The NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series came to play last Friday night at Michigan International Speedway for the continuation of their 2020 season and their march to the postseason.
The 11th event of the season was a caution-filled race, just like the Pocono event was. When the smoke cleared and all was said and done, there were a record 11 cautions for 51 laps, the most ever for any Truck Series race at Michigan. Putting that all together, 47.7% of the race was run under caution while just 4.7 laps were run under green. Through the first two stages, there were definitely some yellows, but not as many as during the final stage and that allowed for some green flag runs. But, all hell broke loose with 18 to go when a caution flew for the 13 of Johnny Sauter, who spun in Turn 2 after racing with teammate Grant Enfinger.
Soon after that, it seemed like the rest of the race was under yellow as only six laps of green flag racing were seen in the final remaining laps which included one red flag that lasted nine minutes. At the end of the day, Zane Smith finally got his first NASCAR win in the Truck Series by prevailing through the chaos and carnage.
Meanwhile, there was another story that affected the outcome of the race and we’ll detail that in this week’s takeaways from the Truck Series race at Michigan.
- Choose Rule – On Friday afternoon, NASCAR implemented the choose rule which allows the drivers to decide in which lane they will restart when the race resumes after a caution. This isn’t the first time NASCAR has used the rule (see Bristol All-Star race), but this was the first time the rule was used in a Truck Series race. It seemed as though the rule worked for the most part and created some interesting choices for the drivers. While some probably liked it, I am sure there were others that did not. NASCAR will continue to implement the choose rule in all three national series for restarts except at road courses and superspeedways. It should eliminate confusion especially late in the race. A major kudos to NASCAR for stipulating that if a driver fails to commit to a lane before the painted box or change lanes after the mark, the driver will be penalized and have to restart at the tail end of the longest line. It might seem a little harsh but it should prevent drivers from trying to gain an advantage on the field.
- Raphael Lessard Bounces Back – Like his teammate Christian Eckes, the day looked disastrous for the Canadian Lessard when he had a flat tire at the mid-point of the race. Lessard had to come down pit road during a green-flag run while leading for a fresh new tire. With the help of late-race cautions, he was able to come back into play and record a seventh-place finish, the first top 10 finish of Lessard’s career. In addition, the Kyle Busch Motorsports driver led four laps. It was a solid day for the No. 4 team.
- David Gravel Competes – The World Of Outlaws star David Gravel mixed up the field this past weekend by competing in his first Truck Series race. It was a quiet race for the 28-year-old but he rallied for a 10th place finish in his first start. Sure, the cautions may have helped him, but not a bad day for Gravel and the No. 24 GMS Racing team.
- Playoff Schedule Announced – Last Thursday afternoon, NASCAR announced the remaining 2020 schedule for the Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series. Specifically for the Truck Series, nothing major was really changed, but there were a few notables. Kansas will host its first Truck Series playoff race, and for the first time in nine years, the Trucks will head to Darlington International Raceway which will open the playoff run. The playoff schedule includes Darlington on Sept. 6, Richmond Sept. 10, Bristol Sept. 17, Las Vegas Sept. 18, Talladega Oct. 3, Kansas Oct. 16, Texas Oct. 25, Martinsville Oct. 30, and the final race of the season will be at Phoenix November 6.
- On Sunday morning, it was announced by Kyle Busch Motorsports that Alex Tagliani will be competing in the No. 51 Toyota Tundra at the Daytona Road Course on Sunday, Aug. 16. The event will mark Tagliani’s first race since Canadian Tire Motorsport Park last year, where he finished runner up after starting fourth.