John Hunter Nemechek

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Christopher Bell enters Truck playoffs with 15-point lead

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JOLIET, Illinois – Christopher Bell, who won a season-high four races, enters the Camping World Truck Series playoffs with a 15-point lead on Johnny Sauter, who won Friday night’s race at Chicagoland Speedway.

Bell has 2,040 points after the reset for the playoffs. Sauter is next at 2,025 points. John Hunter Nemechek and Matt Crafton each have 2,014 points. Also making the playoffs are Chase Briscoe, Austin Cindric, Ben Rhodes and Kaz Grala.

“It’s huge, thankfully this year we were able to accumulate some points to have a little bit of a cushion going into the playoffs and just really thankful to be here at Kyle Busch Motorsports driving this No. 4 SiriusXM Tundra and not just SiriusXM, but all of our partners at JBL, TRD, Toyota and everyone at Kyle Busch Motorsports, there is a whole group there that builds these Tundras and they do an excellent job and it really shows week in and week out.”

The Truck playoffs begin next weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Click here for points report

Johnny Sauter wins Truck Series race at Chicago

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Johnny Sauter led the final 28 laps to win the Camping World Truck Series race at Chicagoland Speedway.

The win, in the regular-season finale, is the second of the year for the GMS Racing driver.

Sauter beat Chase Briscoe, Christopher Bell, Ryan Truex and Grant Enfinger. Sauter took the lead from Bell before racing to the win.

“This is what we needed, this is the momentum, this is the shot in the arm,” Sauter told Fox Sports 1.

Ben Rhodes, who finished sixth, earned the last spot in the playoffs via a tiebreaker over Truex.

Rhodes bounced back from a pit penalty and a second pit stop under yellow to race into the playoffs.

“Man, I still can’t believe it,” Rhodes told FS1. “They gave me the (playoff) hat and I’m like, ‘Are you sure this is ours?’ They said we were tied and we got the tiebreaker. I can’t believe it. The truck, all night we struggled. Ever since we unloaded here this has been by far our worst performance overall. It couldn’t come in a worse week to do it. I’m glad we’re in. Overall, everything worked out for us.”

Competing for the Truck Series title will be Bell, Sauter, John Hunter Nemechek, Matt Crafton, Briscoe, Austin Cindric, Rhodes and Kaz Grala.

Truex lost out on a playoff spot after sitting on his first pole and leading 30 laps.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Ryan Truex

STAGE 2 WINNER: Christopher Bell

MORE: Points standings

MORE: Race results

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: John Hunter Nemechek finished seventh for his eighth top 10 … Myatt Snider finished 10th after bouncing back from a spin with six laps to go in Stage 1. It’s his second top 10 in five Truck Series starts … Regan Smith finished 12th. He’s finished in the top 15 in eight of his nine starts. He’s finished 12th four times. … Tyler Young finished 13th for his best result in six starts this season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: After making contact with Rhodes during the Stage 3 restart, Matt Crafton dropped through the field before spinning on Lap 106. He finished 16th … Gray Gaulding only made it one lap before his No. 15 truck stalled, bringing out the caution. He continued but fell out on Lap 25 with a fuel pump issue.

NOTABLE: Christopher Bell enters the postseason as the regular-season champion thanks to his four wins. That gives him 15 extra playoff points … Chase Briscoe remains winless despite five finishes in the top three this season.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “It’s tough, but it’s racing. We did everything we could aside from win.” – Ryan Truex after missing out on the playoffs due to a tiebreaker with Ben Rhodes.

NEXT: UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway at 1 p.m. ET on Sept. 23 on Fox Sports 1.

Darrell Wallace Jr. returns to Xfinity Series for Sept. 16 Chicagoland race

Richard Petty Motorsports
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After missing the last 12 races, Darrell Wallace Jr. will return to the Xfinity Series for the Sept. 16 race at Chicagoland Speedway.

Richard Petty Motorsports and Biagi DenBeste Racing announced Thursday the 23-year-old driver will pilot the latter team’s No. 98 Nickelodeon Slime Ford in the race.

It will be Wallace’s first Xfinity race since the June 10 event at Pocono Raceway. After that race, Roush Fenway Racing closed down operations on the No. 6 car Wallace had driven since 2015.

Wallace then drove Richard Petty Motorsports’ No. 43 car in four Cup races in substitution of the injured Aric Almirola.

Since his last Cup race at Kentucky Speedway in July, Wallace competed in and won the Camping World Truck Series race at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 12.

“I’m really glad to get back behind the wheel of a race car,” Wallace said in a press release. “Chicago has always been a decent track for me where I’ve had some good finishes. I’m excited to get back in the Xfinity Series in a Ford Mustang. With the history with Biagi DenBeste Racing and RPM, we should have some good speed. It’s really cool to be paired with Nickelodeon. We’ve formed a great relationship over the past three years, and we’re able to do these one-off races to attract the youth to the sport. With such a cool looking car this weekend, I think we’ll do just that.”

Wallace’s paint scheme will be one of six at Chicago that will be inspired by Nickelodeon and its “Tales of the Turtle” TV show.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
  • Matt DiBenedetto will carry the “Samurai” paint scheme on his Go Fas Racing Ford.
  • Jeffrey Earnhardt will have “BeBop” and “Rocksteady” on his Circle Sport Chevy.
Xfinity Series
  • Bubba Wallace will showcase “Nickelodeon Slime” on his Biagi DenBeste Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports Ford.
  • Matt Tifft will have “Lone Rat and Cub” on his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
Camping World Truck Series

Austin Cindric defends winning bump as ‘game NASCAR has set up for us to play’

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Austin Cindric, whose last lap, bump-and-run move to win Sunday’s Camping World Truck Series race added to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park’s history of controversial finishes, says his actions were a result of “the game NASCAR has set up for us.’’

Cindric, who scored his first career series win to earn a spot in the playoffs for he and his Brad Keselowski Racing team, made his comments on the MRN Motorsports Monday show.

Cindric ran into the back of leader Kaz Grala’s truck and moved by to take the win. The contact spun Grala, who finished third.

“It’s pretty obvious what happened,’’ Cindric said of his contact. “I may have been too honest about what went through my head in order to make that happen. I don’t race that way, contrary to what most think, especially after yesterday.

“But honestly, it’s the game NASCAR has set up for us to play, which isn’t a negative, but it also is not a positive. Guys have dumped people for wins, especially at that race track for many, many years.

“I honestly would haven’t done it unless I had incentive. My incentive was to get the team a win, and my incentive was to get us in the playoffs. If we’re in the playoffs, I wouldn’t have done it. It’s just one of those deals that you had to get yourself to do.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever gone into a corner and known that I was going to throttle up and hit the guy in front of me. No, I wasn’t planning on spinning him out. There was a lot of runoff there to the left I was going to move him to and try to get a good run down the straightaway, but I ended up sending him around.

“You can’t apologize for winning. I definitely don’t like how it all ended up especially with Kaz because Kaz and I have grown up racing together. Kaz and I are friends. Obviously that may change after that weekend. I know he’s not very happy, and he has all the right to be. It’s one of those things I’m going to have to move through and try to earn some respect back over time, I guess.’’

Grala expressed his displeasure on Twitter after the race.

This adds to the legacy of memorable finishes at the road track.

Last year, John Hunter Nemechek and Cole Custer made contact coming to the finish line. Custer needed to win to make the playoffs. Nemechek won.

“Even in the Cole Custer thing and Nemechek last year, the thing about that was Nemechek took Cole’s chance away to contend for the championship,’’ Cindric told MRN Motorsports Monday. “I guess maybe where I was a bit too blunt in saying in my interview after the race that Kaz was already in the playoffs … I wasn’t taking his future away. I was taking a win away. Obviously, it still hurts just as much.

“It’s one of those deals that it made it a very simple decision for me. I didn’t know if I was going to have enough time to pass him cleanly down in (Turn) 10, and it was one of those things he probably wasn’t expecting me to get to him in (Turn) 5. Five was where I was strongest all day. I’m going to have to exploit that. I felt like that was the best way for me to get away before the last corner because you can usually see guys able to come back at them through (Turns) 9 and 10 because they’re esses, it’s just kind of one of those deals.

“You’re exactly right, in no series that I’ve raced in before except for in NASCAR have you been able to get away with something like that. It’s the game you play, and you have to play the game. I’m actually, honestly very surprised that lots of people aren’t accepting of what happened. I can understand that they’re upset, but it’s a move I had to make to put ourselves in a position to contend for the championship.’’

In 2013, Chase Elliott and Ty Dillon raced for the win there. Elliott won after contact on the final corner of the final lap.

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Examining playoff picture for Cup, Xfinity, Truck Series

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Here is a breakdown of the playoff situation for each of NASCAR’s three national series.

Monster Energy Cup Series

 

Xfinity Series

  • Two races remain in the regular season (Friday at Richmond and Sept. 16 at Chicagoland).
  • Four drivers are locked into the playoffs with a win (William Byron, Justin Allgaier, Ryan Reed and Jeremy Clements).
  • Elliott Sadler, Brennan Poole and Daniel Hemric clinched a playoffs spot on points.
  • Cole Custer is in the playoffs if there is not a new winner who is outside the current playoff cutoff
  • At least three drivers will make the playoffs on points.
  • Elliott Sadler will clinch the 2017 regular season championship if he has a 61-point lead over second place in points following Richmond (he enters with a 91-point lead).

 

Camping World Truck Series