Gander Outdoor Truck Series

Xfinity Series 2020 race fields cut; most Cup drivers limited to five starts

8 Comments

The 2020 season will have a slightly different look in both the Xfinity Series and Gander Outdoors Truck Series, NASCAR announced Wednesday.

Among the more notable changes: reduction in Xfinity Series race fields, as well as a decrease in the number of Xfinity races that full-time Cup drivers with more than three years of experience can compete in.

Also unveiled were the 2020 Dash 4 Cash and Triple Truck Challenge race dates and tracks.

Here’s the breakdown:

XFINITY SERIES:

* The starting field for each race will be cut to 36 cars (from 38 currently).

* The field will be set with 31 starting positions based on qualifying, four provisional positions based on the rulebook and one past champion provisional.

* Drivers with more than three years of full-time NASCAR Cup experience will be limited to a maximum of just five starts (down from seven currently). Those five starts cannot include the final regular season race or the playoffs. The current maximum for 2019 is seven starts for Cup drivers with five years of full-time Cup experience.

* The Dash 4 Cash battle will have the qualifying race at Homestead-Miami (March 21, 2019), followed by the four Dash races: Texas (March 28), Bristol (April 4), Talladega (April 25) and Dover (May 2).

* Drivers electing to accumulate NASCAR Cup series points are ineligible to take part in the Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash.

TRUCK SERIES:

* Drivers with more than three years of full-time NASCAR Cup series experience will be allowed to make a maximum of just five starts (as is the case currently, although drivers must have five years of full-time Cup tenure). Those five starts cannot include the final regular season race or the playoffs.

* The Triple Truck Challenge, introduced this season, will continue. The three 2020 races will be at Richmond (April 18), Dover (May 1) and Charlotte (May 15).

* Drivers electing to accumulate NASCAR Cup or Xfinity Series points are ineligible to compete in the Triple Truck Challenge races and the championship race.

* Removed post entry driver and owner caveat. Greg Biffle, who made one start earlier this season for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the first challenge race and won, would have been prevented from being eligible for the second Truck Challenge race because of the current limitation of not being named on the initial race entry list, which will now be rescinded for 2020.

“These updates to the Xfinity Series and Gander Trucks procedures continue our commitment to strengthening our race teams and providing a stronger field with even greater competition for our fans,” Meghan Miley, NASCAR Senior Director of Racing Operations, said in a media release. “We’re excited about the return of the Dash 4 Cash in the Xfinity Series and the Triple Truck Challenge with the Gander Trucks.

“These programs provide our teams with an incredible performance-based bonus opportunity each season. By removing the entry deadline requirement for the Triple Truck Challenge, we ensure our teams and fans know immediately if a driver is eligible to race for additional bonuses.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Ross Chastain says DQ spurred ‘very bone-jarring words’ from truck owner

4 Comments

Ross Chastain is “100 percent confident” he still will make the truck playoffs after having his first-place finish Sunday at Iowa Speedway tossed out on a postrace technicality.

But regardless of how Niece Motorsports rebounds from the disqualification, the repercussions still could threaten the future of the truck series team.

“There will be fallout from this for us for a long time,” Chastain said Tuesday during a taping of a NASCAR on NBC Podcast episode (which will be released next week; a video snippet is available above). “It shook (team owner) Al Niece and all of us to our cores (asking), ‘What are we doing? Why are we doing this?’ Al’s prepared for years to win races, and the amount of investment and infrastructure he’s put into this race team, and to get your second win, and they take it away.

“I think it really made him think about why is he doing this? And is this worth doing? It did. He’s a guy who wears his emotion on his sleeve just like I do. He’s honest. And he came in the shop (Monday) and had some, for me, very bone-jarring words that was like, ‘Holy cow, this could have a really bad effect on all our futures, his included, in NASCAR.’

“It’s scary stuff right now, and that’s why we will go win this weekend, and we will keep winning.”

The team’s appeal of the penalty will be heard today at 9 a.m., and Chastain will be in attendance (“If they want me to speak, I’ll speak”). Because his team is the first dinged under NASCAR’s revamped approach to postrace inspections this season, it’s difficult to gauge the team’s chances because there is virtually no precedent (the last time a driver was disqualified was more than two decades ago).

In the likelihood that the disqualification is upheld, Chastain faces a stiff challenge to make the playoffs. He must win one of the final six regular-season races and also erase a 69-point gap to hold a requisite top 20 spot in the standings.

Given that only 14 drivers have attempted all 10 truck races in 2019, making the top 20 should be easy, but Chastain has been earning points over only the past two races after electing to switch to truck points in early June. His May 10 victory at Kansas Speedway was ineligible for playoff consideration.

That doesn’t dissuade Chastain from believing he can contend for the truck championship. He will race Saturday night at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway with the Chevrolet he drove at Iowa.

“We gave them an eight-race head start, so what’s one more race? How big of a head start do these guys need in the points? No issues on my end,” Chastain said. “I don’t want to sound cocky, but I am confident, because I know what it’s like to not have speed, and you’re struggling and don’t have resources. We have the resources.”

The full podcast episode will be available on audio and video next week; you can watch a snippet above.

2020 sees Xfinity back at Martinsville, Trucks return to Richmond

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Xfinity Series will return to Martinsville Speedway in 2020 and the Gander Outdoors Truck Series will return to Richmond Raceway, NASCAR announced in revealing next year’s schedules for both series.

The announcements come a week after the 2020 Cup schedule was revealed.

Like the Cup Series, both the Xfinity and Truck Series will hold their final playoff elimination races at Martinsville Speedway.

The Oct. 30 Truck race – the series’ only trip to Martinsville next year – will be held under the lights. The next day’s Xfinity race will be the series’ first on the short track since 2006 and just its second since 1994.

The Truck Series will return to Richmond Raceway (April 18) for its first visit to the short track since 2005.

Both series will again hold a doubleheader at Atlanta Motor Speedway, with it coming on March 14.

Both series will also be part of the Cup Series’ doubleheader at Pocono Raceway in June.

The Trucks will race on June 27 (a Saturday), with the Xfinity Series competing on June 28.

Gateway Motorsports Park will host the Truck Series playoff opener on Aug. 21.

Richmond will serve as the site of the Xfinity Series playoff opener on Sept. 11.

The Xfinity Series’ first road-course race will come earlier, with a visit to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on May 30. The race is on Aug. 10 this year.

While the Cup Series will take two weeks off in August during the Olympics, the Xfinity and Truck Series will be in action during that time.

Trucks will have their annual dirt race at Eldora Speedway on Thursday, July 30.

Xfinity will visit Iowa Speedway for the second time two days later.

Below are the full schedules.

2020 Xfinity schedule

DATE TRACK
Saturday, Feb. 15 Daytona International Speedway
Saturday, Feb. 22 Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Saturday, Feb. 29 Auto Club Speedway
Saturday, March 7 ISM Raceway
Saturday, March 14 Atlanta Motor Speedway
Saturday, March 21 Homestead-Miami Speedway
Saturday, March 28 Texas Motor Speedway
Saturday, April 4 Bristol Motor Speedway
Saturday, April 25 Talladega Superspeedway
Saturday, May 2 Dover International Speedway
Saturday, May 23 Charlotte Motor Speedway
Saturday, May 30 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
Saturday, June 6 Michigan International Speedway
Saturday, June 13 Iowa Speedway
Saturday, June 20 Chicagoland Speedway
Sunday, June 28 Pocono Raceway
Saturday, July 4 Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Friday, July 10 Kentucky Speedway
Saturday, July 18 New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Saturday, Aug. 1 Iowa Speedway
Saturday, Aug. 8 Road America
Saturday, Aug. 15 Watkins Glen International
Saturday, Aug. 22 Dover International Speedway
Friday, Aug. 28 Daytona International Speedway
Saturday, Sept. 5 Darlington Raceway
Friday, Sept. 11 Richmond Raceway
Friday, Sept. 18 Bristol Motor Speedway
Saturday, Sept. 26 Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Saturday, Oct. 10 Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval
Saturday, Oct. 17 Kansas Speedway
Saturday, Oct. 24 Texas Motor Speedway
Saturday, Oct. 31 Martinsville Speedway
Saturday, Nov. 7 ISM Raceway

 

2020 NASCAR GANDER OUTDOORS TRUCK SERIES SCHEDULE

DATE TRACK
Friday, Feb. 14 Daytona International Speedway
Friday, Feb. 21 Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Saturday, March 14 Atlanta Motor Speedway
Friday, March 20 Homestead-Miami Speedway
Friday, March 27 Texas Motor Speedway
Saturday, April 18 Richmond Raceway
Friday, May 1 Dover International Speedway
Friday, May 15 Charlotte Motor Speedway
Saturday, May 30 Kansas Speedway
Friday, June 5 Texas Motor Speedway
Friday, June 12 Iowa Speedway
Friday, June 19 Chicagoland Speedway
Saturday, June 27 Pocono Raceway
Thursday, July 9 Kentucky Speedway
Thursday, July 30 Eldora Speedway
Saturday, Aug. 8 Michigan International Speedway
Friday, Aug. 21 Gateway Motorsports Park
Sunday, Sept. 6 Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
Thursday, Sept. 17 Bristol Motor Speedway
Friday, Sept. 25 Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Saturday, Oct. 3 Talladega Superspeedway
Friday, Oct. 30 Martinsville Speedway
Friday, Nov. 6 ISM Raceway

Kyle Busch Motorsports adds Canadian teen for three Truck races

Kyle Busch Motorsports
Leave a comment

Kyle Busch Motorsports has a long history of developing young drivers such as Erik Jones and Christopher Bell.

Now, KBM has gone north of the border for its latest addition to the fold, 17-year-old Canadian teenager Raphael Lessard.

Lessard, a native of Saint Joseph de Beauce, Quebec, is slated to drive the No. 46 Toyota Tundra in three Gander Outdoors Truck Series races for KBM this season: Martinsville (March 23), Dover (May 3) and Bristol (August 15). He turns 18 in July.

“Driving for KBM I will be assured of having one of the best vehicles in the Truck Series and that will allow me to go for the win every time out,” Lessard said in a media release. “KBM is a team of winners, and I intend to take full advantage of the great situation I find myself in.”

Raphael Lessard (Photo: Kyle Busch Motorsports)

The move to Trucks is a promotion for Lessard, who competed for KBM’s Super Late Model Program in 2018. He captured two wins: the Short Track U.S. Nationals at Bristol last May, and the Red Bud 400 ARCA/CRA Super Series race at Anderson (Indiana) Speedway last July.

In 16 combined starts for KBM last season, Lessard recorded two wins, three poles, seven top five and 10 top-10 finishes in 2018 across the CARS Super Late Model Tour, the Southern Super Series and the ARCA/CRA Super Series.

“Raphael was really fast in our Super Late Models last season and added a couple of marquee wins to KBM’s resume,” team owner Kyle Busch said in a media release. “We expect that he’ll be able to step right in and be competitive as he makes the jump to the next level.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Johnny Sauter back in Truck with ThorSport Racing

Getty Images
1 Comment

Who says you can’t go home again? Johnny Sauter is proof you can.

Just over a month after unexpectedly losing his Gander Outdoors Truck Series ride with GMS Racing, Sauter has returned to ThorSport Racing, just in time for Friday’s NextEra Energy 250 at Daytona International Speedway.

Sauter announced that he has rejoined ThorSport on Tuesday’s edition of RaceHub on Fox Sports 1.

I’m returning home,” Sauter said. “I couldn’t be more proud of going back there and running for a championship.” 

ThorSport expands to four full-time Truck entries with Sauter returning. He’ll be teammates with Matt Crafton, Ben Rhodes, Myatt Snider and Grant Enfinger. Snider will drive in select races for the team.

Sauter also will have longtime crew chief Joe Shear Jr. back with him for the 2019 season.

“He’s like an old pair of shoes for me,” Sauter smiled, alluding to how comfortable he is with Shear. “I think we’ll pick up right where we left off, racing for wins.”

Sauter raced for ThorSport from 2009-15, scoring 10 wins. He moved to GMS Racing for 2016-18 before he found himself out of a ride on January 9.

“It was just a business decision,” Sauter said. “The guy that took my place (defending Truck Series champ Brett Moffitt) probably works a little cheaper. Just kidding.

“You can let it bother you or you just move on. I’ve never raced a Ford, so I’m looking forward to working with their engineers and people.”

Sauter flew into Daytona Tuesday and is ready to go for Friday night’s race.

“Daytona is a crapshoot,” he said. “I’ve been wrecked there on Lap 1 and I’ve won there. You have to manage your expectations going into that race, have to put your best effort forward and be patient all night long.”

Sauter, a native of Necedah, Wisconsin, won his lone Truck Series championship in his first season with GMS in 2016, was second in 2017 and fourth last season.

Sauter has 244 career starts in a Truck, with 23 wins. He also has 85 Cup races without a win and 207 Xfinity starts with three wins.

Follow @JerryBonkowski