Winners: 2011 NASCAR Champions

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: Austin Dillon
NASCAR Nationwide Series: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Tony Stewart

Monday, February 14, 2011

2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Season Preview

We're less than a week away from the official start of the 2011 NASCAR season (if you count the Budweiser Shootout, the season's already started), with Friday night's NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona marking the first points-paying event of the season.

With that in mind, here are five burning questions for the Camping World Truck Series in 2011.

1) Will Todd Bodine repeat as series champion?
Bodine won his second series title in 2010, thanks to four wins -- the most among all full-time drivers -- 17 top-5s and 20 top-10s in 25 starts. That sort of consistency will be difficult to replicate. Not because Bodine's team won't be up to the task, but there are several other teams in the series who will likely be better in 2011. Bodine will be in the mix, but don't bet on him to repeat.

2) Can Ron Hornaday have a bounce-back season?
The 2009 series champion struggled in 2010, only winning two races and recording just 13 top-10s. Consistency was an issue for Hornaday, who found a lot of the trouble he avoided the year prior. We know Hornaday has strong equipment -- Kevin Harvick, Inc. supplies some of the fastest and most reliable trucks in the series. If Hornaday can avoid trouble -- and keep the same crew chief throughout the season -- he could be a threat again in 2011.

3) Will Austin Dillon suffer a sophomore slump?
The 2010 series Rookie of the Year -- who won two races and finished fifth in the standings in his grandfather's black No. 3 Silverado -- will be considered one of the preseason favorites, as well he should. Seven top-5s and 16 top-10s aren't championship material, though, but I expect those numbers to go up as Dillon enters his second full season. Moonlighting Cup drivers aren't a big deal in the Truck Series, so Dillon should win three or four races and challenge for the points title.

4) Can Ricky Carmichael finally break through?
A lot of preseason hype has gone to Travis Pastrana, the latest extreme sports star to give NASCAR a shot. But don't forget about Carmichael, who showed flashes of talent in 2010. He had three top-5s and nine top-10s, but inconsistency left him 13th in the final standings. This will be Carmichael's second full-time season, one that should see him make a little more noise up front so long as he can avoid trouble.

5) Who will win the series title?
It's tempting to pick a "safe" guy, like Bodine or Hornaday -- or maybe even go out on a limb for someone like Matt Crafton (even though he hardly ever wins -- and you have to win at least twice to be a title contender in this series) -- but I'm going with Dillon. He showed remarkable talent and maturity in his rookie season, winning two races and finishing fifth in the final standings. I don't see a sophomore slump in his future (see above), and I honestly think by the time we get to Homestead in November, he'll be hoisting the trophy.

Coming Tuesday: 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series Season Preview

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