NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Preview-Canada

The NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series Playoffs continue this weekend as they head north of the border and visiting one of the most exciting tracks on the Truck Series circuit, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park located in Ontario, Canada.

Almost every race since its inception in 2013 has featured an exciting ending to the event and we have even seen a fight after the checkered flag flew. In 2013, it was current Monster Energy Cup Series stars Chase Elliott and Ty Dillon battling it out for the win until Elliott made a divebomb move on Dillon to take the win.

In 2014, there was another thrilling finish featuring Ryan Blaney and German Quiroga with Blaney winning at the finish line by .049 seconds. The following year featured a less exciting finish when Erik Jones won by 1.665 seconds. In 2016, John Hunter Nemechek and Cole Custer ran each other off the track, with Nemechek getting the edge by a fender. After the race, Custer came running out onto the track tackling Nemechek due to rough driving at the end.

Two years ago, Austin Cindric was battling for a spot in the Playoffs when Canada wasn’t in the playoffs. Cindric took his bumper and bumped race leader Kaz Grala for the lead, and eventual race win. In 2018, it was the most talked-about race, as two Kyle Busch Motorsports teammates, Noah Gragson and Harrison Burton, took each other out on the final lap in the last turn of the race. There were some heated tempers between the teammates after the race, and the crew chiefs as well.

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Now, after six years, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park has a race in the Playoffs for the first time which will possibly make the race more intense.

Playoff driver and defending series champion Brett Moffitt is already locked into the next round after winning last week at Bristol. However, Moffitt would still like to win stages and gain playoff points before heading into the Round of 6. Two other playoff drivers are looking to get out of the cutline. Austin Hill is currently seventh, -3 points and Tyler Ankrum is -13 in eighth.

With that said, here are five drivers who might win in Sunday’s seventh annual Chevrolet Silverado 250.

  1. Alex Tagliani – Tagliani returns to the Truck Series field once again this weekend but this time he has a really decent shot to win the race. The Canadian will be piloting the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports truck. Tagliani is a skilled road racer currently competing in the NASCAR Pinty Series, which for the most part is raced on road courses and street circuits and he has raced at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in the Pinty Series. In the Truck Series, he has two poles, 15 laps led, one top-five and one top-10 finish in four starts. Tagliani also has come close to winning in the Xfinity Series on road courses as well. Keep an eye on the Canadian who may very well win this weekend.

  2. Matt Crafton – Canada is a place where Crafton could snap his winless streak this weekend. The ThorSport driver has competed in all six races dating back to 2013 and only once has Crafton finished outside the top-10, which came in 2017 where he finished 25th after an engine issue. Crafton’s best finish was in 2015 when he finished second. Overall, he has three top-fives and five top-10 finishes, five laps led and an average finish of 8.7. As far as stages go, Crafton has finishes of fifth in both stages in 2018. The California native doesn’t have any poles but the finishes are what matter in the long run. The ThorSport Racing driver just might win this weekend in Canada. Crafton sits fifth in the playoff standings, +13 above the cut line.

  3. Stewart Friesen – It’s a hometown race and weekend for the nearby Niagra-on-the-Lake, Ontario native Stewart Friesen. The Halmar Racing driver has only recorded one start that came in 2018 when he finished seventh after starting 16th. He also recorded a finish of sixth in Stage 2 in 2018. It will be a big victory should Friesen go on to win on Sunday in front of his hometown crowd.

  4. Brett Moffitt – Canada could be another race Moffitt checks off his list in terms of winning. The Grimes, Iowa native has two starts at Canada, scoring a best finish of third in last year’s race. Moffitt has stage finishes of sixth in Stage 1 and second in Stage 2. His average finish in two races is 9.5.

  5. Gary Klutt – Klutt only has two starts to his name in the Truck Series race at Canada and his best finish was in 2016, finishing 11th for Kyle Busch Motorsports. It’ll be the first race in over two years for the Canadian. While Klutt doesn’t have much experience in a truck at the track, he does have plenty of NASCAR Pinty Series experience. In the Pinty Series, Klutt has 10 starts at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park with finishes of 11th in 2010, seventh in 2013, sixth in 2014, 11th in 2015, 10th and sixth in 2016, third and eighth in 2017 and 19th and seventh in 2018. This season Klutt has recorded one pole and a finish of third after leading nine laps. The Canadian native will be piloting the No. 44 Niece Motorsports Chevy.

    Playoff Drivers

    1. Ross Chastain – Chastain has one start which came six years ago in 2013 where he finished seventh for Brad Keselowski. The Florida native also has road course starts at Road America and Mid-Ohio. Chastain currently sits second in the Playoffs, +25 above the cut line.

    2. Grant Enfinger – Canadian Tire Motorsport Park has been a struggle for the past two years for Enfinger, who currently is seeded fourth in the standings, +13. He’s recorded finishes of 13th in 2017 and 17th in 2018. Despite the finishes, Enfinger recorded stage finishes of ninth in both stages in 2018. To note, Enfinger along with his teammate Ben Rhodes competed in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge last month, where they both finished 13th.

    3. Johnny Sauter – Sauter has competed in all six races since 2013, earning a best finish of sixth (three times in 2015, 2017 and 2018). When Sauter was at ThorSport, he had finishes of 28th in 2013 due to a gas line, eighth in 2014 and sixth in 2015. He also has led 13 laps with an average finish of 10.2. Like Enfinger and Rhodes, Sauter and Crafton also competed in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge as well, finishing one spot behind Enfinger and Rhodes. Sauter is seeded sixth, +3.

    4. Austin Hill – Hill is currently seeded seventh in the standings, -3 behind Sauter. The Hattori Racing driver has one start which came last year where Hill finished eighth.

    5. Tyler Ankrum -Currently seeded last in the playoff standings -13 behind, Ankrum has no starts at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. He will have some work to do this weekend if Ankrum wants to advance into the next round, however, we’ve seen crazier things happen in NASCAR, especially in the Truck Series.

Other names on the entry list include Ray Ciccarelli returning to the No. 0 of Jennifer Jo Cobb and Roger Reuse competing in the No. 04 for Roper Racing. Joe Nemechek is back in the No. 8 for his own team this weekend after his son John Hunter piloted it at Bristol last week. Dylan Lupton is in the No. 20 for Randy Young, Greg Rayl in the No. 32 for Reaume Brothers Racing, Dan Corcoran in the No. 33 and former full-time Truck Series competitor Jason White returns in the No. 134 for Reaume Brothers Racing.

Raphael Lessard is back in the No. 54 DGR-CROSLEY team, substituting for Natalie Decker and Bobby Reuse in the No. 56 for Hill Motorsports.

For stages, Austin Cindric and Brett Moffitt won both stages in 2017 while Noah Gragson won both stages in 2018.

Want to win at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park? Having a strong qualifying outing will decide if you have a great chance of winning on Sunday. Only twice has the winner came from outside the top-10, which came in ’15 set by Blaney who came from 14th and John Hunter Nemechek in ’16 after starting 13th. Otherwise, winners have come from fourth in ’13 by Elliott, second in ’15 by Erik Jones, from the pole in ’17 by Cindric and eighth last year by Justin Haley.

On-track action begins on Saturday with practice sessions. The first practice is at 9:35 a.m.ET and the final practice is scheduled for 11:35 a.m. ET, both lasting an hour with no live TV coverage.

Sunday morning will see qualifying on Fox Sports 1 at 9:35 a.m. ET with multi-vehicle and two rounds for qualifying.

The Chevy Silverado 250 green flag will fly shortly after 2:30 p.m. ET live on Fox Sports 1 and MRN Radio. The stages will be 20/40/64 laps to make up the 157.37 miles around Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

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