Sunday, June 4, 2017

TRUCKS: Monster Jam racer Camden Murphy out early in a smaller truck

PHOTO: @CamdenMurphy
Camden Murphy picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Friday’s Bar Harbor 200 at the Dover International Speedway when his unsponsored #63 D.J. Copp Racing Chevrolet fell out with brake issues after 4 of 200 laps.  The finish came in Murphy’s fifth series start.

Murphy’s last-place finish is as much the story of a team as it is of a driver.  MB Motorsports has been a fixture in the Truck Series garage since the inaugural season in 1995, when Tony Roper finished 26th in the team’s debut at Milwaukee.  Following Roper’s tragic death in a crash at Texas in 2000, MB changed their truck number from #26 to #63, and have run at least a partial schedule with that number in every season since.  Many of Mittler’s drivers went on to have successful Cup careers, including Jamie McMurray, Carl Edwards, and Brad Keselowski.  More recently, the team has turned heads with back-to-back near-wins at Eldora with dirt tracker Bobby Pierce.  While Pierce is likely to attempt Eldora again this year, it’s as of yet uncertain whose truck he will actually drive.

This year, it appears not every MB Motorsports entry has come from Mike Mittler’s shop in Foristell, Missouri.  In fact, after the first four races of the season, the team owner of the #63 has changed twice.  According to, Todd Peck was listed to drive for Mittler at Charlotte two weeks ago, but the results have since changed the credited owner to Peck’s father Michael.  A likely reason for this is that the #63 driven that night was clearly the #83 Chevrolet the younger Peck drove at Daytona.  Peck returned to the #83 at Dover, but this time was entered under new truck team owner D.J. Copp.  In fact, D.J. Copp Racing would field two other trucks at “The Monster Mile:” the #36 for J.J. Yeley and Mittler’s #63, this time driven by Camden Murphy.

Born outside Chicago, the 20-year-old Murphy has already developed a diverse resume.  According to his website, he’s raced in nine different series, ranging from go-karts to Spec Miatas on the road courses to even Monster Jam, where he pilots the monster truck “Pirate’s Curse” on the national tour (and will be driving "Great Clips Mohawk Warrior" in a one-off this weekend).  He has worked as both driver coach and a motivational speaker, bringing in both his own experiences and through NASCAR legend Fred Lorenzen, who he represents.  He’s also active in the Ronald McDonald House Charities, which backed his first two Truck Series entries at Martinsville in 2014 and 2015.  Driving for SS Green Light Racing and Rick Ware Racing, respectively, he finished 21st and 24th, both times coming home on the lead lap.  Just last year, Murphy made his XFINITY Series debut at Bristol, where he again came home under power in 26th, just six spots behind teammate Travis Kvapil.

Murphy returned to NASCAR last month at Kansas, where he debuted D.J. Copp’s #36 entry with a 30th-place finish.  For Dover, the youngster would move over to the #63, but would once again run an all-white truck without any sponsorship.  Having run just 27 laps at Kansas before electrical issues, it was likely that this run, too, would involve an early exit.  Most importantly, Murphy’s ride in the #63 would ensure the sixth-straight full field of 32 this season, an accomplishment in the aftermath of Red Horse Racing’s sudden closure after Charlotte.

Murphy didn’t participate in Thursday’s opening practice, but put up the 30th-fastest speed of the 32 entrants in Happy Hour, then improved one spot to secure 29th on the grid with a lap of 136.685mph, falling between teammates Yeley’s #36 NanoPro MT / UNOH Chevrolet in 27th and Peck, whose #83 NanoPro MT Chevrolet took last with a lap of 128.032mph.  On Lap 5, both Murphy followed Peck behind the wall, securing his #63 the last-place finish and Peck 31st.  Yeley exited after 16 laps.  Filling out the rest of the Bottom Five were 30th-place Jennifer Jo Cobb, making her third-straight Truck Series start, whose #10 Chevrolet fell out after the 12th circuit.  Kansas last-placer Stewart Friesen came home 28th, his #52 Halmar International Chevrolet once again eliminated in an early crash.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #63 in a Truck Series race at Dover.

32) #63-Camden Murphy / 4 laps / brakes
31) #83-Todd Peck / 4 laps / electrical
30) #10-Jennifer Jo Cobb / 12 laps / vibration
29) #36-J.J. Yeley / 16 laps / vibration
28) #52-Stewart Friesen / 20 laps / crash

1st) Copp Motorsports (2)
2nd) Halmar Friesen Racing, MB Motorsports, MDM Motorsports, TJL Motorsports (1)

1st) Chevrolet (6)


CORRECTION (June 5): Original article incorrectly stated Murphy drives "Captain's Curse" in Monster Jam; he is the current driver of "Pirate's Curse."

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