ThorSport Racing put three of their four trucks into the 2019 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Trucks Series playoffs. While having 38-percent of the eight driver playoff field, the odds would be good you’d think for one of them to hoist the championship trophy at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in November right?
Well, I can make a case to where two of those three may not even make it out of the opening round of the playoffs though.
Despite having two of the most seasoned veterans in the series today including both Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter combining to win three of the last six titles overall, the organization as a whole hasn’t been running at their best heading into the seven race postseason.
Grant Enfinger may have won the regular season championship but he has just one top five finish in his last six starts on the season in his No. 98 Ford. He’s been a consistent top 10 threat (13 in 16 races), now that we’re in the playoffs, top fives and race wins will further you into the next round.
His teammates Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter are in the exact same boat. Crafton, has scored just six top five finishes all season, his last coming in early June (8 races ago). He is a top 10 machine though as he’s had 13 in his last 14 races of the year in his No. 88 Ford. The problem is, he hasn’t won in over two years and that last win in fact came on dirt (Eldora). His last pavement win was May 2016. But, Crafton holds the record for consecutive starts (446) in the Gander Trucks and among his success in the past 19 seasons, the two-time champion has earned 15 poles, and led 2,559 laps en route to 14 wins, 115 top-five and 269 top-10 finishes. He’s more than capable of turning this around.
Sauter, too has struggled. His last top five came way back in early May in his victory at Dover. He also has two top 10 finishes in that same time frame. Like Crafton, he’s been so strong in his past too. Since he’s came back to the Truck Series, he’s yet to finish outside the top four in the final standings.
With this playoff format rewarding winning, do you trust these three to win over the next seven races?
That’s why it’s all about ensuring they get solid runs out of the gates on Thursday night at the Bristol (Tenn) Motor Speedway.
Sauter, has made 11 series starts in Thunder Valley posting one win (2018), five top five’s and seven top 10’s. Has also led 65 laps.
In 16 Gander Trucks Bristol starts, Crafton has four top five’s and 10 top 10’s including 129 laps led. He scored a series track-best finish, second, in 2017 and 2009.