The NASCAR Gander Outdoors Trucks Series is back in action on Friday night for the World of Westgate 200 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The race this weekend is the third and final one of the opening round as it comes after a two week break.
The biggest story of the weekend has to be the playoffs. This is the cutoff race of the first round as currently, only Brett Moffitt knows he has a spot in the second round. The GMS Racing driver has won both races in the playoffs and is eyeing to become the first driver to ever sweep an entire round in the Trucks Series playoffs.
Prior to this season, twice has one driver won two races in a round – Johnny Sauter in the Round of 6 in 2016 (Martinsville Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway) and 2017 (Texas, ISM Raceway).
Moffitt, is now hoping to achieve that feat after winning the opening two races of the 2019 Gander Trucks Playoffs at Bristol Motor Speedway and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
There are also seven other drivers vying for five spots.
Ross Chastain (+28) is sitting good but there five drivers within six points going for the final four spots. Tyler Ankrum (-14) may be too far out on his own to get in but it’s still possible with stage points.
The guys between Chastain and Ankrum are in a huge fight. Stewart Friesen (+6), Matt Crafton (+5), Austin Hill (+4) and Grant Enfinger (+2) are in while Johnny Sauter (-2) is out.
But, with as close as they are, these spots can change quickly.
Sauter, hasn’t had a top five finish since his win at Dover in May. Enfinger, won this race last year. Overall he has 10 top-five and 23 top-10 finishes on 1.5-mile tracks in the series. He has three top fives this season, including at both Texas races and at Atlanta. His best finish at a 1.5-miler this year was third at Atlanta. He does have four top 10 finishes in his last five starts on the season.
For Hill, his win in the regular season finale was his first since the regular season opener. He does have three straight top 10 finishes on the season too.
Crafton, hasn’t finished worse than 14th all year. He does have 14 top 10 finishes in his last 16 starts on the year. He also has nine wins on 1.5-mile track (second to Sauter’s 10), 54 top fives, and 103 top 10s. All impressive numbers. But he hasn’t won at a 1.5-mile circuit since Charlotte in May of 2016…and in fact, hasn’t won a race since Eldora in July of 2017.
That leaves Friesen who has eight top eight finishes in his last nine starts on the season. In 28 starts at this distance he has 10 top-five and 14 top-10 results. Five of those top fives and top 10s have come this season. Of those, he has a pair of runner-up results (Texas-1 and Kentucky) and two third-place finishes (Charlotte and Chicago) at this distance.
As you can see, this race is going to be a dogfight for these drivers to whom gets into the Round of 6 and who doesn’t.