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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.

Ryan Truex win first Truck Series pole for Chicagoland race

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Ryan Truex scored his first Camping World Truck Series pole Friday, claiming the top position for tonight’s TheHouse.com 225 at Chicagoland Speedway.

The younger brother of Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Truex earned the pole with a speed of 175.982 mph around the 1.5-mile track.

The pole comes in his 35th start in the series. Truex, who drives for Shigeaki Hattori, is the first driver outside the eight-driver grid that will make the playoffs that begin next week. He is seven points behind Ben Rhodes, who starts 13th.

Joining Truex in the top five will be Chase Briscoe, Christopher Bell, Johnny Sauter and Matt Crafton.

The race will air at 8:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.

Click here for the starting lineup.

Chris Gabehart’s job as Denny Hamlin’s interim crew chief will be simple

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RICHMOND, Va. — Chris Gabhart’s biggest job as Denny Hamlin’s interim crew chief this weekend at Richmond Raceway could be just to sit back and watch the show.

“I can assure you,’’ Gabehart told NBC Sports, “I’ve had a little bit of conversation over the last day or two, he’s coming here motivated. You’re going to get the full force of Denny Hamlin over the next two days, and it’s going to be fun.’’

Hamlin comes to his home track after sweeping the Xfinity and Cup races at Darlington and then finding out this week that both winning cars failed inspection at the NASCAR R&D Center. Hamlin’s crew chief, Mike Wheeler, has been suspended two races, meaning he also will miss next weekend’s opening playoff race at Chicagoland Speedway.

Hamlin and Gabehart have worked together in the Xfinity Series this season. Gabehart also was Hamlin’s race engineer in the Cup Series in 2015.

MORE: Chris Gabehart – racer turned crew chief

Gabehart stresses that his main duty Friday is as Christopher Bell’s crew chief in the Xfinity Series for Joe Gibbs Racing. This is Bell’s first time at Richmond.

Also, today marks the debut of the flange fit composite car in the Xfinity Series. Bell will be among 30 drivers in such cars. The rest of the field will use the standard steel-bodied cars but those will weigh 150 pounds more than the composite cars.

Gabehart says he won’t be needed as much by Hamlin’s team Friday for Cup practice or qualifying.

“I’m going to go check on them, but it’s more or less me being plugged in where I can be to get up to speed with what they’ve got going on,’’ Gabehart said. “I won’t be involved in any right rear spring changes or shock changes or any of that stuff. (Wheeler) will still be plugged in from afar.

“There is so much support over there that they don’t need me for any of that. They’re just asking me to sit on the (pit) box with a little bit of experience pushing the (radio) button and making those gut feel calls (in the race).’’

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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