NASCAR has three national series of racing: Trucks, xFinity (Grand National), and of course the Cup Series. Most driver’s path to the Cup series starts on dirt or in late models ect, and then they eventually move up to the Truck Series, if they find success there they go to xFinity, then from there they go to the Cup Series. Most of the racing in xFinity and Cup is very good with a lot of solid drivers that are either established or establishing themselves as the ones to look out for at the end of races when it comes time to decide a winner and cash the check.
The Truck series is considered the “lowest” of the three and usually while that is true on paper that does not mean the racing is always bad. Some weekends last season the truck race was the best race of the bunch and some people started to look forward to trucks more than anything else. This year however that has not been the case. It seems almost weekly the truck series drivers get into a big crash that seems unnecessary. Crashes happen, they are part of racing, sometimes you cannot help it. It’s the nature of the sport sometimes but the crashes we have been seeing this year are largely a result of bad decisions by drivers, or two drivers not liking each other and taking out many other drivers in the process of their rage. There is a term in racing called “give and take” where you give people space on track, help at plate tracks, and are overall a ”fair” driver around the track in hopes that when you need the help drivers you helped return the favor. Give and take is a code of respect that has been in racing for years and when one end is not held up that is when the drivers start to have issues. If all a driver does is give, give, give, they become seen as a pushover and they start to get taken advantage by the rest of the field with no repercussions for their actions. If all a driver does is take it then they lose the trust of the rest of the drivers and then when they need someone to give they receive nothing in return. With no give and no take, drivers then have to force the issue. This is when wrecks happen. We have seen this a lot recently in trucks, especially in the last few weeks and it hit the tipping point at Talladega. When it was all over, there were 2 big wrecks because everyone was just trying to take what they could. This begs the question, why is this such an issue in the truck series?
If you have spent any amount of time on NASCAR Twitter you will see the “spoiled rich kid” theory.” Many times in racing there are drivers called “pay drivers” or people said to have grown up with a silver spoon in their hand, meaning they were given a ride with little to no actual skill to back it up. It is no secret that motorsports are expensive and that most drivers have some decent money already, but somehow there’s a notion that some drivers are coming from absolutely nothing and making it big. While some drivers had less than others it is super rare that there is a driver that comes from a really poor background and makes it big, so that kills the rich kid theory right there.
My theory on the other hand, is pressure. Drivers are swapped around so fast these days they have 1 or 2 years at most, only to prove themselves or they are disposed of for the next season. This coupled with the fact that a lot of the truck series drivers are younger and trying to make a career for themselves, moves are made more out of desperation than from a lack of skill. If you only have 1 season to make an impact you have to make big moves in moments where you really might not want to. This thinking was on full display when they went to the dirt track at Knoxville. Throughout the race the track slowly became a slick 1 groove track and the race turned into a restart, wreck, repeat, race for the final laps with 1 red flag. The main offender was Derek Kraus. The 19 truck kept trying to restart and hit the bottom but just kept wrecking. This is the best example of desperation and the need to make a move or he will not get the finish he needs to keep his ride. This happens a lot in trucks and is only going to get worse as the drivers get younger and younger and contracts get shorter. It will also pick up as the playoffs go on and everyone is fighting for the final 4 spots.
Trucks have an issue right now that for a few races seemed like it was getting better but it went right downhill to the point where it seems unbearable and hard to watch. Hopefully next year they can figure out this issue and get back to what the series was last year but for now, the Camping World Truck Series is just a demolition derby.