Who To Watch At RockinghamBy Chris Knight
So am I.
The second-annual North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at The Rock presented by Cheerwine is shaping up to be a great show. After all, it’s only the third race on the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule. But, the excitement surrounding this race has been building up since Daytona in February.
Sunday though, the preparation will be over and Andy Hillenburg’s group will be mounted as heroes (as they should be), a race will be run and another racer will be etched into “The Rock.”
Right now though, it’s hard to say who’s going to be a threat to win on Sunday afternoon. The race is 200 laps and a lot can happen. One thing is for sure though, Kasey Kahne isn’t entered, so we’ll have a first-time NCWTS winner.
Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Jeb Burton and Darrell Wallace Jr. are all off to a good start, but there’s a few other drivers lurking for attention. Max Gresham, point’s leader Johnny Sauter, Erik Jones, Caleb Holman, Tyler Reddrick and Brennan Newberry all showed Saturday they have some good equipment, but I think the tall-tale sign will be qualifying on Sunday morning at 11:05 a.m.
From the veteran camp, you cannot count out Todd Bodine. Driving for ThorSport Racing this weekend, Bodine, a two-time NCWTS champion is also a two-time Rockingham winner in the NASCAR Nationwide Series including a thrilling last-lap pass coming to the start / finish line in 1995 driving for Ron Parker. Many are keeping their eye on “The Onion” Sunday afternoon.
One of Rockingham’s signature trademarks is its abrasive surface and monstrous tire wear. The track will be hard to pass on once the green flag drops, track position will be everything.
No matter the speed your truck may have, the talk of the NCWTS garage was “tire conversation.”
Whoever is able to salvage their tires and race smart, they’ll have earned the right to say, “I’ve won at the Rock!”
I like Kyle Larson, Jeb Burton and Ryan Blaney for Sunday. Can’t count out Todd Bodine and I’m looking at Clay Rogers and Brennan Newberry as sleepers.
Here are some other notes from Rockingham Saturday:
• Kyle Larson hopes to make his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start of the season on Sunday afternoon. The Turner Scott Motorsports rookie has to make the race on time, since his No. 30 Autism Awareness Chevrolet Silverado isn’t locked into the show. Barring no issues, he’ll make his fifth career start and in search for his fourth top-10 finish of his NCWTS career. #OhYeah, he can win too Sunday too.
• Ken Schrader Racing is fielding an effort for Tyler Reddrick this weekend at Rockingham Speedway. Last fall’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Series winner is piloting the No. 52 Broken Bow Records Toyota Tundra. The team doesn’t have a definite plan for the youngster, but the team is hoping to run him in some ARCA races this year including Pocono, Michigan and Kentucky. The team will likely be back with him on the NCWTS tour at Iowa Speedway.
• Matt Crafton is anxiously awaiting the birth of his first child in two weeks, but he’ll rewrite his name into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series record books Sunday afternoon as he’ll surpass the now retired Terry Cook for the most consecutive start on the tour. Crafton will start race No. 297 in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200. The ThorSport Racing driver will be in search of career-win number three at the Rock after finishing second last weekend at Martinsville Speedway.
• Ryan Sieg is looking for his third consecutive top-10 finish of the season. The veteran driver credits the success of his RSS Racing team to new crew chief Kevin “Cowboy” Starland. The team doesn’t have sponsorship for the entire 2013 season, but the team plans to run the full schedule.
• Caleb Holman has Butch Miller as his crew chief in the No. 75 Food County USA Chevrolet Silverado and while his team will skip Kansas Speedway next weekend, Holman says you will see an increased NCWTS schedule for this operation. Holman says the morale of the organization is upbeat. He’ll also run some races in the X1-R Pro Cup Series this year.
• Coleman Pressley was in the No. 19 Carbon Forged Reese Towpower Ford F-Series dialing in the Brad Keselowski Ford F-Series for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Joey Logano who was in Texas handling those responsibilities. Florida native Ross Chastain was originally scheduled to run the race (as of Martinsville), but the reigning Cup champion Brad Keselowski asked Logano to drive. Chastain hasn’t been seen on the grounds thus far this weekend.
• With a break in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, Spencer Gallagher and his Gallagher Motorsports team have elected to get a “jump start” on his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series campaign and run this weekend at Rockingham Speedway. Gallagher will run seven truck races this season including back-to-back races at Rockingham and Kansas Speedway respectively. Gallagher’s plan is to run the full NCWTS tour in 2014 with at least one start in ARCA planned for Daytona. Allegiant Air will continue to sponsorship the youngster’s efforts.
• Surprise! T3R2 and driver Bryan Silas are running the Cheerwine logo on their No. 99 Ford F-Series in support of Sunday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Rockingham Speedway. The team has been a big longtime supporter of the track dating back to 2008.
• 40 trucks are on the ground for a 36-truck starting field at Rockingham Speedway. Drivers that have to qualify on time include: Chase Elliott, Darrell Wallace Jr., Kyle Larson, Todd Bodine, Caleb Holman, Tyler Reddrick, Joey Logano, Tim George Jr., German Quiroga, Clay Rogers, Clay Greenfield, Spencer Gallagher, TJ Bell and Andy Seuss.
• Rockingham Speedway will host a tweet-up at the track on Sunday morning. The tweet-up will start at 9:00 – 10:15 a.m. with drivers expected to attend at 9:30 a.m. and occur at the Marquee (the entrance sign to the track).
The North Carolina Education Lottery 200 (200 laps / 200 miles) is the third of 22 events on the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule. Qualifying is set for race day, Sunday April 14 scheduled to lift off at 11:00 a.m. The 36-truck starting field will take the green flag shortly after 2:00 p.m. with live coverage on SPEED, the Motor Racing Network (Radio) and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Satellite Radio, Channel 90). Pre-race coverage of the anticipated slugfest is tentatively scheduled to lift off at 1:30 p.m. also on SPEED.
Follow Chris Knight on Twitter @Knighter01.
Views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Catchfence
Article Tags: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, NCWTS, North Carolina Education Lottery 200 presented by Cheerwine, Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway