When NASCAR released its 2018 national touring series schedules on May 23, a lot of positive things were said about the changes to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series calendar.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule was a different story altogether.
The series, which started primarily as a short-track series when it was founded in 1995, continues to look more like a clone of the NASCAR XFINITY Series or NASCAR Cup Series.
In 1995, the Craftsman Truck Series calendar featured only five tracks that measured one mile in length or more (two of them were road courses). In 2018, the Truck Series will compete at 17 such tracks during its 23-race season.
Kevin Harvick, a former Truck Series team owner and 14-time winner in the series, spoke out against what he believes to be a lackluster Truck Series schedule.
“The Truck Series is racing at a ton of the wrong race tracks,” Harvick said during his SiriusXM NASCAR Radio show “Happy Hour.” “They should be back at Louisville (Motor Speedway); they should be back at some of these grassroots race tracks. The Truck Series should be helping us build our grassroots program, from late models on up, by having a truck race there.”
Harvick pushed for standalone events at short tracks in markets NASCAR doesn’t typically visit, places such as Virginia’s South Boston Speedway or Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine. He said making them unique events, like the race at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway, would make them stand out while also helping grow grassroots racing.
“In order to help our sport produce from the bottom up, we have to help figure out how to get the grassroots programs where they need to be and that’s what we need to be using the Truck Series for,” Harvick explained. “Go to these grassroots race tracks and guess what? That’s where the trucks need to be racing because they’re going to put 10 to 15,000 people in the grandstands every week to watch these races because they are unique events.”
Brad Moran, the managing director of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, says the Truck Series schedule, like all of the major NASCAR schedules, is an extensive collaboration that involves many industry stakeholders.
“There are a lot of different reasons the schedule kind of lays out the way it does,” Moran said. “When the schedule gets put together and it’s something that should be mentioned because it may not be known, it is an extensive collaboration process involving all the stakeholders, our fan council. Just a lot of different stakeholders have a lot of say in all of our schedules.
“As far as the short tracks, we certainly do have a great short-track program,” Moran said. “We go to Martinsville, we go to Bristol, we go to Iowa, we go to Gateway as well and we go to Eldora. A lot of people are excited about the schedule, including myself.
“There are obviously a bunch of things that have changed since 1995. The series has evolved as a national series and has really become a bigger part of the ladder system to XFINITY and the Cup Series,” Moran continued. “The TV has become a little bigger. There are just a lot of different elements. It is pretty hard to compare what the Camping World Truck Series is doing in 2018 to what it really was doing in 1995.”