Peters poised for intermediate gains

Timothy Peters has flexed plenty of muscle on short tracks in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. To bolster his championship hopes, however, he’ll have to break through on intermediate courses.

Peters will get his chance in Friday night’s Jeff Foxworthy’s Grit Chips 200 (8 p.m. ET, SPEED) at Atlanta Motor Speedway, one of five 1.5-mile tracks in the nine-race home stretch on the truck series schedule.

Aside from a win in the 2010 season opener at 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway, the rest of Peters’ five truck tour victories have come on tracks measuring less than a mile. Those short-track wins include last week’s drubbing of the field at Bristol Motor Speedway, where he led all 204 laps on his way to a perfect driver rating.

Although he’s yet to win on a 1.5-mile track, Peters has logged top-five finishes at three of five intermediate tracks (Kansas, Kentucky and Chicagoland) so far this season

“At Chicago we made leaps and bounds with our program. But it’s not just that race, it’s all year long,” Peters said. “There are 11 tracks on the schedule that are similar in size to Atlanta, so if we want to win this championship, we knew we had to improve. I think we’ve done that and I’m confident with the Tundra we’re bringing we can show those gains on Friday.”

Peters’ Bristol win — his second of the season — helped him snag sole possession of the series lead from top rookie Ty Dillon, who faded to a 21st-place finish at Bristol after running out of gas on the final restart. Dillon’s misfortune allowed James Buescher to leapfrog into second place in the standings, just 17 behind Peters.

Dillon holds third place, 25 points off the top, while Justin Lofton and Parker Kligerman are deadlocked for fourth place, 31 points behind Peters.

The race also features two drivers named Busch on a truck series entry list for the first time. Kyle Busch will make his first start of the season in a truck out of his own race shops. Kurt Busch will partner with Billy Ballew, a former owner for Kyle Busch, in his second truck effort of the year.