We’re down to the final race of the 2019 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Trucks Series regular season. One race and five drivers vying for the final playoff spot. That’s arguably the top storyline of their weekend at the Michigan International Speedway.
We know that Ross Chastain, Austin Hill, Johnny Sauter, Brett Moffitt, Tyler Ankrum and Stewart Friesen are playoff bound. That leaves two spots open where technically at the drop of the green flag, it will be one. Grant Enfinger is pretty much assured to win the regular season championship. That also nets you a playoff spot. He’s +115 on the bubble and 52 points ahead of Matt Crafton for the top wildcard spot as well as the overall points lead as well. All he really needs to do next weekend in Michigan is to start the race and he’s in.
CHARLOTTE, NC – MAY 17: (L-R) Harrison Burton, driver of the #18 Safelite AutoGlass Toyota, and Todd Gilliland, driver of the #4 Mobil 1 Toyota, talk in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 17, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
That gives us seven drivers for eight spots. The final available spot will go to Crafton who’s 63 points up on Ben Rhodes, Harrison Burton who’s one point behind Rhodes and 64 behind Crafton, Todd Gilliland (-97) or Sheldon Creed (-120).
Creed and Gilliland finished in the top five in Thursday night’s Eldora Dirt Derby but they needed wins. Now, they mixed with Rhodes and Burton HAVE to win at the Michigan International Speedway or Crafton will get that eighth and final spot.
Rhodes, hasn’t scored a top five finish since Iowa in June. He does have three runner-ups in all this season and is more than capable of winning in his No. 99 Ford. But, if he wins, he’s be taking his teammate Crafton out.
For Gilliland and Burton, if neither of them wins, then Kyle Busch Motorsports will be shut out of the playoffs. That would be tough since KBM has won six times in 2019 with Kyle Busch taking five wins and Greg Biffle one himself.
Gilliland, is driving well now. He has four top seven finishes in his last five starts on the year in his No. 4 Toyota. In fact, is you go back to Fathers Day weekend in Iowa, he’s only finished outside the top 10 just once in six starts.
Heading into Eldora, Burton was driving really well. He had three consecutive top four finishes and five top fives in his last six tries. But, a sub 20th place finish after a rough night took him from 13 points behind the cutoff line to 64.
Creed, finished second on Thursday night in Eldora but that was his first top five finish of the season. The defending ARCA champion has to have a career day next Saturday in his No. 2 Chevrolet for GMS Racing or he won’t be in the playoffs.
So, Michigan, who gets in?
Enfinger, has a top eight finish in all three Michigan tries. Crafton, hasn’t won a race in two years now but does have six straight top 10 finishes at Michigan himself. These two will make the KBM duo, Rhodes and Creed have to win.
Creed and Burton are rookies at Michigan. Gilliland, finished fifth in this race last year. Rhodes, has made three starts and has finishes of sixth, 11th and sixth respectively.
Toyota has won four of the last five in Michigan and I wrote a couple of weeks ago that I think Burton wins, so I’ll stick with it.