The idea for the Truck Series dates back to 1993, when a group of off road racers made a prototype for a NASCAR-style pickup truck. These were first shown off during the 1994 Daytona 500, and a number of demonstration races were held during the season. These trucks proved to be extremely popular, and it led to NASCAR creating the series, originally known as the "SuperTruck Series", in 1995.
While a new series, it managed to garner a lot of support from prominent Winston Cup people immediately. Prominent Cup owners Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, and Jack Roush owned truck teams, and top drivers such as Dale Earnhardt and Ernie Irvan also fielded SuperTrucks for others. The series became known as the Craftsman Truck Series in 1996.
Initially, the series used a number of rules that differed from both Winston Cup and Busch Series racing. Truck races had a "halftime" break, in place of pit stops, where teams could make any changes they'd want to the car. The series also used a different points system. These later phased out to resemble the other series. A more popular rule that still remains is the "overtime" rule. All Truck series races must end under green flag conditions, and the rule mandates that all races must end with at least two laps in green flag condition, often refered to as a "green-white-checkered" finish.
In the first year of the series, the trucks ran on circuits of a mile in length or less as well as two road courses. Most of the first races were no longer than 125 miles in length, and were often less than 100. A number of races were held at tracks that didn't host any other NASCAR event. By 1998, most of the short tracks were phased out in favor of speedways of 1 to 2 miles in length, and more of the races were held at tracks that hosted Cup and Busch events concurrently. Road courses were phased on by 2001. Most races nowadays will last around 250 miles at larger tracks, 150 to 200 miles at most others, and 250 laps around the shortest tracks.
Most of the first drivers in the series were veteran short trackers who hadn't made it into the other NASCAR series. It is worth noting that most of the early champions have used their title to become Winston Cup regulars at one point in their careers. As the years went on, a number of younger drivers debuted in the series, using the series as a springboard for their racing careers. In later years, though, the Truck series has also become a place for Cup veterans without a ride to make their living.
Craftsman Truck Series champions with car number and owner: