The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series kicked off their 2014 season with the NextEra Energy Resources 250 on Friday night, putting the racing trucks on the minefield that is Daytona International Speedway. After a lengthy delay due to rain, it was time to get the night rolling.
On the pole sat Ben Kennedy, the great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., due to starting order being defined by practice speeds. It was obvious he had a stout machine; he dominated the first half, impressing everyone by holding off veterans like Ron Hornaday and Kyle Busch. A caution just past the halfway point threw him for a loop; after his pit stop, Kennedy stalled his machine and failed to maintain his speed. NASCAR ordered him to line up eighth for the restart, and he couldn’t get back to the front after that. Nevertheless, it was a stunning debut.
When the field went green, Busch was leading over Timothy Peters, yet Peters was the only one who could succeed on the high side. The two played cat-and-mouse until lap 74, when The Big One hit. In a blur, Parker Kligerman clipped Mason Mingus, which triggered the 13-truck mess. Aside from the two mentioned, those involved were: Tyler Young, John Wes Townley, Brian Ickler, Tyler Reddick, John King, Joey Coulter, Brennan Newberry, Darrell Wallace Jr., Sear Coor, Chris Pontaine, and Ross Chastain.
Racing resumed with 18 laps left, yet smoke from Travis Kvapil’s truck brought the yellow back four laps later. From then on, it was a squirrelly ride.
Busch was leading with six to go when Peters pounced from the outside, switching lanes and securing the lead. When he would get a bit of a gap going, it was closed instantly by the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver. Meanwhile, Ryan Truex was heading the outside line, flowing and ebbing with the momentum. He took on the job of pinning Busch to the bottom so he couldn’t pass Peters.
In the end, the final lap told the tale. The last turn is where Busch took his rocket to the high side, and he prevailed at the line, creating the closest finish during a NCWTS race at Daytona. Winning by sixteen-thousandths, it was a rousing ending to a somewhat mundane NCWTS event; before The Big One, calm, tight racing occurred, which many will undoubtedly misinterpret as ‘nothing.’
A stipulation that comes with restrictor-plate races is points racing; the truth is, it isn’t possible at Daytona or Talladega Superspeedway. NCWTS regulars fear how Fate will harm their championship chances.
Point Standings after the NextEra Energy Resources 250
1. Timothy Peters (–)
2. Johnny Sauter (-2)
3. Ron Hornaday Jr. (-4)
4. Ryan Blaney (-5)
5. Jeb Burton (-6)
6. Jimmy Weller III (-8)
7. German Quiroga Jr. (-9)
8. Ryan Sieg (-10)
9. Tyler Reddick (-11)
10. Matt Crafton (-12)
10. Ben Kennedy (-12)
12. John Wes Townley (-13)
FAN REACTION: The race garnered mild reactions on Twitter, slightly redeeming itself with the last 30 laps. Some graded the event with ‘A’s, while others scored it in the ‘C’s and ‘D’s.
Despite the winner being the stealthy, experienced cat, there’s no denying that it was a stirring finish. Hopefully, it is the first of three nail-biters the will be seen this weekend.