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.
GMS Racing announced Friday that it will retain its three NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series drivers for a second consecutive season in 2020.
The Statesville, North Carolina organization revealed that 2018 Truck Series champ Brett Moffitt and Sheldon Creed will continue to compete full-time in the Truck Series in 2020, while 2019 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion Sam Mayer will return to the team and drive an expanded Truck schedule next season.
Moffitt is completing his first season with GMS. Coming into Saturday’s NASCAR Hall of Fame 200 race at Martinsville Speedway, Moffitt has four wins and three poles this season, along with 12 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes, and has led 369 laps. He’s the current Trucks playoff points leader, holding a 23-point lead over Stewart Friesen.
“It’s been awesome to work with this organization this year and we’ve been competitive each and every week,” Moffitt said in a media release. “Having next year locked down allows us to focus completely on competing for a championship this year. Returning with the same teammates as well will be really cool. We already know how to work together and help each other while maintaining a bit of that competitive edge. I can only imagine what we will be able to accomplish in 2020 building off the momentum from this season.”
As the only full-time Trucks driver in the Drivers Edge Development program, Creed has two runner-up finishes, along with four top-fives, 10 top-10s and has led 164 laps.
“I feel very confident going into next season with GMS Racing,” Creed said. “I know I have the best group of people around me and the best organization to go out next year and compete for wins and hopefully the championship. The beginning of this season was a bit of a learning curve for me, but we found our groove and I’m excited to go out and compete for wins and build momentum for next year.”
As for Mayer, who is making his second career Truck Series start this weekend at Martinsville, the Franklin, Wisconsin native will compete in six Truck races next season while also competing for the ARCA Racing Series Showdown Championship, as well as to defend his ARCA East Championship.
Mayer holds the distinction of being the youngest NASCAR champion in any national series, earning his K&N title at 16 years, three months and eight days. Mayer earned four wins, three poles, 11 top-five’s, 11 top-10’s and led 497 laps in K&N East competition in 2019. He has earned seven top-five’s and led 26 laps in eight ARCA starts this year.
“I am excited to be returning to GMS Racing in 2020,” Mayer said. “We are being very aggressive with my schedule next year, and I think that will help challenge me and help me grow even more in my career. … I’ve been able to accomplish a lot this season with the support from GMS and I can’t wait for next season.”
Less than a week after winning the ARCA Menards Series championship, Christian Eckes hopped into a NASCAR Gander Outdoor Series truck Friday and was fastest in the first of two practice sessions at Martinsville Speedway.
Piloting the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra, Eckes covered the .526-mile bullring – the shortest track on the NASCAR circuit – at a speed of 95.391 mph. He was followed by Ross Chastain (94.661 mph), Sheldon Creed (94.477 mph), Ben Rhodes (94.449) and Todd Gilliland (94.402.
A total of 31 trucks took to the track for the session.
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.
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?”
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.