Homestead-Miami Speedway saw its series finale Friday night for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series. It is hard to believe the final race has come and gone just like that. In some ways, it feels like yesterday when the series opened up their season in Daytona with Austin Hill as the winner.
Now fast-forwarding 22 races later, we have a three-time champion in the series and that’s Matt Crafton who finished second in Friday night’s race to become the second three-time champ in a tie with Jack Sprague. It’s pretty remarkable since Crafton is only one away from tying Ron Hornaday’s record with championships.
Before we got there, we had to wait an additional 90 minutes due to weather in the area and track drying. There were some doubts about whether or not the race would even be run on Friday night, but somehow, someway, the championship race ran as advertised, just a couple of hours later.
With that in mind, here are Four Takeaways from the Ford Ecoboost 200.
- Hill Wins in Southern Florida – Somewhat overshadowed in the championship celebration was Austin Hill sweeping the Florida races this season by winning the first race in Florida and the last race in Florida, something that is very unique and can be added to a driver’s resume. It’s what could have been though for the Georgia native had he won at Phoenix the week before and locked himself into the Championship 4 instead of Stewart Friesen or someone else. Had that happened, we could have been talking about a different champion by now. Though hindsight is 20/20 and we can only think about the future. That future is Hill will have another chance to chase for the title next season, as he returns to Hattori Racing in a bid to win his first ever NASCAR title.
- Driver Lineups for 2020 – In what was already a busy weekend for NASCAR and Homestead holding Championship 4 races, Thursday was media day for those drivers which also included driver announcements for the 2020 season. Kyle Busch Motorsports announced two new full-time drivers with Raphael Lessard and Christian Eckes joining the team to compete in the No. 4 and No. 18 Tundra. It is likely the No. 51 returns with a crop of all star drivers competing throughout the season. Chandler Smith is returning to compete on a part-time schedule before he turns 18 next summer. GMS Racing also added to the list of announcements as former DGR-Crosley driver and playoff contender Tyler Ankrum joins the team full-time along with Brett Moffitt and Sheldon Creed. Also recently announced this past week was part-time Xfinity Series driver Zane Smith going full-time next season as well. It’s going to be an interesting season to watch KBM vs GMS vs ThorSport Racing in the title chase with a crop of new talent.
- Todd Gilliland Has Interesting Night – While Gilliland had his last race with KBM for now, it was certainly a unique outcome for the KBM driver. When teams were cleaning the trucks and getting them ready to load up and go back to Charlotte, one of the KBM crew members found a dead fox from the grille after running over it on the track. Quite the way to end an entertaining season for Gilliland who doesn’t know his 2020 plans yet. Here’s hoping the talented star will find something for next year and have a better year than he did this year. Condolences to the fox that was gone too soon.
- Parker Kligerman Returns with Top-10 Finish – Parker Kligerman doesn’t compete in many Truck Series races, but when he does, you can normally expect him to have a decent finish. The 2019 season hasn’t been the best for Henderson Motorsports with finishes of 20th at Atlanta and 13th at Bristol, but they entered the season finale and wound up with a 10th place finish. It was their first top-10 finish since Charlotte of last year. Henderson Motorsports is the ultimate underdog team in the Truck Series and can perform when the opportunity is presented to them.