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2013 NASCAR Truck Series Preview: New drivers bolster solid mix

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Monday, Feb. 18, 2013

Preseason Top 10

Rank, Driver, Team, Comment

1 . Ty Dillon, Richard Childress Racing, A few more wins and some consistency and he can replicate his brother's championship of two seasons ago.

2. James Buescher, Turner Scott Motorsports, No reason why he can't contend again for the title and perhaps a repeat championship.

3. Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski Racing, Series' youngest race winner gets to run the full schedule this season.

4. Darrell Wallace Jr., Kyle Busch Motorsports, Multi-time winner in K&N Pro Series should contend for wins in Trucks.

5. Timothy Peters, Red Horse Racing, Solid 2012 season and can't hurt that he's been one of the best at Daytona.

6. Matt Crafton, ThorSport Racing, If could add some more wins to his trademark consistency he could have a chance at a championship.

7. Johnny Sauter, ThorSport Racing, Nine races of 20th or worse in 2012- that's not going to get you to the top.

8. Brendan Gaughan, Richard Childress Racing, Back at RCR to run the full season. Can he return to the multiple-win days of 2003?

9. Joey Coulter, Kyle Busch Motorsports Should contend for race wins but needs week-to-week consistency to get in the title picture.

10. Miguel Paludo, Turner Scott Motorsports, He has plenty of talent but could use some wins.

Observations

• There's a pretty solid group of drivers contending for the championship this season, including several who were in the thick of the title hunt in 2012. There are also some talented newcomers in the mix. Ryan Blaney, who became the series' youngest winner last year, will run full time this season. Darrell Wallace Jr. will drive for Kyle Busch Motorsports and has all the ingredients to win. Also keep an eye on Jeb Burton , who's running with Turner Scott Motorsports.

• The Truck series' inaugural race at Eldora Speedway in July should prove interesting. There are many series regulars who have never raced on dirt before, and it will be interesting on how the race trucks perform on the surface. Throw in a bunch of dirt track veterans who will likely try to make the race, and there is the possibility of a wild night.

What they're saying

• "It sounds silly, but it really means a lot when you have a lot of people who believe in you. We've got a great race team who are like brothers to me. When you've got a great support system, you can go through the ups and downs and it makes it a whole lot easier." - Ty Dillon

• "It's always cool to go to Daytona and kick off the new year, especially after the season we had last year. I feel like that's a ton of motivation for our team to improve one spot in the championship standings. Over the last three years, we have finished second twice and won at Daytona." - Timothy Peters

• "African-Americans don't have any (current) idols to look up to in this sport. When I started, I never watched NASCAR. I watched some races, but I never was like, 'I want to be like him.' I just jumped in it and we started winning and just kept going." - Darrell Wallace Jr.

Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter
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