NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Preview-Kentucky

After a week off for the Fourth of July holiday, the real fireworks get back on track Thursday night for the Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 at Kentucky Speedway.

The Truck Series was at Chicagoland Speedway two weeks ago where we saw last year’s champion take home the trophy. It was Moffitt’s second win of the 2019 season, which occurred on the 1.5-mile speedway, the same as Kentucky.

The Playoffs continue to be on the horizon and with five races left, there are some drivers who continue to be winless in the series. Believe it or not, only four series regulars have taken home a trophy. Other than Moffitt, Austin Hill won at Daytona and Johnny Sauter won at Dover. Ross Chastain had victories at Kansas and Gateway but sits 10 points out of the top-20. Chastain should easily make it into the Playoffs, but we’ve seen crazier things happen.

Despite only having four series regulars winning this year, there are other big names who have not won yet. Those include series points leader Grant Enfinger, Stewart Friesen, Matt Crafton, Ben Rhodes, Harrison Burton, Todd Gilliland and Sheldon Creed, who are all on the outside looking in. With that said, however, those names could break through at Kentucky this Thursday night.

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There are currently 34 Trucks entered on the preliminary entry list for 32 spots.

Here are five drivers to keep an eye on in Thursday night’s Buckle Up in Your Truck 225.

  1. Matt Crafton – Kentucky could be the place where Crafton breaks his long two-year winless streak. He is the most experienced driver with the most active starts at 20, ever since the first race here in 2001. The No. 88 ThorSport Racing driver has just one win here that occurred in 2015 when he started on the pole and led 43 laps that night. Otherwise, he has six top fives and 15 top-10 finishes with one DNF. Crafton’s average finish is 9.9 with 79 laps led overall. The Tulare, California driver has finishes of third in 2018, eighth in 2017 and 2016, a win in 2015 and sixth in 2014. He doesn’t have any stage wins, but Crafton finished sixth in Stage 1 and ninth in Stage 2 in the 2018 race. Keep an eye on the No. 88 Menards driver who hopes to snap his winless streak Thursday night.

  2. Ben Rhodes – The ThorSport train continues with Ben Rhodes. Rhodes is the previous race winner at Kentucky after leading 38 laps last year. It was a hometown win for Rhodes, as he resides in Louisville, Kentucky just 57 minutes away from Kentucky Speedway. However, prior to his win, Kentucky Speedway had not been too kind to Rhodes. He crashed out of the race in 2017, finishing 27th, and finished 13th in his first race in 2016. The Kentucky native has an average finish of 13.7 with an average start of 5.7. It will mark one year since Rhodes has not won a race in the Truck Series. He currently sits somewhat comfortable in the standings, in fifth, 98 points behind first. He’ll need a win or a finish in the top 10, or top five, to contend in the Playoffs.

  3. Stewart Friesen – Speaking of being close to winning, Friesen has a decent chance of getting his first win Thursday night. He finished second to Rhodes in last year’s race after leading 37 laps. He has Stage finishes of seventh and fourth in the 2018 race, but no stage top-10 finishes in 2017. The Canadian finished 12th in his first outing two years ago. Look for Friesen and his No. 52 Halmar Racing team to be a contender in Thursday night’s race at Kentucky.

  4. Brandon Jones – The Joe Gibbs Racing Xfinity Series regular returns to the famed No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports truck this week. The Atlanta, Georgia native has four starts at Kentucky Speedway and has finished in the top-10 in every start since 2015. Jones has had great results with a best finish of second in 2017. His other finishes include fourth in 2018, seventh in 2016 and 10th in 2015, which equal an average finish of 5.8. The No. 51 truck has not seen victory lane since Texas last month when Greg Biffle earned a popular victory. At Kentucky, the truck has not been to victory lane since 2014 when team owner Kyle Busch brought it to victory lane. Jones will try to put that No. 51 truck back in the winner circle this weekend.

  5. Todd Gilliland – Gilliland has just one start which came in last year’s race. The No. 4 KBM driver finished seventh after starting second and led just one lap. Gilliland has a stage finish of third and sixth in both stages that came in the 2018 race.

Other drivers on the entry list include Codie Rohrbaugh in the No. 9, Spencer Davis in the No. 11, Dylan Lupton in the No. 15, Tyler Ankrum in the No. 17 and Brennan Poole returns with his No. 30 machine. Josh Bilicki will compete in the No. 34, Chad Finley returns to the track in the No. 42, Jeb Burton in the No. 44, Ray Ciccarelli in the No. 49, Tyler Hill in the No. 56 and Clay Greenfield in the No. 68.

Ben Rhodes and Noah Gragson are the only stage winners since 2017.

Kentucky Speedway has seen 21 races and counting since their first race back in 2000. A list of winners include Greg Biffle who won the first race 19 years ago, Scott Riggs, Mike Bliss, Carl Edwards, Bobby Hamilton, Dennis Setzer, Ron Hornaday Jr (2006, 2009, 2011), Mike Skinner, Johnny Benson Jr, Todd Bodine, James Buescher (2012 and 2013), Ty Dillon, Kyle Busch, William Byron and Christopher Bell.

The race winner has come from the pole three times set by Matt Crafton in 2015, Kyle Busch in 2014 and Ron Hornaday Jr in 2009. The lowest a race winner has ever come from was 22nd by Ty Dillon in 2013 and Hornaday Jr in 2006.

It will be an all-day show for the Truck Series with first practice at 9:35 a.m. ET and final practice at 11:05 a.m. ET with no TV coverage. Qualifying is scheduled to take place at 4:05 p.m. ET live on Fox Sports 1.

The Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 can be seen live on Fox Sports 1 and MRN Radio with the green flag flying shortly after 7:30 p.m. ET. Stages will be broken up into 35/70/150 laps to make up the 225-mile race.

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