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Woody: The Show Is Too Good For Camping World To Pack It In

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, June 18 2009
A dark economy means dark days could be ahead for the Camping World Truck Series. (Photo by Darrell Ingham/Getty Images)

A dark economy means dark days could be ahead for the Camping World Truck Series. (Photo by Darrell Ingham/Getty Images)

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

The NASCAR truck series is in trouble.

Nobody can deny that.

The only question is, how dire is it?

Naturally no one at the top will dare give a straight answer – they’ll hem and haw about “difficult times” and “strong commitments.”

But the rumblings have been growing louder for sometime, and a tidal wave of cold reality crashed into the sport recently when Red Horse Racing announced it was letting Johnny Benson go.

For those who don’t follow the series, Benson is the defending champion in the NASCAR Camping World Series.

Red Horse was subsequently able to keep its program going with Timothy Peters as a driver, but you have to wonder about the stability of the series when the defending champion loses his ride because of lack of sponsorship.

Benson, having lost his truck ride, went off to race at an obscure track in Michigan where last Saturday he was severely injured in a fiery crash.

Benson was released from the hospital on Wednesday and is expected to make a full recovery.

Meanwhile the truck series races on – for now.

Its next stop is Friday in Milwaukee. That will be just the series’ 10th race since the Feb. 13 season-opener in Daytona.

A short schedule – only 25 races – has always been part of the truck series’ problem. Unlike the Sprint Cup’s 36-race schedule (plus two special events) or even the Nationwide Series’ 35-race slate, the trucks don’t run enough races to maintain weekly story lines and keep up interest.

It wasn’t a good sign when Craftsman bailed out as the series long-standing title sponsor. And it was an equally-bad sign last season when Bobby Hamilton Racing, another championship team that was considered the gold-standard of the series, ceased operations.

The truck series was already on a wobbly track before it was T-boned by an economic drought that withered corporate backing. It has never gotten a smattering of the TV coverage and media exposure that NASCAR’s other series received – coverage that is vital for attracting and keeping sponsors.

Now the question is, can it survive?

I assume that NASCAR will do its best to keep it afloat. At least it should.

For years the truckers have put on the best show in NASCAR. They race harder, lap after lap, than their counterparts in the Cup and Nationwide series. But the races are carried on the Speed Channel, which does a terrific job with the telecasts but is not available in many fan-rich areas, including Nashville.

With a short schedule and limited exposure, the truck series excitement remains NASCAR’s best-kept secret.

And now it’s in trouble. Serious trouble. If it fails to make it, the coroner should list “neglect” as a contributing factor.

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, June 18 2009
3 Comments

3 Comments »

  • Jared says:

    Woody-Berlin Raceway, where Johnny Benson was injured, is far from obscure, as you called it. When the cup teams are at MIS there’s a good chance you’ll see big names at Berlin, Johnny’s home track. The likes of Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, David Stremme and others have all competed on the track in recent years and been humbled by the competition. It is one of the premier mid-west paved tracks. Thank God JB is okay. Long live the truck series!

  • Steve says:

    I think I’d cry if the truck series went away. My wife got me into racing about 15 years ago and I watch the trucks more regularly than cup cars. Its just better racing. Trucks are so loose and newcomers and vets mix it up (usually vets come out on top).Its shameful that trucks can’t get sponsors. But the world is changing so maybe the trucks do too. Please don’t let them crash the trucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Leon says:

    Larry,
    This is an excellent article. I agree with you that the Trucks put on the best show in NASCAR. I can only hope that this recession is on the way to recovery and that can only spell relief for this series!
    My favorite Truck race is the Friday night race at Daytona!.. I have beeen there for that race abour 4 times and it never lets me down for thrills and excitement. NASCAR needs to do some serious work to try to save the Trucks. There needs to be more exposure and possibly televise the race on a different network so that everyone can watch the race!