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PREVIEW: JEGS 200 at Dover International Speedway

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Entering the JEGS 200 at Dover International Speedway, Kyle Busch had won the previous four races in the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series. He won’t be able to take the checkered flag on Friday afternoon as he is not entered in the event.

As a result, there’s a field of competitors hoping that they can take advantage of the opportunity before them.

Although he cannot do it behind the wheel, Busch may still make his way to victory lane as a truck owner. He has four trucks entered into the JEGS 200, with Raphael Lessard leading the first of two practices on Thursday afternoon.

The Canadian is making his second career series start following a 14th-place finish at Martinsville Speedway in April. He is no stranger to Kyle Busch Motorsports equipment, having competed in late models for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion’s last year. In eight CARS Super Late Model Tour events, Lessard scored a top-five in four of those with a victory at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Krysten Harrelson | NKP

KBM also has a strong chance of being successful with Todd Gilliland, who was fifth quickest in the first practice. The second-generation racer currently ranks eighth in the series standings following back-to-back finishes outside of the top-10. With a lot of criticism being delivered his way early in the season about his potential future and lack of results to KBM standards, a win would certainly help in quieting the speculation. 

Harrison Burton has also showed speed with KBM in 2019, posting a season-best fifth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He is looking to get things back on-track after a crash at Texas Motor Speedway saw him finish 31st. He showed potential last year with a fifth-place finish at the Monster Mile. 

On the flip side, veteran Johnny Sauter led the final practice for ThorSport Racing. Sauter knows his way around Dover International Speedway, as evident by winning the past two truck series events at the Monster Mile. He also boasts the best average finish of the drivers entered in Friday’s race (eighth) with five top-10’s in 10 starts.

The 2017 NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series Champion currently ranks fourth in the standings, following four straight top-nine finishes including a third in the most recent series event at Texas Motor Speedway.

Russell Labounty | NKP

Currently heading into the weekend, Stewart Friesen is the points leader by six points ahead of Grant Enfinger, solely based on consistency with three straight top-five finishes. Although he has yet to reach victory lane in his career, the Canadian came close to winning at Texas Motor Speedway as he was catching Busch in the late stages until the handling went away on his No. 52 Chevrolet Silverado. He has not done well at Dover previously, failing to finish in the top-20 in both of his previous starts.

Enfinger, meanwhile, boasts the second-best average finish of drivers entered (8.5) following a third and 14th in his previous two starts. The ThorSport Racing competitor has been solid this season, entering this weekend following back-to-back top-10 finishes including a fourth in the most recent series event at Texas. 

Expect ThorSport Racing to run up front as they visited victory lane in 2016 with Matt Crafton. The driver of the No. 88 Toyota Tundra has posted six top-five’s and 11 top-10’s in his 18 races at Dover to go along with that win. He currently ranks sixth in the standings following three straight top-10’s including a fifth-place finish in the most recent series event at Texas.

Russell Labounty | NKP

Looking back on Texas, Tyler Ankrum surprised plenty of people watching with a sixth-place finish, momentum he hopes to carry into Dover this weekend. The rookie has previous experience at the Monster Mile, placing 11th in last year’s K&N Pro Series East Event. He was 11th quickest in final practice on Thursday afternoon. 

As mentioned previously, Busch has won the last four races, but he did not win the season opener. That honor went to Austin Hill in his first race with Hattori Racing Enterprises. Following the victory, Hill placed seventh at Atlanta Motor Speedway before posting three straight finishes outside of the top-15. Certainly a return to victory lane would renew the confidence for the defending series championship team, but Hill’s previous results at Dover do not offer much hope. In four previous starts, his best finish was 16th in 2015. 

The only driver thus far in the top-nine of the standings not mentioned thus far is 2018 NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series Champion Brett Moffitt was second quickest in final practice as he hopes to improve on his 12th-place finish last year at Dover International Speedway. He did not fare well at Texas Motor Speedway with a result of 19th, but had posted three straight top-fives before then. 

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.