After waiting all season, it’s now time for the Championship 4 race in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series. For the fourth time since 2016, the Truck Series will compete at Homestead-Miami Speedway to decide another champion, the 25th of the series. While the Championship 4 could be debated, it has the best drivers who have been solidly consistent all year round. Having some of the best racers competing for the title should create an exciting race.
Keeping the Championship 4 in mind, here’s a special preview of the final race of the season highlighting the four playoff drivers.
- Brett Moffitt – Moffitt only has one start which came in the Championship 4 race last year. He started fifth, won Stage 2 and won the race to capture his first-ever Truck Series championship. During the Ford 200, the GMS driver only ran as low as 11th and led 59 laps. Moffitt’s stats show he has been decent at best on 1.5-mile tracks this season. Aside from a 19th place finish at Texas and Charlotte, Moffitt has seen consistent finishes. At Atlanta, he finished fourth, second at Las Vegas, eighth at Kansas, 11th at Texas in June, winning at Chicago and seventh at Vegas in the fall. The Iowa native may very well be headed to his second Truck Series championship.
- Ross Chastain – Chastain has five starts at the 1.5-mile speedway in Southern Florida, with a best finish of eighth in 2013 driving for Brad Keselowski in the Truck Series. For four years, the Niece Motorsports driver was absent from racing in the Trucks before returning last year, finishing 16th for Niece. And what a difference a year makes. At this time last year, Chastain wasn’t even running for Truck points and was focused on his Xfinity program for JD Motorsports. While his Truck stats may not be much to count on, the Florida native has five starts in the Xfinity Series with a best finish of 16th in last year’s race. What a win it would be if Chastain wheels in the No. 45 Chevy Friday night into victory lane.
- Matt Crafton – Crafton is the most experienced driver of them all competing for the championship this weekend. He’s entered in every race he’s started since 2001 at Homestead with a win back in 2015 after starting on the pole and leading 93 laps. Since winning the title in 2015, Crafton has competed in the Playoffs two out of three times. However, in those times, the California native finished seventh in 2016 and sixth (last of the Champ 4 contenders in 2017). During those races, he’s only been able to lead 10 laps. Counting 18 starts, Crafton has three top fives and 10 top-10 finishes with 145 laps led and zero DNFs, along with an average finish of 10.8.
- Stewart Friesen – Friesen, who also will be competing in his first-ever Championship 4 race at Homestead has three starts dating back to his first track start in 2016. The Canadian’s best finish was fourth in last year’s race after finishing seventh and sixth in both stages, respectively. Overall, the Halmar driver has his technical teammate Brett Moffitt to lean on and an average finish of 13.3.
During the last four years of the Championship 4 race, the champion has finished third in 2016, second in 2017 and first in last year’s race by Moffitt.
Homestead has seen 23 races since its first year back in 1996 and has a long list of winners. Dave Rezendes was the first winner in ‘96, followed by Kenny Irwin Jr., Rick Crawford, Mike Wallace, Andy Houston, Ted Musgrave, Ron Hornaday, Bobby Hamilton, Kasey Kahne, Todd Bodine, Mark Martin, Johnny Benson Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Johnny Sauter, Cale Gale, Bubba Wallace, Matt Crafton, William Byron, Chase Briscoe and Brett Moffitt.
The highest a race winner has ever come from was the pole, four times – Hamilton in 2003, Crafton in 2015, Byron in 2016 and Briscoe in 2017.
On the manufacturer side of things, Toyota has nine wins, Ford and Chevy have five each while Dodge only scored one.
Six times the race was extended to overtime in 1999, 2007-2009, 2012 and the last time an overtime finish occurred was in 2013.
Kyle Busch Motorsports has the most wins in regards to teams. KBM has four (2010, 2013, 2014 and 2016), defunct team Ultra Motorsports (1999, 2001 and 2004), Germain Racing with two (2005 and 2008), while ThorSport also has two (2011, 2015).
To up the ante, Gander Outdoors has offered an additional $100,000 to this year’s champion.
It will be a one day show for the Truck Series on Friday. First practice is at 9:05 a.m. ET and final practice is scheduled for 10:35 a.m. ET with no live TV coverage. Qualifying can be seen later in the afternoon at 4:35 p.m. ET live on Fox Sports 1.
The Ford Ecoboost 200 gets underway shortly after 8 p.m. ET live on Fox Sports 1 and MRN Radio. Stages are 40/40/54 laps to make up the 134-lap race.