NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series Preview – Kansas

For the first time this season, the NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series will take on Kansas Speedway in a doubleheader. It’s also the first time in event history that Kansas Speedway will hold two back-to-back Truck Series races.

Originally, this event was slated to take place back in May on the planned schedule but COVID-19 forced series officials to change the date. Kansas gets two Truck Series races, as the races at Chicagoland Speedway, this year were canceled due to rising COVID cases. Therefore, one of the races will make up the Chicago race while the other will serve as the May event. It’s certainly strange times, but that just means more Truck Series racing.

Just 38 Trucks will take the field when the green flag flies on Friday and Saturday night. For Friday night’s event, Christian Eckes drew the pole via random draw based on the top 12 in owner points. When Saturday’s event gets underway, the top 15 will be inverted based on Friday’s finish.

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The starting lineup for Friday’s event can be found here.

Keeping that in mind, we’ll highlight five drivers who just might end up in victory lane both days.

  1. Brett Moffitt – This season has been an uncharacteristic one for the 2018 Truck Series champion. Only two top fives and four top 10 finishes out of eight races. Though, Kansas could be a place he could get a strong run for his No. 24 GMS Racing team. In his first outing last year with GMS, the Iowa native started fourth, but disappointingly finished eighth after leading eight laps. Despite that, Moffitt placed second in both stages. Not only did Moffitt get stage points last year, but he’s been able to finish inside the top 10 for stages since 2017 at Kansas, even with the now defunct Red Horse Racing team.
  2. Grant Enfinger – The Alabama native only has three starts dating back to 2017, but has had respectable finishes of 11th, 8th and 7th. An argument could be made that those finishes have been disappointing, as in two out of those three races he led laps and grabbed top-10 stage finishes. In addition, Enfinger has led a combined 61 laps including last year, where he led 47 out of the 167 laps. While he’s still trying to find victory lane, you can count on Enfinger getting solid stage points. Since 2017, the ThorSport driver has managed to finish inside the top 10 in all stages, which is really impressive. Enfinger and the No. 98 team seems to be a solid value pick for Friday or Saturday.
  3. Brandon Jones – The Pocono winner is back in the field this week replacing Team Owner Kyle Busch in the famed No. 51 Toyota Tundra. Jones has three starts in the Truck Series at Kansas Speedway with a best finish of fifth in last year’s outing, which also came in the Kyle Busch Motorsports Tundra. Jones himself also has had some success at the 1.5-mile speedway. He found himself in victory lane last October for his first Xfinity Series win as well. Even though Jones has seen success in the Truck Series, Kyle Busch Motorsports has been impressive over the last few years. In 2017, team owner Busch swept the stages and won the outing, while in 2018, now Xfinity Series driver Noah Gragson, got to victory lane after sweeping both stages in that event. Last year, KBM’s sweep of winning stages was broken but the team still finished in the top 10 in the running order. After a rough stretch of races for Jones in the Xfinity Series, he could use some momentum and a victory could help him in that regard.
  4. Stewart Friesen – Redemption for Friesen? Kansas has been hit or miss for the No. 52 Halmar Racing team. The Canadian has three starts, scoring a best finish of third in the 2018 race after leading six laps. Last year, he led a race-high 87 laps and won both of the stages, before falling short with the late-race restart and settling for a disappointing 15th place, one lap down. So far in 2020, Friesen has not been as hot, with only one top-five and four top 10 finishes. Last year when the season ended, he wound up with two wins, 12 top fives, and 16 top 10 finishes along with one pole. Friesen currently sits outside the Playoffs in the 13th position. If the Halmar team has any hope of making the Playoffs, then they really need to get going and capitalize on the doubleheader.
  5. Christian Eckes – Eckes has been strong as of late and even lit the world up in last weekend’s outing at Texas Motor Speedway. He came home in the second-place position in the running order, although it was somewhat disappointing after the New York native led 52 laps. However, Eckes can look at the bright side of that finish since the No. 18 team will be starting on the pole based on the random draw. While he’ll be making his first Truck Series start, Eckes does have experience at the 1.5-mile speedway by competing in the ARCA Menards Series finale last October, the site of his race-winning championship. Even though ARCA cars are drastically different than Truck Series vehicles, the No. 18 team seems to be gaining momentum as of late. In addition, he’ll have a good chance of doing so as Eckes will be piloting chassis “KBM-038.” The chassis has been victorious for the KBM team by collecting six victories including a race-winning victory by Noah Gragson in 2018 at Kansas.

Kansas Speedway has hosted 19 Truck Series events dating back to 2001. The late Ricky Hendrick was the first winner of this event back in 2001 after he started second and led 32 laps.

Over time, there has been a slew of different winners. They include Mike Bliss, Jon Wood, Carl Edwards, Todd Bodine, Terry Cook, Erik Darnell, Ron Hornaday Jr, Mike Skinner, Johnny Sauter, Clint Bowyer, James Buescher, Matt Crafton, Kyle Busch, William Byron, Noah Gragson, and Ross Chastain.

Busch, Gragson and Friesen have all won stages since 2017 when stages were implemented.

Busch and Crafton are the only race winners with multiple victories. Busch will not be competing this weekend, as the KBM Team Owner completed his five-race schedule for 2020. This leaves last year’s Truck Series champion Matt Crafton, the only two-time Kansas winner in the field.

With that in mind, track position will be important here as no one who has started outside the top 10 has won the race. In fact, the lowest a race winner has ever started was 10th (three times, 2005, 2007, 2017). The race has been won from the pole three times, in 2008, 2014, and 2018.

In regards to manufacturers, Chevrolet got their first victory in 2001 with Ricky Hendrick. Ford grabbed the victory in 2003 with Jon Wood and Toyota in 2005 with Todd Bodine. Overall, Toyota has the most victories with eight, Chevrolet seven and Ford with four.

The most ever lead changes were 22 which took place in last year’s outing. The least amount of lead changes saw was seven, in 2005 and 2009.

Stages 30/30/74 will make up the 134-lap distance in both Friday and Saturday events.

Both Truck Series events can be found live on Fox Sports 1 and MRN Radio. The green flag for Friday’s event is 7:15 p.m. ET with Saturday’s race slated for 1:45 p.m. ET.

Since the time of this writing, it has been announced Travis Pastrana would make his NASCAR return, piloting the No. 40 Niece Motorsports machine replacing Ross Chastain by doing so. In addition, Reaume Brothers Racing has added Ryan Huff to the entry list for the Saturday afternoon event.

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