The 2012 Camping World Truck Series season began and ended with winners virtually no one predicted – John King at Daytona and Cale Gale at Homestead.
In between, the series had one of its most competitive seasons. Six drivers led the point standings, and there were nine first-time winners (including King and Gale), a series record. Remarkably, there were 16 different winners (also a record) in only 22 races.
James Buescher, who drove for Turner Motorsports, was the only driver with more than two wins – he had four, and his strong season also produced the series championship, his first and the first for team owner Steve Turner.
Buescher, a 22-year-old Texan, scored all four wins on 1.5-mile tracks. He took the point lead four races from the end of the season and rode atop the standings the rest of the way.
Teams entered the November season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida with five drivers mathematically eligible for the championship. But a 13th-place run nailed the title for Buescher, who finished six points in front of second-place Timothy Peters. Peters led the points for nine weeks during the season.
Peters scored two wins, including a victory at Bristol, where he led all 204 laps.
The season began and ended with a couple of dramatic finishes. King spun Johnny Sauter in the closing laps and won in the Daytona opener. Gale won at Homestead in a wild two-lap dash to the finish with Kyle Busch as their trucks banged together while crossing the finish line. Gale won by .014 of a second.
Busch held the lead with three laps to go, and Ty Dillon was moving briskly through the field in pursuit as he tried to make passes to make point gains on Buescher. Dillon had moved into second – and was only one position away from tying Buescher in points – when he and Kyle Larson, running only his fourth Truck race, crashed while racing for the position.
Their contact sparked a multi-truck accident, and the resulting debris on the track caused a red flag. Dillon, his truck significantly damaged, dropped onto pit road but passed the pace truck and was penalized a lap.
Dillon said he thought he was clear in the turn but added that he didn’t blame Larson for the crash.
That crash basically wrapped up the championship for Buescher, even as the trucks sat on the backstretch under the red flag. Buescher motored through the Dillon-Larson wreck area without damage.
The Truck season also marked NASCAR’s return to Rockingham Speedway in North Carolina after an eight-year absence. Kasey Kahne won the Rockingham event.
Another highlight was Ryan Blaney’s win at Iowa Speedway. The victory made the 18-year-old Blaney the series’ youngest winner.
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 30 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.