Truck Series doubleheader at Kansas all about ‘balancing aggression’

NASCAR Truck Series
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Austin Hill is thinking about his rear bumper.

Todd Gilliland is concerned about scraping up the right side of his truck.

These may seem like normal things to worry about damaging during a NASCAR race, but they take on more significance when the Truck Series is preparing for its first ever doubleheader.

After the Cup and Xfinity Series each got shots at doubleheaders this year, the Truck Series gets the opportunity at Kansas Speedway with races Friday night (7 p.m. ET on FS1) and Saturday afternoon (1:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

Gilliland said “balancing aggression” will be one of the biggest challenges for drivers in Friday’s race.

“Obviously, we want to race the same truck the second day to maintain our starting position and also it’s just a better truck,” Gilliland said Wednesday in a Zoom press conference. “That’s what the guys have spent more time on. That’s what we plan to do is race that truck two times. It’s a balance and last year the groove was pretty close to the wall. If you scrape up the right-side of the truck, it’s a little tougher to get that back to exactly perfect as an Xfinity car is with the composite body.”

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Hill, who leads the point standings through eight races, wants to get through Friday’s 134-lap race without forcing his team to have to fix a bashed in rear bumper.

“I’ve been doing everything I can on restarts to not get my bumper knocked off,” Hill said Wednesday in a Zoom press conference. “It seems like every race we come in and the bumper’s caved in really bad. So your first race you really want to just try to keep the truck clean, but we also want to go fight for a win. So it’s gonna be tough to kind of balance that aggressiveness on restarts.”

Hill’s crew chief, Scott Zipadelli, said “a lot of lists, a lot of notes (and) a lot of parts” have gone into getting ready for the two races. That includes bringing tools to the track he wouldn’t normally.

“(With) only two hours post race to work on your truck and then two hours the next morning … I’m just taking some of my tools out of my fab shop just to be more prepared and more organized and just to be able to repair things quicker and faster,” Zipadelli said. “We have everything we need in the hauler, I’m just bringing extra stuff that I work with every single day so that I can be more efficient.”

Teams and drivers are also having to prepare for two races ran in different parts of the day. But the doubleheader is also being held in July. The Truck Series hasn’t competed at Kansas later than May since 2006.

“A lot of these places that we’ve ran so far are usually run the end of February or the beginning of March, the beginning of May, which is way cooler (temperatures),” Gilliland said. “I remember practicing at Kansas (in 2019) and it being freezing. … Places like Kansas are places that put on really great racing, you can run from the bottom to the top. I feel like the warmer the weather, probably the more you’ll see people trying to move around and search for grip. I think it’s a balance. …

“I think the temperature swing is definitely going to change the race track a lot. It’s probably going to be two completely different races for the Truck Series. That’s the fun part. Really, no one knows. We’re going to guess the best we can and pretty much that’s what we’ve been doing all year. We have pretty good notes to go off of at this point and just guess our best.”