Austin Hill

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Matt Crafton wins pole for Truck Series race at Talladega

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Matt Crafton won the pole for today’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Talladega (1:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

He claimed the top starting position with a speed of 180.925 mph. It is his third pole of the season and his first career pole on a superspeedway.

Fellow playoff driver Tyler Ankrum will start second.

The top five is completed by Harrison Burton, Johnny Sauter and Sheldon Creed.

Where the remaining playoff drivers will start:

Brett Moffitt – eighth

Stewart Friesen – 10th

Austin Hill – 13th

Ross Chastain – 17th

Click here for the starting lineup.

 

Truck practice report from Talladega

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TALLADEGA, Ala. – Harrison Burton had the fastest lap in Friday’s final NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series practice at Talladega Superspeedway.

Burton had a top lap of 189.077 mph. He was followed by Todd Gilliland (189.040 mph), Tyler Ankrum (188.988), Riley Herbst (188.798) and Codie Rohrbaugh (183.628).

There were no incidents in the session.

Click here for final Truck practice report

 

FIRST PRACTICE

Austin Hill posted the fastest time in the first of two practice sessions Friday for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series.

Hill (193.115 mph) was followed by Clay Greenfield (193.022), Timothy Peters (192.948), Brett Moffitt (190.325) and Sheldon Creed (190.109).

There were no incidents in the session.

The final Truck practice will be from 3:35 – 4:25 p.m. ET.

Click here for Truck practice results

NASCAR declines ThorSport Racing’s request to reinstate teams to playoffs

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NASCAR has denied ThorSport Racing’s request to reinstate its two Gander Outdoors Truck Series teams that were eliminated at Las Vegas Motor Speedway because of a motor issue that Illmor Engineering claimed responsibility.

ThorSport Racing sent NASCAR a letter Sept. 27 seeking reinstatement into the playoffs for Grant Enfinger, the regular-season champion, and Johnny Sauter. Both failed to finish at Las Vegas because of engine issues and were eliminated from the playoffs.

Ilmor Engineering provides the NT1 engine that is run by nearly every team in the Truck series. After multiple engine failures during the Sept. 13 Las Vegas race, Ilmor and NASCAR investigated the matter. Ilmor Engineering cited the cause as “the combination of the high engine load condition combined with the extreme weather conditions in Las Vegas resulted in some engines suffering severe detonation.”

ThorSport Racing sent a one-page letter Sept. 27 to NASCAR with its request.

“We feel the right thing for us is we were never allowed to race at Vegas for the playoff positions,” David Pepper, general manager of ThorSport Racing, told NBC Sports on Sept. 27. “We’re not asking to reset Vegas. We’ll take our last-place finishes. We’re just asking to move the cutoff date to Phoenix, eliminate four of us instead of two (after Vegas) and two (after Phoenix.)

“Allow it to be settled on the race track and not by an outside source that has openly said, ‘Hey, we made a mistake.’ I don’t want to beat on them. They made a mistake, but we shouldn’t be the victims of the mistake.”

The six drivers remaining in the Truck playoff are: Reigning series champion Brett Moffitt, Austin Hill, Ross Chastain, Stewart Friesen, Matt Crafton and Tyler Ankrum.

The second round of the playoffs begin Oct. 12 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Austin Hill wins Truck race at Vegas; Johnny Sauter, Grant Enfinger exit playoffs

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Austin Hill roared to the lead late and held on to win for the third time this season in Friday’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series playoff race. While Hill celebrated, two ThorSport Racing teams were eliminated from title contention.

ThorSport Racing lost three trucksdue to mechanical failures. As a result, Enfinger, the regular-season champion and Johnny Sauter were eliminated. Teammate Matt Crafton also had mechanical failure but advanced.

The second round begins next month at Talladega. Joining Hill in the second round will be: Brett Moffitt, Ross Chastain, Stewart Friesen, Crafton and Tyler Ankrum.

MORE: Race results

MORE: Reseeded standings for second playoff round

Enfinger said to FS1 of his mechanical issue: “It’s just a shame our season hopes come down to quality control on a spec part that we had nothing to do with. I definitely share our owner’s frustration with the parts.”

Sauter’s team tried to repair the issue and got him back on track, but he didn’t complete a full lap before more issues, ending his night.

“Just inferior engines, I guess, I’m not sure,” Sauter told FS1. “It’s just disappointing that our season comes down to that. This is a fresh engine, obviously something’s wrong with it. … It’s just a shame … but if something happens and it’s out of your control, what are you going to do?”

Finishing second through fifth were Ross Chastain, pole sitter Christian Eckes, Sheldon Creed and Todd Gilliland.

Sixth through 10th were Brennan Poole, Brett Moffitt, Ben Rhodes, Harrison Burton and Dylan Lupton.

Stage 1 winner: Ross Chastain.

Stage 2 winner: Ross Chastain (has now won five of the last eight stages in the last four races).

Who had a good race: Ross Chastain, who finished second and won both stages. … Third-place finisher Christian Eckes, just 18 years old, had another outstanding run in his sixth start this season for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Who had a bad race: In addition to Sauter, Crafton and Enfinger, John Hunter Nemechek had the worst showing as he was unable to start the truck and never took the green flag.

Next: The Truck Series is now off for the next month, returning for its fourth of seven playoff races on October 12 at Talladega Superspeedway.

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Christian Eckes earns Truck pole at Las Vegas

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Behind the wheel of the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra, 18-year-old Christian Eckes grabbed the pole for tonight’s third race of the Gander Outdoors Truck Series playoffs at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The Middletown, New York native covered the 1.5-mile oval with a best speed of 178.077 mph. It’s the second pole of the season for Eckes in just six Truck Series races in 2019 (he also was No. 1 at in the season opener at Daytona). Eckes also started from the pole via owner’s points earlier this season at Gateway due to weather cancelling qualifying.

“It’s awesome to be on the pole again,” Eckes told FS1. “The big thing is just to keep our Tundra under control. There have been a couple races this year where I thought we had a shot at winning but just haven’t been able to capitalize on it. I how we do that tonight and bring home a win.”

Click here for the Truck Series qualifying results.

Ross Chastain (178.012 mph) qualified second, followed by Todd Gilliland (177.907 mph), Brett Moffitt (177.585 mph) and Matt Crafton (177.375 mph).

Sixth through 10th were Sheldon Creed (177.305 mph), Austin Hill (177.165 mph), Grant Enfinger (177.125), Harrison Burton (176.939) and Johnny Sauter (176.916).

Tonight’s race (9 p.m. ET, FS1) will see the lowest-scoring two of the eight playoff contenders eliminated.

Three drivers failed to qualify: Cory Roper, Justin Johnson and Tyler Hill, who wrecked during his qualifying attempt, his truck suffering front end damage when it bottomed out in the infield grass.

Click here for the row-by-row starting lineup for tonight’s race.

There was one spectacular wreck during the session: Jesse Iwuji hit the inside wall coming off Turn 4 extremely hard, destroying the front end and left side. The 32-year-old Iwuji climbed out of his truck and walked to the ambulance to be taken to the infield care center to be checked out medically.

“I’m fine, just with the track being super hot and super slick, coming out of Turn 4 it just got away from me,” Iwuji told FS1. “I was trying to see if I could loop it back on the infield, but it wouldn’t come around to the right and we went into the inside pit wall.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski