Homestead, FL – Series: NASCAR Camping World Truck. Date: Miami Speedway. Track: mile oval. Start time: 8:00 p.m. (et). Laps: 134. Miles: 201. 2010 winner: Kyle Busch. Television: Speed. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Satellite.
The Camping World Truck Series will kick off NASCAR's "championship weekend" at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Friday night's 200-mile race should be an entertaining one, with three drivers still in title contention. Austin Dillon currently holds a 20-point lead over Johnny Sauter and a 28-point advantage over James Buescher.
Dillon -- the grandson of NASCAR team owner Richard Childress -- is attempting to become the youngest series champion at 21 years of age. He would also be the first driver to win the series' rookie-of-the-year title and clinch the championship in consecutive seasons.
If Dillon finishes 16th or better at Homestead, he will wrap up the title, regardless of any other driver's performance. He would also clinch it if he finishes 17th or better with at least one lap led...or 18th or better with the most laps led.
Dillon finished 31st in his first race at Homestead last year. He started on the pole and led 11 laps but was involved in an on-track incident during the closing laps of the event.
"The pressure isn't too bad, actually," Dillon said. "I like racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and my finish last year doesn't reflect how good our team is at that track. We led laps and had one of the fastest trucks all day but were involved in a late-race incident and it cost us a good finish. We know we are capable of doing what we need to do there. I hope we are celebrating at the end of the race."
Dillon has posted two wins -- Nashville and Chicago -- and 15 top-10 finishes so far this year. His two DNFs during the season came at Daytona and Michigan.
Sauter has scored two top-10 finishes in four starts at Homestead. He placed third in last year's race here.
"All you can ask for is a shot, and I'm privileged right now," Sauter said. "It's a pretty tall order, 20 points, but there are a lot of competitive trucks out there. It's a full field and a tough road for anybody to hoe. We just need to sit on the pole, lead laps and win. That's the coolest thing about racing; you just never know how it's all going to turn out."
Buescher has finished either 18th or 19th in his three races at Homestead.
"The team is going to Homestead-Miami Speedway with one goal, which is to win the race," Buescher said. "We have had a great year, and I can think of nothing better than to cap it off with a win. We know we have to get the most points we can in order to have a shot to win the championship. We have proven we never give up."
Had he not failed to qualify for the February 25 race at Phoenix, Buescher might have been in better contention to win the truck championship. Buescher has recorded 19 top-10 finishes in 23 starts. He has yet to win a race in the series.
Ron Hornaday Jr. would have been in the title fight at Homestead as well had it not been for Kyle Busch intentionally wrecking him in the early going of the November 4 race at Texas. Hornaday trailed Dillon by 15 points heading into Texas, but after his 34th-place finish there, he dropped to 48 points out of the lead.
"I wish we were in the middle of the championship battle, but we are not, so we will race hard and do what we have to do for the win," Hornaday said.
Hornaday will celebrate a career milestone at Homestead, as he will make his 300th start in the series. This will also be Hornaday's last race with Kevin Harvick Inc. KHI is in its last year of truck competition.
Kevin Harvick's win at Texas allowed KHI's No.2 team to clinch the owner's championship. Harvick is scheduled to drive the No.2 truck at Homestead.
Busch will not be competing in this race. Denny Hamlin is slated to drive the No.18 truck. Busch won last year's race here.
Forty-three teams are on the preliminary entry list for the Ford 200.