The 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season may be the most interesting ever. I know that is a very BOLD statement, but I cannot think of any other year with more changes and a more dynamic lineup of teams and drivers.
For the first time ever, the truck drivers will have an elimination-style Chase format, a new overtime rule, less points available in each race and will compete with the new 20-minute caution clock rule.
In my opinion, we will witness the most talented Sunoco Rookie Class in the 22-year run of this ultra- competitive division. The power house teams are bigger and better than ever and sponsorship appears to allow more than twenty drivers to run full-time.
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Drivers expected to run full-time in the rookie class include Cole Custer, Christopher Bell, William Byron, Austin Wayne Self, Grant Enfinger, Ben Rhodes, Tommy Jo Martins, Jordan Anderson and Rico Abreu.
The list of accomplishments for these drivers is way too long to list. Suffice it to say, wins and championships are a plenty among this group!
Picking a champion and a Sunoco Rookie out of this year's driver lineup is a very tough task. You have to examine the many driver/crew chief changes. You have to study past trends. You have to remember that wins are much more important now than general consistency. Are Ford and Chevy teams are better positioned to challenge Toyota's recent dominance?
Questions yet to be answered:
· Can anyone match Matt Crafton's SIX wins in 2016?
· Will any of the very talented rookies have a chance to compete in the new Chase Format?
· Can the sophomore drivers like Haley, Hemrick, Gallagher and Nemechek win multiple races?
· Can Timothy Peters, Johnny Sauter, John Wes Townley or Tyler Reddick challenge Crafton?
· Will the new format open the door for smaller teams like Lira Motorspors, Mittler Brothers or Ricky Benton Racing?
To help answer the question of who will be holding the big trophies after the Chase finale in Homestead Miami, I have enlisted the help of the experts who cover the NCWTS each and every week on FS1.
Here are the Camping World Truck Series champion and Sunoco Rookie of the Year picks for 2016:
(Announcer: Champion, Rookie of the Year)
Vince Welsh: Johnny Sauter, Christopher Bell
Michael Waltrip: Matt Crafton, Christopher Bell
Phil Parsons: Matt Crafton, Willliam Byron
Kaitlyn Vincie: Tyler Reddick, Cole Custer
Hermie Sadler: Daniel Hemrick, Cole Custer
Ray Dunlap: Timothy Peters, Ben Rhodes
Todd Bodine: Tyler Reddick, Cole Custer