NASCAR Race Weekend Central
(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Tracking the Trucks: Sam Mayer Scores 1st Career Win at Bristol

Frontstretch’s Truck Series content is presented by American Trucks

In a Nutshell: Part-time GMS Racing driver Sam Mayer outlasted teammate Brett Moffitt at Bristol Motor Speedway on Thursday night (Sept. 17), scoring his first career win and spoiling the playoff party right off the bat by winning the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series’ UNOH 200.

The 17-year-old ran unnoticed most of the night but went to victory lane in his seventh series start, the playoff opener featuring a few incidents involving playoff drivers. Moffitt finished second, and Tanner Gray, Parker Kligerman and Trevor Bayne rounded out the top five, though Bayne’s truck was disqualified for failing post-race inspection.

Race Rundown:

Issues for Playoff Drivers, Other Series Staples

Austin Hill had the most eventful night of the Truck regulars, suffering damage early when Stewart Friesen hooked the No. 16 and both trucks slid up the banking. Hill got the worst of it, and it wasn’t the last time he caught the wall; later in the race, Austin Wayne Self attempted to clear himself and instead walled Hill. In return, Hill flat-out turned Self’s No. 22 up into the wall in the next turn.

Hill was also black-flagged for having too many crewmen over the wall while his truck was being repaired and ended up finishing five laps down in 26th.

Grant Enfinger Salvages a Top-10

Grant Enfinger finished seventh, but his night wasn’t without issues after mechanical problems early on. Enfinger reported that the engine was intermittently shutting off and came down pit road to fix it. The car chief for the No. 98 ended up jumping in the truck to make the adjustments, and Enfinger managed a top 10 despite the problems.

Other Playoff Notables

Moffitt won the opening stage, his truck looking a bit different without a primary sponsor. The blank white truck was out front most of the night but couldn’t hold off stablemate Mayer and had to settle for second.

Just three playoff drivers finished in the top 10, and Johnny Sauter made up for a dismal week at Richmond by finishing 10th. That effort didn’t come without some rather interesting radio chatter, though.

Tyler Ankrum led every lap of the second stage, but Moffitt took the top spot before Mayer got by with less than 40 laps remaining.

Quick Hits

  • Bayne’s start at Bristol marked just his third since replacing Ty Majeski in Niece Motorsports’ No. 45. Bayne finished fifth, a confidence booster after finishing outside the top 25 in his previous starts at Darlington Raceway and Richmond Raceway, but it was all for naught after his disqualification. Majeski, who was ousted from the truck just two weeks ago, was sitting in one of the team’s pit boxes for the race.

  • Mayer became the second-youngest winner in NASCAR touring series history with the win. Cole Custer remains the youngest, having won at New Hampshire in 2014 at 16 years, seven months old; Mayer’s Bristol win came at the age of 17 years and two months.
  • Gray and Kligerman highlighted the underdogs of the night, coming home in third and fourth, respectively. The two battled for third in the closing laps with Gray holding on, and he tied his best career Truck finish. Kligerman, meanwhile, scored his best finish of 2020 and first top five while running an intermittent schedule for Henderson Motorsports. He has finished in the top 10 in three of his six races this year.
  • Moffitt’s 2020 struggles continue with his second-place effort. Despite leading 117 circuits, more than half of the laps, Moffitt couldn’t close the deal with Mayer hounding him for the lead. Moffitt won four races last season, but the victory column still holds a zero for him in 2020, and Bristol marked his fourth runner-up effort of the year.
  • Friesen, who missed the playoffs after making the championship round last year, had a dismal night with early engine issues and a later pit road penalty. Add those to the incident with Hill early on and Friesen’s season continued to be one to forget.

Rookie Report

2020 Rookie of the Year Candidates

Tate Fogleman – No. 02 Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet
Raphael Lessard – No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota
Spencer Davis – No. 11 Spencer Davis Motorsports Toyota
Zane Smith – No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet
Tanner Gray – No. 15 DGR-Crosley Ford
Christian Eckes – No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota
Derek Kraus – No. 19 McAnally-Hilgemann Racing Toyota
Ty Majeski – No. 45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet

Number of Rookies in Race: 6

Number of Rookies finishing in the top 10: 1

Rookie of the Race: Tanner Gray, finished 3rd 

 

Points Update:

No drivers clinched spots in the next round with a win, but Moffitt leads teammate Creed by nine points at the top of the standings. Christian Eckes and Todd Gilliland currently sit in the two elimination spots, with Ben Rhodes and Austin Hill also riding the cutline.

 

Las Vegas Motor Speedway follows Bristol, and the eternal wildcard event at Talladega Superspeedway marks the end of the first round.

 

Series-regular winners this season: Grant Enfinger (Daytona, Atlanta, Richmond), Sheldon Creed (Kentucky, Daytona road course, Gateway), Austin Hill (Kansas 1), Matt Crafton (Kansas 2), Zane Smith (Michigan, Dover), Ben Rhodes (Darlington)

 

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Up Next:

The Truck Series heads more than 2,000 miles west to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the middle race of the playoffs’ opening round. Niece Motorsports will field Travis Pastrana and IndyCar driver Conor Daly in a pair of trucks. The World of Westgate 200 is set to get underway at 9 p.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 25. Coverage will air on Fox Sports 1.

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About Adam Cheek

Adam Cheek
Adam Cheek joined Frontstretch as a contributing writer in January 2019. A 2020 graduate of VCU, he works as a producer and talent for Entercom Richmond's radio stations. In addition to motorsports journalism, Adam also covered and broadcasted numerous VCU athletics for the campus newspaper and radio station during his four years there. He's been a racing fan since the age of three, inheriting the passion from his grandfather, who raced in amateur events up and down the East Coast in the 1950s.