Back to Work For Truck Teams
By: John Singler on May 16, 2013 | 3:08 P.M. EST
Justin Lofton of Eddie Sharp Racing will be going after his second straight Charlotte victory in Friday's North Carolina Education Lottery 200. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)
CONCORD, N.C. - After a long break in the schedule that began in April and carried into May, Camping World Truck Series teams will have to scrape off the rust of inactivity as they return to competition this weekend.
When the green flag drops on Friday night’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, it will have been 27 days since the series last raced.
Johnny Sauter left Kansas Speedway on April 20 as the Truck Series points leader but arrives in Charlotte tied for second place. An improperly modified fuel cell resulted in a 25-point penalty assessed to Sauter’s No. 98 ThorSport Racing team four days after his fifth-place finish in Kansas.
So instead of coming out of this long break with a 12-point championship lead, Sauter is tied for second with rookie Jeb Burton – 13 points behind Matt Crafton, who is one of Sauter’s ThorSport teammates.
Thirty-eight drivers are entered for the fifth race of the season, including defending winner Justin Lofton. He’s made just one start this year, finishing fourth in the season opener at Daytona. Eddie Sharp Racing has him back in the No. 6 Chevrolet for Friday night’s race.
"I’m pumped to defend last year’s victory," Lofton said. "It’s been a tough year, not running all the races. But I’m going to make the most of this opportunity and go for the win again."
Lofton held off Brad Keselowski in the closing laps to claim his first career victory in 2012. He led a race-high 44 laps, including the final 10, to win in his 55th start. Lofton’s margin of victory over Keselowski was .25 seconds. He’ll have an opportunity to race the 2012 Sprint Cup Series champion again this weekend.
Brad Keselowski Racing has a three-truck lineup set for Charlotte, including Keselowski himself driving the No. 2 Ford. He’ll be joined by teammates Ryan Blaney and Ross Chastain.
Kyle Bush also will be in the field, driving the No. 51 KBM Toyota as a teammate to rookie Darrell Wallace Jr. and Joey Coulter.
"Charlotte’s my favorite track," said Busch, a four-time Truck Series winner on the 1.5-mile oval. "It’s unique. Turns 1 and 2 are far different than Turns 3 and 4, and that seems to be a challenge for a lot of the drivers because they don’t understand what it takes to be fast."
Busch does. The winning average speed from his 2006 victory – 124.845 mph – still stands as a track record. In his seven career Truck Series starts at CMS, Busch has finished outside the top 10 only once – that being an 11th-place finish in 2007. He’s started from the pole three times.
Friday’s race will mark Busch’s third start of this season. He finished second (to Johnny Sauter) in February at Daytona International Speedway and was 27th in his most recent outing April 20 at Kansas Speedway.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series teams will qualify Friday at 4 p.m. (ET) to set the field for that night’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200. Motor Racing Network – “The Voice of NASCAR” – will have live coverage of the season’s fifth race starting at 7:30 p.m., with live streaming at MotorRacingNetwork.com.