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Stewart Friesen enjoying his win at ISM in Phoenix. (Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Tracking the Trucks: Stewart Friesen Wins First Race on Pavement

Frontstretch’s Truck Series content is presented by American Trucks

In a nutshell

Stewart Friesen took the lead on lap 107 and held off repeated challenges from Brandon Jones to win the 2019 Lucas Oil 150. Friesen won for the second time in his NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series career, but this win at ISM Raceway is his first on pavement. His first overall victory came earlier this year at the dirt track Eldora Speedway.

Friesen was penalized for taking the green flag to start the race ahead of pole-sitter Austin Hill. Friesen noted, and TV footage affirmed, Hill spun his tires. Friesen was unsure what he should have done, but NASCAR ruled it a penalty. As a result, after Jones spun on lap 3, Friesen restarted at the tail end of the field.

Austin Hill Fails to Advance

He rebounded to finish the first stage in ninth and the second stage in fifth. After a lap 101 caution flag, Friesen grabbed the lead and held on to win by 0.860-seconds.

For the fifth time in his Truck Series career, Jones finished second. He was able to race alongside Friesen for moments yet was unable to pass him.

Chandler Smith finished third and ThorSport Racing teammates Ben Rhodes and Grant Enfinger rounded out the top 5.

Playoff outlook heading to Homestead-Miami Speedway

Advancing to the Championship 4 are Friesen, Brett Moffitt, Ross Chastain, and Matt Crafton.

GMS Racing has an opportunity to see either one of its drivers or a driver from a team affiliated with them win the championship. Only Crafton is not aligned with the team.

Friesen advanced to the final round with his win and Moffitt clinched his Championship 4 berth by virtue of his eight stage points.

As for Chastain and Crafton, their hopes of advancing to compete for the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway were questionable at times.

Chastain finished fourth in the first stage but he didn’t collect any stage points in the second stage. He kept his No. 45 Chevrolet out of trouble in the final stage and finished ninth. This year has been a dream for him.

Crafton raced behind his ThorSport Racing teammates Rhodes and Enfinger late in the race. Over the radio, he was frustrated with the way they were racing him. He clarified his remarks after the race.

Eliminated from the playoffs were Austin Hill and Tyler Ankrum.

After winning the pole, Hill appeared to be in a position to compete for a chance to race for the championship next week. His No. 16 Toyota became faster over the long run. In theory, with the third stage being the longest, he should have competed for the final Championship 4 spot. Instead, he was unable to make up many spots in the final stage. He finished 13th. Hattori Racing Enterprises will not repeat as champions.

Ankrum fought an ill-handling No. 17 Toyota early in the race. Then, late in the first stage, he made contact with Enfinger. The damage severely affected his truck and he never recovered. His DGR-Crosley team attempted to repair the truck, but the lengthy process cost him a lap and Ankrum’s title hopes were dashed when he fell a second lap down in the closing laps of the second stage.

NASCAR Held the Caution Flag

On lap 63, Danny Bohn slowed his No. 30 On Point Motorsports Toyota on the backstretch. Apparently, he had a flat tire and though Bohn nearly stopped his No. 30 Toyota, NASCAR did not throw the caution flag. Bohn then limped his No. 30 Toyota to pit road. He returned to the race and finished six laps down in 27th place.

In the previous two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, both Joey Logano and Bubba Wallace spun and NASCAR threw the caution. Bohn did not spin his No. 30 Toyota, but it was at a near stop. Inconsistency much?

NASCAR officiating has been often criticized this year with pit road penalties and now this. If this race had been at a smaller track, like Martinsville Speedway which hosted the previous Truck Series race, would NASCAR have thrown the caution flag? These fickle decisions don’t bode well for the sanctioning body.

Furthermore, should Bohn have attempted to spin his No. 30 Toyota? After all, Bubba Wallace needed two attempts to spin his No. 43 Chevrolet. If Bohn spun his No. 30 Toyota, would the yellow flag have been displayed? More questions than answers and as our Friday Faceoff noted, this is a gray area.

With a combined five races left to go in the three main NASCAR series, a ruling on this will likely not emerge. However, it is something for NASCAR to address in the offseason. At the end of the day, all everyone truly wants is consistency.

Quick Hits

In his first Truck Series race, Ty Majeski qualified fifth, but an engine change during practice relegated him to start the race from the rear of the field. He battled back to finish 11th. As he raced some of the playoff drivers, Fox Sports 1 announcer Michael Waltrip accredited Majeski’s success to iRacing. Yes, Majeski is one of the best at iRacing, but his career accolades are far more than that. He has been using #chasing100 on Twitter as he seeks his 100th career victory. Ninety-nine wins, including three in the ARCA Menards Series this year, is quite impressive. Waltrip needs to do better at his homework of knowing the drivers in the field.

In five Truck Series races this season, John Hunter Nemechek has failed to finish all but one. His final cameo in the Truck Series this season ended when he was involved in a lap 101 wreck with Sam Mayer. The wreck was not Nemechek’s fault but it was a grim start to his tripleheader race weekend at ISM Raceway.

Chandler Smith earned the most points in the race with 51 points. He is only 17 years old and will not turn 18 until June 26, 2020. He has dominated in his ARCA races with five wins this year. In a part-time No. 46 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota, he earned his fourth top 10 in his fourth start. He already knows where he will be driving next year although that information has not been made public. When asked by Fox Sports reporter Bob Pockrass about the opportunity to potentially compete for the Truck Series championship next year, Smith gave an interesting response.

Rookie Report

2019 Rookie of the Year Candidates

No. o2 – Tyler Dippel

No. 2 – Sheldon Creed

No. 12 – Gus Dean

No. 15 – Anthony Alfredo

No. 17 – Tyler Ankrum

No. 18 – Harrison Burton

No. 54 – Natalie Decker

Number of rookies in the race: 7

Number of rookies finishing in the top 10: 1

Rookie of the race: Burton, finished seventh.

Up next: The Truck Series heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway for its season finale. The highest finishing Championship 4 driver – Chastain, Crafton, Friesen, or Moffitt – will win the Truck Series championship. For those four drivers, no stage points will be awarded. It is simply who finishes the best. The Ford EcoBoost 200 will take place on Friday, November 15 at 8 p.m. ET. with TV coverage provided by Fox Sports 1.

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About Mark Kristl

Mark Kristl
Mark joined Frontstretch at the beginning of the 2019 NASCAR season. He is an Eagle Scout & a proud University of Dayton alum. He also writes about NASCAR for Beyond the Flag.

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