NEWTON — A drive for 25.
At least that is what some NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series drivers prefer.
With the 2013 NCWTS season schedule expected to be released soon, some drivers shared their opinions for the series to expand back to 25 races Friday in a news conference before opening practice for the American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway.
The rumor mill has been churning among the drivers, concerning the possible schedule.
“I’m hearing a lot of that chatter in the garage,” points leader Timothy Peters said. “I think it would be great to get back to 25 races.”
The last time the season consisted of less than 25 races was 22 in 2002. This season started Feb. 24, and the 22-race season is a little more than one-third finished. June was the first month this season with three race weekends, competing only once in February and March.
“That’s even brutal with the schedule,” Matt Crafton said. “We’ve only raced eight races and it’s July. That’s crazy.”
Fewer races spread out the first part of the schedule. If a driver falters, he doesn’t receive a quick chance to rebound.
“Hopefully next year they’ll get 25,” Crafton said. “If you race and have a bad weekend, usually back to back weekends you can recover the next weekend, but we have to have salt in the wound for a whole month.”
Races are more frequent from here on out, squeezing 14 in from today until Nov. 16. The drivers prefer race weekends over extended ones.
“I’m looking forward to the rest of the season,” Rookie Ty Dillon said. “I’m really excited to get to some races where we race back-to-back weekends and stop having so many long weekends off.”
A reduction in events affects the racing teams. Crafton said three races returned to the schedule. Team owners still have to pay for the crew to be in the shop, even when they are idle. More races leads to more sponsorship dollars.
“You need to have the 25 races back. For people who do have sponsors, it definitely helps,” Crafton said. “They still have to pay all the same bills.”
Crafton said he would like to see an addition of road courses and even a return to Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway on the new schedule. Peters has heard the possibility of a schedule that suits his short-track history.
“Everybody is curious for a couple weeks when it does come out,” Peters said. “I can’t wait. Hopefully, we get that mixture of short tracks and road courses.”
Matt Crafton won the NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series race at Iowa Speedway last year. For his victory in the Coca-Cola 200, Crafton received one of the gas pump trophies the track awards its race winners.
Crafton, who was eighth in the 2011 points standings, didn’t get a prime spot to display the haul for his only win of the year. Crafton’s longtime girlfriend, Ashley, who became his wife in January, had the red trophy removed from their living room after a short time.
“I got to for a little while, but my wife doesn’t like cool things like that laying around,” said Crafton, a driver for ThorSport Racing. “It got to stay there for a little bit, like a few weeks, and then put in the race room.”
Crafton said he fails to understand why women fail to appreciate such things, suggesting a “his and hers” trophy with a laugh. Timothy Peters doesn’t have that problem. Of course, one of his Red Horse Racing owners keeps the original trophy from wins, frames a flag for him and gives him a duplicate. The flags are displayed inside his home’s entrance.
“Sara is good with it, too,” Peters said about his wife. “She knows as long as the trophies are coming in the house payment gets paid.”
Both will be looking for their first win of the season Saturday.
NCWTS practice results
NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series drivers took the track for practice Friday. The 80-minute session was the only action before race day.
Rookie Dakoda Armstrong, who is 16th in points looking for his first top-10 finish, was the fastest, posting a fast-lap time of 23.341 seconds, which translates to 134.956 miles per hour. Joey Coulter was second with a time of 23.506 and the 2011 Iowa Speedway winner Matt Crafton was third.
NCWTS drivers will have a final one-hour practice session beginning Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Two-lap qualifying will begin at 5 p.m. with the 200-lap race set for 7:30.
Alex Bowman claimed his third victory this season and the fifth in his career at the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards Prairie Meadows 200 Friday night at Iowa Speedway in Newton.
Bowman held off Grant Enfinger for a green-white-checker flag finish after a a seventh caution on lap 197 forced extra laps.
“It was an awesome race car,” Bowman said. “We weren’t very good in the beginning, but we sure were there at the end.”
Springville native Zach Ralston, 25, made his fourth career ARCA start and Iowa Speedway debut. Ralston finished 20th after starting in 23rd, completing 192 laps. He was 27th fastest after two practice sessions.
“I thought this Iowa track was awesome,” Ralston said. “It’s one of the coolest tracks I’ve ever raced on. This is my home track. I’m really glad I got to experience it.”
Ralston has finished as high as 16th this season, but he was content with his latest performance, including escaping trouble in a couple instances during the last 100 laps that was riddled with cautions.
“The more races I go to the better I will get,” Ralston said. “Top 20 is really great for us. I just need a little more lap time.
“It was a tough-fought race the whole race. Luckily I have a great spotter, Doug Stringer, he gives me really great information and I can keep my head on straight,”
Former Hawkeye Downs Speedway late model driver Mason Mitchell came in 10th. The 18-year-old from West Des Moines qualified ninth, and finished on the lead lap.