NASCAR National Series News & Notes - Indianapolis Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 Powered by Big Machine Records

The Place: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The Date: Sunday, July 5

The Time: 4 p.m. ET

TV: NBC, 3:30 p.m. ET

Radio: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 400 miles (160 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 50),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 100), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 160)

2019 Race Winner: Kevin Harvick

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Next Race: Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard

The Place: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course

The Date: Saturday, July 4

The Time: 3 p.m. ET

TV: NBC, 2 p.m. ET

Radio: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 151.22 miles (62 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 20),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 40), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 62)

 

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series

Next Race: Buckle Up In Your Truck 225

The Place: Kentucky Speedway

The Date: Saturday, July 11

The Time: 6 p.m. ET

TV: FS1

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 225 miles (150 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 35),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 70), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 150)

2019 Race Winner: Tyler Ankrum

 

 

NASCAR Cup Series

 

Independence Day weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

For the first time in NASCAR Cup Series history, the series will compete at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Independence Day weekend, Sunday, July 5 ,at 4 p.m. ET on NBC, IMS Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio in the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 Powered by Big Machine Records.

 

This weekend’s race will be 400 miles (160 laps) and broken up into three stages. The first two stages will be 50 laps each and the final stage will be 60 laps.

 

This weekend will mark the 27th running of a NASCAR Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The first Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway took place on August 6, 1994; Rick Mast won the pole with a speed of 172.414 mph and NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon took home the checkered flag.

 

The 26 NASCAR Cup Series races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway have produced 19 different pole winners and 15 different race winners. Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick lead the series in poles at Indianapolis with three each. Gordon also leads the series in wins at the Brickyard with five victories (1994, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2014).

 

Five former Indianapolis race winners are entered this weekend, led by seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson with four wins (2006, 2008, 2009, 2012); followed by Kevin Harvick (2003, 2019), Kyle Busch (2015, 2016), Brad Keselowski (2018) and Ryan Newman (2013).

 

The pole position is the most proficient starting positions in the field, producing five wins. The most recent driver to accomplish the feat was Kevin Harvick last season.  In 2016, Kyle Busch became the first driver in history to sweep both the NASCAR Xfinity Series race from the pole and the NASCAR Cup Series race from the pole in the same weekend at Indianapolis. 

 

The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Indianapolis is 27th, by Jeff Gordon in 2001. The deepest an active race winner has started is 16th by Jimmie Johnson in 2009.

 

NASCAR Salutes Refreshed by Coca-Cola kicks off at IMS

Beginning this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and running through July 31, the NASCAR industry will honor United States Armed Forces and frontline healthcare heroes as part of this year’s expanded NASCAR Salutes Refreshed by Coca-Cola – an industry-wide opportunity to recognize and thank those who have gone above and beyond to keep society safe and healthy.

 

For the first time ever, NASCAR Salutes Refreshed by Coca-Cola will kick off with the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 at the Brickyard (Sunday, July 5 at 4 p.m. ET on NBC, IMS Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), as the platform shifts to a mid-summer window due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

“We take pride in honoring all who work tirelessly to keep our nation safe, whether a frontline worker in the fight against COVID-19 or part of our U.S. Armed Forces protecting us around the world,” said Jill Gregory, executive vice president and chief marketing and content officer, NASCAR. “The NASCAR industry has always been passionate about saluting our nation’s heroes both past and present, and we once again look forward to recognizing those who serve.”

 

As part of the evolved campaign for 2020, NASCAR and Coca-Cola will create content opportunities to celebrate heroic work from our military and first responder community during the COVID-19 pandemic. In partnership with NBC, NASCAR and Coca-Cola will celebrate heroes in the military and medical community, and NASCAR and Coca-Cola’s dedicated actions to support our community. Through NASCAR digital and social channels, the industry will spotlight even more stories with a new “NASCAR Salutes Refreshing Moments” feature that will also be hosted on NASCAR.com/Salutes.

 

“While this crisis has impacted everyone’s daily lives, we are able to race because of the selfless acts by our military community and frontline workers,” said John Mount, vice president, sports marketing and region assets, Coca-Cola North America. “NASCAR Salutes offers an impactful opportunity to showcase our pride and appreciation for these heroes and their families.”

 

While NASCAR Salutes Refreshed by Coca-Cola shifted due to COVID-19, the industry continued its tradition honoring fallen service members during the annual Memorial Day Weekend 600 Miles of Remembrance at the Coca-Cola 600. All 40 NASCAR Cup Series cars featured the name of a fallen service member on the windshield during the race in honor of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

 

Driver To Beat: Denny Hamlin keeps adding up victories

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins this season with four victories in 15 races - a winning percentage of 26.7%.

 

The Chesterfield, Virginia, native is on pace to tie or better his career-best season (2010); where he started the year with five wins in 15 races and finished the season runner-up in points and a career-high in wins (eight). In 2020, Hamlin has four wins, including his third-career Daytona 500, Darlington, Homestead and Pocono, nine top fives (series-most) and 10 top 10s. He has also spent the third-most time out front leading laps this season with 436 laps led (10.8%).

 

Of NASCAR’s four ‘crown jewel’ events on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule (Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600, Southern 500 and the Brickyard 400) Hamlin has conquered two of them (Daytona, Darlington), but this weekend he could get his third. Hamlin has made 14 series starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway posting five top fives and eight top 10s; including three third-place finishes. He finished sixth in this race last season.

 

Kevin Harvick looks for back-to-back wins at Indianapolis

Only two drivers have been able to win back-to-back races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – Jimmie Johnson (2008, 2009) and Kyle Busch (2015, 2016) – and this weekend Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick will look to add his name to the list and defend his 2019 NASCAR Cup Series Indianapolis Motor Speedway victory.

 

Year-in and year-out Kevin Harvick continues to be a force to reckon with in the NASCAR Cup Series and the 2020 season is no different. Harvick sits atop the series driver standings, 52 points up on second place Ryan Blaney following the double header last weekend at Pocono Raceway. Harvick snatched the top spot in the points following the race at Phoenix back on March 8 and has not relinquished it since.

 

In 15 starts this season Harvick has collected three wins (Darlington, Atlanta, Pocono), eight top fives and 12 top 10s (series-most). Historically, Indianapolis has been a great track for Harvick, in 19 starts he has put up three poles, two wins (2003, 2019), seven top fives and 13 top 10s. His average finish is a stout 8.9 (series-best).   

 

Race to the Playoffs: Reddick stumbles and Jones jumps back on the bubble

After jumping up to the final postseason transfer spot (16th) in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings heading into Pocono last week, Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick stumbled during the double header weekend leaving the door open for a hard charging Erik Jones to take the coveted position. Now the Joe Gibbs Racing driver, Jones, is back in Playoff contention and is 14 points up on Austin Dillon the first driver below the cutline. Reddick dropped two spots to 18th, 26-points back from Jones.

 

With 15 races in the books, that leaves 11 to go in the regular season for drivers to sure up their spots in the Playoffs. Eight drivers have locked themselves into the postseason on wins, leaving eight spots still up for grabs.

 

Rank

Driver

Points

Starts

Race Wins

Stage Wins

Playoff Pts

Pts From Cutoff

13

Clint Bowyer

387

15

0

2

2

60

14

Matt DiBenedetto

384

15

0

0

0

57

15

William Byron

372

15

0

1

1

45

16

Erik Jones

341

15

0

0

0

14

17

Austin Dillon

327

15

0

0

0

-14

18

Tyler Reddick #

315

15

0

1

1

-26

19

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

311

15

0

1

1

-30

20

Chris Buescher

298

15

0

0

0

-43

 

Expect the Playoff bubble to continue to shuffle drivers following this weekend as the competitors listed in the drivers standings from 13th to 20th have vastly different average finishes at Indianapolis - Clint Bowyer (18.5), Matt DiBenedetto (26.8), William Byron (11.5), Erik Jones (24.0), Austin Dillon (17.9), Tyler Reddick (series debut), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (28.0) and Chris Buescher (15.8).

 

Johnson’s last chance to tie Gordon in wins at Indianapolis

One team has risen above the rest when it comes to winning in the NASCAR Cup Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and that team is Hendrick Motorsports with their series-leading 10 victories among three drivers (Jeff Gordon’s five wins, Jimmie Johnson’s four wins and Kasey Kahne’s one win). Now as seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson embarks on his final season, this weekend will be the last time he has a shot a tying his long-time friend and teammate NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon for the series-most wins at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with five (1994, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2014).

 

Johnson and crew chief Cliff Daniels have started finding some success this season, currently 12th in the driver standings 63 points up on postseason cutline. In 15 starts in 2020, Johnson has amassed two top fives and six top 10s. 

 

Heading into this historic weekend, Johnson’s four Indianapolis wins (2006, 2008, 2009, 2012) lead all active drivers. In total, the Californian has made 18 starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway posting four wins, six top fives and seven top 10s. But, he finished 35th in this event last season due to an incident.

 

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway NASCAR Cup Series race is considered one of NASCAR’s "crown jewel" events, and Johnson is one of only four drivers in history to have won all four – the DAYTONA 500, the Charlotte 600, the Brickyard 400 and the Southern 500 – joining Kevin Harvick, as well as NASCAR Hall of Famers Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt.

Former Indianapolis winners who still need a win in 2020

Three former NASCAR Cup Series winners at Indianapolis Motor Speedway come into this weekend still looking for their first victory of the 2020 season - four-time Indianapolis winner Jimmie Johnson, two-time Indianapolis winner Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman with his single Brickyard win.

 

Johnson leads the former Indianapolis victors with four wins (2006, 2008, 2009, 2012), but he also has the second longest winless streak of the group as the Hendrick Motorsports driver hasn’t visited Victory Lane since 2017 – 110 races ago. Johnson can change all that this weekend though, he has made 18 starts at the Brickyard posting four wins, six top fives and seven top 10s. His average finish at Indianapolis is 16.5.

 

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch is currently ranked 11th in series driver standings following the doubleheader at Pocono, but the two-time series champion is still looking for his first win of the season. Busch has won in every fulltime Cup season he has competed in dating back to 2005 and he hasn’t posted less than four wins a season since 2015. But, Busch heads to Indianapolis this Sunday looking snap his winless streak that dates back to the 2019 season finale in Homestead, 15 races ago. This season, Busch has posted seven top fives and eight top 10s; including three runner-up finishes. Busch has made 15 starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway putting up two wins (2015, 2016), five top fives and 11 top 10s. In 2016, Kyle Busch became the first driver in history to sweep both the NASCAR Xfinity Series race from the pole and the NASCAR Cup Series race from the pole in the same weekend at Indianapolis. 

 

Of the three drivers looking to break their winless streak, Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Newman has been waiting the longest. The Indiana native (South Bend), Newman, last won in the NASCAR Cup Series at Phoenix Raceway back in 2017 when he was driving for Richard Childress Racing – 119 races ago. Due to his injury at the beginning of this season, he has competed in 113 of them, but this weekend he looks to get back to his winning ways and not only snap his winless streak but also that of Roush Fenway Racing’s that dates back to Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s last victory at Daytona – 106 races ago. Newman has made 19 series starts at Indianapolis posting one win (2013), three top fives and six top 10s. His average finish is 16.0.   

 

Crew Chief Spotlight: Indiana’s Chris Gabehart readies for Indianapolis

Joe Gibbs Racing’s most successful duo this season is driver Denny Hamlin and his crew chief Chris Gabehart as they lead the NASCAR Cup Series in wins this year with four victories through the first 15 races. But who is the man calling the shots for Hamlin atop the pit box?

 

Chris Gabehart hails from Lafayette, Indiana ,and is currently working his second fulltime NASCAR Cup Series season, but began his crew chief career back in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2016 for Joe Gibbs Racing and driver Erik Jones.

 

Prior to becoming a crew chief, Gabehart attended Purdue University, getting his degree in mechanical engineering, but he also was a part-time driver winning the 2004 Sunoco Super Series Rookie of the Year Honors in late models during his 5th year of mechanical engineering at Purdue.

 

Following college, Gabehart jumped into NASCAR serving as a race engineer for Denny Hamlin after working several seasons for Kyle Busch Motorsports. The opportunities proved to be fortuitous as after working his way up in the Joe Gibbs Racing organization, he was named crew chief for Erik Jones in the Xfinity Series in 2016.

 

Then after a few years in the Xfinity Series working with drivers Erik Jones, Christopher Bell, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Benjamin, James Davison, Ryan Preece, Daniel Suarez and Brandon Jones, he made the leap to Cup and hasn’t looked back.

 

Over the past two NASCAR Cup Series seasons (2019-2020), Hamlin and Gabehart have put up 10 wins and have made the Championship 4, but despite the onslaught of success, this weekend’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway would be extra special for Indiana native to win.

 

“Turn two at Pocono is similar to Indy's corners.  That's what teams tend to focus on leaving Pocono, trying to apply something to Indy.  Although turn two at Pocono has gotten rougher over the years, so even that's not a straight application.

 

“It's (Indianapolis) one of the more compromising racetracks on the circuit actually in terms of how you're going to approach it, what your strategy is going to be,” said Gabehart following his victory last weekend at Pocono. “Harvick and the 4 guys did a phenomenal job of executing the last time we were there from start to finish.  That was from qualifying on.  Once you get a fast car like that out front at Indy, it's going to be impossible to beat them. They proved that to be the case last time there. Hopefully we can pull that off. Indy means a lot to me, as it does to a lot of members on my race team. We're looking forward to it.”

 

Hamlin and Gabehart finished sixth at Indianapolis last season.

 

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series

 

Xfinity Series goes road racing at Indianapolis

The NASCAR Xfinity Series will tackle the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course for the first time in series history this weekend in the Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard on Saturday, July 4  at 3 p.m. ET on NBC, IMS and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. The inaugural road course event for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is part of a NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader that will also feature the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix – an event that was delayed from its originally scheduled date in May by the COVID-19 pandemic and is scheduled for 12 p.m. ET on Saturday.

 

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course will provide a whole new set of challenges for drivers and teams as the series will hit the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course for the first time this weekend.

 

Also, for the first time since the break from the COVID-19 pandemic, the NASCAR Xfinity Series will be allowed to practice prior to race. They will get two practice sessions on Friday, July 3. The first will take place at 1:30 p.m. ET and the second will be at 3 p.m. ET.

 

Saturday’s race will be 62 laps for 151.22 miles with the first two stages being 20 laps each and the final stage is 22 laps. 

 

Last weekend, the Xfinity Series took on Pocono Raceway, also known as The Tricky Triangle, where Chase Briscoe was victorious for the fourth time this season after overcoming a late-race tire incident.

 

Kaulig Racing’s Ross Chastain came up short but did get to take home the $100,000 for the second week in a row in the final Dash 4 Cash installment of the season.

 

Myatt Snider was the highest-finishing rookie at Pocono in fourth.

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series Practice Available on NBC Sports App and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold

The NASCAR Xfinity Series will have its first two practices this weekend since March 6 at Phoenix Raceway. Fans can watch both first (1:30-2:25 p.m. ET) and final practice (3-3:55 p.m. ET) on the NBC Sports App and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. The occasion marks the first time TrackPass will feature national series action. TrackPass is scheduled to air all NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series practice and qualifying sessions during the NBC portion of the schedule.

 

Road course ace Austin Cindric

Austin Cindric is still on the hunt for his first win in the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series season and what better place than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

 

For Cindric, a win at Indy would mean a lot. Not only would it be his first win this season, but it would also lock him into the 2020 Playoffs. Plus, he would become the first ever winner in the Xfinity Series at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. To top it off, he’d get the win for his team owner, Roger Penske, who is the newest owner of the speedway.

 

“Indianapolis means a lot to me personally and a lot to my family personally, so going to that place and being a driver instead of a spectator, I feel like is always weird, but I’m really looking forward to it and I wouldn’t want anything more than to be able to bring that first race win back home for Roger now at his racetrack,” Cindric said.

 

Both of Cindric’s career wins in the Xfinity Series came last year and were at road courses. The first was at Watkins Glen International and the second was at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

 

The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford has six top fives and eight top 10s so far this season. He has an average start of 7.8 and an average finish of 11.3 and he has led 249 laps. Last weekend at Pocono didn’t go as planned for Cindric and the No. 22 team as he finished 29th after being involved in a wreck on Lap 52.

 

He’s sitting in fourth in the points standings for the series - the second highest-ranked driver without a win and he has run upfront - leading the third-most percentage of laps this season (12.24%) sitting behind a pair of JR Motorsports teammates Noah Gragson and Justin Allgaier.

 

This weekend’s Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard (3 p.m. ET on NBC, IMS and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will be the first start for every driver at the newly added track.

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Playoff Outlook following Pocono

 

Rank

Driver

Points

Race Wins

Stage Wins

Playoff Pts.

Pts. from Cutoff

1

Chase Briscoe

499

4

2

22

IN ON WINS

2

Noah Gragson

496

2

5

15

3

Harrison Burton

404

2

0

10

4

Justin Haley

401

1

1

6

5

Brandon Jones

376

1

2

7

6

Ross Chastain

466

0

0

0

212

7

Austin Cindric

453

0

3

3

199

8

Justin Allgaier

386

0

5

5

132

9

Michael Annett

339

0

0

0

85

10

Ryan Sieg

301

0

2

2

47

11

Riley Herbst

294

0

0

0

40

12

Myatt Snider

258

0

0

0

4

13

Brandon Brown

254

0

0

0

-4

14

Alex Labbe

222

0

0

0

-36

15

Josh Williams

213

0

0

0

-45

 

Chase Briscoe’s win last weekend at Pocono Raceway kept him at the top of the Playoff standings with his fourth win of the season. He now has seven more Playoff points (22) than his nearest competitor. 


Ross Chastain jumped up a spot in the standings, taking sixth from Austin Cindric after his second-place finish at Pocono. He’s currently the highest-ranked driver without a win yet this season. 

 

Harrison Burton is still sitting in the third spot in the Playoff standings and is the highest-ranked rookie. Riley Herbst, another Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, is sitting in 11th and Myatt Snider is claiming the final Playoff spot in 12th just four points up Brandon Brown in 13th. Snider’s fourth-place performance at Pocono put him ahead of Brandon Brown who was in that position last weekend.

 

JR Motorsports’ Noah Gragson currently has the best driver rating in the Xfinity Series at 112.1. Briscoe is right behind him in second at 106.6.

 

Xfinity Series points update

 

DRIVER

MFR

POINTS

BEHIND

Chase Briscoe

Ford

499

0

Noah Gragson

Chevrolet

496

-3

Ross Chastain

Chevrolet

466

-33

Austin Cindric

Ford

453

-46

Harrison Burton

Toyota

404

-95

Justin Haley

Chevrolet

401

-98

Justin Allgaier

Chevrolet

386

-113

Brandon Jones

Toyota

376

-123

Michael Annett

Chevrolet

339

-160

Ryan Sieg

Chevrolet

301

-198

 

Chevrolet is currently dominating the Xfinity Series points with six drivers in the top 10. Ford only has two drivers in the series and both of them are in the top 10, too. Toyota has two in the top 10 and Harrison Burton is the only rookie in the top 10.

 

Smaller team success at Pocono

Pocono Raceway produced a top 15 with a lot of unfamiliar faces. Smaller teams, like Jeremy Clements Racing, Our Motorsports and JD Motorsports all had drivers finish in the top-10.

 

Due to the craziness of the Xfinity race at Pocono, drivers who tend to run in the top 20 had a chance to run up closer to the front and gain a lot of momentum. For example, Jeremy Clements finished in third, marking only the fourth top five of his 10-year career as an owner and driver for his own team.

 

“Just showing up and racing like this is definitely difficult for a team like us,” said Jeremy Clements. “We have zero engineering, no sim, no nothing. You just guess,” Clements explained. “We weren’t that great today, but we did make the most of it. We capitalized on that last restart. We dug ourselves a hole at the beginning of the year with blowing up, getting wrecked. This is definitely what we needed to get back up there.”

Brett Moffitt finished in seventh for Our Motorsports. This is the team’s first season in the Xfinity Series and marked their first top five and third top 10 this season. All of those finishes came with Moffitt behind the wheel.

 

Jesse Little finished in 10th for JD Motorsports, marking his career-best finish. JDM is in their 23rd Xfinity Series season and Little’s finish was the first top-10 for the team so far this year. JD Motorsports has 42 career top 10s and six top fives.

 

Dash 4 Cash wrap

Last weekend’s race at Pocono Raceway for the Xfinity Series marked the finale of the 2020 Dash 4 Cash program.

 

To recap, four drivers each week competed against one another to win $100,000. The four drivers were selected based on their performance the week before.

 

The program opened with a qualifying race on June 1 at Bristol Motor Speedway and then the first race competing for money was on June 6 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

 

Noah Gragson in the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet took home the victory as well as the $100,000. The following week at Homestead-Miami Speedway was won by AJ Allmendinger for Kaulig Racing.

 

Kaulig Racing continued to dominate the Dash 4 Cash program with Ross Chastain winning the prize money at Talladega and then doing it again last weekend at Pocono to close out the installment.

 

In addition to the payout to the drivers, Xfinity made donations in each of the Dash 4 Cash race markets in order to reaffirm its companywide commitment of connecting families, veterans and seniors to the digital tools necessary for navigating these challenging times we’re facing.

 

Last weekend at Pocono, Xfinity made a donation to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Pennsylvania.

 

 

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series

 

Brandon Jones get first Gander Trucks win

Brandon Jones doesn’t run fulltime in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series anymore, but has still continued to chase after his first win in the series.

 

Last weekend at Pocono Raceway, Jones piloted the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota to Victory Lane for the first time of his career; it was his 46th series start.

 

Jones held of Sheldon Creed during a two-lap battle on Sunday morning after the race originally scheduled for Saturday was postponed due to rain. The Gander Trucks kicked off a tripleheader day at Pocono that saw the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Cup Series take to the track following the Gander Trucks.

 

The racing did not lack excitement with eight different lead changes between five drivers. Austin Hill finished second, Creed, who won Stage 1 and Stage 2, finished third, Todd Gilliland finished fourth and Ben Rhodes rounded out the top five.

 

Grant Enfinger is still the only fulltime Gander Trucks driver to have won a race this season. Every other win was by a driver that runs fulltime in another series. As a result, Hill is still holding onto his lead in the points standings, 51 points better than Rhodes in second.

 

The Gander Trucks have this weekend off as the NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series head to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The break will allow the teams to get ready to take on Kentucky Speedway for the Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 on Saturday, July 11 at 6 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

 

Eyeing the Playoff Outlook Following Pocono Raceway

Rank

NGROTS Drivers

Points

Wins

1

Grant Enfinger

192

2

2

Austin Hill

253

0

3

Ben Rhodes

202

0

4

Sheldon Creed

189

0

5

Todd Gilliland

187

0

6

Christian Eckes

179

0

7

Zane Smith

177

0

8

Tyler Ankrum

174

0

9

Brett Moffitt

170

0

10

Johnny Sauter

168

0

11

Derek Kraus #

159

0

12

Stewart Friesen

148

0

13

Tanner Gray

142

0

14

Matt Crafton

137

0

15

Raphael Lessard

119

0

With six NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series races in the books, the Playoff picture is coming into focus. Grant Enfinger’s two wins so far this season, has him atop the Playoff standings outlook as he is the only driver locked in on wins. That leaves nine spots still up for grabs on points.

 

Among the nine vying for a Playoff spot on points, series driver standings leader and Hattori Racing Enterprises driver, Austin Hill, has the most comfortable points cushion heading into the weekend break with 94 points up on the postseason cutoff. 

 

Right behind Hill is Ben Rhodes with ThorSport Racing, who is 43 points ahead of the Playoff cutoff following Pocono. Rhodes’ Pocono performance put him up a spot in the standings. Sheldon Creed made the biggest jump, going from ninth in the outlook to fourth with his two stage wins and third-place finish at Pocono. Christian Eckes is the highest-ranked rookie in the Playoff outlook right now in sixth but fellow rookie Zane Smith is sitting two points behind him in seventh.

Then down in the Playoff bubble hotseat sits veteran and former series champion Johnny Sauter, 10th in the driver standings just nine points ahead of 11th place Derek Kraus.

 

Reigning NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series champion Matt Crafton is sitting all the way down in 14th in the standings, 31 points back from Sauter in 10th.

 

Sunoco rookie standings update

Christian Eckes still leads the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings with 179 points following Pocono Raceway.

 

Zane Smith currently holds second in the rookie standings with 177 points; followed by Derek Kraus with 159 points, Tanner Gray with 142 points, Raphael Lessard with 119, Ty Majeski with 114, Spencer Davis with 86 and Tate Fogleman with 70.

 

Every rookie except for Davis will be making their Kentucky Speedway debut in the Gander Trucks next week. Davis ran at Kentucky last season and finished in eighth.

 

What to look forward to at Kentucky Speedway

Next weekend will mark the 23rd NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race at Kentucky Speedway. Tyler Ankrum is the defending winner of the event.

 

The 1.5-mile, Sparta, Kentucky track has 17 degrees of banking in corners in Turns 1 and 2 and 14 degrees of banking in corners of Turns 3 and 4.

 

There’s eight degrees of banking on the frontstretch and four degrees of banking on the backstretch. The frontstretch is 1,662 feet and the backstretch is 1,600 feet.

 

Noah Gragson holds the qualifying record at the track from July 2018 at 183.955 mph. Ben Rhodes holds the race record, also from July 2018, at 146.739 mph.

 

Ron Hornaday Jr. has the most wins at Kentucky (three), Austin Dillon has the most poles (two), and Matt Crafton has the most top fives (six) and top 10s (15). The most lead changes at the track was in 2011 with 18 and the fewest was in 2013 with five.

 

Only three of 22 races have been won from the pole and Kyle Busch has the most wins as a truck team owner with four.

 

The closest margin of victory in the Gander Trucks at Kentucky was in 2009 at 0.135-second and the greatest margin of victory was in 2002 at 18.197 seconds.

NASCAR PR

Speedway Digest Staff

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