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Aged to Perfection
The Camping World Truck Series is looked at as a stepping stone to the brighter and bigger lights of the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series. But lately, it's been the veterans, not the youngsters, who have found themselves hoisting the championship trophy at the end of the season.
One has to go back to 2003, and Travis Kvapil, to find a Truck Series champion under the age of 30.
That didn't change in 2010.
Todd Bodine, at 46, grabbed his second Truck Series championship in five seasons and became the third driver to win multiple Truck titles, joining Ron Hornaday (4) and Jack Sprague (3) with the distinctive honor.
Bodine's dominance in the Truck Series this season can't be understated.
3 -- Bodine became the third driver in Truck Series history to clinch the championship before the final race (Greg Biffle -- 2000; Ron Hornaday -- 2009).
6.4 -- Average finish of Bodine in 2010, tops in the Truck Series among full-time drivers. Bodine finished the season with four wins, 17 top-fives and 20 top-10s.
20 -- Bodine led the point standings after 20 of the 25 races this season. He was the points leader for the final 19 events.
207 -- Bodine's winning points margin, the third-largest in Truck Series history.
While Bodine kept the veterans on top, the young stars of the series made their presence felt in 2010.
Aric Almirola (26), Johnny Sauter (32), Matt Crafton (34), and Austin Dillon (20) rounded out the top five in the point standings and all had impressive races and streaks throughout 2010.
7 -- Dillon made a huge splash in his rookie season winning seven poles, the most ever by a rookie and just four off the all-time record of 11 (Mike Skinner, 2007). Dillon became the youngest pole winner in history with his pole at Texas and was the second-youngest race winner in series history with his Iowa victory. In all, Dillon had two wins, seven poles, seven top-fives and 16 top-10s and was the rookie of the year.
16 -- Crafton ended the season with 16 consecutive top-10 finishes, the fifth-longest streak in series history. Crafton finished in the top five in points for the fourth time in his career thanks to 10 top-fives and 20 top-10s.
21 -- Top-10 finishes for Almirola in 2010, tops in the Truck Series. Almirola finished the season with two victories, 11 top-fives and an average finish of 7.5.
23 -- Sauter started 23 of 25 races in the top 10 this season with a worst starting position of 13th. Sauter ended the season with a victory, 14 top-fives and 16 top-10s. Of those 14 top-fives, 10 of them were a third-place finish or better.
It's hard to consider Kyle Busch a youngster, but at 25 years of age, he certainly fits the description. And what a year it was for the one called "Rowdy."
Busch became a Truck owner in 2010 with the creation of Kyle Busch Motorsports, and while things didn't go the way Busch expected off the track -- shop and sponsorship issues plagued Busch all season -- the start-up organization was a threat to win every race in 2010.
The No. 18 KBM Toyota won the owners' championship marking the first time there was a split championship in the Truck Series. Four drivers contributed to the success of the No. 18 including Brian Ickler, Johnny Benson and Kasey Kahne, but it was Busch who anchored the ship.
In 16 starts, Busch made Truck Series history on more than one occasion.
1 -- Busch became the first driver in NASCAR history to sweep a Truck, Nationwide and Cup race at a single track in a single weekend when he won all three events at Bristol.
8 -- Busch had eight wins this season for a win percentage of 50 percent, a new series record. The previous best winning percentage for those racing in at least half of the races was 40 percent, set by Skinner in 1995.
8 -- Busch's eight wins was the second-most in a season, tying Skinner's eight-win efforts in 1995 and '96 and one shy of Biffle's nine-win season in '99.
9 -- Busch led laps in nine of the 16 Truck races he participated in.
12 -- In 12 of Busch's 16 starts, he finished first or second (75 percent).
1,076 -- Busch became the fourth driver in series history to lead at least 1,000 laps in a season. Busch reached the 1,000 laps mark in fewer races than the other three.
While Busch was making history as an driver/owner, an unexpected theme started to develop in the Truck Series -- the year of the woman.
Female drivers made their presence felt in the Truck Series in a big way in 2010, with a record six competing in the series this season. History was made at Martinsville in October as four women were in the field for the race, the first time in NASCAR history four women competed in the same event.
Jennifer Jo Cobb was the only one of the six to compete full-time in the series, with two making return trips and three making their series debut.
14 -- Best finish for Jennifer Jo Cobb this season, coming at Texas and Darlington. In 25 starts, Cobb had an average finish of 23.3 and finished the year 17th in points.
17 -- Johanna Long made her Truck Series debut at O'Reilly Raceway Park and finished 17th. In seven starts this season, the 18-year-old had an average finish of 26.4 with four finishes of 22nd or better.
24 -- At 24 years of age, Michelle Theriault made two Truck starts this season. This is the third consecutive year Theriault made at least one Truck Series start. Her best finish this season was 27th at Nashville, a career high.
26 -- Amber Cope finished 26th in her Truck Series debut at Martinsville. It was the only start for Cope and she completed 203 of the 206 laps run.
30 -- Angela Cope finished 30th in her Truck Series debut at Martinsville. Angela joined her sister, Amber, in the field at Martinsville, marking the first time in NASCAR history sisters competed in the same event.
84 -- Number of laps, out of 150, that Caitlin Shaw completed in her Truck Series debut at Phoenix in November. Shaw got as high as 26th until she crashed and finished 30th.
In all, 124 drivers made at least one Truck Series start on 21 different tracks in 19 states. Forty-three drivers made their Truck debut with 10 drivers visiting Victory Lane, six of them multiple times.
From Daytona to Homestead, each stop on the Truck Series circuit entertained and kept fans on the edge of their seats. Expect more of the same in 2011.