NASCAR Draft Kit: Camping World Truck Rankings

NASCAR Draft Kit: Camping World Truck Rankings

This article is part of our NASCAR Draft Kit series.

1. Kyle Busch/Daniel Suarez/Matt Tifft - No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota - Kyle Busch Motorsports once again ruled the series in terms of wins and laps led. Between Busch, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Erik Jones the trio combined for a staggering 14 victories in the 22-event schedule. That puts Busch's No. 51 Toyota team squarely atop the rankings once again. The owner/driver will get the bulk of the work again in 2015 with a planned number of starts close to 10. Up-and-coming youngsters Suarez and Tifft will split the other 12 or so starts. The two combined for only four truck series starts last season, so the learning curve will be steep, but the excellence of this team should ease the growing pains significantly. We expect to see this team lead the win category once again this year.

2. Matt Crafton -
No. 88 ThorSport Racing Toyota - "Storybook" is the only way to describe Crafton's 2014 season. With the odds and history stacked against him, he went out and won back-to-back titles for the first time in the 20-year history of the Camping World Truck Series. The ThorSport Racing star grabbed a career-best two wins and 13 Top-5 finishes in a season nothing short of excellent to claim the championship by 21 points over Ryan Blaney. With the entire team and crew chief Carl Joiner returning in 2015, the level of performance is expected to remain very high. Crafton should win races and defend his championship well in

1. Kyle Busch/Daniel Suarez/Matt Tifft - No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota - Kyle Busch Motorsports once again ruled the series in terms of wins and laps led. Between Busch, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Erik Jones the trio combined for a staggering 14 victories in the 22-event schedule. That puts Busch's No. 51 Toyota team squarely atop the rankings once again. The owner/driver will get the bulk of the work again in 2015 with a planned number of starts close to 10. Up-and-coming youngsters Suarez and Tifft will split the other 12 or so starts. The two combined for only four truck series starts last season, so the learning curve will be steep, but the excellence of this team should ease the growing pains significantly. We expect to see this team lead the win category once again this year.

2. Matt Crafton -
No. 88 ThorSport Racing Toyota - "Storybook" is the only way to describe Crafton's 2014 season. With the odds and history stacked against him, he went out and won back-to-back titles for the first time in the 20-year history of the Camping World Truck Series. The ThorSport Racing star grabbed a career-best two wins and 13 Top-5 finishes in a season nothing short of excellent to claim the championship by 21 points over Ryan Blaney. With the entire team and crew chief Carl Joiner returning in 2015, the level of performance is expected to remain very high. Crafton should win races and defend his championship well in the upcoming season.

3. Johnny Sauter -
No. 98 ThorSport Racing Toyota - After watching his teammate, Matt Crafton, win the championship the last two seasons we know Sauter is now hungrier than ever to claim his first truck series title. The veteran has averaged two wins and 15 Top-10 finishes the last two seasons as he's watched his teammate wear the crown after Homestead. The ability to win races has never been a problem for this driver and team, but consistency has been a bit of a bug to work on. Still, Sauter has claimed impressive fourth-place finishes in the driver standings each of the last two years. If all the parts come together that first championship could be in the cards for the No. 98 team this season, if not, he'll still be one of the more dominant regulars on the track.

4. Timothy Peters -
No. 17 Red Horse Racing Toyota - Peters has grown to be one of the more consistent and competitive veterans in the truck series the last several seasons. His 2014 numbers included one win and 13 Top-10 finishes, which stacked up to a fifth-place finish in the final driver standings. He's averaged about 1.5 wins and 15 Top-10s the last three seasons in this division of NASCAR. That makes him Red Horse Racing's top dog and top contender for the championship each year. With crew chief Marcus Richmond and the entire No. 17 Toyota team returning for 2015, we see little change in the level of performance for this team. Peters will be racing up front and battling with the leaders each week.

5. Ryan Blaney/Brad Keselowski/Joey Logano/Austin Theriault -
No. 29 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford - The team that Ryan Blaney raced to one victory, 12 Top-5 and 17 Top-10 finishes last season will host a driver rotation in 2015. With Blaney gone to full-time Xfinity Series and part-time Sprint Cup racing, the door opens to this strong team. In steps owner/driver Keselowski, Penske teammate Logano and up-and-comer Theriault to fill the seat. Keselowski and Logano will likely only pair for about five of the 23 starts with the remainder going to Theriault and an odd race or two to Blaney. The youngster is a product of late model stock car racing. The 21-year-old doesn't have a deep resume in the lower divisions of NASCAR, but that shouldn't matter much. Theriault won a one-off start last year in the ARCA Series for Venturini Motorsports at Michigan, upsetting a field of much more experienced drivers.

6. Erik Jones -
No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota - Jones will return for his third season of racing for KBM, but his first full-time effort. If his part-time exploits are any sampling of what to expect, this young driver could explode in 2015. Jones has three victories, two poles and seven Top-5 finishes in just 17 starts splitting time with Kyle Busch. Now, he'll have a seat all to himself in the No. 4 Toyota truck with guidance coming from crew chief Rudy Fugle. Per usual, the KBM equipment should be superior to most teams in the series, and the backing top-notch. For a glimpse of Jones' potential this season, look no further than Darrell Wallace Jr.'s 2014 campaign of four wins and 14 Top-10s.

7. Jeb Burton -
No. 13 ThorSport Racing Toyota - As it stands at the time of this writing, ThorSport is still working on sponsors for this team. However, it is expected that they'll get the funding they need for a full season. Burton just completed his second full season of truck series racing in 2014. While the numbers didn't pack the punch of his rookie season, they were still respectable given the unsettled team circumstances. Burton patched together two Top-5 and seven Top-10 finishes en route to an eighth-place finish in the final driver standings. The young driver is capable of so much more, especially in ThorSport equipment. Hopefully, funding can be resolved sooner rather than later and Burton can get down to the business of racing at the start of this season.

8. Ben Kennedy -
No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota - The reigning Rookie of the Year in the truck series returns and gets a team upgrade for 2015. Kennedy comes over from the now-defunct Turner-Scott Motorsports and takes the wheel of the No. 11 Toyota of Red Horse Racing. He'll be paired with veteran crew chief Scott Zipadelli for this season. Kennedy racked up one Top-5 and seven Top-10s in his rookie campaign and really impressed at every opportunity. Now it would seem that RHR has the faith in 23-year-old to put a team together for him to challenge for races wins and potentially the championship. Kennedy is a driver with a lot of upside and potential this season.

9. Justin Boston -
No. 54 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota - KBM has signed Boston to fill the seat of the strong No. 54 truck that Darrell Wallace Jr. raced to so much success in 2014. Boston comes over from the ARCA Series where he tallied two wins and 29 Top-10 finishes the last two years and registered a pair of Top-5 point finishes in that racing series. The 25-year-old has only one career start in the Camping World Truck Series, but that shouldn't be much concern. He's spent the last five years honing his skills in lower racing series. To be put in a KBM truck speaks volumes of Boston's talent and potential. Given the strength of this team, Boston is the early-odds favorite for Rookie of the Year in the truck series.

10. Tyler Reddick -
No. 19 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford - Reddick will return for season two at Brad Keselowski Racing. He really made headway in just 16 of the 22 events last year with this same team. Over that partial schedule, Reddick claimed two poles, three Top-5 and nine Top-10 finishes. The entire team returns intact for a full campaign this time around, and most likely a much better finish than 12th in the driver standings. With BKR giving him good trucks each week, and the continued progression between Reddick and crew chief Doug Randolph, there are big goals ahead. A potential race victory could be in the cards, and a Top-10 finish in the driver standings is nearly a given.

11. Ron Hornaday Jr. -
Free Agent - The four-time champion saw his ride at Turner-Scott Motorsports dry up midway into the 2014 season. It was an unfortunate development as the two owners split during the campaign. That left Hornaday at home most weekends after midsummer, but not before he had claimed five Top-5 and 10 Top-10 finishes in just 13 races. The 56-year-old resoundingly proved that he still has the gift to be excellent in this racing series. However, he begins January 2015 as a driver in the Sprint Cup Series for The Motorsports Group. It will be his first full-time gig in NASCAR's top division in several years. Watch closely, for if things don't work out in the Cup No. 30 team he could easily float back to truck and being a significant driver in this series as a free agent.

12. Driver TBA -
No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet - Coulter has stepped down from this strong ride over the off-season due to a lack of sponsorship and funding for his personal driving exploits. For the moment, that leaves the seat of the No. 21 Chevy truck empty, but there are plenty of free agents with potential out there. Ron Hornaday Jr. is a veteran free agent whose name comes to mind right away as a potential candidate. Coulter claimed 10 Top-10 finishes and wound up a respectable seventh in the final driver standings of last season, so there's tons of potential in this ride. Depending on who the team signs to drive, that will largely dictate their potential and fortunes for 2015.

13. John Hunter Nemechek/Joe Nemechek -
No. 8 Eddie Sharp Racing Chevrolet - The father-son driver platoon returns for season two in this ride, and the team moves from Toyota to Chevrolet trucks. This was quietly one of the better driver platoons in the Camping World Truck Series last season. The Nemechek boys racked up two Top-5 and 15 Top-10 finishes between them in a very competitive effort. John Hunter turns 18-years-old in June, so he'll be able to finish off the season schedule from mid-season on and relieve his father from driving duties. The funding and support returns for what should be an even better campaign in 2015.

14. John Wes Townley -
No. 05 Townley Motorsports Chevrolet - This journeyman driver split time between the trucks and Xfinity Series last year, but he managed to start 19 of the 22 events in the Camping World Truck Series between two different teams. The results were mixed with four Top-10 finishes vs. five DNF's (most of those coming at the end of the season) and a 15th-place finish in the driver standings. Townley is capable of much more and also added consistency. His 69 career starts in this series are more than any other division of NASCAR in his personal racing resume. Townley will have to pull the load in further developing this small team this season, but he has the talent to make it happen.

15. Mason Mingus -
No. 15 Billy Boat Motorsports Chevrolet - Mingus will follow up his rookie season with another full-time serving of truck action in 2015. He'll return to the BBM team that he finished off last season with in the No. 15 truck. Mingus had a reasonably good campaign with one Top-10 and six Top-15 finishes during last season. That came vs. just two DNF's, so Mingus was running at the end of almost all the races and doing it competitively. Dennis Connor takes over for Mike Beam as crew chief, and the two will work on moving this team up the standings. Mingus spent three years honing his skills in the ARCA Series before making the jump to trucks, so even at just 20-years-old he has already a lot of seat time.

16. Bryan Silas -
No. 99 T3R2 Racing Ford - The journeyman driver had the best truck series campaign of his eight-season career in 2014. Silas raced the full schedule for the No. 99 Ford team and claimed his first pair of Top-10 finishes. He also avoided the DNF's and posted his best average finish of 19.2, which led to a career-best 11th-place finish in the final point standings. While it wasn't spectacular or impressive racing, it was consistent and competitive. T3R2 returns full-time in the upcoming season and they'll keep Silas paired with crew chief Cal Boprey. The two made good strides last season and should continue to build this small team over the next 23 events.

17. Driver TBA -
No. 9 NTS Motorsports Chevrolet - Owner, Bob Newberry, went with multiple drivers in 2014, but he started out the year with mostly a dose of Brennan Newberry and Chase Pistone behind the wheel. The multi-driver rotation yielded mixed results. For the full season the team gathered three Top-10 finishes and a handful of Top-15s. As of mid-January the team has still not announced their driver lineup for the upcoming season, but we can only assume they'll go with another rotation of veterans and youngsters in 2015. There is steady sponsorship and funding here, but the potential is capped due to the inconsistency of drivers shuffling through the seat. We would like to rank the No. 9 Chevrolet team higher, but can't until the driver situation is announced.

18. Tayler Malsam -
Free Agent - After racking up three Top-5 and five Top-10 finishes in a 12-start slate with Turner Motorsports last season, Malsam finds himself a free agent entering 2015. The closure of the No. 32 team leaves this five-season veteran in search of a job. Malsam is one of the more attractive free agents given his youth balanced with his 51 starts of experience in this division of NASCAR. There are a handful of teams that could use him in either a part-time or full-time capacity. Malsam has some skill and value, so watch closely to see if he's signed prior to the season-opener at Daytona. Depending on the team he could move up these rankings quite a bit.

19. Cole Custer -
No. 00 JR Motorsports Chevrolet - This is the first part-time driver in our list of rankings. JR Motorsports will enter the Camping World Truck Series for the first time in 2015. They've purchased the No. 00 truck of Haas CNC Racing and young prospect Custer. This team made a huge splash part-time in 2014, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. would like to continue developing this team and driver. Custer won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and claimed six Top-10s in his nine starts last season. The 17-year-old really opened some eyes and dropped some jaws with his performance last season. The team will run a 10-race schedule, so the impact will be light, but Custer's skills are undeniable and he'll "wow" every time he climbs behind the wheel.

20. Spencer Gallagher -
No. 23 GSM Racing Chevrolet - Gallagher will shift from part-time to full-time racing in 2015 as the GSM Racing team is putting together a full, 23-start effort for the young driver. He made some waves last season with just nine starts in the No. 23 truck. Gallagher claimed one Top-5 and six Top-15 finishes, with the highlight being his impressive third-place finish at Talladega in the fall. Jeff Stankiewicz comes over from the team's No. 21 truck and replaces veteran Harold Holly atop the war wagon. Gallagher and he will have to develop chemistry quickly so he can build on the impressive numbers he posted last season.

21. Gray Gaulding/Other Drivers -
No. 20 JD Motorsports Chevrolet - The young phenom from Virginia is a product of the K&N Pros Series East. Gaulding won two poles and claimed 17 Top-10s racing full-time in that series the last two seasons. He earned Top-10 standings finishes in both those campaigns. Gaulding moved to the trucks part-time in 2014, making just nine starts due to his 16-year-old age. However, his results were impressive none-the-less. He collected one Top-5 and seven Top-20 finishes in that limited schedule. Gaulding is expected to return in a part-time capacity this season, with other drivers filling out the schedule. Austin Dillon did some part-time duty in this team to good effect (four Top-10s) so the No. 20 truck is a good ride with capable drivers.

22. Tyler Young -
No. 02 Young's Motorsports Chevrolet - The 24-year-old Texan returns for his second full season of truck series racing with his family's race team. Young started all 22 events in 2014 and claimed five Top-15 finishes vs. six DNF's. The level of performance didn't often see him on the lead lap at the end of events, and that's an area of work in the upcoming season. The good news is that Young will have Bryan Berry back atop the team's war wagon and another season to work on their chemistry and communication. For a small, single truck team the funding and sponsorship appear to be of no concern, so there's the definite opportunity to grow this team. With now 33 starts of experience under his belt, it's time for Young to show some results.

23. Ray Black Jr. -
No. 07 SS Green Light Racing Chevrolet - A product of the Florida Late Model racing series, Black made just seven starts last season in a part-time effort for SS Green Light Racing. Black will now up his participation to a full season and compete for Rookie of the Year in the Camping World Truck Series. Black claimed a pair of Top-20 finishes last season with this same team, but was generally competitive despite no eye-popping performances. Jason Miller will provide the guidance as crew chief in season two for the young driver. There's potential and room to grow here, but it will be somewhat limited due to the resources of this team. Black should certainly do enough to be recognized for a handful of good performances this season.

24. Drivers TBD -
No. 08 SS Green Light Racing Chevrolet - No plans have been announced for this team late in January, but they are expected to return for the full season. At least seven drivers split time in this ride in 2014 and we could be looking at the same scenario again. Crew Chief Jason Miller has moved over to the team's other truck, the No. 07, so there are a lot of things still up in the air late in the off-season. Jimmy Weller got most of the starts with this team last season with nine. His best finish was ninth in the season-opening Daytona race. The super speedways look like the most promising ovals, while the team is hit or miss on the others.

25. Jennifer Jo Cobb -
No. 10 Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing Chevrolet - Cobb hasn't announced her plans for the upcoming season as of late January, but it's assumed she'll return for the full campaign once again. She made 21 of 22 events in 2014, missing only the dirt track race at Eldora, and posted some of the best numbers of her seven-year truck series career. Cobb averaged a career-best 23.0 average finish and claimed six Top-20 finishes. Sponsorship doesn't seem to a problem for this popular driver, so we expect the team to return fully intact and fully funded. Cobb should continue to inch the bar higher in 2015.

26. Norm Benning -
No. 6 Norm Benning Racing Chevrolet - The veteran driver is tabbed to return to his self-owned No. 6 Chevrolet this season. Benning is a veteran of 137 career Camping World Truck Series starts. His small, tightly funded organization will be headed up by crew chief Kevin Dargie once again. Benning will race every event in the schedule but the level of performance won't be the highest. His five Top-20 finishes of last season was highlighted by a respectable 17th-place finish at Charlotte in the spring. However, he looked like a start-and-park driver at times with his 11 DNF's, six coming over the final eight races of last season. Benning will be challenged to push the bar higher this season.

27. Brian Ickler -
No. 7 Red Horse Racing Toyota - Unfortunately, this strong team was reduced to part-time racing in 2014. However, Ickler had some impact in the five starts that he made. He claimed one Top-5 and two Top-10 finishes in this abbreviated schedule. The team's plans have not been announced as of this writing, but the potential is here to really pop if the team can find the funding to put Ickler behind the wheel full-time. The 29-year-old Californian has 27 career starts in the truck series and he's claimed one pole position, seven Top-5 and 12 Top-10 finishes in those starts. Red Horse Racing has some top equipment, people and backing, so watch closely to see if this team can lineup at Daytona and beyond.

28. Justin Jennings/Jake Griffin -
No. 63 Justin Jennings Racing Chevrolet - Start-and-park was the name of the game for this full-time team last season. Jennings was behind the wheel for 21 of the 22 events and DNF'd in nine of those. He had six Top-20 finishes along the way, so it wasn't all bad. There was some competitive racing to be had, but the undependable level of performance of the team was problematic. Griffin is expected to start only the Martinsville spring race, but official plans have not been announced. This team needs some sponsorship boost and additional funding to have any real impact.

29. T.J. Bell/Jordan Anderson -
No. 50 MAKE Motorsports Chevrolet - Bell made 17 starts for this team last season and compiled five Top-20 finishes, all coming in his first five races with the team. Funding must have become scarce after that as performances began to slip and things began to look more like a start-and-park effort. The seven DNF's Bell racked up were disappointing to say the least. Anderson made one start and will likely make another spot start or two for the No. 50 team this season. Until funding improves, Bell's experience doesn't count for much. If they can race competitively, Top-20 finishes are easily possible.

30. Scott Saunders -
No. 49 Scott Saunders Racing TBD - The 26-year-old Australian is committed to racing the full schedule in 2015. Saunders has drips and drabs of experience in NASCAR's lower divisions each of the past three years. However, no real body of work to judge him for a full season. The team's small size and limited funding will be very restrictive in this competitive racing series. Saunders level of skill has not yet been seen, so it's likely going to be a bumpy campaign in the upcoming season.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Taylor
Taylor is RotoWire's senior NASCAR writer. A nine-time FSWA finalist, Taylor was named the Racing Writer of the Year in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2016 and 2017. He is also a military historian, focused specifically on World War II and the U.S. Navy's efforts in the Pacific.
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