In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, things are changing, and no, I’m not just talking about the schedule. As far as the schedule’s concerned, there are a couple of milestone changes in store. For example, the series is going to take on dirt for the first time in the form of a race at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Ohio. And that’s not all, the circuit’s also going to make its first international jaunt. Granted, that jaunt is just north of the border, but still, it’s to another country. The trucks have a trip to Canada planned to race on the road course of Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. That race will also be the first road course race for the series since a trip to Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International back in 2000.
But like I said, those aren’t the changes I’m referring to. The whole complexion of the series looks to be changing. Why do I say that? It’s pretty simple.
The Camping World Truck Series used to seem like a series where NASCAR veterans still with the itch to climb behind the wheel went to wind down their careers. The schedule has far fewer races and the spotlight’s smaller, meaning less stress and fewer sponsor obligations. It was the series veterans turned to to still fill the need to be a competitive racer but also have some free time to engage into other activities, a.k.a. slow down — a semi-retirement without actually retiring.
Sure, the truck schedule has shrunk even further the last couple of years, from 25 to 22 races. The 2013 schedule is, again, only 22 events long, despite the addition of two new tracks. But if the recent couple of years are any indication, the Truck Series has returned to being a rung on the ladder up to a potential Sprint Cup Series career, not a trip on the way back down toward retirement.
Until a couple of years ago, Camping World Truck Series champions came predominately from the over-40 set. The last two champions — James Buescher and Austin Dillon — on the other hand, both claimed series titles while in their early 20s. In 2012, it didn’t just stop with the champion, either. For the most part, the top-five drivers were from the early-20s set, with the exception being Timothy Peters.
There’s a youth movement in the former old man’s series, and NASCAR’s now helping that along. For the 2013 season, the sanctioning body has already announced a lowering of the age requirement. Previously, potential drivers had to at least be 18 years of age to compete in any of NASCAR’s national series, but next season, drivers as young as 16 have a chance to climb behind the wheel of a race truck in the Camping World Truck Series at tracks a mile or shorter in distance. And judging by the drivers coming up through the regional ranks, there’s not shortage of wheelmen anxious to make the jump a little early.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series — it’s not your father’s, or even your grandfather’s, race series anymore.
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