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Peters is quickly growing into his Truck success

July 20, 2012, Seth Livingstone, Special to NASCAR.COM,

JOLIET, Ill. -- Starr set to make 300th career start in series; Lofton, Crafton pace practices

While his Red Horse Racing teammate Todd Bodine receives attention and accolades for becoming the first NASCAR driver to make 200 starts in all three national racing series, Timothy Peters has his own moments to savor.

Last week's first Camping World Truck Series victory of the season led to a celebration back at the shop on Thursday. That was one day after the points leader and his wife learned they are expecting a baby boy.

"Timmy's turned that corner and he's ready to win championships."


"I haven't brought the trophy home yet [from Iowa Speedway], but I picked out a great spot for it, next to an electrical outlet," says Peters, who wants his American Ethanol 200 trophy -- in the shape of an old-time gas pump -- to light up.

Bodine, meanwhile, sees a 31-year-old driver who is lighting it up on the track and a driver mature enough to take his 12-point series lead and run with it.

"About midway through last year I think we saw a change from Timmy," Bodine says. "He went from that kid that could go fast and run up front -- maybe not getting that finish -- to the guy who can get there. ... A guy who can be a top-five runner and, if he can win, he's going to get that win.

"That's how you win championships -- having that kind of thought process. Timmy's turned that corner and he's ready to win championships."

First, however, Red Horse Racing might have to figure out a way to master tracks like Chicagoland Speedway. Red Horse has never won on a mile-and-a-half track.

"That really aggravates me and Rick Gay [Bodine's crew chief]," says Peters' crew chief Butch Hylton. "So, we both went to Nashville on Monday and Tuesday and tested. Now we both have completely different setups than what we've been running on mile-and-a-halves. We're either going to be feast or famine this weekend, but we all agree that we're going to try really hard to get this win on a mile-and-a-half."

Whether or not Peters can become the first Truck Series driver to win twice in a row this season, Hylton agrees with Bodine that his driver now has the experience it takes to be a champion.

"He's getting into the 130 range on his starts in Truck, so he's got a really good feel of what he wants the truck to feel like. We [often] practice during the day but race at night. Now he knows: 'During the day I want my truck to feel this way so it will feel like this at night.'

"The awesome thing is he races really smart. We don't tear up a lot of trucks, so that lets us do a lot of [research and development]. He's gotten really smart about who he can race and when he can't and when he doesn't have to. I think that's paying big dividends for him."

Peters has 127 career Truck starts under his belt. Last week's victory was the fourth of his career and gave him eight top-10 finishes in nine races this season.

Hylton says Peters is looking for wins, not looking at the points standings, in which he leads Justin Lofton by 12 points and Ty Dillon by 14.

"We don't really talk about the points," Hylton says. "It's too early in the year for that. We'll look at the points for maybe 10 minutes, then we let that go and start focusing on the next week."

Starr facing his own milestone

Truck veteran David Starr is looking at a milestone in longevity Saturday night that Bodine is a long way from matching. Starr is set to become the fifth driver in CWTS history to reach 300 career starts. Rick Crawford is the all-time leader with 331.

"I really didn't realize I was at 300 until last week," said the affable Texan, who was named the 2002 Truck Series Most Popular Driver.

Starr, 44, has finished in the top 10 of the Truck standings seven times. He owns four career victories, the last coming at Martinsville in the 2006 Kroger 250.

"If you don't have sponsors these days, you don't race, so from that side of it, I feel blessed," Starr said. "Being the all-time leader in starts would be a tremendous goal ... but I would really love just to have the budget to do it like I once did it and have the finance behind me to be able to win races again."

Starr is currently 16th in points, thanks in part to three DNFs. He's crashed twice and failed to finish last week's race at Iowa Speedway due to an oil leak.

Chevys pace first practice

Led by Lofton and Joey Coulter, Chevrolet drivers posted seven of the 10 best lap times in Friday afternoon's practice at Chicagoland.

Lofton (174.132 mph), Coulter (173.762), Toyota driver Jason Leffler (173.433) and Chevrolet driver Cale Gale (173.01) were the only drivers to crack 173 mph. Series leader Peters was ninth-fastest at 172.068 mph.

In the final session, Chevy driver Matt Crafton led the way (174.014 mph) followed by Coulter (173.527) and Lofton (173.116). They were the only drivers to top 173 mph.

* Practice 1 | Practice 2 | Qualifying Order