Christian Eckes

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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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Ross Chastain wins pole for today’s Truck race at Michigan

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BROOKLYN, Mich. — Ross Chastain will start from the pole for today’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Michigan International Speedway.

Chastain won the pole with a lap of 183.772 mph. Christian Eckes joins him on the front row with a lap of 183.734 mph. They are followed by Tyler Ankrum (183.435 mph), Todd Gilliland (183.267) and Harrison Burton (183.211).

This is the regular-season finale for the Trucks. Gilliland and Burton must win to qualify for the playoffs.

Daniel Sasnett crashed in the session. He was the only one to fail to qualify.

Truck Series practice report from Michigan

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Christian Eckes was fastest in the second of two Gander Outdoors Truck Series practice sessions Friday at Michigan International Speedway.

Eckes claimed the top spot with a speed of 184.233 mph.

The top five was completed by Ross Chastain (184.204 mph), Ben Rhodes (184.096), Anthony Alfredo (183.899) and Stewart Friesen (183.889).

Harrison Burton was 12th fastest and Todd Gilliland was 16th.

Burton recorded the most laps in the session with 39.

Eckes had the best 10-lap average at 180.980 mph.

Click here for the speed chart.

First practice

Chastain was fastest, posting a top speed of 185.931 mph in the session and was the only driver to surpass 185 mph.

The top five was completed by defending race winner Brett Moffitt (184.649 mph), Rhodes (184.601), Tyler Dippel (184.200) and Jordan Anderson (183.899).

Gilliland was 10th on the speed chart and Burton was 12th. Both Kyle Bush Motorsports drivers will likely need to win this weekend to make the playoffs.

Rhodes, Eckes and Matt Crafton recorded the most laps in the session with 32.

Dippel had the best 10-lap average at 180.876 mph.

Click here for the speed chart.

Ross Chastain wins at Pocono for third Truck Series victory of season

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Ross Chastain held off Tyler Ankrum and Harrison Burton to win Saturday’s Gander RV 150 at Pocono Raceway.

It was Chastain’s third career NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series win, all of which have come this season. He won earlier at Kansas and Gateway. In addition, Chastain is now the only driver in the Truck Series to have three wins thus far this season.

“We stomped them in the dirt, we pressed the attack, I’m so excited,” Chastain told FOX. “We’ll go try to press the attack (in the next race, Thursday night at Eldora Speedway). We don’t back down at all. We just keep going.”

Eldora will be Chastain’s first career Truck race on dirt, prompting him to quip, “I’ve always thought dirt was for farming and asphalt was for racing, but we’re going to learn something next week.”

Christian Eckes finished fourth, followed by Brett Moffitt, Matt Crafton, Todd Gilliland, Johnny Sauter, Ben Rhodes and Grant Enfinger.

Click here for results.

Click here for updated point standings

The race didn’t even get past Turn 1 on the opening lap when Stewart Friesen’s Chevrolet spun and collected the Toyota of Anthony Alfredo. Both trucks were damaged beyond repair.

I’m not really sure,” Friesen told FOX when asked what happened in the incident. “I spun around and made contact with the wall.

I got to the apron there and it’s just a bummer. I had a lot of friends and family here today and just really, really disappointed. I wish I could have done more to last a little longer out there. We’ll be back but it just sucks right now.”

Natalie Decker and Ben Rhodes were also involved but both suffered only minor damage and were able to continue on.

Stage 1 winner: Ross Chastain (second stage win of season)

Stage 2 winner: Harrison Burton (first stage win of season)

Who had a good race: Harrison Burton continued in his bid to make the playoffs with a strong third-place finish.

Who had a bad race: Stewart Friesen’s first lap wreck could have significant playoff ramifications for him. Friesen came into the race seventh in the hunt for the eight playoff spots, and left in eighth place, on the playoff bubble. Because he has not won a race this season, he only has two more races – August 1 at Eldora and August 10 at Michigan – to lock himself into the playoffs.

Notable: Before he went to victory lane, Chastain — nicknamed “The Melon Man” —  had some fun by tossing a watermelon-shaped beach ball back and forth with fans in the frontstretch stands. Chastain’s family is watermelon growers.

What’s next: There will be a short turnaround for Truck Series teams, who are back at it – and on the dirt this time – this Thursday, August 1, in the Eldora Dirt Derby at Eldora Speedway in Ohio.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Truck Series practice report from Pocono Raceway

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Todd Gilliland was fastest in the final Gander Outdoors Truck Series practice session at Pocono Raceway.

Gilliland posted a speed of 168.593 mph. He was also second fastest in the first session.

He was followed by Sheldon Creed (168.180 mpg), Austin Hill (167.870), Jordan Anderson (167.751) and Grant Enfinger (167.451).

Harrison Burton, who was 10th on the speed chart, recorded the most laps with 27.

Click here for the speed chart.

 

First practice

Burton was fastest in the first session with a top speed of 167.954 mph around the 2.5-mile track.

Burton was followed by his Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Gilliland (167.184 mph).

The top five was completed by Brett Moffitt (167.041), Stewart Friesen (167.025) and Christian Eckes (166.917).

Eckes put all three KBM trucks in the top five.

Creed was sixth fastest and recorded the most laps with 23.

The final Truck Series practice session is scheduled for 12:35 – 1:25 p.m. ET.

Click here for the practice report.