Craftsman Truck Series

From Academic Kids

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Nascar_craftsman_truck_series_logo.jpg
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series logo

The Craftsman Truck Series is a popular NASCAR racing series that features modified pickup trucks.

The idea for the Truck Series dates back to 1993, when a group of off road racers made a prototype for a NASCAR-style pickup truck. These were first shown off during the 1994 Daytona 500, and a number of demonstration races were held during the season. These trucks proved to be extremely popular, and it led to NASCAR creating the series, originally known as the "SuperTruck Series", in 1995.

While a new series, it managed to garner a lot of support from prominent Winston Cup people immediately. Prominent Cup owners Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, and Jack Roush owned truck teams, and top drivers such as Dale Earnhardt and Ernie Irvan also fielded SuperTrucks for others. The series became known as the Craftsman Truck Series in 1996.

Initially, the series used a number of rules that differed from both Nextel Cup and Busch Series racing. To save teams money by not requiring teams to hire pit specialists and buy extra tires, and because some tracks -- Saugus, CA, Flemington, NJ, Tucson, AZ, and Dacono, CO most notably -- did not have a pit road safe enough for pit stops, or had pits outside the track, starting with the second race of the series in Tucson, AZ, NASCAR adopted a ten-minute "halftime" break, in place of pit stops, where teams could make any changes they'd want to the truck. The only time tire changes were possible were for the interest of safety, such as a tire failure, or a danger to the tire. The rule was popular with television and fans, and was spread for the entire schedule afterwards.

In 1996, some races went to two intermissions for full tire and fuel stops, while longer races were stopped at three times -- a limited break near the one-quarter and three-quarter marks for fuel stops, and at the halfway point for fuel and tire stops. If tire wear was a concern, NASCAR also permitted tire changes if necessary in the first and third period breaks.

In 1997, NASCAR started phasing pit stops. During the 1997 season, trucks could only legally take fuel and make adjustments during pit stops during the race. Tire changes were still illegal except for emergency causes. In mid-1998, at Fountain, CO, NASCAR switched to limited pit stops resembling other series where only two tires could be changed during caution periods. The rule was later removed and teams could change four tires, although there is a limit of how many sets a team could have during the entire race weekend.

A more popular rule that was effective until the middle of the 2004 season was the "overtime" rule. Unless interrupted by weather, Craftsman Truck Series races had to end under green flag conditions, and the rule mandated that all races must end with at least two laps in green flag condition, often referred to as a "green-white-checkered" finish. Now with the adoption of "green-white-checkered" among NASCAR's 3 touring series, one "green-white-checkered" finish must be attempted but if a caution flag is thrown during that attempt, the race will end under yellow. Previously, attempts had to be made until the race finished under green, which led to up to 4 or 5 attempts. The last such race, in Madison, IL, in 2004, lasted 14 additional laps (16.25 miles).

In the first year of the series, the trucks ran on circuits of a mile in length or less as well as two road courses. Most of the first races were no longer than 125 miles in length, often less than 100, and were nationally televised on ESPN, TNN, WTBS, ABC, and CBS. A number of races were held at tracks that didn't host any other NASCAR event. By 1998, most of the short tracks were phased out in favor of speedways of 1 to 2 miles in length, and more of the races were held at tracks that hosted Cup and Busch events concurrently, but some races were held with Champ Car and Indy Racing League events. Road courses were phased out by 2001. Most races nowadays will last around 250 miles at larger tracks, 150 to 200 miles at most others, and 250 laps around the shortest tracks. In 2001, NASCAR moved the series exclusively to cable, first with ESPN, and in 2003, switched to Speed Channel.

Most of the first drivers in the series were veteran short trackers who hadn't made it into the other NASCAR series. It is worth noting that most of the early champions have used their title to become Nextel Cup regulars at one point in their careers. As the years went on, a number of younger drivers debuted in the series, using the series as a springboard for their racing careers. Current NASCAR stars Scott Riggs, Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, and Kyle Busch each started in the series. Kyle Busch was 16 when thrown out of a 2001 Craftsman Truck Series race in Fontana, CA by CART (which sanctioned the Marlboro 500 that weekend) because tobacco sponsorship regulations prohibited competitors under 18 in any race during the meet, and resulted in a 2002 NASCAR minimum age requirement of 18.

In later years, though, the Truck series has also become a place for Cup veterans without a ride to make their living (which currently includes Ricky Craven, Bobby Hamilton and previous champions Mike Skinner, Ron Hornaday and Jack Sprague). .

Craftsman Truck Series champions with car number and owner:

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