The NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series roared into a blazing hot Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night for Round No. 8 of the 2020 Truck Series season.
In what was to be expected, Kyle Busch came in and picked up another win in his final Truck Series start of the season. Busch continues to be impressive at Texas and now has three consecutive Truck wins. Though Busch had to work hard for his 59th career series win as rookies Christian Eckes and Zane Smith had the lead and kept Busch behind them a couple of times (more on that later). But, despite Busch outrunning the rookies, series regulars like Matt Crafton had a good night as well as Brett Moffitt and Stewart Friesen, among others, who also had a great showing.
With that said, let’s take a look at this week’s Power Rankings following the Vankor 350 at Texas Motor Speedway.
- Christian Eckes – Eckes shined under the lights Saturday night when he led the second race-high of 52 laps before coming in the runner up position, just .777 seconds behind his team owner Kyle Busch. He never did get to win a stage but stage finishes of sixth helped the Kyle Busch Motorsports driver gain some much needed points as the Playoffs are starting to lurk in the background. Even with a 10 lap dash to the finish, Eckes gave Busch a run for his money and kept within distance for the potential race win. However, the New York native will have to wait until Friday night at Kansas to have another chance to battle for the win, and this time, Eckes won’t have to battle his team owner for the victory. Despite all of that, the finish was a momentum booster for Eckes and the No. 18 KBM team with Eckes earning his second top-five finish of the season.
Previous Week Ranking – Not ranked
- Matt Crafton – It was a decent night for Crafton and his Menards No. 88 Ford F-150 team who came home in the third position. The season hasn’t been the best of seasons for Crafton, the defending champion of the series. But, there was some confidence to be found Saturday night when the Californian driver tied his best finish of the season again. Crafton got an eighth-place finish in Stage 1 and a second-place position in Stage 2. If Crafton and the team can capitalize on this momentum and continue to earn these kinds of finishes, you can guarantee that he will be a threat again for the Playoffs. While top-five finishes are nice, Crafton hasn’t been consistent and wins are what gets it done (winning the championship) nowadays. Saturday’s top-five finish was Crafton’s 119th top-five finish of his Truck Series career.
Previous Week Ranking – Fourth
- Zane Smith – Like Eckes, rookie Zane Smith also performed very well before a tire issue ended his chances prematurely and he wound up finishing in the 19th position, three laps down. Until that mishap, Smith took the lead early on at Lap 13 and led for 22 laps, battling with Kyle Busch for the top spot. The Huntington Beach, California driver would lead one more time for four laps, which took place from Laps 84-87. If not for the tire issues, we would have seen Smith up front on the final restart, potentially battling for the race win. In the stages, he placed second and fifth, respectively.
Previous Week Ranking – Fifth
- Brett Moffitt- It was a quiet, but good outing at Texas for Moffitt and the No. 23 GMS Racing driver Saturday night. The Iowan finished top five in the fifth position. Moffitt managed to win the second stage when he took advantage of pit strategy and stayed out under a late caution in the stage. Ultimately, he settled for his second top-five finish of the year as well.
Previous Week Ranking – Not Ranked
- Ben Rhodes – It was a somewhat disappointing finish for the Kentucky native, after being solid throughout the Vankor 350. Rhodes placed fourth in both stages before ending up ninth in the running order. The finish probably would have been higher had Rhodes not had a small dust-up with competitor Todd Gilliland. Rhodes has not won in two years. A win in the No. 99 ThorSport camp would be a morale booster for this team and their hopes of making it into the Playoffs.
Previous Week Ranking – Third
- Austin Hill – Engine woes ended the No. 16 team’s streak of finishing inside the top 10 throughout the first seven races of the year. It was a forgettable night for Hill.
Previous Week Ranking – Second