Return to Racing: Where the Truck Series Left Off When NASCAR was Sidelined

Frontstretch’s Truck Series content is presented by American Trucks

The last time the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series was on track was more than three months ago, but tonight the series returns at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200.

In a field expanded to 40 trucks, courtesy of a mandate for no practice or qualifying in the wake of precautions related to COVID-19, Ben Rhodes will lead the field to the green flag alongside Tyler Ankrum. Tanner Gray will start third, followed by Matt Crafton. Austin Hill rounds out the top five starters.

Cup Series regulars Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott and John Hunter Nemechek will line up 16th, 28th and 38th, respectively.

The field was set by a random draw:

  • Positions 1-10: The first 10 NGROTS Teams based on the Adverse Conditions Line Up Eligibility will be assigned starting positions 1–10 using a random draw.
  • Positions 11–21: The next 11 NGROTS Teams based on the Adverse Conditions Line Up eligibility will be assigned starting positions 11-21 using a random draw.
  • positions 22–32: The next 11 NGROTS Teams based on the Adverse Conditions Line Up eligibility will be assigned starting positions 22–32 using a random draw.
  • Any vehicles that are eligible for the Event in position 33–40 will be assigned starting positions based on their order of eligibility.

The order of eligibility for positions 1-27 will be based on 2019 owner points and 28-40 will be based on 2020 owner points.

With 47 trucks on the original entry list, Norm Benning, Parker Kligerman, Trey Hutchens, Tim Veins, Erik Jones, Brant Barnhill and Dawson Cram were not included in the field.

FULL TRUCK SERIES CHARLOTTE STARTING LINEUP

Prior to the three-month delay, the Truck Series had run just two races: the season opener at Daytona International Speedway and the first of the series’ two trips out west to Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Grant Enfinger took the win at Daytona in a thrilling overtime battle with Jordan Anderson, who finished second by just 0.010 seconds. In a top five that featured names that don’t typically run up front, Codie Rohrbaugh finished third, followed by Derek Kraus and Natalie Decker. In fact, the entire top five, with the exception of Enfinger, scored career-best finishes.

The following weekend, the series visited Las Vegas and ran a race that was thoroughly dominated by Busch, who led 108 of 134 laps en route to his 57th career Truck Series victory. Johnny Sauter, who led seven of the first 11 laps, ended up second, followed by Hill. Sauter’s ThorSport Racing teammates Crafton and Rhodes rounded out the top five.

Heading into tonight’s race, Hill carries a nine-point lead over Sauter, thanks in large part to his average finish of fourth after two races. Rhodes sits third, 22 markers behind the leader. GMS Racing teammates Brett Moffitt and Sheldon Creed round out the top five.

Rookie Zane Smith sits sixth, followed by Daytona winner Enfinger, who suffered a lap 89 wreck with Raphael Lessard at Las Vegas. Christian Eckes sits eighth, while Todd Gilliland and Rohrbaugh round out the top 10.

After two races, Enfinger is the only Truck Series regular to have scored playoff points (six), courtesy of a stage two and race win at Daytona. The No. 51 Toyota, run by Riley Herbst at Daytona and Busch at Las Vegas, has won the other stages so far this season.

Coverage for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 begins at 8 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.

Truckin’ Tidbits:

  • After finishing 13th and 16th in the first two races of the season, it looked like Moffitt’s championship efforts were derailed when he suffered two broken legs in a dirt bike accident in late February. But the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the series long enough for Moffitt to recover without missing a single race. He returned to racing last Thursday night in the Xfinity Series at Darlington Raceway.

  • Niece Motorsports is fielding four trucks for Charlotte. Alongside full-time driver Ty Majeski, Decker, Ross Chastain and Garrett Smithley will represent the organization. Smithley is the only driver on that list who has not yet raced for the team.

  • CMI Motorsports added TJ Bell to its lineup. He’ll pilot the No. 49 Chevrolet at Charlotte for the first time for the organization. With 118 series races under his belt in the last 15 years, he made three starts for Niece Motorsports last season at Kansas Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Michigan International Speedway. All three races resulted in DNFs, with a pair of 26th-place results and a 29th.

  • Busch commands the record books when it comes to Charlotte Motor Speedway. He has the most wins at eight, is tied with Mike Skinner for the most poles with three and leads with 11 top-five finishes. He also holds the track qualifying record of 183.773 mph, set in 2014.
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Content Director Beth heads up management of our 30-person staff, acting as Tom’s main assistant with technology and personnel while working as Frontstretch’s Truck Series expert. The author of Truckin’ Thursdays and the coordinator of the site’s pre and post-race coverage, she also runs a periodic charity column that spotlights when NASCAR gives back. A childhood transplant to Texas, Beth is a 15-year writing veteran who has contributed content to BRANDT and Athlon Sports, among other outlets.

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