by Ryan Isley
Writer’s Note: This is Part 10 in a 13-Part series. Each Friday from November 23rd to February 15th, Ryan will make a prediction for the 2013 NASCAR season spanning over all three main touring series – Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series. On February 8th and 15th, Ryan will predict the 12 drivers who will make the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase and the Sprint Cup champion. You can check out all of the predictions here.
It looks like Richard Childress Racing is once again trying to make a habit of winning a series championship in the black No.3. In 2013, Ty Dillon will be the second driver in three years to drive the black No.3 to the championship in the Camping World Truck Series. The 2012 Camping World Truck Series rookie of the year, Dillon looks to improve on his fourth-place finish from last season and join his brother Austin as a truck series champion after Austin won the title in 2011.
Of course it was Dale Earnhardt who fist took a black No.3 to a championship for Richard Childress Racing when he won four of his seven NASCAR Winston Cup Series in the car while it was sponsored by GM Goodwrench.
It will not be easy for Dillon, as the series will no doubt be a close battle again this season, after the top five drivers in 2012 all finished within 30 points of the series lead. James Buescher finished as the series champion, beating Timothy Peters by six points, Joey Coulter by 19 points, Dillon by 24 points and Parker Kligerman by 30 points.
Winning the championship means DIllon would have to defeat all three of the drivers who finished ahead of him in the 2012 standings, as Buescher, Peters and Coulter all return to the Camping World Truck Series as well.
While Dillon will have distractions this season – most notably that he will be taking over for Austin in the Nationwide Series in 2014 – the other three drivers will have other things on their mind as well. Buescher is trying to become the first driver in the history of the series to win back-to-back championships, Coulter starts his first full season at Kyle Busch Motorsports and Peters will be trying to improve on his standings finish for the fourth consecutive season with winning the championship being the only way to improve.
If Dillon is going to win the championship, he will need a stronger finish in 2013 than he had in 2012. Dillon ended the 2012 season with finishes of 28-5-15-21. This came after the rookie finished outside the top-12 just once in the first 18 races. Even factoring in those final four races, Dillon had an impressive season. He picked up one win, finished in the top-5 seven times and led all drivers in top-10 finishes with 17. He finished outside the top-15 just three times in the 22 races on the season. Of the drivers who ran a full season, the only driver with less finishes outside the top-15 was Coulter with two and Peters tied Dillon with three.
Dillon finished the season with an average finish of 9.0, which was good enough for fourth behind Peters (8.3), Coulter (8.5) and Buescher (8.6). Before those final four races, Dillon was averaging a finish of 7.2 and led the points standings heading into those four races.
The key to the championship just might be in the mental part of the game for Dillon moreso than in the physical part. How he handles the disappointing finish to 2012 and reacts to it will be as important as anything Dillon does behind the wheel of the truck this season.
I think Dillon erases the memory of that last month of 2012, focuses on what got him the lead after 18 races and holds off the rest of the field to become the second Dillon in three years to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship.
Comments? Questions? You can leave them here or email Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org