Stewart Friesen

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Christopher Bell wins pole for today’s Truck race at Talladega

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Christopher Bell will start on the pole for today’s Camping World Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway after a lap of 180.118 mph. It is Bell’s fourth pole of the season.

Reigning series champion Johnny Sauter will start second after a lap of 179.027 mph.

They are followed by Stewart Friesen (178.753 mph), Justin Haley (178.188) and Chase Briscoe (177.771).

Kaz Grala, who is eight points out of a transfer spot, was third fastest in the opening session of qualifying but did not make an attempt in the final round because of leaking fluids. His team will change the engine.

Click here for starting lineup

Chris Fontaine surprises with fastest speed in final Truck practice at Talladega

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Chris Fontaine, who is making his first start in the Camping World Truck Series this season, was the surprising fastest driver in Friday’s second and final practice at Talladega.

Driving the No. 47 Toyota Tundra, Fontaine covered the 2.66-mile, high-banked tri-oval at a field-best speed of 187.897 mph.

Stewart Friesen was second (187.835 mph), followed by Grant Enfinger (187.761), Myatt Snider (186.696), Noah Gragson (186.547), Christopher Bell (185.823), Justin Haley (184.883), Johnny Sauter (181.247), Clay Greenfield (179.642) and Parker Kligerman (179.259).

Qualifying takes place Saturday at 10:30 a.m. ET, just before the Fred’s 250 race, which will take the green flag at 1 p.m. ET

Click here for the full final practice speed chart.

Johnny Sauter paces opening Truck practice at Las Vegas

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Johnny Sauter posted the fastest lap in Saturday’s opening Camping World Truck Series practice at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Sauter led the way with a lap of 179.468 mph.

He was followed by Ryan Truex (178.619 mph), Matt Crafton (178.589), Noah Gragson (178.512) and Stewart Friesen (178.506).

Twenty trucks practiced in the session. Noah Gragson had the best average over 10 consecutive laps at 175.781 mph.

The series has one practice left today, followed by qualifying and tonight’s race.

Christopher Bell opens Truck playoffs by winning at New Hampshire

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LOUDON, New Hampshire — Christopher Bell passed Ryan Truex for the lead with 16 laps left and went on to win the opening NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoff race Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The victory is the fifth of the season for Bell, the regular-season champion, and advances him to the second round. Bell, who started second, also won both stages Saturday.

“Now we can be more aggressive at Vegas and especially at Talladega and try to win the race,” Bell said of the next two races in the opening round of the playoffs.

MORE: Race results

MORE: Points report 

Truex finished second to tie his career-best finish. Todd Gilliland placed a career-best third, overcoming a penalty for running over pit equipment early in the 175-lap race. Grant Enfinger was fourth. Stewart Friesen completed the top five. Four of the top five spots were taken by non-playoff drivers.

Defending series champion Johnny Sauter finished ninth. He was running seventh when he was struck in the passenger side door by a spinning Noah Gragson on Lap 64 and fought the truck’s handling after that.

“From there, it was try to fix it as best we could,” Sauter said. “Tailpipes were missing. You can’t compete at that level with that kind of damage. We’re just lucky it wasn’t something major. It could have been a spindle or a right front suspension.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Christopher Bell

STAGE 2 WINNER: Christopher Bell

HOW CHRISTOPHER BELL WON: He simply had the best truck. After battling Ryan Truex for the lead late, Bell pulled away for the easy win.

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Runner-up Ryan Truex scored his fifth top-five finish in the last six races. … Todd Gilliland, making his fourth career series start, finished a career-best third. … Grant Enfinger placed fourth to record his second consecutive top-five finish. … After Christopher Bell, Matt Crafton was the next highest-finishing playoff driver. Crafton placed sixth.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: John Hunter Nemechek started 14th (worst among playoff drivers) and went to the garage on Lap 44 for a gear change. He lost more than 30 laps for repairs and finished 20th. … Pole-sitter Noah Gragson led 40 laps before spinning and suffering damage when he hit Johnny Sauter’s truck. Gragson finished 15th in the 29-truck field.

NOTABLE: This marked the first time in the last six Truck races at New Hampshire that the pole winner didn’t win the race.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It’s an honor to drive for you guys,’’ Christopher Bell told his Kyle Busch Motorsports team on the radio.

NEXT: Saturday, Sept. 30 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (8:30 p.m. ET on FS1)

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Halmar Friesen Racing Truck team splits with Tommy Baldwin Jr., forms alliance with GMS Racing

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Halmar Friesen Racing, which operates the No. 52 Chevrolet Silverado in the Camping World Truck Series, has parted ways with Tommy Baldwin Jr. and has formed a technical alliance with GMS Racing for the remainder of the season.

Team co-owner Chris Larsen told NBC Sports Wednesday afternoon that the team is not shutting down or suspending operations, but rather is in the process of integrating much of its operation with GMS Racing.

That includes moving into GMS’s shop, sharing technical expertise, equipment, engineering and support, Larsen said.

Larsen said the team will continue to be operated independently, so it won’t be considered as another GMS truck.

“We’re shifting to a technical alliance with GMS,” Larsen said. “We’re hoping this will take our team to another level.

“(GMS has) been gracious enough to work with us and share some of their technical expertise, fill in on equipment that we had with Tommy and stuff like that. GMS will fulfill our need with that.”

To facilitate the changeover to GMS and further prepare its trucks, Halmar Friesen Racing will be skipping next weekend’s race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, and may also skip the race at Chicagoland Speedway.

It will be the second time the team has skipped races in 2017, having missed Gateway and Iowa earlier this season.

Stewart Friesen, who is both driver of the truck and a co-owner of the team, will remain behind the wheel when HFR returns to the track, Larsen said.

Friesen, a Canadian native, has competed in 12 of the series’ first 14 races this season. He is currently 15th in driver points with a best finish of runner-up at Eldora (he also won the pole for that race).

Joining forces with GMS will also allow HFR to further expand its search for sponsorship for next season, Larsen said.

“We’re in the same boat as everybody else, everything is dependent on sponsorship,” Larsen said.

As for Baldwin, he joined forces with HFR earlier this year, overseeing operations. But both sides decided recently to “part ways amicably,” Larsen said.

“We just agreed things weren’t progressing at the rate we wanted,” Larsen said. “For us to go to another level, we needed more focus and full-time commitment to just our truck.

“Tommy helped us to get to where we are and we couldn’t have done it without him. We just agreed to split ways.

“And with our new alliance with GMS, we’re very confident we’ll finish the season strong by doing this.”

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