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TRUCKS: Another Wild Season

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The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is a fan favorite because it’s a throwback to old-school racing, with tight competition and a fast pace to the events.

With shorter distances than the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races, the Truck Series racers pretty much go flat out all race long, which makes for thrilling and dramatic racing. Following is SPEED.com’s recap of the five best Truck Series races of 2010.

1. O’Reilly Auto Parts 250, Kansas Speedway — No one every did a better tandem slide for life than Ron Hornaday Jr. and Johnny Sauter. Hornaday was attempting to pass Sauter with 12 laps to go, when he lost it at the entrance to Turn 3, slid up into Sauter and turned both trucks at 45 degree angles. Remarkably, both drivers avoided losing control after tagging the wall, and Sauter’s No. 13 ThorSport Chevrolet Silverado held on to prevail over the No. 33 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevy driven by four-time NCWTS champ Hornaday. Todd Bodine was third, followed by Brian Ickler and Johnny Benson.

It was Sauter’s second career NCWTS victory, and it came just one day after his 32nd birthday. And it came not long after the two had exchanged angry words when they had tangled at Martinsville Speedway the month before.

2. Mountain Dew 250, Talladega Superspeedway — When you want drama and controversy, you go to Talladega, where Kyle Busch dove under leader Aric Almirola just before the two crossed the start-finish line to win the Mountain Dew 250. It appeared that Busch went below the yellow out-of-bounds line in making the pass, but the victory was allowed to stand.

Busch, driving his own No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra, crossed the start-finish line .002 seconds ahead of Almirola’s No. 51 Billy Ballew Motorsports Toyota. The margin of victory tied Ricky Craven’s 2003 Darlington Sprint Cup victory over Kyle Busch as the smallest of any of NASCAR’s top three series since the advent of electronic timing and scoring in 1993.

3. Lucas Oil 200, Iowa Speedway — It was moment race fans had waiting for for a long time, and one many thought they’d never see again: The black No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet taking the checkered flag at a NASCAR race. The date was July 11, 2010, with NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie Austin Dillon dominating the Lucas Oil 200 at Iowa Speedway.

Dillon, the grandson of team owner Richard Childress, scored the historic victory at age 20 years, 2 months, 37 days, becoming the second-youngest winner in series history. Kyle Busch is the youngest, winning his first truck race at 20 years, 18 days. It was the first Truck Series race victory for Richard Childress Racing since Jay Sauter won at Texas in October 1999.

4. NextEra Energy 250, Daytona International Speedway — Heading to the white flag at the fabled 2.5-mile superspeedway, Todd Bodine’s No. 30 Geico.com Toyota held the lead over the No. 17 Red Horse Racing of Timothy Peters and Jason White. As they headed down the backstretch on the last lap, third-place White went to the outside lane and when he did, Peters went with him and Bodine moved up to block the two onrushing trucks.

But when Bodine went high, he lightly brushed the wall, which opened the door for Peters to go under him heading into Turn 3 and take a slight lead. As the trucks exited Turn 4, Bodine came down from the outside line and made just enough contact with Peters to break his own momentum. That allowed Peters, whose only prior NCWTS victory was on the 0.526-mile Martinsville, Va., short track, to cross the start-finish line 0.068 seconds ahead of Bodine, who spun into the infield after taking the checkered flag. Dennis Setzer, White and Matt Crafton rounded out the top five.

5. Pocono Mountains 125, Pocono Raceway — Elliott Sadler survived two green-white-checkered finishes and a determined challenge from fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup regular Kasey Kahne to earn his first career victory in eight NCWTS starts. Matt Crafton was third, followed by Aric Almirola and Justin Lofton.

The victory gave Kevin Harvick Inc. its third consecutive victory with three different drivers: Harvick, Ron Hornaday Jr. and now Sadler. But no victory meant more to a driver than this one did to Sadler. Prior to Pocono, the last time Sadler had won a race in any of NASCAR’s top three divisions was all the way back in September 2004, when he drove a Robert Yates Racing Ford to victory in a Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway.

Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEED.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100 and e-mail him at Jensen is the author of “Cheating: The Bad Things Good NASCAR Nextel Cup Racers Do In Pursuit of Speed,” and has appeared on numerous television and radio shows. Jensen is the past President of the National Motorsports Press Association and an NMPA Writer of the Year.