It’s time for the postseason for at least one the three premier NASCAR racing series this weekend as the Trucks go night racing at Bristol.
As we’ve seen all year in the truck series, the eight-driver field is extremely competitive. The group is perhaps the most competitive starting field for the playoffs we have seen in any series under the new format.
That means it’s a wide-open race to Homestead-Miami Speedway and it all starts on Thursday in Tennessee.
Truck Series Playoff Primer: Moffitt and Chastain the top dogs
Defending truck series champion Brett Moffitt comes into the playoffs with 22 bonus points to go with his 2,000 and lead in the standings.
He’s my favorite to win the whole thing again.
Last year in the playoffs, Moffitt showed he had what it takes to win when it counted.
The Grimes, IA native took a first-place finish to avoid elimination at Phoenix and then captured the win at Homestead to earn his first ever championship.
He’ll enter with a 13-point cushion on the cutoff, which isn’t much compared to what some have seen in past years. That’s another example of house close the field is to each other in this year’s postseason.
His biggest threat will be Ross Chastain and it isn’t close.
Chastain has shown he’s been able to rattle off victories, winning four (albeit being disqualified from one) of the races in the Truck Series’ 16-race, regular season schedule.
The fan-favorite and watermelon enthusiast also picked up a sponsorship for the seven playoff races after running unsponsored at some tracks.
The next pair of drivers includes two teammates from ThorSport Racing who raced their way into the postseason without wins.
That would be points leader Grant Enfinger, who received a playoff point bonus for winning the regular season, and Matt Crafton.
Crafton just edged his way in, as a new winner in the series in the last race at Michigan would have knocked him out. Nonetheless, Crafton was able to finish third overall in the classic point standings.
Both drivers have been consistently fast, but even that might not be enough to make it to Homestead with how close this field is together.
Johnny Sauter was the third driver out of the ThorSport camp to make the show, currently three points behind Austin Hill after his points penalty at Iowa Speedway.
If you remember, Sauter took Hill out under caution flag conditions and was heftily punished for it.
If either of those drivers are close to one another during the final seven races of the year, you’re going to want to pay attention.
Tyler Ankrum snuck into the points by winning at Kentucky Speedway. He failed to win a stage or any other race this season so he’s left at the bottom of the grid with just five bonus points.
Ankrum did, however, clinch the rookie of the year award by becoming the only rookie to make playoffs.
Last on the grid that we haven’t touched on is a true wildcard in Stewart Friesen.
The former Late Model driver fittingly captured his first career win on the dirt at Eldora a few weeks ago to qualify and could sneak in to Homestead with some
more strong runs.
Friesen finished second at Bristol last season in a non-playoff race and also recorded top 10 finishes at six of the seven playoff tracks in 2018.
The exception to that? He was P11 at Martinsville.
If Friesen finds a win in the playoffs, look for him to be a major threat by the time Homestead rolls around.
The trucks will take to the track on Thursday following the NASCAR K&N East Pro Series race. The race at Bristol is scheduled for 200 laps and a 7:30 p.m. ET start time on Fox Sports 1.
Bristol Starting Lineup
1. Brett Moffitt
2. Ross Chastain
3. Stewart Friesen
4. Ben Rhodes
5. Tyler Ankrum
6. Johnny Sauter
7. Chandler Smith
8. Austin Hill
9. Brennan Poole
10. Harrison Burton
11. Matt Crafton
12. Parker Kligerman
13. John Hunter Nemechek
14. Grant Enfinger
15. Dylan Lupton
16. Raphael Lessard
17. Todd Gilliland
18. Sam Mayer
19. Tyler Dippel
20. Natalie Decker
21. Clay Greenfield
22. Jesse Little
23. Gus Dean
24. Sheldon Creed
25. Austin Wayne Self
26. Ryan Sieg
27. Timmy Hill
28. Landon Huffman
29. JJ Yeley
30. Jordan Anderson
31. Jennifer Jo Cobb
32. Angela Ruch
*Playoff drivers in BOLD
|NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Playoff Grid|
|Truck Series Remaining Shedule|
|8/25||Canadian Tire MP||2:30pm||FS1|
|Two drivers eliminated|
|Two drivers eliminated|