Grant Enfinger

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Johnny Sauter on pole for tonight’s Truck race in Las Vegas

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Johnny Sauter will start from the pole in tonight’s Strat 200 Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Sauter earned the eighth career pole of his Truck Series career – and first since 2018 – by topping the other 34 drivers that made qualifying attempts with a speed of 177.836 mph.

Sheldon Creed (177.643 mph) will start alongside Sauter on the front row for tonight’s race.

The rest of the top 10 qualifiers were Kyle Busch (177.282 mph), making his first Truck Series start of the season, followed by Christian Eckes (177.189 mph), Ty Majeski (177.189), Austin Hill (176.788 mph), Tyler Ankrum (176.275), Raphael Lessard (176.056), Grant Enfinger (176.010) and Brett Moffitt (175.890).

Tonight’s race starts shortly after 9 p.m. ET (FS1, Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Trucks qualifying results

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NASCAR penalizes four Truck teams for inspection issues at Las Vegas

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NASCAR penalized the Gander RV & Oudoors Truck teams of Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton, Grant Enfinger and Tyler Ankrum for violations found in inspection Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

All four teams were cited for violating Sections 20.9.3.2 (engine reservoir tank) and 20.20 (assembled vehicles overall rules) for aerodynamic panels not permitted/engine oil reservoir tank mounting brackets/supports.

NASCAR docked each driver 10 points and each team 10 car owner points.

Enfinger, who won last week’s season-opening race at Daytona, remains the points leader with the penalty. He now has a one-point lead on Austin Hill. Sauter falls from third to ninth in the points. Ankrum falls from 11th to 21st. Crafton drops from 17th to 22nd with the penalty.

Power Rankings: Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin a unanimous No. 1

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This season’s debut of NBC Sports’ NASCAR Power Rankings was similar to the Daytona 500: a wild affair.

Our NASCAR writers chose 16 different drivers after the opening weekend of racing across all three of NASCAR’s top series. There were several surprises, for sure.

Not surprisingly, though, was Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin as the unanimous choice for the top spot in the rankings.

Here’s how we called ‘em:

1. Denny Hamlin (40 points): While the prevailing thought is that luck plays a key role in how a driver finishes in the Daytona 500, consider what Hamlin has done — three wins in the last five races and six top-five finishes in the last seven 500s. That ain’t luck.

2. Ryan Newman (30): Was only seconds away from his second Daytona 500 win before his horrific crash. Finished third in his qualifying race and was fifth in the Busch Clash. He and Kyle Larson were the only drivers to score a top 10 in all three events during Speedweeks.

3. Ryan Blaney (26 points): Was in position to win the Daytona 500. Would have given him back-to-back wins at speedway tracks after his victory at Talladega in last year’s playoffs.

4. Kyle Larson (24): Came close to winning his first career Daytona 500. Joined Ryan Newman as the only driver to score top 10s in the Clash, their qualifying race and the Daytona 500.

5. Chris Buescher (22): Had a strong showing and career-best Daytona finish in his return to Roush Fenway Racing. His third-place finish marked his second top five in the 500 in the last three years.

(tie) 6. David Ragan (15): What a way to go into retirement from the Cup Series. In his last Cup start, Ragan finished fourth, his best showing in the 500 (he won the 2011 summer Daytona race). Happy trails to the Georgia native in retirement.

(tie) 6. Kevin Harvick (15): If there had been another lap or two left and had it not been for Ryan Newman’s frightening wreck, the man known as “the closer” may very well have stolen the win away from Hamlin.

8. Clint Bowyer (13): Placed third in the Clash and sixth in the 500, not a bad way to start the season.

9. Chase Elliott (10): Even though he finished 17th, Elliott had some strong segments during the race, including leading 23 laps. Trailed off in the closing laps; otherwise he may have wound up with a top 10.

10: Brad Keselowski (7): Led 30 laps and had one of the fastest cars in the field but was collected in the big wreck on Lap 183. Still, a strong start for Keselowski and his new crew chief, Jeremy Bullins.

Others receiving votes: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (5), Noah Gragson (5 points), Joey Logano (3), John Hunter Nemechek (3), Corey LaJoie (1), Grant Enfinger (1).

ThorSport Racing to mark 25th Trucks anniversary with Daytona season opener

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ThorSport Racing will reach a significant milestone when the Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series kicks off the 2020 season on Feb. 14 at Daytona International Speedway: the Sandusky, Ohio organization will celebrate its 25th anniversary as a team in the Truck Series.

ThorSport, which is the longest-operating team in the Truck series, is returning with last season’s lineup intact for 2020: defending series champion Matt Crafton (crew chief Carl Joiner Jr.) in the No. 88, Johnny Sauter (crew chief Joe Shear Jr.) in the No. 13, Grant Enfinger (crew chief Jeff Hensley) in the No. 98 and Ben Rhodes (crew chief Matt Noyce) in the No. 99.

Since its initial driver, Terry Cook, competed in three races in the 1996 season, ThorSport has gone on to win three championships, all by Crafton (2013, 2014 and 2019). The team has compiled 30 wins by Cook, Crafton, Sauter, Rhodes, Enfinger and Chase Briscoe, as well as 253 top five and 533 top-10 finishes, plus 33 poles in the series.

It also captured one championship by Frank Kimmel in the ARCA Menards Series.

ThorSport drivers have finished in the top 10 in Truck Series points a total of 27 times, including a current streak of 13 in a row by Crafton from 2007 through 2019.

Crafton (453) and Cook (296) hold the record for most consecutive starts in Truck Series history. The Truck Series began competition in 1995, one year before ThorSport joined the series.

To mark its 25th Anniversary, all four ThorSport Racing Ford F-150’s will sport a special silver paint scheme at the season-opener in Daytona.

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Truck Series results, final 2019 standings

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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:

RESULTS:

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.

Click here for the full race results.

POINTS:

Crafton finishes the season No. 1 in the points with 4,035. Ross Chastain finished second (4,033 points), followed by 2018 Truck Series champ Brett Moffitt (4,032) and Stewart Friesen (4,026).

Friday’s race winner, Austin Hill, finished the season fifth in the standings (2,298), followed by Johnny Sauter (2,238), Grant Enfinger (2,236), Tyler Ankrum (2,182), Ben Rhodes (773) and Sheldon Creed (726).

Click here for the final 2019 driver standings.

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