In what feels like forever, the NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series will return to on-track action Tuesday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway after a two-month hiatus from racing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The last race took place on Feb.ruary 21 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
During that time period, NASCAR had announced they were expanding not only the Xfinity Series field, but the Truck Series field to 40 vehicles to compete in the race. Originally, the Truck Series field was limited to 32, but COVID-19 has made an impact financially, therefore NASCAR increased the field size to help with the financial health for each series.
After that rule was announced, the entry list saw up to 47-Trucks entered to compete. However, a random draw took place on Sunday afternoon and seven of those trucks had to go home. While seven of those went home, there were some familiar faces back in the field including Richie Waulters, Trey Hutchens, Bryan Dauzat, Charlie Henderson of Henderson Racing, and Norm Benning. Unfortunately, Erik Jones, Richie Waulters, Trey Hutchens, Dawson Cram of Boyd Long, Tim Viens of Mike Affrano, Bryant Barnhill of Reaume Brothers Racing, Parker Kligerman of Henderson Racing and Norm Benning missed the cut after the random draw. ThorSport’s Ben Rhodes got the pole when the draw was over.
With that in mind, here are five drivers who might just get the victory Tuesday night at Charlotte.
- Matt Crafton – The three-time champion and veteran Matt Crafton has the most starts out of any active drivers at Charlotte. The ThorSport driver has a total of 17 starts with two wins, including his first career win that came in 2008. Overall, Crafton has seven top fives and 13 top-10 finishes along with 108 laps led. He also qualified on the pole last year and finished fifth in the race after leading seven laps. Crafton also won Stage 1 as well. The last time he got the victory at Charlotte was four years ago in 2016.
- Stewart Friesen – The Halmar International Racing driver has made three starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway with a best finish of third that came in last year’s event. He has yet to lead any laps at the 1.5-mile speedway but finished a respectable sixth place in both stages in 2019. The Canadian also qualified second in 2019 as well, which was his best qualifying effort out of the three starts. Friesen will start 10th on Tuesday night due to the random draw.
- Sheldon Creed – It’s hard to go off one start at any particular racetrack, but the GMS Racing driver Sheldon Creed had a solid finishing position in his first Truck start by finishing 12th. He ran as high as fifth and spent 103 laps in the top-15. In doing so, Creed also finished eighth and seventh respectively in both stages. The GMS driver also finished runner up in last year’s ARCA event with GMS Racing.
- Brennan Poole – Poole surprised everyone in his first Truck Series outing in last year’s race at Charlotte. He qualified in the 17th position but had a solid outing by managing track position and taking advantage of a late-race restart. In fact, Poole found himself in position to be an upset winner and had the potential to beat Kyle Busch in a three-lap dash to the finish. Unfortunately, he came up short, but scored a second-place finish, scoring Steven Lane’s team his best finish as a team owner.
- Kyle Busch – It would be hard to imagine counting Busch out of any race that he competes in, especially in the Truck Series at Charlotte. The Las Vegas, Nevada native has an impressive record scoring eight wins in the 13 races he has competed in. That’s a 62% winning percentage, well over half. Busch even won four races in a row in a stretch from 2010-2014. While Matt Crafton scored his first-ever NASCAR win at Charlotte, Busch did the same in 2005 when driving for former owner, Billy Ballew after starting third in that race. Busch’s worst finishing effort was 11th, which came in 2007. Otherwise, it ’s been runner-up or win. Don’t be surprised if the KBM team owner can make it nine wins on Tuesday night, as he will already have two races under his belt.
The Truck Series started racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2003 and has seen eight different winners including Ted Musgrave, Kyle Busch, Matt Crafton, Dennis Setzer, Ron Hornaday Jr, Justin Lofton, Kasey Kahne, and Johnny Sauter. Of those drivers, Busch has the most wins with eight followed by Hornaday and Crafton with two apiece, as all other drivers only have one win.
The highest a driver has won from was the pole position also set by Busch that occurred four times, the last taking place two years ago in 2018. The lowest a driver has ever started to win the race was set by Busch as well, which was seen in 2006 where he qualified 20th.
Chevrolet has the most wins with nine for a manufacturer and Toyota with eight. Dodge has one win while Ford surprisingly has zero wins.
The most cautions that took place in this event were 10 cautions for 47-laps, back in 2011. The fewest was in 2016 which saw three cautions for 14 laps. The most lead changes occurred in last year’s race with 19.
Busch also has the most stage wins with three, while Crafton, Brett Moffitt, and John Hunter Nemechek have all picked up a stage win since stages were implemented in 2017.
To limit exposure and prevent more COVID-19 cases, there will be no practice or qualifying. The North Carolina Education Lottery 200 can be seen live on Fox Sports 1 and heard on MRN Radio at 8 p.m. ET.