The playoffs for the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series will expand from eight to 10 drivers in 2020, NASCAR announced Tuesday.
Two teams will be eliminated after the first round and four eliminated after second round.
How each round of the playoffs will unfold:
Round of 10: World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Bristol Motor Speedway
Round of 8: Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, Martinsville Speedway
Championship 4: Phoenix Raceway
“Expanding the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series playoff field to 10 is a win-win for drivers, teams and, most importantly, the passionate fans who support our Gander Trucks,” Truck Series Managing Director Brad Moran said in a statement from NASCAR. “This will only increase the competitive intensity this series offers, as more drivers and teams vie for one of the most coveted championships in all of racing.”
Had there been 10 drivers allowed in last year’s playoffs, ThorSport Racing’s Ben Rhodes and Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Harrison Burton would have gotten those spots. KBM did not have any drivers in the playoffs.
Hendrick Motorsports dropped the hammer with Byron’s Southern 500 scheme, almost a direct copy of a car Cole Trickle drove in the movie Days of Thunder, which Hendrick Motorsports advised on the making of.
City Chevrolet is a real car dealership in Charlotte, North Carolina, that Rick Hendrick owns.
Here’s how the 2019 season-ending NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 race played out, as well as how the final season standings wound up:
Matt Crafton proved Friday that second is not the first loser, finishing higher than the other three Championship 4 contestants to capture his third career NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship.
Meanwhile, Austin Hill ended the 2019 Truck Series season the way he began it: with a win, beating Crafton to the finish line. Hill started the season with a win at Daytona.
But Hill certainly made his mark in the latter half of the season. Even though he fell short of the Championship 4, he still earned three wins in the last eight races and four wins overall.
Stewart Friesen held off a late challenge by Brandon Jones to not only win Friday night’s NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series race at ISM Raceway, but also to lock himself into next week’s championship race at Miami.
For Friesen, the win was a vindication of sorts. He was penalized by NASCAR for jumping the start at the beginning of the race, being sent to the back of the field as a result.
But the Canadian driver was a man on a mission and was not to be denied, earning his second career Truck Series win (the other win was earlier this year at Eldora).
“What a race car,” Friesen told FS1. “We were able to pass them all clean. … It’s awesome (to be in the championship round). It’s what we’ve been geared up for all year long. We just didn’t get a lot of breaks. We lost races about every which way you could lose them and thought it was another one tonight.
“This one’s for everybody. We can all celebrate this one together tomorrow and then it’s game on (at Miami). We’ve got a bad-ass piece for next week, too.”
Stage 1 winner: Ben Rhodes (third stage win of season)
Stage 2 winner: Brandon Jones (fourth stage win of season)
Who else had a good race: Crafton began the race below the playoff cutline, but stuck to the gameplan and now he’s Miami-bound. “We did exactly what we had to do,” Crafton told FS1. “We had nothing to lose and a lot to gain. We fought really hard each and every stage. We didn’t want to stage race, but we had to and at the end of the day, that’s what got us in (to the championship race).”
Who had a bad race: After starting from the pole, Austin Hill finished an unlucky 13th, low enough to knock him below the playoff cutline and to see Crafton move past him for the final championship race spot. “We just didn’t perform tonight and didn’t execute like we were supposed to,” Hill told FS1. “We just weren’t good enough when it mattered.”
Notable: After mechanical issues forced him to miss qualifying and to start the race at the back of the field, Harrison Burton came back strongly to finish seventh. … Chastain is a Florida native and is looking forward to going to his home track to race for the championship, telling FS1: “I am excited. This is incredible. … We’re going to Homestead. It’s an absolute dream come true.
What’s next: The 2019 Truck Series season all comes down to one race next Friday: the season finale and the championship-deciding race at Miami.
Austin Hill bumped Stewart Friesen late in qualifying to take the pole for tonight’s Lucas Oil 150 Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at ISM Raceway in suburban Phoenix.
Hill took the pole with a speed of 133.230 mph. Friesen will start alongside Hill on the front row with a qualifying run of 133.126 mph.
“I tried to hit my marks as best as I could,” Hill told FS1. “I didn’t think it was a great lap. … That’s the best it finished all day. Now we’re starting on the pole. Now we just have to go and finish this thing off.”
Hill and Friesen were the only drivers to exceed 133 mph in the session.
One incident of note occurred to the No 18 Toyota Tundra of Harrison Burton. He was unable to get his truck started to make a qualifying attempt and, as a result, will start tonight’s race from the back of the field.
Tonight’s race will take the green flag shortly after 8:30 p.m. ET and will be televised on FS1.