The NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series heads to the Lone Star State this weekend, home to Texas Motor Speedway.
Texas Motor Speedway has played host to the Truck Series since 1997 and has had two races there since 1998.
Since the first race there in 1997, the list of drivers who know what it takes when it comes to winning at Texas, is impressive. It includes names like Kenny Irwin Jr, Tony Raines, Jay Sauter, Jack Sprague, Jeb Burton, Ty Dillon, Brendan Gaughan (who won four in a row), Todd Bodine, Clint Bowyer, Ron Hornaday, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton, Erik Jones, William Byron, Christopher Bell, and Justin Haley just to name a few.
So who wins this time around? Here are five potential contenders that just might take home the trophy on Friday night.
- Johnny Sauter – Sauter has had quite a bit of success at Texas Motor Speedway. A bit might be an understatement. In 21 starts dating back to his first start in 2005, his first start for Thorsport since 2015, Sauter has five wins here at Texas. Two of those came with ThorSport Racing in 2012, where Sauter swept both races that season. He would have to wait again until 2016 he would revisit victory lane. Since then, he has won back to back from fall of 2017 and spring of 2018. Sauter has four poles, 10 top fives and 16 top 10 finishes with 361 laps led and an average finish of 6.3. He has currently been on a small winless streak dating back to Martinsville last fall, the last time Sauter won, but he is currently adjusting after rejoining his old team. It will only be a matter of time before Sauter visits victory lane again.
- Kyle Busch – Surprise, surprise! Busch has been on a roll lately in the Truck Series, winning three consecutive races and he does not look to slow down anytime soon. Texas Motor Speedway has been a so-so track for Busch. The last time he competed there was in 2014, where Busch won after leading 80 laps. Overall, he has three wins and four DNFs. He even won the fall 2009 race and the fall 2010 race to sweep the fall races. In total, Busch has led 356 laps and has eight top fives and eight top-10 finishes with an average finish of 10.9. It’s hard to stop someone who is on a roll, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Busch ends up in victory lane again on Friday night.
- Grant Enfinger – After a quiet day at Martinsville last week and losing the points lead, Enfinger will be hungry and looks to heat things up again this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. He only has four starts here, his first in 2017 where Enfinger finished third, his best finish since then. Despite finishing 12th last fall, he has had great finishes at the 1.5-mile track. In those four starts, Enfinger has two top fives and three top-10s to wind up with an average finish of 6.5. Look for him to be a contender this weekend.
- Todd Gilliland – It’s easy to say Gilliland should have won here last November where he led 60 laps only to finish a disappointing fourth. In fact, he should have swept both races after finishing sixth last spring after starting second and leading 60 laps. With the pressure to perform well this year, Gilliland could use a much-needed win and he just might break through Friday night.
- Stewart Friesen – Speaking of first-time race winners, Texas Motor Speedway could be the site of Friesen’s first career win if everything goes as planned. He has momentum after taking the points lead following Martinsville and even sitting on the pole there as well. So far this year, Friesen has two top fives and three top-10 finishes. Last year, he has five top fives and two top-10 finishes at mile and a half tracks with a best finish of second twice. In the summer race, Friesen finished second and eighth in the fall race with 25 laps led combined to raise his average finish to 11.6. Should be breakthrough, this weekend at Texas just might be the place.
To note, Joe Nemechek is back in the No. 8, Bubba Wallace remains in the No. 22 for AM Racing once again, Angela Ruch begins her stint with the No. 44 Niece Motorsports truck, and Anthony Alfredo is back in the No. 54.
On-track action begins on Thursday afternoon for the truckers with two practice sessions. The first one is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. CT and final practice at 5:05 p.m CT, both sessions lasting an hour each with no live coverage.
Qualifying is slated for Friday afternoon at 4:10 p.m CT live on FOX Sports 1.
Race coverage begins at 7:30 p.m CT with the Vankor 350 falling shortly after 8:00 p.m. CT for 147 laps live on FOX Sports 1 and MRN Radio.