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2014 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. Johnny Sauter - No. 98 ThorSport Racing Toyota With the conclusion of 2013 came team owner, Duke Thorson's first Camping World Truck Series championship. It came in the form of Matt Crafton and his No. 88 team. Now we believe the stable is on a roll. Sauter has been one of the most dominant drivers in the series the last couple seasons, so it could easily be his turn to hoist the trophy in 2014. The driver of the No. 98 Toyota truck has eight victories and three Top-5 points finishes in the last four seasons. Gene Wachtel comes on board to crew chief a team that has been incredibly consistent. It would seem that it's Sauter's turn for glory in the upcoming season.

2. Kyle Busch/Erik Jones -
No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Busch raced a half-season schedule with his No. 51 truck last year. It was to great effect as the owner/driver claimed five victories and nine Top 10s in those 11 starts. The other 11 starts were shared among a handful of drivers, but chiefly Jones. In his five starts came one win and five Top-10 finishes. The duo will split this strong ride once again this season. With the team returning will all components intact from its strong 2013 season, there's no reason to expect a fall off in performance. On the contrary, the team should be strong with Jones getting the entirety of the seat time when Busch is not available.

3. Matt Crafton -
No. 88 ThorSport Racing Toyota The reigning Camping World Truck Series champion will set out to defend his first title. Everything came together for Crafton last season. He claimed one victory and 19 Top-10 finishes en route to his truck series championship. It was only Crafton's third career win in 14 seasons of racing in this series, which underscores a theme. The ThorSport Racing veteran is known more for his consistency than his killer instinct and winning races. Crafton should gently come back to Earth or the pack in this case in 2014. We expect to see 17-19 Top 10s, few if any wins and another Top 5 points finish.

4. Ryan Blaney -
No. 29 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford The rising star of the Camping World Truck Series had an incredible rookie season battle with Jeb Burton. Blaney grabbed one victory (Pocono) and an amazing 13 Top 10s in his first full season of action. Now with 31 career starts in this racing series, two wins and 18 Top 10s, Blaney has to be seen as one of the major contenders for the championship in 2014. The driver of the BKR No. 29 Ford will enjoy veteran crew chief Chad Kendrick calling the shots, so he should have smooth sailing in his second full season of truck series action. Blaney is poised to have an incredible season with this strong race team.

5. Jeb Burton -
No. 4 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet Aside from his incredible rookie battle with Ryan Blaney, the biggest thing that comes to mind about Burton's 2013 season was his astounding seven pole positions. For a time it seemed no one was faster than the TSM No. 4 Chevy team. Burton grabbed three poles out of four in the first five races of last year. All the same winning ingredients return for this team in 2014. At only 21-years-old, Burton still has a lot of good racing ahead of him and some experience to gain. He should once again use the Camping World Truck Series as his NASCAR proving ground and in the process learn about racing for championships.

6. Darrell Wallace Jr. -
No. 54 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Kyle Busch Motorsports downsized to just two teams in 2014, but they stood by Wallace and the No. 54 Toyota as one of those teams. The young driver claimed his first and very emotional victory at the end of last season at Martinsville Speedway. Wallace held off veteran Brendan Gaughan and young gun Jeb Burton that day to sweep into victory lane for the first time. The driver of the No. 54 Toyota should get more opportunities to win this season. With KBM fielding the trucks and crew chief Jerry Baxter calling the shots, anything is possible for this talented youngster.

7. Timothy Peters -
No. 17 Red Horse Racing Toyota Peters returns for his 10th season of truck series racing in 2014. Now 33-years-old and with over 160 career starts in this racing series, Peters is suddenly one of the seasoned citizens of the Camping World Truck Series. The Red Horse Racing driver is coming off a bit of a lackluster campaign that saw two victories and 11 Top-10 finishes, but only a modest 10th-place finish in the driver standings. Peters should edge the bar higher in the upcoming season. A return to 14-15 Top 10s would thrust the driver of the No. 17 Toyota back towards the Top 5 in the series. There's no reason that shouldn't happen this year.

8. John Wes Townley -
No. 5 Wauters Motorsports Toyota Wauters Motorsports welcomes Townley and his family sponsor, Zaxby's, aboard the No. 5 Toyota truck this season. This could probably be his best team opportunity in his fourth season of truck series racing. He's coming off his career-best seven Top-10 finishes and 11th-place finish in the final driver standings. Townley will look to up the ante in 2014. He'll be paired with Joe Gibbs quality equipment and team support unsurpassed at this point in his truck series career. We'll figure out very fast just how good Townley is behind the wheel since he'll have all the opportunity to succeed.

9. Joey Coulter -
No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet Coulter will continue his truck series education in 2014. He comes over from Kyle Busch Motorsports and a rather disappointing campaign last season. Coulter posted only five Top 10s all of last year and finished a lowly 15th in the final driver standings. He hopes to reverse those numbers with the No. 21 Chevrolet team. All the technical support and equipment will come Richard Childress Racing and Ganassi Racing. Veteran crew chief Jeff Stankiewicz will provide the vision and support for Coulter. The picture is coming into focus with this team, but they have the potential and driver to crack the Top 10 of the standings by season's end. Coulter certainly has the potential to lead laps and win races.

10. Ben Kennedy -
No. 31 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet The Turner Scott Motorsports team doesn't simply lose drivers, they reload. The talent pool and driver development program are deep in this organization. Gone from this team is James Buescher, the 2012 Camping World Truck Series champion, and in his place comes hot prospect Kennedy. The 22-year-old is a veteran of almost 50 starts in the K&N Pro Series. He has two victories and 23 Top 10s in those starts, so the talent is obvious. Kennedy made five truck series starts last season with one Top-5 and two Top-15 finishes in preparation for his rookie campaign this season. TSM will give him the good trucks, it's up to Kennedy to pilot them to good finishes.

11. Ron Hornaday Jr. -
No. 34 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet The four-time champion has been eclipsed by the younger drivers in this racing series the last couple years, but he still has the talent to make some waves on occasion. Hornaday will get a team upgrade in 2014 and join the growing Turner Scott Motorsports organization. The 16-year veteran has been held out of victory lane the last two seasons, but that could change this season. Hornaday will have better trucks and more team support than he's enjoyed in some time, and it should show in the results on the race track. We expect him to scratch for at least one victory in 2014, and to post 10+ Top-10 finishes.

12. Nelson Piquet Jr. -
No. 9 NTS Motorsports Chevrolet The Brazilian returns to the Camping World Truck Series this year. His rookie season in the Nationwide Series in 2013 didn't go so well, so a return to the trucks should revive his performance. Piquet leaves Turner Scott Motorsports and will join NTS Motorsports for the full season. As Piquet showed us in the trucks in 2012, he has the talent to be a multi-race winner and Top 10 standings driver. However, it could take some time to rediscover this form. The one thing Piquet has going for him is youth. At 28-year-old he's not over the hill, and in a racing series that's this young, Piquet fits right in.

13. Tayler Malsam -
No. 32 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet After a two-season hiatus from the truck series, Malsam returns in 2014. He signed a deal in January to race with super-stable Turner Scott Motorsports. They'll pair him with crew chief Jeff Hensley and put him in the No. 32 Chevy truck. Malsam has 39 career starts in this racing series, but he's never had a team situation this good. With only 11 Top-10 finishes over those starts, Malsam has yet to really show his potential. That should change this season. TSM will give him the best equipment, and you can't ask for a more experienced crew chief than Hensley.

14. Tyler Reddick -
No. 19 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford The 18-year-old Californian may have a short NASCAR resume, but he's taking one of the better seats in the Camping World Truck Series. Reddick gets the big promotion from late model racing to racing trucks in NASCAR. Among his many accomplishments are three championships and over 120 career wins in his many racing exploits. He'll be paired with a strong BKR race team and a motivated crew chief in Doug Randolph. It will be exciting to see what this duo can accomplish this season. Reddick is just another name in this strong rookie class, and he'll be a top contender for Rookie of the Year.

15. Brian Ickler -
No. 7 Red Horse Racing Toyota Ickler returns after a two-year hiatus in NASCAR to land a good ride in the Camping World Truck Series. He'll fill the seat of Red Horse Racing's steady No. 7 truck. Ickler did a lot of racing early in his career for team owners Billy Ballew and Kyle Busch, so he knows what it's like to be around winning organizations. In 22 career starts in this racing series he has 10 Top-10 finishes to his credit. So there's little doubt about Ickler's ability to drive a truck. He'll have to shake off the rust fast and hit the ground running this season, and that could be the problem. A slow start may be in the cards for the No. 7 team, but Ickler's experience will eventually bring them around.

16. German Quiroga -
No. 77 Red Horse Racing Toyota He returns for his second full-season of truck series action. Quiroga will once again pilot the No. 77 Toyota of Red Horse Racing. The 33-year-old Mexican had a steady campaign in 2013 with six Top-10 finishes and a respectable 13th-place showing in the driver standings. He'll look to improve those marks in 2014. Quiroga will team with veteran Butch Hylton at crew chief and continue to strive for better results. He had his highlights last season, like winning the pole and leading 56 laps at Iowa Speedway. We're willing to bet he has even more highlight moments this season.

17. Brennan Newberry -
No. 24 NTS Motorsports Chevrolet NTS Motorsports will return to action this year and once again field youngster Newberry. They made 21 of 22 events last season with Newberry collecting one Top-10 finish. The team hopes to raise the bar higher in 2014 and it will start with the young driver qualifying better. Newberry won the pole at Daytona last year, but that was one of only two races where he started inside the Top 10. An improvement in qualifying would help things a lot. Newberry will once again be paired with veteran crew chief Eddie Pardue. There's a lot of talent and potential in this driver and team, it just hasn't been realized yet.

18. Ryan Sieg -
No. 39 Sieg Racing Chevrolet Sieg returns for his sixth season of truck series racing with his own race team. The No. 39 Chevrolet truck will roll out again with Sieg behind the wheel. The team showed up at Pre-season Thunder Testing in Daytona and showed that they have a lot of speed to find. Still, with over 100 starts in this racing series to his credit, Sieg is one of the more experienced drivers in the Camping World Truck Series. The veteran should make the entire schedule once again in 2014, and pick up the usual one or two Top-10 finishes along the way.

19. Unknown Driver -
No. 60 Turn One Racing Chevrolet At the time of this writing Turn One Racing still hasn't named a driver for the No. 60 Chevrolet. This has been a steady ride in the truck series the last couple seasons. In 2013, Dakoda Armstrong piloted the team to three Top-10 finishes and a decent 12th-place finish in the final driver standings, so this team has some potential. Depending on which driver or drivers team owner Stacy Compton puts behind the wheel will largely dictate their success and results in 2014. Watch this situation carefully before Speedweeks in Daytona. Any driver named bares close scrutiny.

20. Mason Mingus -
No. 35 WinTron Racing Toyota Mingus makes the jump from ARCA Series ace to Camping World Truck Series regular in 2014. The team switches from Chevrolet to Toyota this season for Mingus' rookie campaign. The young driver got in three starts in the truck series at the end of last year. It will be invaluable experience for sure. Mingus picked up a pair of Top-25 finishes in those three starts, but nothing stellar to report. He'll face an uphill battle trying to be competitive with this small race team this season. However, Mingus has the talent to close this gap just a bit.

21. Ross Chastain -
No. 13 ThorSport Racing Toyota This team scaled back from full-time to part-time racing in 2013, but there's reason to believe they could go full-time again. Chastain tested the truck during Pre-Season Thunder testing at Daytona, and they showed good speed. We expect that from any ThorSport team. Since the plans are not officially announced as of this writing we can only speculate that Chastain will drive and how much the team will run. Those question marks ultimately dictate the value of this driver and team. Chastain's 41 career starts in this series are punctuated by 12 Top 10s so the upside here is obvious.

22. Bryan Silas -
No. 99 T3R2 Racing Ford It's expected that T3R2 Racing will return this season. Once again they'll field the No. 99 Ford truck with veteran Silas behind the wheel. This will be his third full season of racing with this team. This one-truck organization runs the full schedule and generally races competitively each week. However, this small operation is challenged to compete with the larger multi-truck stables that rule this racing series. Silas claimed only four Top-20 finishes last season compared to seven DNF's. So performance is an issue that they have to work on in 2014.

23. Norm Benning -
No. 57 Norm Benning Racing Chevrolet The veteran driver is tabbed to return to his self-owned No. 57 Chevrolet this season. Benning is a veteran of 115 career Camping World Truck Series starts. His small, tightly funded organization will be headed up by crew chief Gary Ritter once again. Benning will race every event in the schedule but the level of performance won't be the highest. His three Top-20 finishes of last season was highlighted by an impressive 12th-place finish at Talladega in the fall. Benning will be challenged to push the bar any higher this season.

24. John Hunter Nemechek -
No. 8 Eddie Sharp Racing Toyota The son of NASCAR veteran Joe Nemechek takes his first big steps into the top divisions of NASCAR. The 16-year-old made two starts late last season with respectable 16th- and 21st-place finishes. Nemechek will have a good 10-race slate in 2014 to build on his skills and experience. While the team will be a small, part-time team the talents of Nemechek should be easy to see. This second generation driver is one to watch closely this season. He'll be a name in the sport for years to come.

25. Cole Custer -
No. 00 Gene Haas Racing Chevrolet The 16-year-old Californian makes the jump from the K&N Pro Series to truck series action in 2014. Custer racked up some impressive numbers in the K&N Pro Series East last season. He won two poles, two victories and six Top-10 finishes in that series' 14-race schedule. Custer will pilot the No. 00 Chevrolet of respected NASCAR owner Gene Haas this season. By doing so he'll take the next steps in his racing development. Custer will run about half the schedule with the solid Haas equipment and guidance from veteran crew chief Joe Shear. Custer has a lot of upside, but will be limited by his part-time schedule.

26. Jennifer Jo Cobb -
No. 10 Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing Chevrolet 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 16 of the 22 events. Hopefully, the funding situation and equipment will improve in 2014. The team makes the jump from Ford to Chevrolet and maybe that change of scenery will help matters. Cobb will once again be paired with crew chief Dan Kolanda and look to claim that second career Top 10 in this racing series. She and this team have a lot of work to do to move from start-and-parking to competitive racing.

27. Justin Jennings -
No. 63 Justin Jennings Racing Chevrolet This part-time driver and team were present at Pre-season Thunder Testing in Daytona, so they're a lock for some action in 2014. Jennings made eight starts last season and faired pretty well with five Top-25 finishes in those starts. The team is competitive when they race, unfortunately the raced less than half the schedule last season and may do so again this year. If Jennings could make more events he could easily climb the driver rankings.

28. Chris Jones -
No. 93 RSS Racing Chevrolet RSS Racing and Jones return once again in the No. 93 Chevy truck. He raced most of the schedule with this team last season, but to little affect. Jones was a start-and-park driver with the RSS Racing team and didn't finish a single start in 2013. Unless the funding situation of this small team changes in the upcoming season Jones could be looking at another campaign of uncompetitive racing. As far as experience goes, Jones' 77 starts over seven seasons is respectable, but he's not raced competitively over this span.

29. Mike Harmon -
No. 84 Chris Fontaine Inc. Chevrolet Harmon made 12 starts with this team last season and is expected to return in 2014. The three Top-25 finishes they collected were noteworthy, but the nine DNF's were not. The team spent more time start-and-parking than competitively racing in their part-time schedule. If the No. 84 team returns this season, this situation is not likely to change. They're another small race team looking for the funding to get out there and mix it up with the best in the series. Until the funding improves, Harmon will continue to nurse this team along and collect purse money.

30. Sean Corr -
No. 82 Empire Racing Ford The ARCA Series veteran has slowly been trying to crack into the Camping World Truck Series over the last two seasons. He's made three combined starts in 2012 and 2013, but with little impact. Corr tested a pretty fast truck at Daytona during Pre-season Thunder, so it's clear they'll be up for some more action in 2014. However, the exact amount of racing is unknown, and won't likely be much with the team's small checkbook. Corr is talented but with only a handful of starts to offer, his value is very limited.

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