The NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series will get back to work this weekend following a full month off between the first and second rounds of their playoffs. Saturday’s Sugarlands Shine 250 (1:30 p.m. ET/FS1/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will be a wildcard race, but also the first of three races in the Round of 6.
The question everyone wants to know is, who will advance to the Homestead-Miami Speedway for a shot at this year’s championship next month?
Currently, Brett Moffitt has a leg up as he leads the standings at +23. The other five are separated by 12 points. With Talladega this weekend, it could certainly shake things up.
Toyota has won five of the last seven races on the 2.66-mile superspeedway but Chevrolet and GMS Racing has won two of the last three overall.
Sheldon Creed would make sense to steal a win as he has five consecutive top six finishes in his No. 2 Chevrolet for GMS.
But, the last two winners have won in a part time role, so don’t necessarily think one of the playoff drivers will win if Creed doesn’t.
Johnny Sauter has always struggled at Talladega despite being good at Daytona. His win in 2013 was the last time he’s nabbed a top five on the Alabama oval. He had zero top 10’s in five Cup starts and one top 10 in six NXS appearances on the high banked race track. His teammate Grant Enfinger should be a factor though with a win in 2016 and a fourth place finish in 2017. He also has four top 10’s in his last six starts on the season as well.
The race will be wide open.
Chastain, hasn’t made a Truck Series start at Talladega since 2016. He was third in 2013 though. That’s his only top 10 in 11 NASCAR tries. But, he was third in Daytona back in February.
Moffitt, has two career Talladega starts – 17th in the Truck Series in 2018 and 13th in the XFINITY Series this past spring. He was 26th in the season opener at Daytona too.
That opens the door for Hill who won at Daytona, has four straight top 10 finishes on the season, two of which being wins and the other a fifth place run and was also 10th in last year’s race.
Friesen, has four top eight finishes in his last five tries on the season including eight in the last 10 overall. He was 10th in February at Daytona and sixth in last year’s race at Talladega.
Crafton, has one top five in 13 tries at Talladega and just two top 10’s since 2011. He did come home fifth in Daytona though.
Ankrum, is a rookie at Talladega as he wasn’t old enough to race on any superspeedway’s prior to March.
But, what happens past Talladega?
Martinsville is next where Moffitt finished third, Chastain fourth and Friesen fifth back in the spring race.
Then, it’s to Phoenix where Chastain and Moffitt should shine too.
So, who advances.
- 16 Hill – Hattori Racing Enterprises won the title last year and I think Hill wins at Talladega this weekend. Even if he doesn’t win, he’s been hot lately with four straight top 10’s, two of them being wins.
- 24 Moffitt – I fully believe he gets a win this round too, likely Martinsville. He has three straight top three finishes on the Virginia paperclip. If not there, it could be Phoenix where he won at last year. Moffitt, has four straight top 10 finishes, two wins in the last three races to go along with nine top seven finishes in his last 10 tries on the season. It would be fitting if he and his old team are championship bound.
- 45 Chastain – Hes been just too good this year. He’s had three top eight finishes in the opening round and a top 10 finish in 16 of the 19 races run. He can get a win anywhere as well.
- 52 Friesen – He give Chevy three of the final four drivers. I think he edges Crafton for the final spot on consistency. Friesen, has four top eight finishes in his last five starts on the season including eight in the last 10 overall. Friesen, was fifth at Martinsville earlier this year and fifth at Phoenix last season.
- 88 Crafton – He’s just not consistent enough to get by. Its been 54 races since Crafton last won and that was on a dirt track in Eldora. While he’s been a top 10 contender every race (15 total) Crafton hasn’t had a top five since Texas in June. With Friesen being more consistent in the top five, I think that’s the difference. Since 2016, six of his seven Martinsville starts have seen him finish seventh or worse. Out of his last seven Phoenix starts too, he has three top 10’s, all being in the top five. He was 11th last year. That’s not going to get it done this round.
- 17 Ankrum – He’s been consistent, but this is the time to get top fives and I don’t know if his Truck has it in it. Ankrum, has three top five finishes all year, none since a runner-up at Pocono in July. His last six finishes have been ninth or worse. He was 19th in Martinsville back in March.