Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Breaking Down The Truck Series Title Race

Buescher leads by 15 points
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship race is down to its final two races, with James Buescher leading rookie Ty Dillon by 15 points. Timothy Peters and Parker Kligerman cling to the outer limits of title contention, 25 and 27 points back, respectively. 

Buescher leads the title chase based on a series-high four victories in 2012, to just one for Dillon. Those wins – and a propensity for leading laps even on non-winning weekends – have earned Buescher a total of 30 bonus points this season, to Dillon’s 14. Dillon’s average finish of 7.95 is better than Buescher’s 8.0, but not enough to overcome Buescher’s bonus-point advantage. 

While Buescher has run up-front more than any other driver this season, he has also had more than his share of heartbreak along the way. His Turner Motorsports Chevrolet has five finishes of 15th or worse during the 20-race season, while Dillon has made the most of consistency, completing all but eight laps in his 20 starts.  

While Dillon’s 15-point deficit may seem insurmountable with just two races remaining, the Richard Childress Racing driver has erased identical margins twice already this season. The NCWTS point lead has been a hot potato since the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway in February, with Buescher, Dillon, John King, Justin Lofton and Peters all holding the top spot at least once.  

Dillon has relied on consistency
Dillon’s task pales in comparison to the deficit faced by Ron Hornaday, Jr. with two races remaining in 2007. Hornaday climbed out of a 57-point point hole (14 under today’s point system) to win by 54 points (13 in the current system) over Mike Skinner.  

History is on Buescher’s side, however, since the point leader with two races remaining has claimed the championship 14 times 17 seasons of Truck Series competition. 

Neither driver has visited Victory Lane at Phoenix International Raceway. Buescher failed to qualify there last season, dooming his 2011 title hopes. He finished 23rd at PIR in 2009 and 11th in 2010. Dillon, meanwhile, will make his first career truck start at PIR this weekend. In a pair of NASCAR K&N Pro Series East starts at the desert oval, he has recorded finishes of third and fourth. 

Qualifying could play a major role this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. In 21 previous Truck Series starts at PIR, all but two winners have started in the Top10. In all, 12 of those 21 races have been won from the Top-3, 15 of them from the Top-5.
 
Photos: LoneStarSpeedZone.com, Getty Images

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