Defending Champ Says Series Needs More Races
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on April 22, 2014 | 10:46 A.M. EST
Defending champ Matt Crafton says he'd like NASCAR to add more races to the Camping World Truck schedule. (Photo: Getty Images)
Understandably, Matt Crafton wants to race as much as possible, but that’s not the only reason the defending Camping World Truck Series champion is not a fan of the long breaks between races early in the season.
“It’s terrible,’’ he said for the series.
While he could have been saying that for drivers, who always want to race, or fans who want to see as much racing as possible, Crafton had another reason as he talked Monday, the first of a two-day test at Charlotte Motor Speedway for ThorSport Racing, Brad Keselowski Racing, Turner Scott Motorsports and Red Horse Racing.
After the Trucks ran Feb. 21 at Daytona International Speedway, the series did not race again for five weeks until March 29 at Martinsville Speedway - where Crafton won. Then, the series went nearly six weeks until its next race, May 9 at Kansas Speedway.
That’s part of a 22-race schedule stretching from February to November - the same number of races run since 2012.
Last season, the Trucks started on Feb. 22 at Daytona and went six weeks before the Martinsville race. That race, though, was followed by races at Rockingham (not on the schedule this year) and Kansas (moved to Mother’s Day weekend in a trade with Darlington).
Crafton’s disdain, though, is not personal. There’s a reason he’s not thrilled with the long breaks at this time of the year.
“For the teams that have sponsors, it’s hard,’’ he told Motor Racing Network. “At the end of the day, the owners are having to pay these guys that work on these trucks no matter what.
“If you have a sponsor and you get to to go to the racetrack and make prize money, you’re getting something back out of it. When you’re not going to the racetrack, you’re still having to pay these guys. You have to pay these guys year-round no matter what. It’s not like you can just stop paying them for the four or five weeks you have off. So they definitely, definitely need to work on our schedule and fit at least two or three more races in at the beginning of the year, get us back to at least 25 races to where we used to be.’’
Johnny Sauter disagrees with his ThorSport teammate. Sauter understands the need for fewer races for the Truck series.
“A lot of this is about being able to keep a budget,’’ Sauter said. “The more races you add, the more money it costs to do this and, ultimately, you need more people. I think the Truck Series has had a lot of success with the schedule it’s had. I think it’s good. It takes a little getting used to.’’
That’s something rookie Ben Kennedy is experiencing.
“It’s really such a tease,’’ he said of the long breaks between races. “I’m just ready to get back. You sit around and watch Nationwide and Cup races every weekend and you’re just itching to get out there, especially watching Chase Elliott win and everything after racing him for a couple of years. I’m ready to get to Kansas and ready to get back to Charlotte and get into the rhythm of things.’’
Joey Coulter calls the stretch between Martinsville and Kansas “tougher” than the stretch between Daytona and Martinsville “because the offseason isn’t always an offseason. You’re alway building a lot of things. That break after Daytona is not so bad from s shop standpoint because you really get a lot accomplished. You can spend a lot of time in the wind tunnel with your intermediate stuff, you get your short-track truck ready, you can go test. The stretch from Martinsville to Kansas is definitely rough. You’ve kind of got all your stuff lined up ready to go and you just got to wait.’’