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Best championship battle found in Truck Series

November 15, 2012, Joe Menzer, NASCAR.com



Best championship battle found in Truck Series
HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Three drivers are within 12 points of one another going in finale at Homestead

Often times, the Camping World Truck Series can become a bit of an afterthought during Ford Championship Weekend, the busy NASCAR holiday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

That is not the case this year.

"I think that's a testament to how our racing is. From Daytona to Martinsville to Homestead, it's bumper-tag and door-slammin' and tempers flare."

--TIMOTHY PETERS

With the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series championships all but settled going into the final race weekend of the long season, the best title battle still remaining will be sorted out during Friday night's Ford EcoBoost 200 at the 1.5-mile track.

James Buescher currently leads the series standings, but hot on the bumper of Buescher's No. 31 Chevrolet are Timothy Peters in his No. 17 Toyota and Ty Dillon in his No. 3 Chevy. Buescher leads Peters by a mere 11 points, Dillon by only 12.

"I look at it as being great for the Truck Series that it's coming down to such a close battle," Peters said. "There are three championship battles, but a lot of the focus is on us because three guys are within 12 points. Our series needs that. We get great reviews and the buzz is there for our series all year long, but it's cool to be coming into a triple-header where we've kind of got the spotlight because of how close our championship is.

"I think that's a testament to how our racing is. From Daytona to Martinsville to Homestead, it's bumper-tag and door-slammin' and tempers flare. But at the end of the day, the way these guys are in the garage area, we're kind of close-knit and, you know, none of us would probably be against going out and having a cold beer together after the race, whether you're on the receiving end or the giving end."

Dillon agreed and promised that he's going to do all he can to win Friday's race and put added pressure on Buescher and Peters.

"I think they need to turn the spotlight up a bit on us and really recognize what the Truck Series has done," Dillon said. "This is a tight race for three drivers. No one else is close to as near in the points as we are. ... I think everyone in the Truck Series deserves a big round of applause. We've had 15 different winners this year, nine first-time winners. I think everybody needs to recognize that. The Truck Series is working really hard and putting on a good show, and we need everyone to know that so we can attract more sponsors and get more TV time and really grow this series to be even greater."

Buescher, meanwhile, offered a reminder that even though it's coming down to what happens in the final race, it's the entire 22-race schedule that matters during any championship run.

"It's not only about this one race that decides the championship. It's about the whole season," Buescher said. "You can't look at what happens at Homestead as solely deciding the championship. Everything you've done since February plays into it."

Since the season opened in February, no one has been as consistent as Buescher. He leads the series with four wins but also has 10 top-five and 14 top-10 finishes.

He appeared destined to carry a much bigger lead into the season finale, but that changed when he blew a right-front tire and crashed into the Turn 4 wall with less than three laps remaining in last weekend's race at Phoenix. That forced him to settle for a 17th-place finish, and the championship standings tightened after Peters finished fourth and Dillon 15th.

"The things that have happened this year when we didn't finish in the top five or the top 10 have been mechanical problems or stuff out of our control -- blowing tires or having parts failures," Buescher said. "So we have to approach this like any other race weekend. I think if you switch to defense, you get too worried about what these other two guys are doing and you don't focus on what you need to do."

Peters said his approach will be simple. "I look at it as all or nothing," he said.

That is the essence of the Truck Series' appeal. The races are shorter

"With the shorter races, you have less time to get it done," Buescher said. "So you have to go out there and get after it right from the start.