For the second consecutive year, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rolls into Rockingham Speedway, with a strong — and young — field of entrants for Sunday’s North Carolina Education 200 At The Rock Presented By Cheerwine.
SPEED will televise the third race of the Truck Series season live, starting at 1:30 p.m. ET on Sunday with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Setup, followed by the race at 2 p.m.
Last year, Kasey Kahne rallied from the back of the field to win at The Rock, and this year there’s an intriguing list of drivers wanting to take home the trophy.
ThorSport Racing’s Johnny Sauter comes into the event as the Truck Series points leader, having won both of the races run so far.
“This is great to start the year off with two in a row, and I couldn't be prouder,” said Sauter. “We still have 20 races left and there's a lot that can happen. We just need to keep it all in focus and take it all in stride and go to Rockingham where we finished fourth a year ago and go in Kansas where we've won in the past.”
Joey Logano will make the long haul back from Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway to drive one of Brad Keselowski’s Ford F-150s, and Logano certainly will be one of the favorites.
Logano is no stranger to the 1-mile Rockingham track. In 2008, he led 257 of 312 laps in winning an ARCA Series event, his first race at the venerable North Carolina track.
“I've always wanted to run more NASCAR Camping World Truck races, and to be able to get back in a truck at a place like Rockingham is awesome,” said Logano.
NASCAR’s return to the Rock last year after a lengthy absence was all the inspiration Logano needed.
“I watched that race last year on TV and I was so jealous of the guys that were out there racing. Rockingham is one of the coolest tracks around,” he said. “I've run a lot of testing laps around there in Cup cars and Nationwide cars, so I feel like I know what it takes. It should be a blast to get out there and race with the Truck Series regulars. No question, we're aiming to wheel the BKR Ford to victory lane.”
Logano is still just 22 years old, but compared to some of the field, he’s practically an old man.
Chase Elliott, just 17 years old, was an impressive sixth in his first Truck Series race at Martinsville last week, while 20-year-old Kyle Larson is always a threat to win whenever he races. And don’t count out Darrell “Bubba” Wallace and Ryan Blaney, a pair of fast 19-year-olds, or Martinsville pole-sitter and third-place finisher Jeb Burton, 20, either.
Keep an eye out, too, for 16-year-old Erik Jones, who will pilot a Kyle Busch Motorsport Toyota.
Wallace is coming off a top-five finish at Martinsville and has been very impressive this season. Any of the youngsters could get it done on Sunday.
Wallace has four starts at the Rock in various feeder series. “I believe it is all going to carry over," Wallace said. “Coming here, I have figured out what line (is fastest) and how much to save tires, which is so important at Rockingham.”
It should be a great show at The Rock on Sunday, as last year’s race was. And it should be an even better showcase for the new wave of talent on the way up in NASCAR.
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.