Camping World is going to be a part of NASCAR's third-tier division for a while. On Monday, Camping World and NASCAR announced an extension between the two sides which enables the RV company to continue their title sponsorship of the Truck Series. The deal is good until 2022, and runs at $5 million per year, which is approximately half of what Verizon spends for their title sponsorship in the IndyCar Series.
The Camping World Truck Series has been rather strong over the past several years, and arguably has stronger competition over the NASCAR Nationwide Series due to the domination set by Sprint Cup Series drivers. However, the Nationwide Series has been excelling this year. Meanwhile, even with a new body package that has shown to produce equally competitive competition, if not better even though only two races have been completed, the size of the Truck Series entry lists are decreasing at tracks which young drivers can't run.
With a new body style comes increased costs for teams. In the Truck Series, a full-time sponsorship deal to be competitive surpasses $2 million. Ron Hornaday Jr., a four-time champion in the Camping World Truck Series, does not even have a full-time deal signed for this season. Hornaday has begun the season with Turner Scott Motorsports - providing him an opportunity to compete for wins after struggling with NTS Motorsports in 2013. Hornaday's struggles are not alone. Todd Bodine, another former champion in the Truck Series, has yet to find a ride for this year because of increased sponsorship rates to have a top ride.
Not only is there a lack of spending by top companies in NASCAR's third-tier division, but there is also a lack of top notch teams. There are seemingly about five organizations capable of competing for wins on a weekly basis - Turner Scott Motorsports, Brad Keselowski Racing, Thorsport Motorsports, Red Horse Racing and Kyle Busch Motorsports. Of course, there are some rather new teams that might join this group of multi-truck organizations that seem to have become the class of the field. NTS Motorsports is a rather new team in the Truck Series, but they have expanded their operation a great deal over the past two years. If they are able to rack up some decent results, GMS Racing might be around for a few years as well. Right now, they have Joey Coulter in the Truck Series, and they are running Spencer Gallagher in the ARCA Series, but they also plan for him to race in the Truck Series on a part-time basis.
Some of the top teams have struggled with sponsors. Turner Scott Motorsports lost Jeb Burton to begin the season because their sponsor defaulted on payments. Though it is not the most uncommon thing to happen to a race team, it is still something that occurs, and there is no way to prepare for it.
Even with Camping World's contract extension, decaying entry lists might have some worried. However, there is no need to worry. Turner Scott Motorsports continues to bring in new companies on a yearly basis. Teams that are marketable not only help companies that invest with them, but they help the driver as well. TSM won a title with James Buescher, and were contenders for two other titles with Buescher thanks in part to dedication from their sponsors. Due to that success, Buescher has taken his Rheem sponsorship to RAB Racing in the Nationwide Series.
As a feeder division to NASCAR's higher levels, the Truck Series has provided great opportunities for younger drivers. However, besides helping younger drivers develop their skills - the Camping World Truck Series has also helped drivers ease out of their careers. It has been the home to Hornaday and Bodine for quite sometime. Who can forget the days when those two drivers, along with Johnny Benson, were battling for the championship in the mid-late 2000s? Heck, it even revived Ted Musgrave's dying career after failing to win in NASCAR's top-tier division.
The Truck Series is here to say. Fortunately, there are multiple up and coming drivers that will be entered in nearly half of the races this season. These younger drivers, many of which are still in high school, are extremely competitive. They might move up through the ranks rapidly such as Chase Elliott, but they could also take their time in the Truck Series, attempting to develop sponsorship relationships such as Ryan Blaney with Cooper Standard and Reese Towpower. The future is bright, but it is up to the teams to make sure they keep around the veterans to help teach the younger drivers.