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Sauter vs. younger Dillon for truck title?

Wed 22nd, February 2012

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Series: NASCAR Camping World Truck. Date: Friday, February 24. Race: NextEra Energy Resources 250. Site: Daytona International Speedway. Track: 2.5-mile tri-oval. Start time: 7:30 p.m. (et). Laps: 100. Miles: 250. 2010 winner: Michael Waltrip. Television: SPEED. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Satellite.

The 2012 Camping World Truck Series kicks off Friday night at Daytona International Speedway.

With 2011 truck champion Austin Dillon now a full-time competitor in the Nationwide Series, Johnny Sauter, who finished six points behind Dillon last year, is the preseason favorite to win the title.

Sauter concluded last season by winning the rain-shortened race at Homestead- Miami Speedway. During the offseason, Sauter's team, ThorSport Racing, switched from Chevrolet to Toyota.

"The biggest thing we can do is look back at last season and see where did we lose points and what could we have done to prevent that," he said. "I think coming out in 2012 with the Toyota support and changing manufacturers, new sponsors -- essentially my whole team is back and my crew chief (Joe Shear Jr.), I feel like we can pick up right where we left off and ultimately try to win races and a championship."

Rookie Ty Dillon is next in line as a title contender in the series this year. Dillon, the 2011 ARCA Racing Series champion, is replacing his elder brother, Austin, in Richard Childress Racing's No. 3 truck. Ty, who will turn 20 years old Monday, made three starts in trucks last season. His best finish of third came last November at Texas. He also placed sixth at Homestead.

"I think we can go out there and do our best to be competitive each week," Dillon said. "We went to a lot of tracks last year on the ARCA Racing Series schedule that we had never raced before and brought home some good finishes. I think with the help of my RCR teammates, we'll be able to put up more good finishes this season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series."

Ron Hornaday Jr., the four-time truck champion, makes his debut with Joe Denette Motorsports. Hornaday had driven for Kevin Harvick Inc. for the past seven years, but KHI shut down its Nationwide and truck operations at the end of last season.

"It was just three months ago that I didn't have a job," Hornaday said. "KHI was closing their doors, and I was at a crossroads. I was introduced to (team owner) Joe (Denette) through Hermie Sadler, and the rest is history. Joe is a true race fan, and all he wants to do is win. I believe he has put the right people in place and has given this team all the tools they need to get the job done."

Hornaday holds the series record with 51 race wins, but has to score a victory at Daytona. The series has been competing at this track each year since 2000.

Brad Keselowski is the only Sprint Cup regular competing in this race. Ward Burton, the 2002 Daytona 500, is making his first start in a NASCAR national touring series event since October 2007.

Forty-four teams are on the preliminary entry list for the NextEra Energy Resources 250.

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