The NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series returns to action this weekend at Dover International Speedway, popularly known as the “Monster Mile,” after well over a month off from action. The last time the Trucks were last seen was at Texas Motor Speedway in March, when all-time wins leader Kyle Busch got four in a row to extend his winning streak.
This time, however, Busch will not be competing at Dover this weekend, as the next time he’ll be in a Truck will be Charlotte in middle May. Despite Busch not being able to compete this weekend, the Truck Series normally action packed on any given race weekend.
Last time the Truck Series visited Dover saw a thrilling finish between Johnny Sauter and now Xfinity Series driver Noah Gragson battle it out for the win. In the remaining laps, Noah made a divebomb move to try and pass Sauter for the win, but couldn’t make the Truck stick and ended up wrecking out of the race, thus seeing the race ending under caution.
When the entry list came out earlier this week, there were 35 trucks entered but the No. 04 of Roper Racing with Cory Roper withdrew Wednesday due to the lack of funding. The No. 1 (Travis Kvapil) and No. 43 (Anthony Mrakovich) also withdrew Thursday, leaving a total of 32 entries for the JEGS 200. In other notables, this weekend will see the return of Austin Wayne Self to his family-owned team to the No. 22 of AM Racing. Self violated NASCAR’s substance policy earlier this year but has since been reinstated as of this week.
With the Truck Series back racing this weekend, here are five drivers that might get it done in the JEGS 200.
- Johnny Sauter – You really can’t go to a race without having Sauter as a contender for the win. Surprisingly enough, he does not have a win yet in 2019 but Sauter is the defending Dover race winner. In 10 starts at Dover, he has two wins, two top fives and seven top-10 finishes with an average finish of 8.0. Sauter also won here in 2017 making it two consecutive wins when he visited victory lane here last spring. He has 170 laps led in total and zero DNFs but that was with GMS Racing when Sauter visited victory lane. What about his time with ThorSport Racing? The last time Sauter and company raced with each other was back in 2015 where he finished ninth. Other finishes include fifth in 2009, 15th in 2010, 11th in 2011, 24th in 2012, seventh in 2013, and third in 2014. Sauter turned 41-years-young this past week and what a birthday present it would be if he could get to victory lane Friday night.
- Todd Gilliland – Gilliland only has two starts at Dover with one top-10 finish coming in last year’s race where he finished 10th. However, Gilliland kept himself busy during the off week by winning the ARCA race at Talladega last weekend. It was a little sigh of relief after facing so much pressure to perform this season in the Truck Series. Gilliland is determined to get to victory lane this weekend and put the critics’ comments aside once more. Momentum is everything in this sport, so don’t be surprised if he wheels the No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports entry into victory lane at Dover. The No. 4 KBM team will be using chassis KBM-045. The chassis has 10 starts and one win at Chicagoland Speedway in 2016 with owner-driver Kyle Busch behind the wheel.
- Ben Rhodes- Rhodes could be an upset winner this weekend at Dover. He may not have the best results statistically but he has improved his finishes the last two times the Trucks visited there. His first two outings did not fare well for the Kentucky native with finishes of 22nd and 28th but he finished fourth in 2017 and eighth in 2018. In last year’s race, Rhodes finished sixth in both stages. He has an average finish of 15.5 with 71 laps led. Rhodes will continue to look to improve his finish by going to victory lane this Friday.
- Brandon Jones – Jones will be back in the No. 51 KBM entry at Dover this weekend. Jones could very well end up in victory lane and it wouldn’t be shocking. He has competed at Dover in the Truck Series since 2014 and aside from the 2016 race (where Jones finished 20th), he has finished inside the top-10 in most of his starts at the “Monster Mile.” Jones’ best finish in a Truck at Dover is fourth in 2014. He did not compete in last year’s race but made five starts for KBM in 2018 with a best finish of third at Charlotte.
- Stewart Friesen – Despite Friesen not finishing the last two Dover races, he has been solid in 2019 and is currently the Truck Series points leader. So far this year, the No. 52 Halmar Racing driver has three top fives and four top-10 finishes with one pole. Friesen’s best finish this year is second at Texas. He’ll be looking forward to putting the Dover slump behind him.
The Truck Series has competed at Dover over the past 19 years since 2000. Current Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Kurt Busch won the first outing here in 2000. The first back-to-back winner was Kyle Busch from 2013-2014. Johnny Sauter is the most recent back-to-back winner here at Dover. No driver has ever won three in a row.
The race winners is a list of who’s who ranging from Scott Riggs, Ted Musgrave, Jason Leffler, Chad Chaffin, Mark Martin, Scott Speed, Brian Scott, Aric Almirola, Todd Bodine, Tyler Reddick to Matt Crafton.
Kyle Busch has the most wins at the track with four. However, as previously noted, will not be racing this weekend in the Truck Series.
First time winner? The Truck Series at Dover have produced 15 different winners.
The race winner has come from the pole only three times with the most recent taking place in 2014 set by, none other than Kyle Busch. The lowest a winner has ever come from to win was 15th and was set by NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday in 2007.
The Truck Series takes to the track on Thursday afternoon with two practice sessions. The first practice will take place at 2:05 p.m. ET and final practice at 4:05 p.m. ET with no live TV coverage.
Trucks will qualify on Friday afternoon at 1:10 p.m. ET live on NASCAR.com.
The JEGS 200 is slated to get underway a little past 5 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1 and MRN Radio.