The qualifying race for Sunday’s eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series event at a virtual Texas Motor Speedway will be streamed on enascar.com/live, NASCAR announced.
The qualifier features Xfinity, Truck and regional series drivers looking to advance to the eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series race that will be at 1 p.m. ET Sunday on Fox, FS1 and the Fox Sports App. At this time, four drivers from the qualifier will advance. That number could change depending on any late additions or drops to the race featuring Cup drivers.
Front Row Motorsports is expanding its NASCAR presence, announcing Monday it has formed a partnership with DGR-Crosley to compete full-time in the 2020 NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series.
Todd Gilliland, the 19-year-old son of NASCAR driver David Gilliland, will pilot the No. 38 Ford F-150 for the Mooresville, North Carolina organization.
This will be the younger Gilliland’s third full-time season in the Truck Series, having previously competed in 48 starts for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Gilliland has one win (2019 at Martinsville), as well as 12 top-five and 26 top-10 finishes.
The younger Gilliland also recorded 20 wins in a combined 53 starts in the former NASCAR K&N Pro West and East series (now known as the NASCAR ARCA Menards West and East series). He won back-to-back championships in the K&N West series in 2016 and 2017. He also has two wins in nine starts in the ARCA Menards Series.
“I’m really looking forward to racing an F-150 in the Truck Series this year with Front Row Motorsports as part of the Ford family,” Todd Gilliland said in a media release. “I’ve been around (FRM owner) Bob Jenkins and the whole Front Row crew for a long time growing up with my dad racing for them.
“The talent that they’ve brought in for my program is really exciting. I know or have worked with almost every person that’s on my team this year at some point in my career. That helps tremendously in building relationships and trust with each other.”
Todd Gilliland will be continuing a family tradition of sorts: the No. 38 has long been associated with his grandfather, Butch, as a racer, as well as for much of his father David’s Cup career. David Gilliland competed in 214 NASCAR Cup races as a driver for Front Row Motorsports from 2010-16.
“Car numbers are important to a driver because they are essentially your identity when you’re on track,” Todd Gilliland said. “It’s cool to think about a Gilliland being back in the No. 38, and I’m really proud to be able to drive the same number that my dad and grandpa did.”
Jon Leonard was also named as crew chief for Todd Gilliland’s Truck Series entry. Leonard previously served as a team engineer, as well as interim crew chief for Leavine Family Racing and in a prior engineering role with Richard Childress Racing.
NASCAR veteran Coleman Pressley will be Gilliland’s spotter.
“We’re all very excited for this expansion,” Front Row Motorsports owner Bob Jenkins said. “I’ve watched Todd grow up in this sport and have seen the talent he brings firsthand.
“Not only does he come from a racing family, but he’s got the natural ability of a winning driver. I’m confident that having him drive in our debut season will be a great success.”
Matt Crafton may not have won a race this season – in fact, he hasn’t won since Eldora in mid-2017 – but he won the biggest prize of all Friday night, capturing the 2019 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Driving the No. 88 ThorSport Racing Ford, Crafton finished second to race winner Austin Hill (led a race-high 56 laps), but placed higher than the other Championship 4 drivers – Ross Chastain (finished fourth in the race, second in the season standings), 2018 champ Brett Moffitt (fifth in the race and third in the season standings) and Stewart Friesen (11th in the race and fourth in the season standings) – to take home his third career Truck championship.
Wrapping up his 19th full-time season in the Truck Series, Crafton’s previous titles were in 2013 and 2014. He finishes the season with zero wins, seven top-five and 18 top-10 finishes.
“It’s amazing, just one step closer to what Hornaday has done,” Crafton told FS1, alluding to NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr.’s record four Truck championships. Hornaday joined Crafton to celebrate in victory lane. Crafton is now tied for second on the all-time Truck Series championships list with Jack Sprague (three titles apiece).
“They called us the underdog, that I didn’t have it, but we fought harder than everyone, I guarantee you, every one of these guys worked harder,” Crafton said to FS1. “This thing ran flawless all night, the motor was very good as well. Everything just went our way.”
Crafton even poked a bit of fun at himself, having endured criticism and questions of his ability for not having won in over two years, and also having issues on restarts that led to some calling him “the old man” (at 43, Crafton was the oldest of the four Championship 4 drivers: Friesen is 36, Moffitt is 27 and Chastain is the youngest at 26).
“I guess I finally got up off the wheelchair and got up on the wheel and got it done,” Crafton told FS1 with a laugh. “I took a lot of criticism over restarts and it was time to get it done now.”
Stage 1 winner: Austin Hill led the last 2 laps to win the stage after Ross Chastain led first 28 laps
Stage 2 winner: Austin Hill wins stage again. Only one driver has won the first two stages and then gone on to win the Truck race this season: Kyle Busch.
Who else had a good race: Austin Hill continued his late-season surge. Friday’s win was his third in the last eight races and fourth of the season. He bookends the season, having won the season opener at Daytona and the season finale a few hundred miles south in Homestead. “That’s probably the best truck I’ve had,” Hill told FS1. “We just showed how good we actually were. … Awesome way to end the season.”
Who had a bad race:Anthony Alfredo’s season ended before the race even began. Upon starting the engine, he developed a large fluid leak, leaving his team to push him back to the garage, his night over. … Ray Ciccarelli’s day ended after 46 laps when the motor in his truck blew up.
Notable: Making only his third career Truck Series start, Tanner Gray was running in the top 10 before finishing 16th. The 2018 NHRA Pro Stock champ’s previous best finish was 17th last week at Phoenix. … Christian Eckes drove the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota to clinch the owner’s championship.
What’s next: The 2020 season kicks off three months from now at Daytona International Speedway with the NextEra Energy 250 on February 14, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. ET.
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.
A big difference between the two drivers is that Busch is still in the playoffs, while Almirola was eliminated after the first round.
While appearing on Wednesday’s episode of NASCAR America presents MotorMouths, Busch brushed off Almirola’s threat when asked if he was concerned about retaliation from Almirola.
“Look, I got a hell of a lot more than Aric Almirola to worry about every single week, OK?” said Busch, who is trying to win his second Cup title. “There’s 40 other guys that would probably love to get the action in on the 18 car as well, too. Because you’re a fan favorite as soon as you do. Aric’s not the only guy. There’s others that are out there. We’ll race them as we need to race them and what happens happens.”
His run-in with Almirola wasn’t the only story Busch was part of in Martinsville.
On Saturday, one of Busch’s drivers in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series, Todd Gilliland, broke through with his first career Truck Series win after 46 starts.
Gilliland, who has been the subject of criticism from Busch over his struggles to win, let his frustrations be known over his team radio after taking the checkered flag.
“He went to apologize, kind of the same thing that he said on Twitter,” Busch said. “I’m like, ‘OK, it’s all fine. Not really sure that’s the first time you’ve thought of that because it came so easily.'”
Busch made sure to mention that Gilliland’s job security is still intact for the final two races of the season.
“Everybody’s wondering, ‘Is he fired?’ No, he’s going to finish out the season,” Busch said.