As the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series completed their 16th race of the season, the 2018 Truck Series Playoff grid is set and eight drivers will compete for the championship beginning at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on Sunday, Aug. 26.
While a familiar foe ended up in victory lane at Bristol Motor Speedway Thursday night, others who needed a strong night got their wish and some had their best career finish.
Here’s a look at this week’s power rankings.
- Johnny Sauter – By just starting the race, Sauter clinched the 2018 Truck Series regular season championship. He didn’t stop there, however, as he went on to win his fifth race of the season. Sauter finished second in both stages. He took the lead twice throughout the race. With 15 to go, he and GMS ally, Stewart Friesen battled each other and raced each other hard for the second position. This allowed race leader John Hunter Nemechek to pull away late, but issues in the No. 8 truck saw him fade to third place and saw Sauter take the lead. He was able to fend off Friesen by .236 seconds and was crowned 2018 Truck Series regular season champion. With his fifth win of the season, he will be able to carry over 42 points into the 2018 Playoffs. Sauter continues to be the guy to beat in the 2018 season. Previous Week Ranking: 2nd
- Stewart Friesen – Friesen was a Playoff bubble driver until the middle of Stage 2. With enough points and a couple of stage wins this year, he was able to clinch a spot in the Playoffs which allowed the No. 52 team to breathe easy and gave the okay to chase for his first possible win. Friesen finished seventh and fourth in both stages, respectively. He’ll be racing in his first ever race at his home track this weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, the site of the first Playoff race. Nonetheless, Friesen will have to have finishes like Bristol this past weekend in order to be a Championship 4 contender at Homestead-Miami. Friesen is placed fifth in the Playoffs standings. Previous Week Ranking: Not Ranked
- Todd Gilliland – Gilliland continues to shine in the 2018 Truck Series season in the No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra. In a lot of the tracks where he is making his first start in a truck, he looks like a seasoned veteran. After starting in the eighth position, Gilliland fell back quickly due to a loose truck and wound up 13th. In Stage 2, he was involved in an incident when he spun around in Turn 4 collecting the 97 of Jesse Little. While Gilliland didn’t collect any stage points, he was able to rebound to finish in the top five for his third top five of the year. He missed out on the Playoffs, but that doesn’t mean he can’t play spoiler in the Playoffs by winning races. Previous Week Ranking: 3rd
- Ben Rhodes – Rhodes continued his consistent success by finishing in the top-10 this past week at Bristol. He started second on the front row and finished fifth and seventh in both stages, collecting stage points. With his win at Kentucky, Rhodes was already locked into the Playoffs. He just needed to win and have a solid night in order to prepare for the Playoffs. And after a rocky start to the season, the tide is starting to turn for the No. 41 ThorSport Racing team with a seventh-place finish. This was Rhodes ninth top-10 of the 2018 season. He’ll be a part of the eight driver Playoff grid at Canada, where he is the fourth seed. Previous Week Ranking: 4th
- Justin Haley – Haley is another driver who continues to carry consistency in each race. He hasn’t had a bad finish since Iowa where he finished 16th. Since then, Haley has finished in the top-10 with a win at Gateway. The No. 24 GMS Racing team finished 10th and ninth in both stages respectively earning stage points. As the 16th race of the season completed at Bristol on lap 200, Haley and the No. 24 Fraternal Order of Eagles finished sixth after starting 11th. It was his 12th top-10 of the 2018 season. GMS Racing now has two trucks in the Playoffs, three if you include the GMS ally, Friesen. They are the team to beat in the 2018 Truck Series Playoffs. Previous Week Ranking: Not Ranked
- Noah Gragson – Gragson finished ninth in the first stage, but did not collect any points in Stage 2. But, he did come back to finish ninth for his 12th top-10 of the year and is now in the Playoffs. He’ll be seeded in the third position.
- Brett Moffitt – After a thrilling win at Michigan the week before, Moffitt and the No. 16 team was brought back to reality on Thursday night. He had a tough qualifying outing by qualifying in the 14th position. Not all was lost, however, as he was able to finish third in Stage 2. But the night continued to get worse for the Hattori Racing team as they continued to slip back and finish in the 18th position. With four wins this year, Moffitt is now locked into the Playoffs and is seeded in the second position.