Timothy Peters hits the wall after making contact with Norm Benning during qualifying at Daytona International Speedway.
Huge wreck comes near midpoint of NextEra Energy Resources 250 Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The bad luck associated with Friday the 13th had a one-week hangover in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series as a massive 12-truck stack-up thinned the 32-truck field in Friday night's season opener at Daytona International Speedway. Starting off the year on an up note wasn't in the cards for the unfortunate dozen, all of whom had their high hopes derailed near the halfway point of the NextEra Energy Resources 250. It was the biggest melee in the 100-lap, 250-mile opener, continuing the trend of especially tense, close quarters racing across all three NASCAR national series at Daytona's Speedweeks. "It's just a product of the racing," said Timothy Peters , fifth in last year's final truck standings but crashed out in 24th place in the 2015 opener. "It's great racing. Just hope there'll be enough trucks on the race track to finish." The truck-swallowing conflagration began shortly after Ben Kennedy's No. 11 truck slowed with damage near the top lane at the end of the backstretch. When the pack stormed past on Lap 49, congestion and a hair-trigger reaction bottled up the single-file scrap among Austin Theriault, Scott Lagasse Jr. and James Buescher, snaring bystanders behind them. A blown tire on Kennedy's truck, battered from an earlier altercation, forced the second-year driver to limp his Red Horse Racing around the 2.5-mile track. With the pack bearing down on him, he was unable to steer to safety on the apron. "It was either wreck it into the pack or wreck it into the wall, and we had pretty much wreck it into the wall at that point," Kennedy said. "Stinks for these guys, it stinks for (sponsor) Local Motors and that's not the best way to start the season, but we'll get them from here." By the time the sparks and smoke died down in Turn 3, Buescher, Peters , Kennedy, John Wes Townley, Ryan Ellis, Spencer Gallagher, Chris Fontaine, Cameron Hayley, Daniel Hemric and Todd Peck had piled in. Theriault and Johnny Sauter also were involved but to a lesser degree. Though several drivers involved made the mandatory trip to the infield care center, all emerged unhurt but with stories of scary views to share. "It was funny. I saw kind of the obvious -- cars starting to collide -- and then I saw my hood all over my windshield for the rest of it," said Gallagher, who started 10th. "Sadly, there wasn't much to be done. … This is but a setback. We know what we are and what we've got for this year." Said Hayley, a product of the NASCAR Next program: "I was following the 05 of John Wes Townley and all I saw was smoke. Just white smoke and I tried to go to the outside and just couldn't get there and next thing you know my hood is crunched and I was sideways." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Red Horse vet aims to keep momentum from 2014's late-season surge MORE: Full schedule of driver previews Team: Red Horse Racing No. 17 Toyota Rank in final 2014 standings: 5th. Wins: 1 ( Talladega Superspeedway ) Strides: Although misfortune during the heart of the season kept Peters from mounting a late charge in the championship race, the closing flurry that Peters orchestrated in the final quarter of the year offered plenty of hope for 2015. That stretch included a thrilling mid-October victory at Talladega that extended his streak of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series seasons with at least one win to six straight years. That triumph highlighted a surge over the final half-dozen races that helped Peters move up three spots in the standings, capped by a strong third-place run that lifted the team's spirits in the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway . "We were able to move forward at Homestead and get a win at Talladega, and we felt like the weight of the world was off our shoulders," Peters said. "It's pretty cool that in five of the last six (races), we were able to get top-fives." Setbacks: Peters led the Camping World Truck Series points after five races, but his season's only DNF -- a crash-related 24th place at Texas -- sent the No. 17 team spiraling with a four-spot drop in the standings. The team recovered slightly with top-five finishes in the next two races, but went the next eight races without one -- a drought that relegated Peters to eighth in the standings through the bulk of the summer. "Considering the way that the first half of the season went, we started off with a lot of speed and still continued that speed," Peters said. "Just if it wasn't for bad luck, we'd have no luck." Quoteworthy: "I'm very appreciative of what (team owner) Tom (DeLoach) and everybody at Red Horse have given me since back in 2009 with that phone call to come join the organization. I'm the type that, I want to win races. Every time that 17 truck is rolled off the liftgate from the first time I stepped in the garage area with a Red Horse shirt on, I've had that opportunity." What's next: The pairing of Peters and DeLoach -- one of the series' longest-running combinations -- will continue for a seventh consecutive season. The team will also have continuity atop the pit box as Marcus Richmond, whose personal ties to Peters run deep, returns for his second season wrenching the No. 17 truck. Peters , 34, will also have a new teammate in 23-year-old Ben Kennedy , who signed with Red Horse in December after a promising season that led to Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors. Though his success has opened doors for potential participation in other NASCAR series, Peters said he's enjoyed being a part of the tight-knit group and ultra-competitive racing on the Camping World Truck tour. "I don't want to go anywhere else," Peters said. "Obviously we're all human and we want to make it to the big level, but I'm having fun. You win races and contend for championships, that's more to me than just saying I'm running another series." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Veteran holds off Malsam, Gallagher for first win of 2014 season RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings TALLADEGA, Ala.—Holding off all challengers in a race that went four-wide on the final two laps, Timothy Peters won the fred's 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway . Peters arrived at the finish line .143 seconds ahead of second-place starter and finisher Tayler Malsam . Spencer Gallagher ran third, followed by Tyler Reddick and Ryan Blaney , who trimmed 14th-place finisher Matt Crafton ’s lead in the series standings to 16 points with four races left in the season. The victory was Peters' first of the season, his first at Talladega and the eighth of his career. After ducking onto the apron to ensure a strong flow to the fuel pickup in his No. 17 Toyota, Peters , who had charged forward from the 26th starting position, led the field to a green-white-checkered-flag finish on Lap 94 of 95, after Norm Benning 's spin in Turn 2 slowed the field for the sixth time. With a strong push from Malsam, Peters hugged the inside line into Turn 1 with Ryan Blaney to his outside. As the field spread out over the final two laps to three-wide and even four-wide, Peters doggedly held the lead and took the checkered flag with Malsam in his tow. "Chris Lambert, who spots for me, did a great job from the time the green flag fell till the checkered flag waved," Peters said. "It was system overload, telling me everything, how far apart they were in front of me, how close the guy behind me was, what run was coming on the outside coming to the checkered flag… "We were making our Toyota Tundra as wide as we could (on the final two laps), and so it feels really good to come across the start/finish line and kind of wipe missing the Daytona/Talladega sweep by (16) hundredths of a second ( Peters finished second at Daytona by that margin earlier this year). "It just felt really good to go to Victory Lane." On the final restart, Blaney got a push from sixth-place finisher Erik Jones and thought he was in position for the win but acknowledged he didn't expect a third line to develop to his outside as quickly as it did. "I thought we were in the perfect spot, leading the outside line into Turn 2," Blaney said. But the side draft from the outside line separated Jones from Blaney and broke their momentum, dropping them out of contention for the win. A rare engine failure torpedoed Johnny Sauter 's championship hopes. Sauter's Toyota slowed on Lap 24 and coasted onto pit road. His resulting 31st-place finish left him fourth in the standings, 36 points behind Crafton, his ThorSport Racing teammate. "Whatever… the championship's over," a disconsolate Sauter said in the garage as his team worked on his Tundra. "From here on out, we can just race like hell." At a track legendary for wild action, Ben Kennedy sustained the hardest hit on Lap 65, when Joe Nemechek lost control of his truck and knocked Kennedy's Chevrolet into the outside wall. Nemechek's first concern was for Kennedy's safety. After learning he had walked away from the wreck, Nemechek radioed, "Put all of the blame for that one right square on my shoulders," indicating his Toyota had been sucked around in turbulent air. Note: Daniel Suarez finished 15th in his NCWTS debut. On Sunday, he races in his native Mexico in the NASCAR Toyota Mexico Series. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Drivers have to be separated by team members RELATED: Quiroga goes four-wide, angers Gaulding MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- The post-race scrap for position Saturday afternoon between hard-nosed veterans Johnny Sauter and Timothy Peters ended with both trucks practically locked together on Martinsville Speedway 's pit road, with both drivers emerging and looking to brawl. But after tempers had soothed slightly, it also ended with an extended olive branch -- at least from one side of the battle. "I'll buy him dinner if he's willing to talk," Peters said, suggesting local staple Clarence's Steakhouse as a cozy nearby venue. Sauter was in no mood for chitchat, regardless of Peters' offer to pick up the check. While his rival went on to a second-place finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' Kroger 200 at his home track, Sauter sunk to seventh place after leading the second-most laps (41). "The future of NASCAR looks bright, don't it? What a disgrace of a race," Sauter fumed to MRN Radio, drawing a chorus of boos from the crowd when his remarks were broadcast over the track's public-address system. Sauter declared his fringe candidacy for his first series championship over after last week's engine failure and 31st-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway . At Martinsville, he looked poised to at least keep pace if not make gains, but his late run-in with Peters placed him behind the three drivers ahead of him in the series standings -- race winner Darrell Wallace Jr ., points leader and teammate Matt Crafton and fifth-place Ryan Blaney . Points or no points, Sauter was irate and then some, needing to be separated from Peters and his Red Horse Racing team. Officials and other crew members stepped in, but on more than one occasion when Sauter seemed settled down, heated words and the lure of the scrum pulled him back in. "Take your helmet off, tough guy," Sauter yelled. "You want some? I'll give you all I got. You're nothing." After a slight cooling-off period and a haphazard search for his car keys to beat a hasty retreat out of the .526-mile track, Sauter's dander was still up. "You're just racing hard all day, and you get clobbered at the end," Sauter said. "It's the way it is, and if people like that, I guess they should keep coming." The melee gave Peters an odd season sweep of sorts, with involvement in cool-down lap confrontations in both Martinsville races this year. In March, he crumpled fenders with Peters' Red Horse teammate German Quiroga after their late-race conflict. This time around, Peters was the one in a giving mood. "Just hard racing. I didn't mean to get into him as much as I did, but did I mean to get into him? Absolutely," Peters said. "He drives pretty recklessly and when I get driven like that, I'm going to return the favor. It's just hard short-track racing. I was on the receiving end of it in the spring, so it was time for someone else to be." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Timothy Peters wins the Simth's 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Watch the final laps of the Fred’s 250 powered by Coca-Cola as Timothy Peters wins a thriller in Talladega.
Matthew Strickert takes you through the garage at Atlanta Motor Speedway for NCWTS GarageCam and pays tribute to an iconic television character.
Timothy Peters celebrates his win at Talladega Superspeedway in the Fred's 250 powered by Coca-Cola.
Young challengers exist, but can they match veteran's consistency? Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series boasts a thriving community of talented young drivers ready for the chance to make their names known. But for the last two years, an unflappable veteran has made the next wave of talent wait its turn. Matt Crafton takes the first steps toward a championship three-peat Friday night at Daytona International Speedway, kicking off the 23-race schedule with the NextEra Energy Resources 250 (7:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). The 38-year-old driver had to wait until his 13th season to wear the series crown; now he has two in a two-year span. In 2013, Crafton virtually clinched the title with one race remaining. Last year, the points battle was a much closer contest, but the California native said his laid-back approach minimized any late-season pressure. "Two was actually a lot easier to be totally honest," Crafton said. "The points gap was closer, but for me personally and internally and in my head, definitely two was a lot easier. Three, I'm just going to go with the same mindset I did for two -- just go out here and race and have fun. I get paid to do what I love to do, so not put any pressure on yourself and just go out there and try to lead laps and win races." No surprise, ThorSport Racing left the core of his No. 88 Toyota team unchanged heading into 2015. But while the organization has stayed the course, the series' competition environment has changed. Gone from the Camping World Truck Series are 2014 runner-up Ryan Blaney, as well as third-place Darrell Wallace Jr., a four-time winner on the circuit last year. Fourth-place Johnny Sauter, his ThorSport teammate, and veteran fifth-place finisher Timothy Peters return for 2015, but several young drivers -- Erik Jones, Tyler Reddick and Ben Kennedy among them -- aim to assume the mantle of title contenders. It's a path that has been blazed already by reigning NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott, who clinched his first national series title at age 18. Reddick, ready for a full season in Brad Keselowski Racing's No. 19 Ford, says the Truck Series should be no different. "I feel like a lot of young drivers feel like we can challenge the veterans in any series. … Just look at Elliott and Blaney," said Reddick, 19. "I feel like the younger guys have a lot of confidence right now." Confidence, though, hasn't necessarily translated to consistency, which has become Crafton's calling card through his championship campaigns. "Something that Crafton has really figured out with the trucks is, he may not be lightning-fast, but over the long run, he is probably the most consistent guy out there," said Kennedy, the series' Sunoco Rookie of the Year last season. "He can run the same lap time over and over and over again. Once he gets on a long run, that's where he kind of prevails. A lot of these guys will just go out there and burn their tires off, and five or 10 laps later will start falling back a little bit." Besides Crafton's performance over the long haul, the organization's chemistry has made the bright yellow No. 88 the team to beat the last two seasons. Carl "Junior" Joiner returns as the team's crew chief, continuing a combination with friendship ties that run deeper than a working relationship. Any other changes in the ThorSport camp, Crafton said, amount to mere fine-tuning for 2015. While the defending champion may have plenty of challengers lining up to stake their claim to the throne, any serious threat must pass the season-long test. "There's going to be some very fast trucks, without a doubt," Crafton said, "but it's one thing to be fast for one weekend or five weekends out of the year. Just trying to put it together throughout the whole 23 races that we run." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule