NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Preview-Chicago

The NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series continues their Midwest swing on Friday night by heading north to Chicagoland Speedway for the 12th race of the 2019 season.

Teams who have not won yet will begin to feel a little pressure now that there are only five races left until the Playoffs start at Bristol in August.

There are many drivers who are still winless and they are big names. They include Todd Gilliland, Harrison Burton, Matt Crafton, Stewart Friesen, Grant Enfinger, Sheldon Creed, Gus Dean, Jordan Anderson, Natalie Decker, Ben Rhodes, Spencer Boyd, Tyler Ankrum and Austin Wayne Self.

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It’s been somewhat of a ho-hum season so far in the Truck Series. It was dominated early by Kyle Busch who won four races in a row, then won his in fifth and final start at Charlotte. The only other non-series regular who won this year was Greg Biffle, who scored a popular win at Texas a few weeks back.

Surprisingly, there have only been four regulars that have visited victory lane. Austin Hill won at Daytona, Johnny Sauter at Dover, Ross Chastain at Kansas and Gateway, and Brett Moffitt at Iowa.

So with that said, who else might finally win on Friday night or continue their season dominance?

Here is a look at the top five drivers on who might win in the Camping World 225.

Currently, there are 32 trucks entered on the preliminary entry list, meaning all drivers will be locked into Friday night’s show. It was 33, but the No. 25 of Ted Minor had withdrawn late.

  1. Johnny Sauter – Sauter returns this week to the No. 13 Ford F-150 after serving his suspension last weekend at Gateway. The Wisconsin native has 10 starts at Chicago, earning one win coming two years ago in 2017. Sauter’s track record at the 1.5-mile track has been stellar. He has recorded six top fives and eight top-10 finishes with an average finish of 7.5, and 106 laps led. Sauter does have one pole that came in 2014. Despite his impressive track record, Sauter has no stage wins, but finished second in Stage one and fourth in Stage two in 2017, while he finished seventh in Stage one and fifth in Stage two in last year’s race. What a redemption it would be if Sauter could pull off the win Friday night.

  2. Grant Enfinger – Sauter’s teammate, Enfinger could also wheel his No. 98 Protect The Harvest Ford F-150 into victory lane Friday night. Enfinger has been on a tear this year, earning six top fives and 10 top-10 finishes. He has been strong on the mile and a half tracks, placing third at Atlanta, 11th at Las Vegas, fourth after starting on the pole at Texas back in March, seventh at Kansas, ninth at Charlotte and fourth in the Texas June race. At Chicago, however, Enfinger has three starts with a best finish of fifth in 2017. His other finishes include sixth in 2016 and eighth in last year’s race, bringing his average finish to 6.3. Enfinger has no stage wins at the track located in Chicago, Illinois, but has been the championship points leader for most of the season. Look for the Alabama native to continue his hunt for the 2019 Truck Series championship Friday night.

  3. Brett Moffitt – You could say Chicago is a special place for Moffitt. Last year at this time when he competed for Hattori Racing, Moffitt and company were facing sponsorship woes and his future was in question. If he had missed the race, he would not have been eligible to compete for the Truck Series championship. Thankfully, a sponsor came on-board early in the week and Moffitt was able to continue his season. If it wasn’t for Fr8Auctions.com, who knows where Moffitt would be now. It was a special race for the Grimes, Iowa native as he would go on to win the race after starting sixth and making a last lap pass on John Hunter Nemechek. Fast forward to a year later, Moffitt is with GMS Racing competing in the No. 24 machine. He has an up and down track record on 1.5-mile racetracks. Moffitt has finished fourth at Atlanta, second at Las Vegas, 19th at Texas in March, eighth at Dover, 19th at Charlotte and 11th at Texas in June. Moffitt and GMS will have three practice sessions to get the truck dialed in to his liking.

  4. Brandon Jones – Jones returns to the famed No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports truck this week. He has one finish that came in the top five, in last year’s race driving for KBM where Jones finished fifth after starting 16th. He’s also made some ARCA starts and earned one top five, and one top-10 finish in those races. Jones will pilot chassis KBM-055. “This chassis has five starts, with three wins earlier this season, two by owner-driver Kyle Busch at Atlanta Motor Speedway in February, and Texas Motor Speedway in March, then veteran driver Greg Biffle won in this chassis at Texas Motor Speedway in June. In a total of five starts, this chassis has never finished lower than fifth.”


  5. Ben Rhodes – Rhodes has three starts at Chicago with a best finish of second in last year’s race. The Kentucky native has one DNF, which came in his first outing with ThorSport in 2016, where Rhodes finished 25th after starting seventh. His other finish was sixth in 2017. Rhodes has no stage wins, but surprisingly has one stage finish in the top five that came in 2018, and a top-10 Stage finish in 2017. Look for Rhodes to be in contention Friday night.

Other drivers on the entry list this week include the return of Spencer Davis, who will compete in the No. 44 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet. Davis only has one start in the 2019 season that came at Martinsville where he finished 20th. Davis tried to qualify for the season opener at Daytona but failed. The Georgia native has no starts at Chicago.

Joey Gase is scheduled to compete in the No. 0 for Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing, B.J. McLeod in the No. 1 of Mark Beaver, Dylan Lupton in a new DGR-Crosley entry in the No. 05, Tyler Ankrum returns to the No. 17 DGR-Crosley Toyota, Mason Massey in the No. 32, Josh Bilicki in the No. 33 and Jesse Iwuji in the No. 34 for Josh Reaume. Timmy Hill returns in his family owned No. 56 team, his first race back since competing at Charlotte last month. Joe Nemechek also returns to the No. 87 Chevrolet.

Since stages were implemented in 2017, Ryan Truex, Christopher Bell, John Hunter Nemechek and Noah Gragson have all earned stage wins.

Chicagoland has seen only 10 races in what could be called a new track in the Truck Series. The series first came here in 2009 where the race was won by Kyle Busch. Busch has gone on to win five times at the 1.5-mile speedway. However, Busch will not be competing this weekend.

Other winners include Austin Dillon in 2011 where he won the championship that year, James Buescher in 2012 winning the championship that year as well. John Hunter Nemechek won in 2015, Johnny Sauter in 2017 and Brett Moffitt in 2018.

Qualifying is important at Chicago, where the winner has only come from outside the top-10 twice, set by Buescher in 2012 when he started 11th and Nemechek in 2015 after starting 11th as well.

Since 2009, no winner has ever come from the pole position. However, it seems that if you start in the fourth position, you have a great shot at winning as the winner has come from that position three times. Busch did it in 2009 and 2010, while Sauter did it in 2017.

Other drivers have won from the sixth starting position, eighth, fifth and seventh twice (2013, 2014). In 2011, 2012, 2017 and 2018, the winner of this race has gone on to win the championship later in the season.

The Truck Series will have three practice sessions on Thursday afternoon. The first practice will be at 1:35 p.m. local time, the second practice at 3:35 p.m. local time and the final practice is slated for 5:35 p.m. local time with no live coverage.

Qualifying will be Friday afternoon at 4:05 p.m. local time/5:05 p.m.ET live on Fox Sports 2.

The Camping World 225 will get underway shortly after 8 p.m. local time/9 p.m. ET live on Fox Sports 1 and MRN Radio. Stages will be broken in to 35/70/150 to make up the scheduled distance of 225 miles.

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