The NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series visited the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway located in Concord, North Carolina this past Friday night for the continuation of the 2019 Truck Series season.
The polarizing driver, Kyle Busch was entered in his fifth and final truck race of the season in the Truck Series. And to no one’s surprise, Busch went five for five, winning in all five starts in the series this season. It’s a remarkable feat last accomplished by Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday who did it in 2009. However, he won five consecutive races that year, which means Hornaday’s record will stay intact for years to come. That is, unless, Busch decides to chase after a Truck Series title once his career in the Cup Series is done or an up and coming driver comes along (and there’s a lot out there) and starts breaking records like Busch did when he began his stellar NASCAR career. Nonetheless, despite Busch not winning in five consecutive races, it’s an extraordinary feat to win in all five starts. It’s something he tried years ago in the Xfinity Series, but he could only get half of them. The Future Hall of Famer is certainly impressive in the Truck Series this year, but will now turn his attention in trying to build his KBM team into a championship organization as they approach the Playoffs.
While Busch continued his winning ways, other teams mourned the passing of longtime Truck Series owner Mike Mittler who had been an owner of a Truck Series team since the first year of the series in 1995. Mittler is known for giving drivers their first start. Some notables include Jamie McMurray in 1999 who made five starts that year and in 2000 where he made 10 starts. Carl Edwards made seven starts with the team in 2002 and Regan Smith made two starts the same year. Others include Justin Allgaier in 2005 and 2006, Brad Keselowski in 2006, Blake Koch in 2014, Brandon Hightower in 2015, Akinori Ogata in 2015, Bobby Pierce, who famously drove the truck at Eldora for all of his truck starts, Garrett Smithley, Spencer Boyd, the Donahue’s, Camden Murphy and Timmy Hill. J.J. Yeley was the last to drive for Mittler making the team’s last start at Chicago. The team attempted Bristol but withdrew.
Team owner D.J. Copp took the No. 63 in order to pay tribute to Mittler. In a Facebook post by Copp Motorsports, it states that “Mittler Motorsports and Copp Motorsports officially joined as partners in early 2017. In an effort to help grow each of our programs, we operated seamlessly, however, we did have our hurdles beyond our relationship. With that, it often led to Mike telling me very simply “If it doesn’t make sense, then don’t do it…. It’s just that simple” and he so very often would repeat it back to me to make sure I understood.”
With that in mind, here’s a look at this week’s Four Takeaways from the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
1. Rowdy Reigns Supreme In Charlotte – Kyle Busch won once again at Charlotte Motor Speedway, making it his eighth career win in the Truck Series at the 1.5-mile track in Concord. NASCAR fans saw Busch earn his 56th career win in 150 starts. To make it understandable, that’s 37% of the time that Busch has won in the Truck Series ever since his first win at, you name it, Charlotte in 2005. While the team owner was successful Friday night, leading all but 32 laps, finishing seventh in Stage 1 and won the second stage, his KBM teammates are still looking for the first win of their career/season. Todd Gilliland finished seventh, while Harrison Burton wound up 11th. If you take Kyle Busch out of the occasion, KBM has not won at all this year. Gilliland’s best finish so far came at Kansas a couple of weeks ago finishing third. His teammate Harrison Burton has a best finish of third at Dover. Both drivers sit on the playoff bubble with Gilliland in eighth and Burton in ninth, one point behind. Both are facing pressure to perform with a team that can and has won championships in the past. They only have nine races left until either driver can win in order to have a chance at the championship in 2019. And if they don’t win, their jobs could be on the line with KBM if these drivers don’t start winning soon.
2. Anthony Alfredo Earns Top-10 Finish – The DGR-Crosley team had a miserable night with Natalie Decker wrecking out early on Lap 32 and their other teammate and Tyler Ankrum finishing 27th after facing vibration problems on Lap 111 that resulted in Ankrum and company not finishing the race. While Decker and Ankrum didn’t have the best night, their teammate Anthony Alfredo did by finishing eighth after starting 15th. It was his best finish so far this year.
3. Young’s Motorsports Pay Tribute To Mike Mittler- As mentioned above, many teams and drivers took to social media over the week after Mittler passed away. There were many tributes and special messages displayed by drivers who drove for him or had a special connection with Mittler. One, in particular, was Spencer Boyd who made his first Truck Series start in 2016 at Martinsville finishing 28th. Boyd and the Young’s Motorsports teams paid tribute to the passing of Mittler.
— Spencer Boyd (@SpencerBoyd) May 17, 2019
4. Texas Begins Triple Truck Challenge – When the Truck Series returns to on-track action at Texas Motor Speedway in a couple of weeks, it will see a unique twist introduced by Gander Outdoors and NASCAR that will award the winner of Texas, Iowa and Gateway a $50,000 bonus in each of those three events. Should a driver win all three, they will earn $500,000 in total after the challenge is over at Gateway. Think of it like the “Dash 4 Cash” in the Xfinity Series where drivers have a shot to win $100,000 for the highest finisher; that’s similar to how it will be in the Truck Series. Imagine what that can do to a team like Niece Motorsports or Halmar Racing if they end up winning one of the races? It would be a huge win. These races can all be seen on Fox Sports 1 the rest of the season. The RattleSnake 400 will take place Friday, June 7 at 9 p.m. ET, the M&M’s 200 at Iowa Saturday, June 15 at 7 p.m. ET and Gateway Saturday, June 22 at 8:30 p.m. ET.