PREVIEW: NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series Round of 6
Johnny Sauter and Grant Enfinger unfortunately saw their chances at the 2019 NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series Championship end, leaving six drivers fighting for the title with four races remaining.
Spread across a couple of weeks, the next three events on the schedule will set the stage for the final event of the season, the Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Four of the six drivers currently in the playoffs will get to battle for the championship then, while two others will be left dreaming about their chance in 2020.
So who will move forward and who will get left behind? Let’s take a glance through the field.
1. Brett Moffitt +30
Virtue of four victories and four stage wins, Brett Moffitt enters this round with a considerable advantage ahead of the rest of the contenders. As long as he can avoid trouble through the round and be consistently a top-five contender, he should be a lock for the Championship 4.
The challenge is easily accepted by the defending series champion as he has finished the last four races in the top-seven, including a pair of victories in the first round of the playoffs.
Talladega Superspeedway – He finished 17th in his lone truck series start on the 2.66-mile oval, and crashed out of the truck series opener at Daytona International Speedway.
Martinsville Speedway – He has scored three top-five’s in four starts with no finishes worse than sixth.
ISM Raceway – He won in his lone start at the Arizona oval.
2. Austin Hill +6
Austin Hill enters the second round of the playoffs with momentum on his side, as he has finished inside the top-10 in the last four series events, including a pair of victories. If there is any driver that has shown they can run right with Moffitt, it’d be the team that won the title last year with him.
Talladega – He has finished 22nd and 10th in his pair of starts at the superspeedway
Martinsville – He has only posted a pair of top-10’s in eight starts, with a track-best ninth in 2018.
ISM Raceway – He has failed to finish in his previous two starts in the desert due to brake failure (2017) and engine failure (2018).
3. Ross Chastain +5
After putting together a string of wins to get himself qualified for the playoffs, Ross Chastain has been solid thus far with a pair of top-five’s and an eighth in the last three series events. Despite not winning an event, he led more than 50 laps at Bristol Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Talladega – In three starts at the superspeedway, he has just one top-five – finishing third in 2013. But recall he placed third in the season opener at Daytona.
Martinsville – He has finished in the top-10 in his last two starts at the paperclip, including a track-best fourth in April.
ISM Raceway – Although running into ignition issues in his first trip to the desert in 2012, he came back a year later to finish second after winning the pole.
4. Stewart Frisen +3
After winning at Eldora Speedway to secure his spot in the playoffs, Stewart Friesen finished the next three races in the top-10, but posted a 19th-place finish in the series’ most recent event in Las Vegas. It seems to be the story of the Canadian’s season as he has been fast and put himself in position to win races, but cannot find consistency with his results.
Talladega – He has finished 17th and sixth in his pair of starts at the superspeedway
Martinsville – He put together a track-best performance in April, finishing fifth after winning the pole.
ISM Raceway – After finishing 18th in his first trip to the desert, he has finished sixth and fifth in the races since.
5. Matt Crafton -3
Consistency has been the name of the game for Matt Crafton this season, in a year that hasn’t certainly met the expectations that ThorSport Racing had. Surprisingly, the past series champion has yet to visit victory lane this season. He also enters this round without any momentum as he blew up in the series’ most recent event in Las Vegas. Before then, he had posted four top-10’s in the previous five races.
Talladega – In 13 races at the superspeedway, Crafton has only posted four top-10 finishes.
Martinsville – Crafton has won twice at the paperclip, with eight top-10’s in his most recent 11 starts.
ISM Raceway – Crafton has 11 top-10’s in 18 starts, but those haven’t come in his two most recent appearances.
6. Tyler Ankrum -3
The rookie has shown potential thus far this season, but seeing him move forward may prove to be a tall task. After all, he has just two top-10 finishes in the last five races.
Talladega – He has yet to run a truck series event at the superspeedway, and was not old enough to run the season opener at Daytona.
Martinsville – He has finished 18th and 19th in his previous two appearances.
ISM Raceway – He placed sixth in his first and only trip to the desert.
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