The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series found themselves in the heart of Texas for their second race in the round of 6. Johnny Sauter secured his spot in the championship race with a win last week leaving three spots between seven drivers. With the pressure on, drivers pushed their trucks to the limits. We saw record speeds as Sauter set a new track record qualifying on the pole for the 221 mile race. Playoff contender Noah Gragson found the tracks limitations when he made significant contact with the wall during his qualifying run.
The race saw frequent cautions as tires and handling plagued competitors in the early runs of the race. Restarts were dicey with drivers vying for every spot, including the lead. The end of the first stage was coming to a close with Sheldon Creed, this years ARCA champion, leading. Knowing every point counts Justin Haley made the pass for the lead before the stage ending caution would fly just laps short of the scheduled 35 laps.
The second stage opened with a wild restart that would result in the biggest wreck of the night. Gragson and Sauter would find themselves involved, but only with minimal damage.
Inexperience at this fast track proved difficult for some but not all as we saw young drivers contending for the lead. Harrison Burton, making his first 1.5 mile truck start, found himself up to second. This next wave of great drivers was on display with the likes of Todd Gilliland and Austin Hill getting involved. Stage two would also end with a caution and it would be Myatt Snider taking the green and white checkered flag.
The final stage was more racing and less wrecking as drivers were able to put together their first long runs of the night. Todd Gilliland and Stewart Friesen found themselves to be the class of the field as they both had a few seconds over third place. It would be Friesen taking the lead before green flag stops began to cycle. Unfortunately for Friesen he was too fast on pit entry, leaving Gilliland in sole possession of a four second lead.
Surprisingly the race would continue green and while Haley found himself closing in it was too little too late as Gilliland put together clean lap after lap to try and secure his first career NCWTS victory. The gap between trucks shrunk, and it was getting closer, but nothing seemed wrong. Then it was obvious coming off of turn two, Gilliland was off pace and out of fuel.
In a serious case of Deja Vu it would be Justin Haley coming through for the victory to punch his ticket to the championship race. This was the same scene we saw play out at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in August.
The disappointment at CTMP was real, but the look in Gilliland’s eyes on Friday night was heartbreaking. It’s not easy having you first victory taken away twice.
Originally from central New York, I was first introduced to NASCAR through my uncle. I quickly developed an interest in the sport that has only grown over the last 20 years. I have a bachelors degree in agriculture business from SUNY Cobleskill, and currently manage the marketing efforts for a produce importer. In 2017 I thru-hiked the Appalachian trail, and since have been focused on pursuing my passions in life such as motorsports.