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NASCAR National Series News & Notes – Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Here’s how it works

The Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race (Saturday, 8 p.m., FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) format will look much the same as it did in 2018, with the addition of five extra laps to the final stage of the thriller. The stage lengths will be 30 laps, 20 laps, 20 laps and 15 laps. NASCAR Overtime rules are in effect for all of the stages if necessary and there are no mandatory pit strategy rules.

Fifteen drivers qualified for the race by virtue of winning a race in 2018 or 2019, being a past All-Star race winner or being a past Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion. Additionally, the winners of each of the three stages (20 laps, 20 laps and 10 laps) in the Monster Energy Open race will move into the feature as well as the driver who wins the NASCAR Fan Vote.

Ryan Newman is the only driver to win both the Open race then the All-Star main event, sweeping the weekend in 2002. Sterling Marlin is the all-time Open race winner – earning four trophies (1988, ‘89, ‘93 and 2004), however he never won the All-Star Race.

For the first time in his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career, Chase Elliott has earned his spot in the All-Star Race by virtue of race wins and not the Fan Vote. He scored his career first, second and third Monster Energy Series race victories in 2018 and already has another (at Talladega, Ala.) this season.

Kasey Kahne is the only driver to earn a spot in the All-Star race (2008) through the Fan Vote and go on to win the All-Star race.

Harvick back to defend

Kevin Harvick shows up at Charlotte Moto Speedway a little more than eager to earn a second consecutive and third overall victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race. His work in the popular $1 million event has been top-shelf – his 11 top-10 finishes are tied with Jimmie Johnson for most among active drivers. His five top-five finishes are third-most as are his 124 laps in front of the field.

In 18 previous All-Star starts – the most starts of anyone in Saturday’s race – Harvick boasts the best average starting position (8.5) of any driver in the field with more than one start. In addition to his two wins – 2007 and 2018 – he has three runner-up finishes tying him for most all-time with Ken Schrader and Sterling Marlin.

This weekend, he will debut a “Millennial Pink” No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford – making good on a bet his sponsor Busch Beer made last season that if he didn’t win the 2018 championship (Joey Logano did), he would drive a “v lit paint scheme” in 2019.

The decidedly new-look car was unveiled at the NASCAR Hall of Fame earlier this week and Harvick is hopeful to reclaim some of the same mastery he’s shown at the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway. It’s historically been a good place for the 2014 Monster Energy Series champion. He has three regular season wins there and 13 top-10 finishes in the last 16 races on the track.

Harvick is coming off a strong outing Saturday night at Kansas where he won the Busch Pole position and led a race-best 104 laps, ultimately finishing 13th. He is ranked third in the driver point standings.

New points leader after Kansas

Team Penske’s Joey Logano didn’t have a stellar night at Kansas Speedway but his 15th-place finish in conjunction with Kyle Busch’s season-low 30th place result shifted the top of the points standings.

Logano, the reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, took the lead – by nine points over Busch – for the first time since early this season. He’s led the standings twice before – following a fourth-place finish in the Daytona 500 and after his only win in 2019, at Las Vegas.

Logano won the All-Star Race in 2016 and his seven top-10 finishes in eight starts is the best such ratio on the field. His average finish of 6.875 is behind only four-time winner Jimmie Johnson’s average finish of 6.824 (17 starts) and Chase Elliott’s 6.000 (three starts) among active drivers with more than one start.

He has only one win at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Monster Energy Series – a dominating showing in the 2015 fall race when he led 227 of the race’s 334 laps. He has nine top 10s in 19 starts on the oval.

Kyle Busch looking for redemption after Kansas

Kyle Busch had his first finish outside the top 10 of 2019 last Saturday night at Kansas Speedway and the best medicine for redemption may be to hoist an All-Star trophy and cash a $1 million paycheck. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver tied a 29-year old record set by Morgan Shepherd in earning top-10 finishes in the opening 11 races of the season. Last week, Busch’s streak ended when he placed 30th after a frustrating run at Kansas.

His mark of 11 top 10s, however, is still most among all drivers. Joey Logano – who took the championship lead by nine points with Busch’s uncharacteristic showing at Kansas – and Busch’s teammate Denny Hamlin are the only other drivers with six top-fives on the season. Busch and Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski lead the series with three wins apiece.

The All-Star Race has been all-or-nothing for Busch. He has four top-five and eight top-10 finishes in 13 All-Star race starts, winning in 2017. Only Jimmie Johnson and the late Dale Earnhardt have more top fives (nine). But Busch has either placed in the top-10 in the race or recorded a DNF.

His 256 laps led is most among active drivers. Only Bill Elliott (267 laps) has led more. The driver of the No. 18 Toyota has won three pole positions and his 5.615 average starting position is tops among active drivers and fourth-best all-time.

He has good juju of recent at Charlotte earning his first Monster Energy Series victory at the track from the pole position in last spring’s 600-miler – leading a dominating 377 of the 400 laps.

All-Star Newbies

The 2018 summer race win at Daytona has earned Erik Jones his first All-Star Race start. He shows up at Charlotte fresh off a third place showing in Kansas, which equals his previous season best coming in February’s Daytona 500.

Joining him on the All-Star roster are Aric Almirola and Austin Dillon, who will each be making his second start. This is the third All-Star race for Ryan Blaney and fourth for Chase Elliott, who has been the Fan Vote selection for the previous three years.

Jones is fresh off back-to-back top-10 finishes in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for the second time this season and hopes to bring that good momentum into his All-Star debut. He has only one previous top 10 at the Monster Energy Series level at Charlotte, but a runner-up and two top-five finishes in NASCAR Xfinity Series races.

Almirola is making his second career All-Star Race start. He finished 14th in 2015. Dillon finished 12th in his only previous All-Star race in 2018 but answered that with a victory in the Coca-Cola 600 a week later at the track.

Team Penske’s Blaney has a best All-Star finish of 11th, ironically coming in a DNF in 2017. He finished 15th last year but enjoyed redemption winning the inaugural Charlotte ROVAL race on a last lap pass during the Monster Energy Series Playoffs.

Elliott has three top-seven finishes in his All-Star starts, including a best of fifth last year.

A place where seven-time can shine

Another track, another high mark. That’s the way it is for seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, whose four All-Star Race victories make him the winningest driver in the event’s history.

The driver of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet is tied with Dale Earnhardt for the most top-fives (nine) all-time and is tied with Kevin Harvick for most top-10s (11) among active drivers in the race. His four victory total is double that of anyone else in the field this weekend and his 6.824 average finishing position (through 17 starts) is second to Chase Elliott’s 6.000 (three starts) for among active drivers. Among active drivers, only Kyle Busch (256) has led more than Johnson’s 238 laps.

Johnson has eight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins at the Charlotte 1.5-miler, including five victories in a six-race stretch from 2003-05. He’s finished seventh or better in four of the last five oval races, including fifth in last May’s 600-miler. He nearly won on the track’s ROVAL course debut in October, crashing out in the final turns while attempting a pass for the win.

A sixth place at Kansas Speedway last week was his fifth top 10 of the 2019 season. His best showing of the season came on Charlotte’s 1.5-mile “sister” track – Texas Motor Speedway – where he won the pole position and finished fifth.

Kyle Larson needing to race for his shot at $1 million

For first time this season, Kyle Larson has earned consecutive top-10 finishes – answering a season-best third place at Dover with an eighth place at Kansas last weekend.

The popular young driver of the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet will have to race his way into the All-Star main show this week after having earned an automatic bid last year thanks to four 2017 regular season wins. But 2018 found him winless on the year, relegating him to the Open event.

He won the pole position for the 2017 All-Star Race and finished second after some tough battles on track.

Who to watch in the Open

The Monster Energy Open race will decide three additional drivers for the All-Star lineup and there are plenty of big names and high hopes on the starting grid.

Only one time – Ryan Newman in 2002 – has the Open winner gone on to win the All-Star race, but there are plenty of talented possibilities this year, in particular. The winner of each of the three segments advances, in addition to the Fan Vote.

Among the current top 16 in the standings entered in the Open, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez, and Kyle Larson have all made previous All-Star Race starts. Larson has a best showing of runner-up in 2017 and has a previous win in the Open (2017). Suarez was runner-up last year the best of his two All-Star Race appearances. Bowman has only one start, finishing 21st in 2018.

Veteran Paul Menard earned his All-Star opportunity after winning the 2011 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis. He finished 16th in his only All-Star appearance the following year.

Stenhouse has three All-Star starts with an average finish of 16.6. The Roush Fenway Racing driver announced Wednesday that he was prepared to bring back his famous “mullet” haircut should he win the Fan Vote to automatically transfer into Saturday’s All-Star main event.

Parade Laps: Insights ahead of this week’s driver media rotations

Six drivers from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series – Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski, Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch, Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney and Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Newman will be participating in this week’s media rotations at Charlotte Motor Speedway in advance of Saturday’s Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race (8 p.m. ET, FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Brad Keselowski, 35, of Rochester Hills, Mich., earned his third win of the season Saturday night at Kansas Speedway, tying him with Kyle Busch for most wins on the year. He has six top-10s in all – half of them the wins and two others within the top three, including a runner-up at Las Vegas in March. He is currently ranked fifth in the Monster Energy series points standings heading into the weekend’s All-Star Race. Keselowski is a four-time NASCAR Xfinity Series race winner at the track and won the fall Monster Energy Series race in 2013 at Charlotte. He has 10 All-Star race starts finishing runner-up twice. Only three active drivers have led more laps than Keselowski (111 laps) in the race. His average finish is 11.6.

Austin Dillon, 29, of Lewisville, N.C., Dillon will make his second All-Start start this weekend. He heads into the big race having earned a pair of pole positions this season and two top-10 finishes  – including a best of sixth place at Richmond, Va. last month. Charlotte Motor Speedway has been a highlight venue for Dillon, who won his first career Monster Energy Series race there in 2017, leading only the final two laps of the 600-mile race. He’s had a lot of success at the track in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, twice winning a race from the pole position – both 2015 races.

Denny Hamlin, 38, of Chesterfield, Va., is the 2015 All-Star Race winner and has nine top-10 finishes in 12 All-Star starts. This year’s Daytona 500 winner had a strong season start scoring six top-five finishes in the opening nine races. But Hamlin’s No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has struggled a bit since with no top-15s in the last three races. The move to the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway may be a good omen for the team. Hamlin’s other win in 2019 came at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway, a sister track to Charlotte. He has seven top-10 finishes in the last eight Charlotte oval races, winning the pole position in the fall of 2017 and earning a top-five finishes in the last three races on the oval.

Kurt Busch, 40, of Las Vegas, the 2004 Monster Energy Series champion, is looking to add a second All-Star Race trophy to his mantle. He won the both the All-Star race and the Coca-Cola 600 in 2010 while driving for Team Penske and his eight top-five finishes in the All-Star race are second only to Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt’s nine all-time. His 17 starts in the All-Star race are tied with Johnson and Ryan Newman, and trail only Kevin Harvick’s 18. With eight top-10 finishes through the opening 12 races of 2019, Busch is certainly having a strong season start in his first year driving the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. He finished runner-up at Bristol, Tenn. And led seven laps at Kansas last weekend.

Ryan Blaney, 25, of High Point, N.C., Charlotte Motor Speedway is the last Victory Circle he hoisted a Cup trophy. Blaney is the defending winner of the fall ROVAL race at Charlotte and hopeful that winning vibe will carry over to this weekend’s All-Star race on the Charlotte oval. The driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Ford has only two All-Star starts with a best finish of 11th in 2017. He has four top-10s through this season’s first 12 races – his best effort winning the pole position and finishing third at Phoenix. He has only one top 10 in the last five races, however, so a good showing in the All-Star race would be a welcome precursor to the Coca-Cola 600 at the track on Memorial Day weekend.

Ryan Newman, 41, of South Bend, Ind., won the 2002 All-Star “Open” Race then the All-Star main event from the pole position. His luck in 17 All-Star starts ranges widely. He has seven top-10 finishes and five DNFs. He’s led 111 laps in his career – one of only five active drivers to lead at least 100 laps. Newman is off to a solid start to the 2019 season since moving to the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford team. He has three top 10s – earning them in consecutive races at diverse tracks in Bristol, Tenn., Richmond, Va. and Talladega, Ala. His best showing is seventh at Talladega and he’s ranked 17th in the points standings.

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Xfinity’s 2019 season bringing lots to talk about…already

With 10 races down and 23 still to go, it’s not a surprise lots of great action has already taken place, leaving all of us wanting more during this off-weekend for the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

Five different winners have visited Victory Lane this season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and four of them are series title contenders – Michael Annett (Daytona), Christopher Bell (Atlanta, Bristol, Dover), Cole Custer (California, Richmond) and Tyler Reddick (Talladega).

The average margin of victory for the 10 races this season is 1.173 seconds, with six of the 10 races finishing with a margin of victory of less than a second.

Through 10 races, the Xfinity Series has seen three different drivers hold the No. 1 position in driver championship standings. Brandon Jones took the NASCAR Xfinity Series standings lead following the series opener at Daytona, but didn’t hold the top spot long as his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Christopher Bell took it from him the following weekend at Atlanta. Bell held the point for two weeks until Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick grabbed the series standings lead from Bell following ISM Raceway and held it ever since.

In addition, 18 different drivers have led laps this season in the Xfinity Series, led by series championship contender Christopher Bell with 496 laps led (25.98% of laps completed).

Next week, on Saturday, May 25, the series returns to action at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Alsco 300 at 1 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

RCR’s Tyler Reddick is proving to be a hot commodity

Not only has Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick led the NASCAR Xfinity Series point standings following seven of the 10 races this season – dating back to ISM Raceway – but he also made his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut for Richard Childress Racing last weekend at Kansas Speedway, finishing inside the top 10.

Since last season’s Xfinity Series championship with JR Motorsports, Tyler Reddick’s career has lifted off. He currently has a 23-point lead in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver championship standings and is riding a streak of six consecutive top-five finishes. Plus, he won at one of the biggest, fastest tracks on the circuit – Talladega Superspeedway – locking himself into this season’s Playoffs.

Now the California native is looking to become the seventh driver in series history to win back-to-back titles joining Sam Ard (1983-84), Larry Pearson (1986-87), Randy LaJoie (1996-97), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1998-99), Martin Truex Jr. (2004-2005) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2011-2012). Or becoming just the fourth driver to bring Richard Childress Racing a Xfinity driver championship (Kevin Harvick 2001, 2006; Clint Bowyer 2009, Austin Dillon 2013).

Sieg The Day: RSS Racing’s Ryan Sieg may be the biggest surprise of 2019 so far

In the best start of Ryan Sieg’s NASCAR Xfinity Series career, the Georgia native and driver of the No. 39 RSS Racing Chevrolet, is eighth in the driver championship standings, 147 points behind series lead.

Through 10 races this season, Sieg has put up two top fives, five top 10s and an average finish of 9.6 (all three are career bests).

A lot of RSS Racing’s recent success can be directly attributed to their technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing this season.

“I figured we’d be better, but not this much better. It’s a whole lot better,” said Sieg.

Currently Sieg is Playoff bound with a nice 71-point cushion over 13th place Ross Chastain (first spot outside the Playoff cutoff) in the series standings. If he can hold on to his top-12 points position, this will be the second time he has made the postseason. He first made the Playoffs back in 2016, finishing a career-best ninth in the championship standings.

Ryan Sieg and Sunoco rookie Chase Briscoe lead the series in percentage of laps completed this season among championship contenders – both drivers have completed 99.95% of their laps attempted.

Team Penske’s ace Austin Cindric has climbed the standings

Austin Cindric, driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford Mustang this season, has had to tighten the belts and work with crew chief Brian Wilson to bounce back from a DNF at Las Vegas to start the season. The incident put a speed bump in Cindric’s championship hopes, knocking him to 11th in the standings, but over the last seven races he has fought his way back up to fourth in points. Now the North Carolina native is looking to add to the winning legacy that is standard with the Xfinity Series Team Penske No. 22 team.

Team Penske owner Roger Penske has one NASCAR Xfinity Series driver championship (Brad Keselowski, 2010) and four Xfinity owner championships (2013, 2014, 2015, 2017) but has yet to win a unified driver and owner series title in the same season. Cindric hopes to remedy that.

In 10 series starts this season, Cindric has mustered four top fives and eight top 10s. His average finish this season is a stout 7.8.

Cindric is now the highest ranked driver without a win, giving him a nice points cushion in the Playoff outlook – 137 points ahead of the postseason cutoff.

Looking Forward: Charlotte Motor Speedway

Next week the NASCAR Xfinity Series returns to Charlotte Motor Speedway. A track the series have visited 73 times, dating back to the first series race held on the 1.5-mile speedway on May 29, 1982. The race was won by Harry Gant in his own Pontiac.

In total, the series has seen 47 different pole winners and 35 different race winners since 1982. Retired drivers Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth lead the series in poles at Charlotte (four each) and all-time series winningest driver Kyle Busch leads the series in wins at Charlotte with eight victories.

The most laps led by a winner in a single Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway was 194 when NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt dominated the event, leading 97% of the 200 scheduled laps. The least laps led by the eventual winner is one, and it happened in 1990 when NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett passed Dick Trickle on the last lap to take victory.

Lots of more great action is expected this next weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, make sure to tune in on May 25 at 1 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio for the Alsco 300.

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series

Home again, home again…except for ThorSport

The NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series returns to NASCAR’s heartland to compete in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway this Friday evening (May 17th, 8:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

And although most of the teams in the series call the Charlotte area “home” it is still a road trip for one of the most successful teams in the series as ThorSport Racing is based in Sandusky, Ohio.

Duke and Rhonda Thorson’s team is the longest-tenured outfit in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series and boasts an impressive full-time lineup this year of Johnny Sauter (No. 13), Matt Crafton (No. 88), Grant Enfinger (No. 98) and Ben Rhodes (No. 99). Their drivers currently occupy four of the top six spots in the driver points standings (First – Enfinger, fourth – Rhodes, fifth – Sauter, sixth – Crafton).

Between the four drivers, they have an average finish of 7.7 through the opening seven races. And each driver in their lineup has a minimum of three top fives and five top 10s this season.

Taking a look at Charlotte for the team, their current driver lineup has a total of three wins as well as 10 top-five and 20 top-10 finishes across 31 total starts. Crafton leads the team with two wins (2008, 2016), six top fives and 12 top 10s in 16 starts. Sauter holds the other win – although he did it while competing for GMS Racing last season.

Rhodes has tallied a top five and a pair of top 10s over three starts while Enfinger has a top 10 in just a pair of Charlotte races to his name.

Grant Enfinger maintains grasp of points lead

A seventh-place finish last weekend at Kansas was enough to allow ThorSport Racing’s Grant Enfinger to maintain the lead in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series points. He’s been battling Halmar Friesen Racing’s Stewart Friesen for the top spot the past few weeks, but Friesen was relegated to a finish of 15th last weekend after running out of fuel just laps before the checkered flag.

Friesen’s finish also allowed Brett Moffitt to move up a slot to second in the standings. The GMS Racing driver finished eighth at Kansas and has four top-five and five top-10 placements through the opening seven races. In two starts at Charlotte, he has finishes of 18th and fourth.

Enfinger (finishes of seventh and 12th) and Friesen (23rd and sixth) also only have two starts each at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Niece Motorsports’ position in owners’ Playoff outlook improves with win

Although Ross Chastain’s win in Friday’s NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway didn’t lock the No. 45 Niece Motorsports team into the owners’ Playoffs because he isn’t declared for series driver points, it did add a boost to the team’s chances of making the owner’s Playoffs based on points.

The team rose from a tenuous seventh place (only eight teams advance to the Gander Trucks Playoffs) in the outlook to fifth by virtue of the points gained in the win.

ThorSport Racing (No. 13 driven by Johnny Sauter to the win at Dover) and Hattori Racing Enterprises (No. 16 driven by Austin Hill to the win at Daytona) remain the only two Gander Trucks locked into the owner’s Playoffs on wins – and lead the outlook grid.

Here’s a look at the current owner’s Playoff outlook following Kansas:

Owner Truck No. Points Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts. Pts. From Cutoff
1 ThorSport Racing 13 252 1 2 7 (In on wins) 
2 Hattori Racing Enterprises 16 233 1 0 5 (In on wins)
3 Kyle Busch Motorsports 51 312 4* 6 0 67
4 ThorSport Racing 98 287 0 1 1 42
5 Niece Motorsports 45 279 1* 1 0 34
6 GMS Racing 24 274 0 1 1 29
7 Halmar Friesen Racing 52 272 0 2 2 27
8 ThorSport Racing 99 254 0 0 0 9
9 ThorSport Racing 88 245 0 0 0 -9
10 Kyle Busch Motorsports 18 222 0 0 0 -32

Race Wins with a (*) next to it denotes at least one of the wins was won by a driver not declared for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship and therefore the vehicle does not win entry to the Playoffs and does not receive Playoff points.

If the recent pattern holds true, a Toyota will be in Victory Lane

The inaugural NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race in 2003 was won by Ted Musgrave in a Dodge.

Since that time, only Chevrolet and Toyota have visited Victory Lane at the 1.5-mile track. And if the recent pattern holds true, it will be Toyota’s turn once again.

Chevrolet won every race between 2004 and 2009, but after that, a Chevrolet has one every third race at the track – and the two races in between have been won by a Toyota.

2009 – Chevrolet (Ron Hornaday, Jr.)

2010 – Toyota (Kyle Busch)

2011 – Toyota (Busch)

2012 – Chevrolet (Justin Lofton)

2013 – Toyota (Busch)

2014 – Toyota (Busch)

2015 – Chevrolet (Kasey Kahne)

2016 – Toyota (Matt Crafton)

2017 – Toyota (Kyle Busch)

2018 – Chevrolet (Johnny Sauter)

Kyle Busch attempting to go five-for-five in 2019

After a two-race hiatus from NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series action, Kyle Busch is returning to make his fifth and final series start of the season. And he’s aiming for a perfect record behind the wheel of his own No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra.

Busch entered four consecutive races earlier in the season (Atlanta, Las Vegas, Martinsville and Texas), parking the Kyle Busch Motorsports entry in Victory Lane each time. He is one of just seven different drivers who have won three races in a row – but Ron Hornaday’s record of five straight in 2009 (Milwaukee, Memphis, Kentucky, IRP, Nashville) stays standing alone at the top of the list after Busch missed Dover.

But Busch has reason to be optimistic that he could sweep his fifth entered race this season as Charlotte is his best track, statistically, in the Gander Trucks.

In 12 races, he has seven wins along with 10 top-five and 11 top-10 finishes. And his one finish outside the top 10 was an 11th-place finish in his third start at the track in 2007.

His wins include his first two starts at Charlotte as well as four-straight from 2010-2014. Plus, he has three second-place finishes (2009, 2016, 2018). He’s started from the pole position in four races, but only two of them translated to wins at the checkered flag (2010, 2014).

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series etc.

Previous winners in the field: Three previous Gander Trucks race winners at Charlotte Motor Speedway are entered in this weekend’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200 (Friday, May 17 at 8:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Kyle Busch leads the pack with seven wins while Matt Crafton (2006, 2016) has a pair of victories. Johnny Sauter is the defending race winner.

Charlotte to championship: Out of the 16 Gander Trucks races that Charlotte Motor Speedway has hosted, only one driver has won the event in the Queen City and gone on to win that year’s series championship. And he did it twice. NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. took the Charlotte checkered flag and the championship title in 2007 and 2009.

Sunoco Rookie update: Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Harrison Burton holds a solid 35-point lead over GMS Racing’s Sheldon Creed in the Sunoco Rookie standings after seven races. This weekend will mark the track debut – in any series – for both drivers. Tyler Dippel (-81 points back), Gus Dean (-104) and Tyler Ankrum (-108) round out the top five in the standings. Of those, only Dippel and Dean have experience at Charlotte – in the ARCA Menards Series last season. Dippel placed 25th and Dean was 14th after starting second.

Parade Laps: Insights ahead of this week’s driver media breakouts  

Four drivers from the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series – Niece Motorsports driver Ross Chastain, GMS Racing driver Sheldon Creed, Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Todd Gilliland, and ThorSport Racing driver Johnny Sauter, – will be participating in this week’s media rotations at Charlotte Motor Speedway. These four drivers are preparing for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 this Friday, May 17, at 8:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Ross Chastain (No. 45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado)

Birthdate: December 4, 1992

Driver’s Age: 26

Hometown: Alva, Florida

Hobbies: Farming watermelons

Crew Chief: Phil Gould

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • Chastain has raced in 66 series races over nine seasons, recording a win (Kansas, 2019), eight top-five and 22 top-10 finishes.
  • In 2012, he ran his only full-time season in the Gander Trucks. He tallied a top five and four top 10s.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Chastain is not running for points in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Trucks Series, but his truck is currently fifth in the owners’ points standings.
  • He recorded his first Gander Trucks series win this season at Kansas.
  • Has three total top-five finishes and has already tied his career best of seven top-10s in a season.

Charlotte Motor Speedway Performance:

  • Chastain has made three starts at Charlotte, posting one top 10 (ninth in 2013 while racing for Brad Keselowski Racing).
  • He last competed at the track in 2017, placing 19th.

Sheldon Creed (No. 2 GMS Racing Chevrolet Silverado)

Birthdate: September 30, 1997

Driver’s Age: 21

Hometown: Alpine, California

Hobbies: iRacing and country music

Crew Chief: Doug Randolph

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • In 2018, made five series starts, posting a best finish of fifth at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
  • In 2016, he made his NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series debut, placing 16th at Eldora.
  • Also of note: Creed is the 2018 ARCA Menards Series champion, posting four wins on the season.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Creed is currently 10th in the points standings.
  • He has one top-10 finish this season – sixth at Las Vegas.

Charlotte Motor Speedway Performance:

  • Friday night will be Creed’s Gander Trucks debut at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
  • He has one start at the track in the ARCA Menards Series, finishing third last year.

Todd Gilliland (No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra)

Birthdate: May 15, 2000

Driver’s Age: 18

Hometown: Sherrills Ford, North Carolina

Hobbies: Video games, spending time with family and friends

Crew Chief: Marcus Richmond

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • In 2018, he competed in 19 races, finished 10th in the championship points and recorded career-highs in top fives (four) and top 10s (nine).
  • In 2017, he made his NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series debut at Dover International Speedway. In total, he made six starts, posting two top fives and three top 10s.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently ninth in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series driver points standings.
  • Posted his first top-five finish of the season last weekend at Kansas (third)
  • Has recorded two top-10 finishes this season – at Atlanta and Las Vegas and finished 14th at Texas.

Charlotte Motor Speedway Performance:

  • Gilliland has made one start at Charlotte (2018) and finished 10th after starting third.

Johnny Sauter (No. 13 ThorSport Racing Ford F-150)

Birthdate: May 1, 1978

Driver’s Age: 41

Hometown: Necedah, WI

Hobbies: Late-model racing, family activities, hockey

Crew Chief: Joe Shear Jr.

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • In 2018, he made the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Championship 4 for the third consecutive season; posted a career-high six wins on the season.
  • Finished second in 2017 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Playoffs, amassing a then career-high four wins along the way.
  • In 2016, he won the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship.
  • In 2009, he won the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently fifth in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series driver championship standings, 35 points behind the standings lead.
  • In seven races this season he has posted one win (Dover), three top fives and five top 10s.

Charlotte Speedway Performance:

  • Has made 10 series starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway posting one win (2018), three top fives and five top 10s.
  • Average start of 9.4 and average finish of 11.1.
  • Has also led 103 laps at Charlotte.