Brian Scott has emerged as a prime candidate to become the next first-time winner in the Camping World Truck Series since crew chief Jeff Hensley joined Xpress Motorsports late last season.

Scott's third-place finish in the previous race at Kansas was his third top-five in the past seven races. He closed out 2008 by finishing fourth at Phoenix and second at Homestead-Miami and has put together three straight top tens this season heading into Friday's North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

In twelve races with Hensley, a veteran with multiple victories in the truck series, Scott has eight top tens. He had two top tens in his initial 25 starts in the series.

"We made a crew chief change and made the switch to Toyota and everything started firing on all cylinders," Scott said. "We keep running better and better. There's a lot of reasons why we're running better--the changes in personnel and equipment and the more I drive. The experience is always a plus and equates to better finishes.

"But the main change has been Jeff. He joined us at Las Vegas last year, and our relationship went pretty well. I don't feel like it took long to get acquainted."

Scott, 21, expects to win somewhere this season and believes it could come at 1.5-mile Lowe's.

"I think our team is the best out there on the mile-and-a-half tracks," Scott said. "Our big-track program is really good, and I know we'll be competitive and be one of the trucks to beat. Jeff really knows those tracks. We finished really strong at Homestead (leading with nine laps to go and finishing second) and that was a huge confidence booster for me. That was our Achilles' heel up through the middle of the year. We just couldn't figure it out.

"I think we're every bit capable of winning a couple of races this year. I think we're a championship-calibre team."

Scott, of Boise, Idaho, has climbed into seventh in the points, 142 behind leader Mike Skinner. Scott is the highest-ranked driver in the points without a career victory in the series.

The sixth race of the season is one of the biggest because of its location in the Charlotte area, home to the vast majority of NASCAR teams. If Scott is going to get his first win Friday, he'll have to beat one of the toughest fields of the season.

In addition to series regulars and championship contenders Skinner, Ron Hornaday Jr., Todd Bodine and Matt Crafton and semi-regular Kyle Busch, Sprint Cup drivers Ryan Newman and David Gilliland are entered.

Newman won his only previous start in the series at Atlanta last fall for Kevin Harvick Inc. and returns to drive for the team. Gilliland will drive for TRG Motorsports, his Cup team. It will be Gilliland's second career truck race.

by Tim Tuttle/Sporting News

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