Driver of the year
The most improved driver in the Truck series also was its champion. Although Matt Crafton won just one race in 2013, he finally mastered the consistency necessary to compete for a championship. He began the season with 16 consecutive top-10 finishes and ended the year with 19 in 22 races.
Team of the year
ThorSport Racing not only won its first series title with Crafton, but its drivers – Crafton and Johnny Sauter – were the only drivers to lead the standings. Sauter won the first two races of the season, then he turned the points lead over to Crafton following the fourth race and Crafton never relinquished it.
Race of the year
It might not have been the most competitive, but the inaugural Truck series race at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, certainly drew the most attention, in large part because it was the first NASCAR national series race on dirt in more than 40 years. Austin Dillon, a former Truck Series champion, used his extensive dirt-racing experience to hold off Kyle Larson, another dirt ace.
Runner-up race of the year
The inaugural race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, certainly provided one of the most exciting finishes of the season. Ty Dillon and Chase Elliott were running first and second coming to the checkered flag when Elliott wrecked Dillon and sent him into the tire barrier. Elliott went on to claim his first series victory.
Newcomer of the year
Jeb Burton, the son of former Daytona 500 champion Ward Burton, had a spectacular season. He finished fifth in the standings, won a series-high seven poles and earned his first win June 7 at Texas.
Quote of the year
“The 3 (Ty Dillon) just dumped me. That’s exactly the reason I’m leaving (Richard Childress Racing) because you’ve got those kids (Ty and his older brother Austin) coming up and they’ve got no respect for what they do in this sport. They’ve had everything fed to them with a spoon.” – Kevin Harvick after getting wrecked during the Oct. 26 Martinsville, Va., race by Ty Dillon. Harvick would apologize for his remarks.
“We Came. We Saw. We Conquered.” – Driver Darrell Wallace Jr., who earned his first series victory Oct. 26 at Martinsville and became just the second African-American driver to win a NASCAR national series race and the first since 1963.
Biggest OMG moment
Following a run-in on the final lap of the Sept. 1 race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, drivers Max Papis and Mike Skeen continued their battle after the race. First, a crew member for Skeen attempted to go after Papis as he was sitting in his truck, only to be body-slammed to the ground. Then, Skeen’s girlfriend confronted Papis in the garage area and slapped him hard across the face.
Biggest surprise winner
In a battle between drivers who had never won in the series, 17-year-old Erik Jones pulled away from Ross Chastainover the final 10 laps Nov. 8 at Phoenix to become the youngest winner in series history. Jones was making his fifth series start.
Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter.