With three races remaining before the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase and just two spots on points left in the playoff field, the mantra for the series’ winless drivers is simple.
Win or go home.
“We’re definitely going to take some chances and go for the win,” Hayley said of the next three races.
Hayley entered Bristol eighth in the points after a runner-up result at Pocono Raceway, the last driver in the preliminary Chase field. But a 24th-place finish saw the Canadian drop to 12th in the standings, and the surprise victory for Ben Kennedy took away one of the Chase positions Hayley was battling for.
Now, with Daniel Hemric and Timothy Peters sitting 39 and 29 points ahead of the rest of the field for the final two positions, the opportunity for most of the field to make the Chase on points appears to be slim.
For Hayley and others in the back half of the top 15, including Cole Custer, Spencer Gallagher and Rico Abreu, it’s all or nothing for the next three races.
“That’s the funny part about this Chase format, our season at ThorSport as a company has not gone as we wanted it to, but there is potential to stay in,” Hayley said. “It puts a whole new stress and everything on drivers and now gives us a chance if we do have a bad season, these next few races we have the chance to go out and win and hopefully we can do that.”
For Reddick, a win at Michigan would mean more than just a Chase berth, it would also provide a moment to celebrate for the race’s sponsor.
Reddick is sponsored by Careers for Veterans, who also stepped up as the title sponsor for Saturday’s Careers for Veterans 200 Presented by Cooper Standard and Brad Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation.
“We have a lot on our shoulders and we will have over 3,000 people here on behalf of Cooper Standard and over 40 Veterans that will do the invocation for us,” Reddick said. “We need to go out there and win this race. That would be great for our guys. We just have to go get it done.”
Coming off of a two-win 2015 campaign that saw him finish second in points, Reddick’s struggled immensely in his search for repeat success in 2016. The Brad Keselowski Racing driver’s average finish has dropped a full 6.5 positions (12.8 to to last year’s 6.3), and Reddick has only four top 5s and six top 10s through 13 races, compared to eight top 5s and 10 top 10s at this stage last season.
To say it’s been a disappointing season for Reddick’s No. 29 team would be an understatement. While teammate Hemric appears to be in good position to make the Chase on points, it’ll likely take Reddick a victory to rise from 10th in points into the Chase grid.
“I feel like there is not a lot of pressure on us,” Reddick said. “This is something our team knows how to do. We have done it before. We did it last year twice.”
Before the implementation of the Chase, both Reddick and Hayley would be out of championship contention. However, courtesy of NASCAR’s decision to add the playoff system to the XFINITY Series and Truck Series in 2016, both drivers still have an outside shot at the title.
There’s only one thing standing in their way: A win.