The eight-driver field is set for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) Playoffs, and it features a mix of veterans and young guns, all looking forward to the Talladega 250 on Saturday, Oct. 13, the cutoff race in the Round of 8.
At the conclusion of the Talladega 250 the field of eligible title contenders will be reduced from eight to six. By virtue of his five wins, Johnny Sauter is the top seed leading into the seven-race playoff, which gets underway at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Aug. 26. The Talladega 250, set to begin at noon CDT, will be the third event in the playoffs. Parker Kligerman is the defending champion.
The playoff field will consist of three drivers who have gone to Gatorade Victory Lane at Talladega in various series, two former NCWTS champions and one who has never competed at the 2.66-mile venue. The trucks have contended at Talladega since 2006.
Below are the eight drivers in the season-ending playoffs and their performances at Talladega Superspeedway:
- Johnny Sauter, No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet: (2042 points/ third playoff appearance) Sauter, the 2016 NCWTS Champion, went to Gatorade Victory Lane at Talladega in 2013. In nine career NCWTS TSS starts, the veteran has finished in the top five on three occasions and has an average finish of 10.2. He has competed in all of NASCAR’s top-three series at NASCAR’s most competitive track. He has posted five wins this season, one of them coming in the season-opening event at Daytona.
- Brett Moffitt, No. 16 Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota: (2027 points/ first playoff appearance) Moffitt will be making his Talladega Superspeedway debut in the Talladega 250. He has already claimed four NCWTS wins in his first full-time season. In the season-opener at Daytona (track similar to Talladega), he was involved in an accident and wound up 26th.
- Noah Gragson, No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota: (2022 points/ first playoff appearance) The 20-year-old is in his second season as a full-time driver in the NCWTS. He placed 14th in his inaugural TSS start in the NCWTS last year. He competed at NASCAR’s biggest track in the NASCAR Xfinity Series earlier this year, taking home a fourth-place finish.
- Ben Rhodes, No. 41 ThorSport Racing Ford: (2014 points/ second playoff appearance) Rhodes will be making his third NCWTS start at TSS in the Talladega 250. His best finish at the mammoth track is 23rd, but he has finished in the top 10 twice in three NCWTS starts at Daytona. The 21-year-old has claimed one win (Kentucky) this season and five top-five finishes.
- Stewart Friesen, No. 52 Halmar Friesen Racing Chevrolet: (2012 points/ first playoff appearance) Friesen made his first appearance at NASCAR’s most competitive track in last fall’s Talladega 250 and finished 17th. In his first season running full time in the NCWTS, he is looking to notch his first career win. This season he has seven top fives and 11 top 10s. He was 27th at Daytona after being involved in an accident.
- Grant Enfinger, No. 98 ThorSport Racing Ford: (2011 points/ first playoff appearance) Enfinger, the Alabama native from Fairhope, has one career NCWTS Talladega triumph, coming in fall of 2016. He has also competed in six races at Talladega in the ARCA Racing Series, earning a top-10 finish three times. While he is still searching for his first win of the 2018 season, Enfinger will be making his fifth TSS start in the NCWTS in the Talladega 250, and has an average finish of 9.8.
- Justin Haley, No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet: (2009 points/ first playoff appearance) The 19-year-old is no stranger to Talladega Superspeedway’s Gatorade Victory Lane as he was triumphant in the 2017 General Tire 200 ARCA Racing Series event. This season, he finished runner-up at Daytona, and then followed up with a victory at Gateway Motorsports Park. He will be making his second TSS start in the NCWTS in the Talladega 250.
- Matt Crafton, No. 88 ThorSport Racing Ford: (2003 points/ third playoff appearance) He is the only playoff driver to compete in all 12 NCWTS events held at Talladega, but has just one top-five finish (fourth), along with four top 10s. The two-time NCWTS champion’s (2013, 2014) average finish at TSS is 16.1. Uncharacteristically, he has yet to go to victory lane this season, but holds five top-five finishes and nine top 10s.
In addition to the Talladega 250, the 1000Bulbs.com 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) event on Sunday, Oct. 14, will also have playoff implications. It is the second race (of three) in the Round of 12 in the MENCS Playoffs. Brad Keselowski is the defending 1000Bulbs.com 500 victor.
The doubleheader NASCAR Playoff weekend kicks off with FREE Friday (Oct. 12) and will allow fans to witness qualifying - that will determine the starting lineup for Saturday’s Talladega 250 - from the grandstand for FREE (entry begins at 4 p.m. CDT). Saturday’s slate also includes practice and Foodland/Food Giant Qualifying for the 1000Bulbs.com 500. Sunday’s (Oct. 14) 1000Bulbs.com 500 gets the green flag at 1 p.m. CDT. Anyone holding a Sunday ticket will also have access to the traditional Saturday Night Infield Concert, located in the infamous infield at the track.
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