We’re down to the final two races of the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series regular season. Currently, we have five different winners among Truck Series regulars leaving three wildcard spots for the taking into the postseason.
But, the surprise is, neither Kyle Busch Motorsports driver is in the playoffs right now. With where things stand, it will be tough to get both in. Realistically, they’re in a position where Todd Gilliland has to win and Harrison Burton has to be remarkably consistent. Granted, they’ll take a win in each of the next two weeks, it’s just the odds of that happening aren’t real high.
SPARTA, KENTUCKY – JULY 11: Harrison Burton, driver of the #18 Safelite AutoGlass Toyota, gets into his truck during practice for the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 at Kentucky Speedway on July 11, 2019 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Gilliland, has the best shot among the two to reach victory lane this week in the Eldora Dirt Derby (9 p.m. ET/FS1/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). He’s had a dirt racing background some and started second in this race last year. Plus, Gilliland enters the Eldora Speedway with four top 10 finishes in his No. 4 Toyota in his last five starts on the year. Furthermore, he has six top 10’s, five of which being in the top seven, since Charlotte back in May.
Burton, hasn’t fared real well on dirt with coming home 15th in this race last year. But, he enters this weekend hot with three consecutive top four finishes in his No. 18 Toyota including five top five finishes in his last six starts on the season.
Burton, trails Stewart Friesen by just 13 points for the final playoff spot. Gilliland, is 85 points down. That’s why Gilliland needs to win because the three drivers holding the final three wildcard spots are really good at Eldora and on dirt in general.
Grant Enfinger finished fourth in this race in 2017 and runner-up to Chase Briscoe last year. On the season, he has 11 top 10 finishes and six top fives in his No. 98 Ford.
His teammate Matt Crafton hasn’t won a race since his triumph in the 2017 Eldora Dirt Derby. He’s riding a 49 race winless streak. But, he really took it upon himself to learn to race on dirt and its paid off. Crafton, has never finished outside of the top 10 in Eldora with finishes of first and fourth respectively the last two years. On the season, he has 12 top 10 finishes including 11 of which in the last 12 races overall.
That leaves Friesen who’s a dirt racer by nature. He finished runner-up after leading 93 of 150 laps in 2017 and was third in 2018. While he crashed last week in Pocono, he does have four top five finishes in his last five starts on the season including five of the last seven.
So, you can see why the KBM duo may be faced with a win or go home scenario in the final race of the regular season next weekend in Michigan. But, that’s not all gloom and doom for them either.
Toyota has won four of the last five in Michigan. On 1.5-mile or bigger tracks without restrictions this season, Burton has finished 8th (Atlanta), 5th (Las Vegas), 31st (Texas), 10th (Kansas), 11th (Charlotte), 5th (Texas 2), 4th (Chicago), 3rd (Kentucky) and 3rd (Pocono) respectively.
Gilliland has finished 9th (Atlanta), 7th (Las Vegas), 14th (Texas), 3rd (Kansas), 7th (Charlotte), 27th (Texas 2), 6th (Chicago), 17th (Kentucky) and 7th (Pocono) respectively.
So, each are more than capable of winning next weekend’s race if needed.