A dramatic and action-filled NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series regular season culminates this weekend in the Corrigan Oil 200 at Michigan International Speedway (Saturday at 1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The series will crown its regular season champion and the eight-driver championship Playoff field will be set. For all intents and purposes there still remains one Playoff position to finalize.
Stewart Friesen’s career first victory last week on the Eldora Speedway dirt track secured his Playoff position. He joins a list of race winners that include defending series champion Brett Moffitt, a two-time winner as well as first-time championship contender, Ross Chastain, who has three victories. Daytona winner Austin Hill and Kentucky race winner Tyler Ankrum will also be making their Playoff debut. And two-time series champion Johnny Sauter rounds out the list of 2019 race winners.
Moffitt, driver of the No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet is the defending Michigan race winner. In three starts there, he has two wins. He won the 2016 race leading only the last lap. He led five laps in the race last year, however took the victory on a last lap pass on Johnny Sauter.
Grant Enfinger has topped the championship standings for the last nine weeks and never been ranked less than second place. Although he hasn’t won a race this year, he has mathematically secured the championship triumph to move into the Playoffs with a 15-point Playoff point bonus for his season topping work.
Matt Crafton, a former two-time series champion, is ranked second to Enfinger in the championship, but is also winless on the season. Should a new winner – other than Crafton – take the checkered at Michigan, Crafton would be eliminated from Playoff contention.
Crafton has the most starts at Michigan among those vying for the last Playoff position. The driver of the No. 88 ThorSport Ford has eight top-10 finishes in 17 starts, including a best showing of runner-up in 2014. He has top-10 finishes in the last five races and led laps in the last three races.
There remains, however, a substantial and substantially talented group of young drivers still hoping to win their way into the Playoffs this weekend. Ben Rhodes, Harrison Burton, Todd Gilliland and Sheldon Creed are all ranked among the top-eight in the championship standings but without a Playoff-qualifying win yet.
Rhodes, 22, is ranked ninth – 63 points behind Crafton in the standings. The driver of the No. 99 ThorSport Racing Ford has a pair of top-10 finishes in three Michigan starts.
Kyle Busch Motorsports teammates Harrison Burton and Todd Gilliland are ranked sixth and seventh in the championship. Burton, 18, will be making his Michigan debut in the No. 18 KBM Toyota. Gilliland, 19, started on the outside pole last year in his only Gander Trucks start at Michigan and finished fifth. He has five top 10s in the season’s last six races in the No. 4 KBM Toyota.
Creed, 21, is ranked eighth in the championship but still in need of a victory to break into the Playoff mix. The driver of the No. 2 GMS Racing Chevrolet finished runner-up last week at Eldora Speedway – his best finish of the season – and this will be his Michigan debut in the truck.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!