Posted By: Brian Eberly – Follow at @beberly18
November 17, 2015
The inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship was won by Mike Skinner in 1995, driving the No. 3 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. The 14th different driver in series history will earn a championship this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, joining the likes of four-time champion Ron Hornaday Jr, three-time champion Jake Sprague and two-time champion Matt Crafton.
Erik Jones and Tyler Reddick head to Homestead as the only two drivers mathematically eligible to earn the title. Regardless of which talented young driver walks away with the trophy on Friday night, they will become the youngest champion in the history of the storied series, breaking the mark set by Austin Dillon (21 years, 6 months, 22 days) in 2011.
Jones (19 years, 5 months, 21 days) holds a 19-point advantage over Reddick as he looks to capture his first title as a driver and a series record fourth owner’s title for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Piloting the No. 4 Toyota this season, Jones has three victories and 19 top-10 finishes.
Jones will clinch the title with a finish of 15th or better (16th or better with one lap led or 17th and the most laps led) regardless of the performance of Reddick. Through 22 races in 2015, Jones has finished worse than 15th only once. That result came at Gateway Motorsports Park back in June, when the Byron, Michigan native led the most laps but was involved in a late-race wreck that relegated him to a 23rd-place result.
“I think it’s going to be somewhat conservative of an a approach this weekend, but I don’t think we need to change our approach by a whole lot,” Jones said Tuesday morning on a NASCAR teleconference with the championship contenders.
“Obviously Homestead and the big risk for anybody is getting up into the fence the way you get around that place. But I think most of the day we’ll just concentrate on not ever really getting up by the wall. We don’t need to make that kind of time. And I think as long as we don’t do that, we can probably run seventh or eighth and be pretty comfortable most of the day and close this deal out.”
Reddick (19 years, 10 months, 9 days) will head to Homestead with a tall task, as he will need a strong finish and Jones to have one of his worst races of the season. Reddick has two wins and 18 top-10 finishes piloting the No. 19 Broken Bow Music Group Ford for Brad Keselowski Racing in 2015.
The Corning, California native is competing in his first full-time Truck Series campaign, but finished sixth in the season-finale last season at Homestead while driving a limited schedule.
“Fortunately last year there we had a good bit of speed and we were fast, so if we just go in and continue to work on the things we did when we were last there, I think we’ll be fast,” Reddick said of his plans for this weekend.
“Obviously, the situation we’re in, we’re going to have to run very good. We’re going to have to win and lead as many laps as possible to try and put Erik in a situation where he has to run 15th or better.”
What would it mean to Jones or Reddick to become the youngest champion in the series’ history?
“I think it’s definitely a pretty cool accomplishment, let alone winning the championship but being the youngest to do it. All along our goal at KBM has been for me to run for a driver’s championship, and be able to get KBM its first driver’s championship,” Jones said.
“So to be able to put ourselves in this position to have a great shot to go and get it, that’s just a big accomplishment in itself. So I’d be really, really happy if we can bring that back to KBM. For everything they’ve done for me, and for everything Kyle has done for me. To be the youngest to do it would be a bonus for me.”
“Our goal this year was to win a championship, and hopefully we can do that. Being the youngest would be a bonus as well,” Reddick said.
“But aside from that and the bigger picture, obviously this is a big deal to everyone at Brad Keselowski Racing. It’s a really big deal to Brad too. He’s really wanted a championship for his team and everyone else back at the shop has been working hard at it. It’s going to come down to this last race and hopefully we can pull it off.”
Friday night’s Ford EcoBoost 200 will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio beginning at 8 p.m. ET.