep them fresh for when they jump back in the truck.

Don’t get me wrong — off-weekends are necessary, in all racing series. But the Truck Series schedule could use a few more races so drivers can have less of a rude awakening to higher series.

Take a look at each racing series schedules, starting with ARCA:

ARCA Menards Series East: Seven Races
ARCA Menards Series West: 11 Races
ARCA Menards Series: 20 Races
Trucks: 23 Races
Xfinity: 33 Races
Cup: 36 Races

Looking at these comparisons, maybe adding two or three races to the Trucks schedule would give each of these series a more consistent increase of races for those who make their way up the ladder. A 26- or 27-race schedule might be just what the Truck Series needs — after all, they are a national series, so they should get to race more.

So how could NASCAR fill out the remaining races of the Truck Series schedule? My solution is a return to something that I’ve personally always enjoyed: standalone races. The Truck Series can return to tracks that may not have been on a Cup or Xfinity schedule in years, and to have its own race out at a given track might be the key to diversifying the NASCAR schedule in future years.

See also
JRM, Ryan Pemberton Part Ways

Fans of NASCAR who live near tracks such as Pikes Peak International Raceway, I-70 Speedway, or even Memphis International Raceway could enjoy a return to NASCAR by virtue of the Truck Series. Even tracks that provide great truck racing already such as Kansas or World Wide Technology Raceway could add a date for just the Truck Series to return and give fans an extra show.

One last factor that supports the Truck Series expanding its schedule is its playoff schedule. The Truck Series playoffs started in July and doesn’t end until November. That’s a long playoff stretch for any sport. For reference, the Cup Series’ first playoff race is the first weekend of September.

Not to mention, the Truck Series has a seven-race playoff schedule. It takes three-and-a-half months to decide a champion in just seven races. That’s unreal.

The Truck Series just needs some races so there aren’t any month-like gaps like we’re in now, and so the playoffs could maybe start a little later than it is now.

If you combine this with the fact that it’s almost like a slightly bigger ARCA right now in terms of race count, and its status as a premier series in NASCAR, AND its drivers just continue to race on off-weekends anyway, maybe it’s time to look into adding just a few more races to the Truck Series schedule.

About the author

Frontstretch.com

Anthony Damcott joined Frontstretch in March 2022. Currently, he is an editor and co-authors Fire on Fridays (Fridays); he is also the primary Truck Series reporter/writer. A proud West Virginia Wesleyan College alum from Akron, Ohio, Anthony is now a grad student. He is a theatre actor and fight-choreographer-in-training in his free time. 

You can keep up with Anthony by following @AnthonyDamcott on Twitter.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

2 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Dale EarnHog

Yes. If there is nearly a month between 2 of the most important races of the year, how are more casual viewers expected to remember to watch?

Kevin in SoCal

(insert the usual calls for North Wilkesboro and Rockingham here)

Share via