(Editor’s Note: Race Fans Forever is proud and happy to welcome back J.L. Steele to our list of contributors. J.L., you’ve been missed. Welcome home!)
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in its current form is on its deathbed. The issues go much deeper than the abysmal attendance numbers. A couple of the major issues were on full display at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday where only 28 trucks competed. That’s the smallest field for a truck series race since the inaugural season of 1995 when 24 teams competed at Louisville and Saugus.
The struggle of teams competing in the series became very pronounced for a lot of people when Red Horse Racing ceased operations last month. At the time, both their drivers were in the top-10 in points. That’s also a team which won 16 times in the series. If a team of that caliber can’t find a way to remain in business, it’s way past time to look at what needs to be done to fix the series.
Insanity has been defined as doing the same thing repeatedly while hoping for a different result. If one wants a different outcome, actions need to be changed. Unfortunately, the release of the 2018 CWTS schedule shows that NASCAR is apparently quite content to travel the road of insanity. The schedule is basically the same as it has been for a few seasons now. It includes two superspeedway races, one each at Daytona and Talladega. The trucks were never intended to run at those tracks. The series enjoyed five successful seasons before they first raced at Daytona. Those races only result in a lot of torn up equipment and hence, more expenses for the teams. Of the 23 races scheduled for next season, 10 of them will be at mile and half cookie cutter tracks where “track position” and “clean air” are the only things which matter.
Let’s resurrect this series. Run more standalone events, race at more short tracks and as a result, lower costs, energize the fan base, the teams and improve the quality of racing. To that end, here is a proposed 2018 schedule for the truck series, provided free of charge to NASCAR. Is it perfect? No, but I’m confident it’s an improvement and if nothing else, a starting point. In formulating this, the Xfinity and Cup series were considered. Perhaps you’ll see those proposed schedules at another time. Also, defunct tracks were not considered since it is not feasible for them to be ready to host a race in less than a year. That should eliminate any screaming for North Wilkesboro. Additionally, superspeedway races have been eliminated and the number of mile and a half tracks drastically reduced while keeping the season at 23 races. Finally, someone will read this and moan about a lack of SAFER barriers. The easy answer is point them to Eldora. However, I concede that may be a point the tracks and NASCAR might have to work out in some instances. Without further ado, rip up those five year race agreements and ponder the 2018 “Racing Back to Our Roots” truck schedule.
Martinsville – March 24 (Companion event with Cup)
Myrtle Beach – April 7 (Standalone)
Bristol – April 13 (Companion event with Xfinity and Cup)
Richmond – April 20 (Companion event with Xfinity and Cup)
Dover – May 4 (Companion event with Xfinity and Cup)
The Dirt Track at Charlotte – May 18 (Standalone)
Texas – June 8 (Companion event with IRL)
Iowa – June 16 (Companion event with Xfinity)
Gateway – June 23 (Companion event with Xfinity)
New Smyrna – July 4 (Yes, July 4th!)
Eldora – July 18 (Standalone)
Pocono – July 28 (Companion event with Cup)
Pikes Peak – August 11(Companion event with Xfinity)
Bristol – August 16 (Companion event with Xfinity and Cup)
Canadian Tire – August 26 (Standalone)
Lucas Oil Raceway – September 14 (Standalone)
Richmond – September 20 (Companion event with Xfinity and Cup)
Nashville Fairgrounds – September 29 (Companion event with All-American 400)
Hickory – October 6 (Standalone)
South Boston – October 13 (Standalone)
Martinsville – October 20 (Companion event with Cup)
Phoenix – November 3 (Companion event with Xfinity and Cup)
Homestead – November 10 (Companion event with Xfinity and Cup)
Yes, the season would end a week sooner than it currently does. That should be done for the other two touring series as well, as you’ll probably see here soon. Some will notice Richmond has two dates here while they currently have none, which seem like idiocy. Before you bring up sanctioning fees, considering the state of the series, perhaps this is a good time for NASCAR to back off the greed which has driven the CWTS to this point, especially since there would be an increase in broadcast fees. Richmond obviously isn't the only track where fee issues would have to be worked out. But what price is too high to bring back the interest fans, drivers, owners and sponsors once had for the trucks and to return NASCAR racing to communities where fans loyally supported it?
Obviously, I’m aware this schedule won’t be implemented anytime soon but racing is fueled by dreams and I know I’m not the only one dreaming of returning the trucks to a competitive, cost efficient, fun and exciting series.