The last time the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series raced at Martinsville Speedway, Ty Dillon was making his first start in a NASCAR national series on a short track. Through the power of hindsight 16 races later, it's easy to point to that second-place run in late March as the start of something big.
After a two-week layoff, the tailgate tour gets back to business with Saturday's Kroger 200 (2 p.m. ET, SPEED) at Martinsville with the 20-year-old Dillon as the points leader in his rookie truck season. But with four races left, plenty can change.
Fittingly, Dillon's runner-up finish that day came just ahead of third-place James Buescher, now his closest rival in the standings. Buescher trails by just one point, with Red Horse Racing teammates Timothy Peters (26 points back) and Parker Kligerman (34 points down) in third and fourth, respectively.
The last time out at Martinsville, Dillon played second fiddle to Sprint Cup regular and Richard Childress Racing teammate Kevin Harvick, who dominated in March by leading 248 of 250 laps. Dillon led the other two laps, impressing along the way as one of the few drivers who could keep pace with Harvick's stalwart truck.
"The No. 3 Bass Pro Shops team has grown a lot since the last race at Martinsville," Dillon said. "I know we have what it takes to contend for the win."
Buescher has impatiently idled just a single point -- the equivalent of one position on the track -- behind Dillon since the truck teams left Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 6. Starting Saturday, the truck series will compete for four straight weekends, meaning the title contender will be forced to wait no more.
"I'm happy that the off weeks are over and we can get back to racing," Buescher said. "Martinsville is a tough track to get a hold of; it's a totally different animal. Coming off a top-three the last time we were there, I feel good about going back. I'm just looking to keep track position and keep it up front."
Harvick returns to the entry list, looking for a truck season sweep at Martinsville. The only other Sprint Cup driver entered is Denny Hamlin, the 200-lap event's defending champion.