NASCAR Race Weekend Central
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Tracking the Trucks: Brett Moffitt Scores Overtime Win in Kansas

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In a Nutshell: After finishing runner-up four times this season, Brett Moffitt scored his first 2020 victory at Kansas Speedway when he edged teammate Sheldon Creed, who led a race-high 61 laps, by 0.111 seconds at the line. A late-race spin by Zane Smith, who had been battling with Moffitt for the lead, set up an overtime finish that saw plenty of scrambling at the front of the field for the checkered flag. Austin Hill, Grant Enfinger and Chandler Smith rounded out the top five.

Race Rundown:

Tyler Ankrum, Ben Rhodes Face Uphill Battle for Championship 4

After facing separate problems at Kansas, Ben Rhodes and Tyler Ankrum find themselves in a deep hole in the championship standings.

For Rhodes, who started on the outside pole, the problems started almost immediately with the drop of the green flag. Fighting a loose truck and a lack of speed, the driver of the No. 99 Ford dropped outside the top 20 by the end of the 30-lap opening stage.

After an extended stop for major adjustments under the stage break, Rhodes was caught up in the melee at the beginning of the second stage (more on that in a moment). The damage wasn’t terminal, but too many crew members over the wall repairing the truck while under the damaged vehicle policy resulted in a two-lap penalty.

Following the red flag at the beginning of stage two, Rhodes took advantage of the wave around to get one of his laps back, but a green flag pit stop put him three laps down, where he finished 20th.

Meanwhile, Kansas hasn’t been at all kind to Ankrum this season. Mechanical problems in the first race of July’s doubleheader resulted in a 33rd-place run. A crash the following day saw him retire to 28th after running 92 laps.

Fast forward to this weekend, and once again, a crash ended Ankrum’s day early, this time in 34th. The sophomore driver was caught up in a Talladega-like melee that resulted in a seven minute, 33 second red flag almost immediately after the green flag flew to begin stage two.

For Ankrum, it’s mathematically possible to make up 56 points but highly unlikely, leaving a win at Texas Motor Speedway or Martinsville Speedway as his only realistic option to keep his championship hopes alive.

Based on his past history, Texas looks to be his best shot at victory lane with finishes of sixth, third and sixth in three races at the 1.5-mile oval. Meanwhile, his best finish of 18th at Martinsville came in 2018 in his debut at the track. He crashed out of the series’ most recent trip to the track last fall.

Meanwhile, Rhodes’ 31-point deficit to the cutline isn’t insurmountable, but given the strength the playoff drivers have shown each week, it’ll be a difficult one to overcome without a win. He has nine starts at each of the tracks coming up and a best finish of second at both. Rhodes finished ninth at Texas earlier this season and 16th in the series’ most recent trip to Martinsville.

Hailie Deegan Finishes 16th in Truck Series Debut

Hailie Deegan made her highly anticipated Truck Series debut at Kansas, and in the middle of the race, the announcement came that she will race in the series full-time next season for DGR-Crosley.

After starting 34th, Deegan moved up to 25th by the end of the first stage and was the first truck one lap down. A free pass allowed her to rejoin the lead lap and she was able to steer clear of the Big One that marred the stage two restart. She settled into 18th by the time stage two ended and moved into the top five during a round of green flag pit stops during stage three.

When the checkered flag flew, Deegan walked away with a 16th-place finish and a successful debut where she was able to stay out of trouble and run the entire race. She also recorded the best finish by a female driver in her series debut, besting the previous record held by Johanna Long, who finished 17th at Lucas Oil Raceway in 2010.

It was incredibly important for Deegan to get out there, log laps and gain experience, not only behind the wheel but also in live pit stops, something she did. DGR-Crosley gave her veteran experience with Drew Blickensderfer atop the pit box and NASCAR Cup Series spotter Tim Fedewa (Kevin Harvick) to guide her through the race and down pit road. It showed.

As of press time, there’s no word whether Deegan will make any additional starts this year ahead of her rookie campaign.

Timothy Peters Snags Quiet Top 10 in Series Return

Stewart Friesen had a prior commitment to race on dirt at Port Royal Speedway in Pennsylvania, and when NASCAR moved the Truck Series race from Friday night to Saturday afternoon, the driver of the No. 52 Toyota opted to hand over his truck. In his place, Halmar-Friesen Racing tapped Timothy Peters, who raced full time in the series from 2009-2016. It was the first time since Talladega last fall that Peters was behind the wheel of a truck.

After starting 22nd, Peters ended stage one in 16th before moving up to 13th by the end of stage two. He quietly worked his way through the field, somehow managed to slip through the carnage that began the second stage and was seventh by the time the checkered flag flew.

“To be honest, I just wanted to feel out our truck the first stage and I wanted to really go hard at first,” Peters explained after the race. “But the smart side of me wanted to be a little conservative and work my way up toward the end. Trip Bruce and Stewart Friesen and Chris Larson and everyone at Halmar Friesen Racing has put together a nice organization here.

“These guys had a superb truck and to come out and do what we did today, it’s a lot of confidence for me. Great stability, great pit stops and it kept me in contention all day. We worked on it. Trip made awesome calls and the guys had great pit stops. Felt good to be behind the wheel of a Tundra again.”

Friesen will be back behind the wheel of the No. 52 Toyota when the series heads to Texas next weekend.

Quick Hits:

  • As strange as it is to write this, Brett Moffitt has the COVID-19 pandemic to thank for his entry into the Championship 4. It may be a stretch, but stay with me here. When NASCAR postponed its March race weekend in Atlanta, Moffitt spent some time with friends over the weekend and suffered a motocross accident where “the handle bars basically snapped both of my femurs in half.” An eight-week recovery was nearly identical to the time the sport spent sidelined, and Moffitt was able to return to racing when the series got back on track. And while NASCAR may have given him an injury waiver to race for the championship, without a win during the regular season, Moffitt would not have been able to point his way into the playoffs. Now, here he is nearly seven months later as the first driver to lock himself into the championship round at Phoenix Raceway.
  • For the fourth time this season, Sheldon Creed led the most laps in a race but wasn’t able to grab the win to show for it. In three of those races – Kansas (second), Pocono Raceway (third) and Las Vegas Motor Speedway (second) – he swept both stages before settling for watching someone else head to victory lane. When he did it at Darlington Raceway, Creed led 82 laps and finished third in stage one and first in stage two before dropping to 18th at the checkered flag.
  • Chandler Smith, who started on the pole, led just a single lap at Kansas before finishing fifth. It was his fourth straight top five in a streak that started at Bristol Motor Speedway and includes a third-place run at Talladega Superspeedway. Running a part-time schedule, the 18-year-old will finish out the season behind the wheel of the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota.

  • With a 12th-place run, Ryan Truex matched his best finish of the season (Las Vegas). In six starts behind the wheel of the No. 40 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet this season, Truex has finished outside the top 20 just once (27th at Kentucky).
  • Raphael Lessard truly experienced the way racing can be a rollercoaster ride at Kansas. After his win at Talladega Superspeedway, the rookie was part of the melee at the beginning of stage two and retired after just 39 laps. It was his third DNF of the 2020 season and his second-worst finish in 33rd (37th at Pocono).

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: 2; Christian Eckes, finished sixth; Derek Kraus, finished ninth

Rookie of the Race: Eckes

Points Update: Brett Moffitt has locked himself into the Championship 4 with his victory at Kansas, but teammate Sheldon Creed still sits atop the standings and holds a relatively comfortable 26-point lead over Grant Enfinger in fifth. Austin Hill sits second, followed by Zane Smith and Brett Moffitt. Enfinger’s deficit to the cut line is just seven points, while his teammate Matt Crafton is 15 points out. Ben Rhodes and Tyler Ankrum round out the eight playoff drivers.

Christian Eckes holds a 38-point advantage over Todd Gilliland, and the two round out the top 10.

Derek Kraus continues to lead those who did not make the playoffs and will likely finish the season 11th in the standings with a 101-point advantage over Raphael Lessard. Johnny Sauter, Tanner Gray and Stewart Friesen round out the top 15.

Series-regular winners this season: Grant Enfinger (Daytona, Atlanta, Richmond), Sheldon Creed (Kentucky, Daytona road course, Gateway), Austin Hill (Kansas 1, Las Vegas 2), Matt Crafton (Kansas 2), Zane Smith (Michigan, Dover), Ben Rhodes (Darlington), Raphael Lessard (Talladega), Brett Moffitt (Kansas 3)

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Up Next: The Truck Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway next weekend for a same day doubleheader with the NASCAR Cup Series. Coverage for the SpeedyCash.com 400 begins Sunday, Oct. 25 at 12 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate or SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90.

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About Beth Lunkenheimer

Beth Lunkenheimer
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.

One comment

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    I enjoy watching the truck drivers since it is a very competitive division. BUT I have already had enough of broadcasters and writers falling all over themselves promoting Haille Deegan. Shades of Danicant Patrick except she talks like an airhead. I’ve seen short track streetstockers who deserve an opportunity so much more.

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