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Bump and Run: A $100K bounty to beat Kyle Busch in the Truck Series?

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What do you think of the bounty Kevin Harvick and Marcus Lemonis said on Twitter that they would put up for any full-time Cup driver who can beat Kyle Busch in a truck race?

Nate Ryan: It’s another sign of Harvick’s underrated savvy for NASCAR exposure and promotion (he’s the same star who advocated rotating the championship race long before it was in vogue).

Dustin Long: I like it in the sense of creating some buzz around the series, but I think it should be open to anyone, not just a Cup interloper. And why not do the same thing when Kyle Busch runs in the Xfinity Series?

Daniel McFadin: My initial gut reaction is that it’s awesome. NASCAR needs more promotions like this, especially building off the Triple Truck Challenge that started last year. My secondary reaction: why just full-time Cup drivers? That $100,000 could do a lot for a mid-tier or lower-tier team in the Truck Series. I can’t imagine the investment is worth it for a major sponsor or a top-tier team to have to put together a quality one-off ride for a Cup driver in hopes of winning the bounty. But, I still think it’s cool and I’m crossing my fingers something comes of it.

Jerry Bonkowski: It’s a novel idea but isn’t it kind of going backwards in terms of putting more full-time Cup drivers into a Truck, when the general idea of the series was to be a developmental entity for other drivers, primarily younger ones, rather than a place where full-time Cup drivers can go to race a few times a year for extra cash? If anything, the “bounty” should also be available to regular full or part-time Truck drivers, as well, to beat Busch, drivers from Matt Crafton to Jennifer Jo Cobb to Norm Benning.

 

Chase Briscoe has said that he thinks he needs to win “eight to 10 races” this season as he looks to make the championship race in the Xfinity Series. He won his first race of the season Sunday at Las Vegas. What kind of possibility do you give any driver of winning at least eight Xfinity races this season?

Nate Ryan: In the absence of the Big Three and a less experienced field, Briscoe’s Las Vegas victory was a promising start, and it’s encouraging that he has set such a high bar. It’s a big jump to go from one victory in each of the past two seasons to eight, but it could happen.

Dustin Long: I think the chances are slim. Even with a limited number of drivers with wins in the series, I don’t foresee someone dominating as Christopher Bell did last year in winning a series-high eight races.

Daniel McFadin: Eight wins is a lot. We don’t yet know who will be Briscoe’s most stout competition this year and likely won’t have a real grasp of that until the end of March. At this point I don’t anticipate anyone reaching the eight-win mark.

Jerry Bonkowski: I feel the domination of the “Big 3” – Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell and Cole Custer — was somewhat of an anomaly the last few years in the Xfinity Series. Now that they’re in Cup, that opens up the door for more parity in the series. And as a result, an opportunity for more wins across the board for many more drivers. I don’t think Briscoe, or any other driver for that matter, needs to have eight to 10 wins to make the championship race. I can see a few drivers maybe winning four or five races, but don’t feel anyone will dominate the way Bell, Reddick and Custer did the last couple of seasons.

 

What do you make of Jimmie Johnson’s fifth-place finish at Las Vegas?

Nate Ryan: It was impressive, particularly how he fought to pick up spots with the dive onto the apron during the final restart. There’s been no shortage of talk about the team’s determination to return as contenders, but Sunday backed it up for the first time in a long while.

Dustin Long: Good run and this team needs good performances early to not be buried by its winless streak. Let’s see if this team can keep it going.

Daniel McFadin: I wasn’t surprised by the result. Johnson and his three Hendrick Motorsports teammates ran in the top 10 consistently all day, with Johnson placing ninth in Stage 1 and seventh in Stage 2. He clearly had top-10 speed and the chaos around the final restart obviously helped him improve his position a few spots. It was a much needed result for a team that only had one top 10 in the final six races last year.

Jerry Bonkowski: I picked Johnson to win at Las Vegas, so a fifth-place finish isn’t all that bad. I think he has a great opportunity to finally break his 2 ½-year winless streak at his home track of Fontana on Sunday. Even if not there, I’m convinced JJ will definitely break the winless streak soon. I expect to see him at least make the playoffs. In his final Cup season, he has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

 

What will you be keeping a close eye on this weekend at Auto Club Speedway?

Nate Ryan: Whether the Toyotas can prove that Las Vegas was just a blip.

Dustin Long: I want to see if Team Penske, after its strong showing at Las Vegas, will continue to be as strong this weekend. Last year at Auto Club, Team Penske went second (Joey Logano), third (Brad Keselowski) and fifth (Ryan Blaney).

Daniel McFadin: I’ll be watching to see if the improvement of the Chevys and the downturn of the Toyotas shown in Las Vegas was a one-off or the start of an extended narrative for the opening portion of the season. Not seeing any Toyota driver finish better than 15th was kind of a shocker.

Jerry Bonkowski: Jimmie Johnson, obviously. But I’m also keeping my eyes on guys who usually aren’t in the conversation all that much, but are off to decent starts to the season points-wise, including Chris Buescher, Bubba Wallace, Corey LaJoie and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. It will be interesting to see how they fare over the next few races, to see if they can maintain their spots in the standings and keep their performance level up.

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.

NASCAR’s preliminary entry lists for Las Vegas

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Ross Chastain has been tapped By Roush Fenway Racing to substitute for the injured Ryan Newman in the No. 6 Ford this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. 

Newman not participating in the race means he will miss his first Cup start since his full-time career began in 2002 (649 starts).

There are 38 entries for Sunday’s race (3:30 p.m. ET on Fox).

Garrett Smithley is entered in Rick Ware Racing’s No. 51 Ford for his first race of the year.

Reed Sorenson is entered in Spire Motorsports’ No. 77 Chevrolet.

Joey Logano won this race last year over Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. Martin Truex Jr. won the playoff race over Kevin Harvick and Keselowski.

Click here for the entry list.

Xfinity Series – Boyd Gaming 300 (4 p.m. ET Saturday on FS1)

Thirty-six cars are entered.

Truck Series driver Brett Moffitt is entered in Our Motorsports’ No. 02 Chevrolet.

Daniel Hemric will make his first start of the year in JR Motorsports’ No. 8 Chevrolet.

Timmy Hill is entered in Hattori Racing Enterprises’ No. 61 Toyota.

Kyle Busch won this race last year over John Hunter Nemechek and Noah Gragson. Tyler Reddick won the playoff race over Christopher Bell and Brandon Jones.

Click here for the entry list.

Truck Series – Strat 200 (9 p.m. ET Friday on FS1)

There are 35 trucks entered.

With a full field limited to 32 trucks, three will not make the race.

Kyle Busch is entered in the No. 51 Toyota for his first of five scheduled Truck Series races this year.

Ross Chastain is entered in Niece Motorsports’ No. 40 Toyota.

Busch won this race last year over Moffitt and Matt Crafton. Busch went on to sweep all five of his series starts last season. Austin Hill won the playoff race over Chastain and Christian Eckes.

Click here for the entry list.

 

Truck Series practice report from Daytona

Zane Smith. Photo: Getty Images
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The NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series held two practice sessions Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for Friday night’s season-opening NextEra Energy 250.

FINAL PRACTICE

Johnny Sauter was fastest in the second and final practice session.

Sauter, whose truck stopped on the track during the first session, roared back to pace the field in the second session with a speed of 193.278 mph.

Defending Truck Series champion Matt Crafton was second fastest (193.228 mph), followed by last year’s Daytona winner, Austin Hill, at 192.645 mph.

Derek Kraus was fourth fastest (191.959 mph), followed by Christian Eckes (191.885). Sixth through 10th were Brett Moffitt (191.853 mph), Ross Chastain (191.750), Stewart Friesen (191.559), Raphael Lessard (191.522) and Riley Herbst (191.416).

A total of 38 trucks took to the track during the second session, part of 40 entries for Friday’s race. However, only 32 will make the race day field following Friday afternoon’s qualifying session, which starts at 3:10 p.m. ET.

Two incidents occurred in the session. Josh Reaume may have suffered an apparent motor issue and took his truck to the garage, while the fastest driver in the first session, Zane Smith, lost power and coasted to a stop coming off Turn 4.

Friday night’s race will start shortly after 7:30 p.m. ET.

Final Truck practice results

FIRST PRACTICE

Zane Smith was fastest in the first practice session, covering the 2.5-mile speedway at a top speed of 193.175 mph.

Riley Herbst was second (193.017 mph), followed by Ty Majeski (193.009 mph), Joe Nemechek (192.823 mph) and his son, John Hunter Nemechek (192.468 mph).

Sixth through 10th were Korbin Forrister (190.210), Gus Dean (189.629), Tyler Ankrum (189.597), Brett Moffitt (189.593) and Sheldon Creed (189.561).

The session was stopped three times by a red flag. It was first displayed due to an issue with Clay Greenfield. The second time was for Johnny Sauter stalling on the track because of an electrical issue. Angela Ruch stalled on pit road to bring out the third red flag.

Truck practice No. 1 results

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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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