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2013 Camping World Truck Series: Driver Rankings

Mark Taylor

Mark Taylor

Taylor covers NASCAR for RotoWire. He is a three-time winner of the FSWA's Racing Writer of the Year award. He is also a military historian, specifically the World War II U.S. Navy in the Pacific.

1. Ty Dillon - No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet - The Richard Childress Racing youngster had a very successful rookie season in the truck series in 2012. Dillon claimed one win, three pole positions and 17 Top 10s during the 22-race schedule. That was good enough to waltz away with the Rookie of the Year award and come within a close brush of the championship during the wild season finale at Homestead. Dillon returns to the same team and crew chief in 2013 and will shift from rookie honors to winning the championship. We expect multiple race wins and a fantastic season for this NASCAR rising star. Dillon will set the pace for this field of young drivers.

2. James Buescher -
No. 31 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet - The reigning truck series champion returns in 2013 to defend his title. Buescher will once again take the reigns of the No. 31 Chevy truck that he rode to the championship in 2012. For the 22-year-old Texan this will be his fifth full season of competition in the Camping World Truck Series, so he's no greenhorn. Last year's four victories and 10 Top-5 finishes were personal bests. Buescher will be challenged to keep his level of performance this high in a racing series that it filled with talented young drivers and lots of parity. The promotion of teammate Nelson Piquet Jr. to the Nationwide Series should shift more of Turner Motorsports' focus toward Buescher, and that can only be a good thing.

3. Timothy Peters -
No. 17 Red Horse Racing Toyota - Peters carried the flag high for Toyota in 2012. He will return to the Red Horse Racing team that he claimed two victories and 10 Top-5 finishes with last season. At 32-years of age Peters is becoming one of the "elders" of the truck series. He sports the 140 starts of experience that you'd expect from a driver his age. This team should return mostly intact from their runner-up points finish of last year, so the No. 17 team should be hungry to get that championship trophy. With five victories and 57 Top-10 finishes in the last four seasons combined, Peters has been one of the more consistent drivers in the Camping World Truck Series for some time.

4. Joey Coulter -
No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota - Coulter was one of the four drivers still in the running for the championship in that wild season finale last year at Homestead. The former Richard Childress Racing driver picked up his first career win in 2012 along with three poles and 15 Top-10 finishes, all personal bests. Coulter makes the jump to one of the best teams in the series in 2013 with Kyle Busch Motorsports' No. 18 Toyota. Familiar crew chief Harold Holly that guided him last season also makes the jump to the KBM team, so chemistry and continuity shouldn't be a concern. We expect big things for Coulter in 2013.

5. Johnny Sauter -
No. 13 ThorSport Racing Toyota - 2012 was a down year for Sauter and the ThorSport Racing team. Despite the two victories and nine Top-10 finishes, he finished a lowly ninth in the final driver standings. That is a four-season low for Sauter. The ability to win races was there, but the marked consistency we expect from Sauter and the No. 13 team was no where to be found. That should change in the upcoming season. Sauter averaged one-and-half wins and 15 Top 10s per campaign prior to last year's drop in performance. He should return to this level in the upcoming season and that easily puts him back inside the Top 5 drivers of this racing series.

6. Matt Crafton -
No. 88 ThorSport Racing Toyota - Much like his teammate Johnny Sauter, Crafton too endured some consistency issues in 2012. The No. 88 Toyota team is usually a Top-10 go-getter each season, and struggles with the victory side of the equation. That was not the case last year. Crafton was largely invisible in claiming 14 Top-10 finishes, which is far short of the 18-20 we're used to seeing from this driver and team. While Crafton finished a respectable sixth in the final championship standings, his average finish rose to 9.8 which is well above what we're used to seeing. The ThorSport Racing star's team returns intact from last season, with Carl Joiner still calling the shots from atop the pit box. We expect to see a return to consistency for Crafton in 2013.

7. Ryan Blaney -
No. 29 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford - The second generation driver and son of Sprint Cup Series veteran Dave Blaney will get his first full-time NASCAR ride in 2013. Blaney will race the full schedule in pursuit of the championship for the strong No. 29 BKR team. He made nine starts for this team last season with one victory and five Top-10 finishes. If you project those results out over a full 22-race schedule you get numbers that are near championship-contending. Blaney is obviously talented, and the Camping World Truck Series is a good fit at this point and time for the young driver. This driver and team should be a winning combination.

8. Brendan Gaughan -
No. 62 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet - Gaughan will take over the No. 62 Chevy truck (formerly the No. 22 truck) for the coming season. The veteran driver will cross the 200-start plateau in the truck series this season. Over this long and noteworthy career Gaughan has collected eight victories and 67 Top-10 finishes. He's not up to the task of winning championships, but in a strong RCR truck he has the capability to be consistent and post many Top 10s. Gaughan will be paired with up-and-coming crew chief Shane Wilson, who will guide the team's efforts. This chemistry should lead to Gaughan's first victory in the series since 2003.

9. Ron Hornaday Jr. -
No. 9 NTS Motorsports Chevrolet - The four-time champion is coming off his worst season in quite a long time. Hornaday slogged through a winless campaign in 2012, his first shutout since the 2004 season. It all added up to a lowly 13th-place finish in the standings. This is due largely to the newness of the JDM No. 9 team. The off-season has brought new ownership (now NTS Motorsports) and a new crew chief, Bruce Cook. Hopefully the changes will bear immediate results, but it's difficult to get overly optimistic in a series that is becoming increasingly young. Hornaday still has a lot of tricks up his sleeve and a very aggressive driving style for a 55-year-old. A return to excellence should be the result for this veteran driver.

10. John Wes Townley -
No. 7 Red Horse Racing Toyota - Townley takes over the strong No. 7 Toyota truck of the just-departed Parker Kligerman. The Red Horse Racing team guided Kligerman to one win and 15 Top-10 finishes, so the level of performance for this team is not in doubt. Townley has bounced all over NASCAR in his four years in the sport. His 16th-place finish in last season's driver standings is a good example of what his time has been like to this point. However, the No. 7 team is by far the best opportunity that Townley has had to this point in his career. We believe that the results will start to follow. He will undoubtedly post a career high in Top 10s in 2013, and could possibly challenge for his first career NASCAR win.

11. Justin Lofton/Other Drivers -
No. 6 Eddie Sharp Racing Chevrolet - Lofton is coming off a one-win, 13 Top 10 season for ESR. That's why it's puzzling that Lofton has chosen to race off-road in stadium trucks in 2013 full-time and make the Camping World Truck Series his second-level racing effort. That means that the talented Lofton will be in his off-road truck and not in his NASCAR truck when the schedule conflicts. When the No. 6 Chevy truck has Lofton, they have tremendous upside, but when fill-in drivers take the seat the team's performance will be up in the air depending on who is filling in. If Lofton raced the entire schedule this team could compete for the championship, instead they will have unrealized potential due to the uncertainty behind the wheel.

12. Todd Bodine -
Free Agent Driver - The Red Horse Racing team has folded Bodine's No. 11 truck. That leaves him a driver looking for a seat entering the season. The former champion has an impressive resume including two truck series championships and 22 career wins. That type of performance isn't found in the free agent pool every day. For that reason alone we believe Bodine will find a new ride before the season starts. How good that team will be is about the only variable here. Bodine is coming off an uncharacteristic seven Top-10 finish season. We're willing to bet he does much better than this wherever he lands.

13. Jason White -
No. 23 GB Racing Ford - White returns to the No. 23 Ford team that he raced with last season. He will once again be paired with crew chief Doug George who guided him to five Top-10 finishes in 2012. With all the parts and pieces of this team returning intact we expect some modest improvement in performance. White earned an 11th-place finish in the driver standings last year, and we know he's capable of much more. A first career victory and Top 10 points finish could be waiting in the upcoming season.

14. Miguel Paludo -
No. 32 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet - Turner will bring back Paludo for his third full season of racing in the Camping World Truck Series. Once again he will pilot the No. 32 Chevrolet truck for this strong truck series stable. Paludo gets better each season and we expect more improvement for this driver in 2013. Now that teammate Nelson Piquet Jr. has graduated to the Nationwide Series, we expect to see some of the team focus to shift to Paludo's efforts. He claimed five Top-10 finishes last season and a 10th-place finish in the final driver standings. We expect the level of performance to move modestly up in the coming year.

15. Jeb Burton -
No. 4 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet - The 20-year-old son of Sprint Cup Series driver Ward Burton will get his first full taste of NASCAR action in the truck series. Burton will follow his five-start effort of 2012 with a full 22-race slate in 2013. The up-and-coming driver earned one Top-10 finish in those five starts, so talent is clearly there. However, lots of lessons will be learned this season. Burton will pilot the No. 4 Turner Motorsports truck, so good equipment and good team support will be there. Mike Hillman Jr. will do the honors at crew chief and make Burton's quest for Rookie of the Year an easier task.

16. Ross Chastain/Other Drivers -
No. 19 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford - Team owner Brad Keselowski is starting up a new, second truck series team this year and he's chosen Chastain to be the majority driver. Chastain will get 15 of the 22 events while owner Keselowski, Dave Blaney and Joey Logano will complete the schedule. The team's performance will largely be tied to Chastain since he will be racing two thirds of the schedule. The youngster earned four Top 10s racing the full schedule in 2012 with a much smaller race team. The No. 19 team should be poised for a good campaign despite the multiple driver lineup.

17. Kyle Busch -
No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota - This part-time team has not announced their schedule yet in the coming season, but it's certain that owner Busch will get some truck series track time with this team. Rick Ren will head up the crew chief role and combine for one of the strongest driver/crew chief combos in recent truck series history. The unknown plans and limited schedule are all that limits the value of this No. 51 Toyota team. One thing is for certain, Busch won't be held out of victory lane this season like he was in 2012.

18. Max Gresham -
No. 8 Eddie Sharp Racing Chevrolet - The 2011 K&N Pro Series East champion found his first season of racing in the Camping World Truck Series a tough task last year. Gresham made only 13 starts split between two different teams in 2012, but his results fell short of expectations. He posted two Top-15 finishes in those starts and managed a meager 21.6 average finish for the campaign. Gresham will return to the No. 8 ESR team that he finished last season with. This is the team that produced some of his best finishes of last year. That's reason enough to be hopeful for this 19-year-old driver in his first full season of truck series action.

19. Ryan Sieg -
No. 39 Sieg Racing Chevrolet - Sieg completed his third full season of truck series racing in 2012. He earned one Top-10 finish en route to a career-best 15th-place finish in the driver standings. For much of the first half of the schedule, Sieg was just logging laps but it seemed he and this team really began to up their performance in the final third of the season. The 25-year-old Georgia native will be reunited with crew chief Tony Wilson and hope to build on the momentum they finished last season with. We look for Sieg to post many Top 15s in the coming year and hopefully reduce some of those undesirable DNFs.

20. Unknown Driver -
No. 33 Eddie Sharp Racing Chevrolet - The No. 33 team is probably the best truck without a driver at the time of this writing. This ESR Chevy truck claimed one victory and eight Top 10s last year with youngster Cale Gale in the driver's seat. The team parted ways with Gale over the off-season and as the days wind down towards Daytona, they're still without a driver. The unsettled situation heading into late January places this team way down the rankings, but they have a chances to climb significantly if ESR makes a good driver signing and keeps this team racing in 2013.

21. Brennan Newberry -
No. 14 NTS Motorsports Chevrolet - NTS will turn the part-time No. 14 team into a full-time team in 2013. Youngster Newberry returns to the seat of the team's Chevy Silverado for his first full schedule in the Camping World Truck Series. In 10 starts last season, Newberry only cracked the Top 20 on one occasion, but spent half the schedule behind the wall of the garage area due to crashes. The young driver has a lot to learn and hopefully crew chief Dan Deeringhoff will have the right patience and enthusiasm to motivate Newberry. A long season of ups-and-downs lies ahead.

22. Bryan Silas -
No. 99 T3R2 Racing Ford - The 25-year-old Florida native will return for his second full season of racing in the Camping World Truck Series. The No. 99 team of T3R2 Racing will put him in the seat of a Ford truck for the second season. Silas has 41 races of experience in this division of NASCAR, but has yet to crack the Top 10 in a race. He hopes that will change in 2013 with new crew chief Gary Cogswell calling the shots. This team will experience more growing pains in the coming year, but Silas has the skill to improve this team's position in the standings.

23. Brandon Jones / Other Drivers -
No. 30 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet - This team has a lot of potential. Nelson Piquet Jr. drove this truck to two victories and 15 Top-10 finishes in 2012. Piquet has moved on to the Nationwide Series, and left the team in a transition phase. Enter youngster Jones fresh from the Pro All Stars Series and United Auto Racing Association Series. At the start of the season Jones will just be turning 16-years-old, so there's little impact he can have in 2013. The young driver is tabbed for two starts in the strong No. 30 truck with other drivers yet to be named. This team can climb the rankings, but only with a strong, consistent driver lineup.

24. David Starr -
No. 81 Arrington Racing Toyota - The 15-year veteran should return to this small team in 2013 with his personal sponsor Zachry Construction in tow. Starr made 16 of the 22 races last year because this team's budget became tight at mid-season. The veteran driver still has the potential to collect Top 10s and race competitively, but the money problems of this small team limit his performance. If Arrington Racing can put some more money into the operation in the coming year, then improvement is possible. However, more corporate sponsorship needs to be found to make this happen.

25. Chase Elliott -
No. 94 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet - Hendrick Motorsports development driver and son of NASCAR legend Bill Elliott will make his first foray into the Camping World Truck Series this season. Elliott turns 18-years-old at the end of this season so his racing development is well on track. He spent the last two years making a big impact in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. Elliott also so significant action in the ARCA Series in 2012. He will make nine truck series starts in a new Hendrick / Turner joint venture and enjoy great support and equipment in his first season of truck series racing. Elliott is sure to open some eyes in his limited schedule this season.

26. Kevin Harvick/Other Drivers -
No. 24 NTS Motorsports Chevrolet - Sprint Cup Series star Harvick will take the wheel of this Chevy truck in both Martinsville races, so a potential win is quite possible for this team. Other than the two short track events in Martinsville, the driver and crew chief lineup for this truck has yet to be announced as of this writing. Since that covers the remaining 20 races, the performance and fortunes of this team will largely be tied to who is in the truck when Harvick is not racing. The unknowns place the No. 24 team lower in the standings, but a proven or veteran driver in combination with Harvick could make this team very competitive.

27. Norm Benning -
No. 57 Norm Benning Racing Chevrolet - The 61-year-old Benning should be back for his seventh season of truck series action in 2013. He will once again field his own truck and team in this division of NASCAR. Benning made 17 of the 22 races last season and he should be in for a similar schedule and performance in the coming year. While his small race team is a shoe-string operation, Benning did manage a career best 23.6 average finish position in 2012, so improvement is possible for this seasoned driver.

28. Chris Fontaine -
No. 84 Chris Fontaine Inc. Chevrolet - Fontaine hopes to improve on his 15-start effort and one Top-10 finish in the 2012 season. Both were career bests for this Floridian. He fields his own truck and team like many at this end of the driver rankings. Fontaine DNQ'd three events and start-and-parked a few others, so clearly money and equipment are the big handicaps of the No. 84 team. Fontaine earned that lone Top 10 last year at the season-opener in Daytona, so super speedway racing is clearly the biggest strength of this driver and team.

29. Scott Riggs -
No. 92 Ricky Benton Racing Chevrolet - Riggs signed a five-race deal to start the season in mid-January. He made one start with the No. 92 team in 2012 and earned a Top-5 finish at Martinsville's short track. That lone performance has left a lasting impression with the RBR team and earned Riggs a shot at starting 2013. If the team can secure more sponsorship they plan to run the full schedule. If this happens, Riggs and the No. 92 team can climb these rankings considerably. The journeyman driver has five wins and 25 Top 10s in his 50 career truck series starts.

30. Jennifer Jo Cobb -
No. 10 Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing Ford - Cobb made an attempt to run the full Camping World Truck Series schedule last year, but came up short on a handful of attempts and only ended up racing 15 of the 22 races. Hopefully, the funding situation and equipment will improve in 2013. The team makes the jump from Dodge to Ford and maybe that change of scenery will help matters. Cobb will once again be paired with crew chief Steve Kuykendall and look to claim that second career Top 10 in this racing series. She's fast-approaching the 60-start mark in the truck series, and the results need to follow.

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