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NASCAR National Series News & Notes – Michigan International Speedway & World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway

NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: FireKeepers Casino 400
The Place: Michigan International Speedway
The Date: Sunday, August 22
The Time: 3 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 2 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)
Distance: 400 miles (200 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 60), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 120), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)

NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: New Holland 250
The Place: Michigan International Speedway
The Date: Saturday, August 21
The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)
Distance: 250 miles (125 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 30), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 60), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 125)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Next Race: Toyota 200 presented by CK Power
The Place: World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway
The Date: Friday, August 20
The Time: 9 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 8 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)
Distance: 200 miles (160 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 55), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 110), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 160)

NASCAR Cup Series

Two To Go: NASCAR Cup Series heads to the Irish Hills of Michigan

The penultimate NASCAR Cup Series regular season race has arrived, and Michigan International Speedway has set the stage for the FireKeepers Casino 400, this Sunday, August 22 at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90). With just two races remaining in the regular season, the Playoffs loom and the competitors know time is running out to secure their spot in the postseason, making these 400 miles at Michigan that much more pivotal.

Michigan International Speedway sits on more than 1,400 acres in the “Irish Hills” of Southeastern Michigan. Ground-breaking for the facility took place on September 28, 1967 and the 2-mile asphalt paved track with 18 degrees of banking in the turns was created – the only track with those dimensions on the schedule. The first NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan was held on June 15, 1969 and the event was won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough in the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Mercury at a speed of 139.254 mph. The first NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan was 500 miles in length; the second was scheduled for 600. The track was re-measured to 2.04 miles for the last race in 1970 and both races in 1971 – with the race distance being 402 miles. All other races have been scheduled for 400 miles, except for last season’s races that were 312 miles each and run on consecutive days.

Michigan International Speedway has hosted a total of 103 NASCAR Cup Series races. Other than 1973, which had just one race, there have been two races each season since 1969. The 2021 season is just the second season (1973) to host just one NASCAR Cup Series event at Michigan International Speedway since the track joined the schedule in 1969.

A total of 38 different drivers have won in the NASCAR Cup Series at Michigan International Speedway. NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson leads the series in wins at Michigan with nine victories (1969, 1972 sweep, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976 sweep, 1978).  Kevin Harvick (2010, 2018, 2019, 2020-1, 2020-2) leads all active series drivers in wins at Michigan with five victories. Seven of the 38 NASCAR Cup Series race winners at Michigan are active this weekend.

Rank Active Race Winners Wins
1 Kevin Harvick 5
2 Joey Logano 3
3 Kurt Busch 3
4 Kyle Larson 3
5 Denny Hamlin 2
6 Ryan Newman 2
7 Kyle Busch 1

A total of 50 different drivers have qualified on the pole at Michigan International Speedway in the NASCAR Cup Series. NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson leads the NASCAR Cup Series in poles at Michigan International Speedway with 10 poles (1969, 1974 sweep, 1975, 1976, 1977 sweep, 1978 sweep and 1979).

Joey Logano (2013, 2016 sweep, 2019) leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in poles at Michigan with four. Due to COVID-19 restrictions this season’s starting lineups for the Firekeepers Casino 400 will be decided by Metric Qualifying and as a result Kyle Larson will start on the pole and will be joined by his Hendrick Motorsports’ teammate Chase Elliott on the front row.

The first starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (22) than any other starting position at Michigan International Speedway: 21 from the pole and one from the first starting position due to qualifying being cancelled – 1985 (Bill Elliott). The most recent driver to win from the pole at Michigan was Joey Logano in 2019. The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Michigan is 32nd, by NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin in the spring of 2009.

Regular Season Championship: Larson could clinch regular season title this weekend

Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson has opened up his points lead over Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin in second in the NASCAR Cup Series regular season driver standings by 22 points and has a chance this weekend at Michigan International Speedway to clinch the Regular Season Championship.

All Larson needs to do is be at least 61 points ahead of the driver ranked second in the NASCAR Cup Series regular season driver standings at the conclusion of the race at Michigan. Currently Denny Hamlin holds the second spot in the standings.

It will be tough for Larson accumulate that many points on Hamlin this weekend at Michigan because both have run well at the 2-mile track. Larson has made 12 series starts at Michigan posting three wins (2016, 2017 sweep), five top fives and six top 10s. His average finish is 12.4 – fourth best among active drivers. Hamlin has made 30 series starts at Michigan putting up two wins (2010, 2011), nine top fives and 15 top 10s. His average finish is 13.1 – sixth best among active drivers.

This points battle could come down to the regular season finale at Daytona to see who will take home the trophy and the 15 additional Playoff points. Denny Hamlin has made 31 starts at the ‘World Center of Racing’ grabbing three wins (all in the Daytona 500 – 2016, 2019, 2020), 11 top fives and 12 top 10s. His average finish at the track is 16.0.  Kyle Larson has made 14 starts at Daytona posting five top 10s. His average finish at the track is 21.1.

If Larson or Hamlin wins the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Championship, the winner will become just the fourth different driver in series history to win the prestigious award.

NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Champions
Rank Titles Drivers Years
1 2 Kyle Busch 2019, ’18
2 1 Kevin Harvick 2020
Martin Truex Jr. 2017

Clinch Scenarios: Two spots left heading to Michigan International Speedway

All but two Playoff spots have been spoken for as the NASCAR Cup Series prepares for the penultimate race of the regular season, the Firekeepers Casino 400, at Michigan International Speedway. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin became the most recent driver to clinch and did so on points following Indianapolis.

Already Clinched

The following 14 drivers have clinched a spot in the 16-driver postseason field: Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, William Byron, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Christopher Bell, Michael McDowell, Aric Almirola.

Can Clinch Via Points

If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the Playoffs, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the third winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from Denny Hamlin.

Kevin Harvick: Would clinch with 44 points.

Can Clinch Via Win

The following drivers would clinch on their win alone this weekend: Kevin Harvick, Tyler Reddick, Austin Dillon, Matt DiBenedetto, Chris Buescher, Ross Chastain, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Darrell Wallace Jr., Chase Briscoe, Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones, Ryan Newman, Ryan Preece, Cole Custer, Corey Lajoie, Anthony Alfredo.

2021 Driver Playoff Outlook Following Race No. 24 – Drivers Who Haven’t Clinched
Rank Driver Points Wins Stages Playoff Pts Pts From Cutoff
15 Kevin Harvick 733 0 0 0 95
16 Tyler Reddick 666 0 3 3 28
17 Austin Dillon 638 0 0 0 -28
18 Matt DiBenedetto 521 0 1 1 -145
19 Chris Buescher 520 0 1 1 -146
20 Ross Chastain 490 0 0 0 -176
21 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 479 0 0 0 -187
22 Bubba Wallace 464 0 1 1 -202
23 Chase Briscoe # 424 0 0 0 -242
24 Daniel Suarez 408 0 0 0 -258
25 Erik Jones 408 0 0 0 -258
26 Ryan Newman 393 0 0 0 -273
27 * Ryan Preece 382 0 0 0 -284
28 Cole Custer 368 0 0 0 -298
29 Corey Lajoie 307 0 0 0 -359
30 Anthony Alfredo # 234 0 0 0 -432

Michigan offers great opportunity for Kevin Harvick to snap winless streak

Last season’s NASCAR Cup Series leader in wins, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick, returns to Michigan International Speedway winless this season but hoping he can not only snap his winless streak but tie NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott for the series-most consecutive wins at Michigan. Harvick has won four of the last five races at Michigan, including the last three consecutively while becoming the first driver in series history to win on back-to-back days at the same track.

NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott holds the record for the most consecutive wins in the NASCAR Cup Series at Michigan International Speedway with four victories (1985 sweep and 1986 sweep). A total of 10 drivers have posted consecutive wins at Michigan International Speedway – Bobby Allison (1971 sweep), David Pearson (1972 sweep – 1973), (1974-1975), Cale Yarborough (1983 sweep), Bill Elliott (1985 sweep – 1986 sweep), Bobby Labonte (1995 sweep), Mark Martin (1997-1998), Ryan Newman (2003-2004), Greg Biffle (2004-2005), (2012-2013), Kyle Larson won three-straight at Michigan (2016-2017) and Kevin Harvick (2019, 2020-1, 2020-2). With a win this weekend Harvick can tie Elliott’s record.

Michigan is one Harvick’s best playgrounds. He has made 40 starts at the 2-mile facility posting five wins, 15 top fives and 21 top 10s. He also leads or is ranked in the top five of several key pre-race loop data categories – average finish of 9.7, second-best; average running position of 11.317, second-best; driver rating of 102.5, series-best; 425 Fastest Laps Run, series-best; 4,099 Laps in the Top 15 (66.8%), second-most.

Michigan natives Keselowski, Jones return home

2012 NASCAR Cup Series champion and Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski from Rochester Hills and Richard Petty Motorsports’ Erik Jones from Byron are returning this weekend to compete at their home track Michigan International Speedway.

A total of 101 different drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Michigan, and nine of the 101 have won at least one race in a NASCAR national series. Michigan drivers have combined to win 158 NASCAR national series races. Keselowski has won a combined 75 NASCAR national series races, the most by driver from Michigan.

Winners From Michigan:

Driver Cup Xfinity Truck Combined
Brad Keselowski 35 39 1 75
Paul Goldsmith 9 0 0 9
Erik Jones 2 9 7 18
Johnny Benson 1 3 14 18
Tim Fedewa 0 4 0 4
Butch Miller 0 2 1 3
Tracy Leslie 0 1 0 1
Jack Sprague 0 1 28 29
Bob Keselowski 0 0 1 1
Totals 47 59 52 158

Next to Martin Truex Jr.’s 30 winless starts at Michigan, Brad Keselowski has made the second-most starts among active drivers at Michigan without a trip to Victory Lane at 23. In his 23 starts he has put up seven top fives and 12 top 10s; including three runner-up finishes (2012, 2018, 2020). His average finish is 12.6 – fifth-best among active drivers.

Erik Jones has made eight series starts at Michigan posting one top five (third in 2017). His average finish is 16.3 – ninth-best among active drivers. His best finish of the two races at Michigan last season was 11th.

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

NASCAR Driver Corey LaJoie Named Speedway Children’s Charities Ambassador – In his sixth season racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, Corey LaJoie has been named the official ambassador for Speedway Children’s Charities (SCC).

“Corey has shown a tremendous passion for helping the less fortunate, especially children, and we are thrilled to partner with him to use our collective voices to raise the public profile of Speedway Children’s Charities and the hundreds of partner organizations we work with across the country,” said Marcus Smith, Speedway Children’s Charities Vice Chairman.

Founded in 1982 by Speedway Motorsports’ Executive Chairman O. Bruton Smith, Speedway Children’s Charities has established eight chapters across the country, paired with Speedway Motorsports facilities at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Sonoma Raceway and Texas Motor Speedway. Through a variety of fundraising efforts chapters have raised more than $59 million dollars since the nonprofit’s inception to distribute within their local communities. As a Speedway Children’s Charities ambassador, LaJoie will appear in Speedway Children’s Charities marketing and advertising materials, serve as a spokesman at SCC events and cross-promote SCC news and events on his social media channels, among other responsibilities.

“Traveling to the tracks, it’s hard to miss all that SCC is doing to support nonprofits serving children in need,” LaJoie said. “To be asked to be involved is an honor, and I look forward to helping all the hard-working staff and volunteers that bring the mission of SCC to life to continue to grow the charity and help serve more and more children across the country.”

Ford looks to keep wins streak alive at Michigan – Ford enters this weekend having won the last six consecutive NASCAR Cup Series races at Michigan International Speedway (2018-2020) and this weekend will look to keep the streak alive – the longest consecutive streak of wins by a manufacturer at the 2-mile facility. Kevin Harvick has won four of the last six races for Ford; including the last three consecutively (2018-2, 2019-2, 2020 sweep). Joey Logano (2019-1), and Clint Bowyer (2018-1) are the other two drivers that contributed to the winning streak.

Eight different manufacturers have won in the NASCAR Cup Series at Michigan; led by Ford with 41 victories; followed by Chevrolet with 26, Mercury (12), Dodge (nine), Toyota (five), Buick (four) Pontiac (four) and Oldsmobile (two).

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Countdown to the Xfinity Series Playoffs, Michigan is up next 

With five races remaining in the NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season a lot can happen to shake up the standings and one of the best places for that to take place is this weekend’s Michigan International Speedway. The NASCAR Xfinity Series’ returns to the Irish Hills of Michigan for the 23rd race of the 2021 season, the New Holland 250, this Saturday, August 21 at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90). The series did not compete at Michigan last season due to the pandemic, the first time since adding the track to the schedule in 1992.

This weekend’s venue, Michigan International Speedway, a 2-mile paved oval, has hosted the NASCAR Xfinity Series 28 times dating back to the inaugural race on August 15, 1992. The first Xfinity race at Michigan was won by Todd Bodine driving a Chevrolet for car owner Frank Cicci with an average speed of 125.414 mph.  In total, 20 different drivers have won in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Michigan International Speedway, led by eight different drivers with two victories each – Todd Bodine (1992, 2000), Kyle Busch (2004, 2015), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1999, 2006), Denny Hamlin (2007, 2017), Carl Edwards (2008, 2011), Brad Keselowski (2009, 2010), Mark Martin (1993, 1995) and Ryan Newman (2001, 2005). Only one of the 20 former Xfinity Michigan winners is entered this weekend, Tyler Reddick, who also is the most recent winner at the track taking the checkered flag back in 2019. Reddick will be piloting the No. 23 Our Motorsports Chevrolet on Saturday.

A total of 22 different NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers have qualified on the pole at Michigan International Speedway, led by three drivers with two poles each – Kyle Busch (2014, 2017), Austin Dillon (2012, 2013) and Paul Menard (2011, 2019). Due to COVID-19 restrictions this season’s starting lineups for the New Holland 250 will be decided by Metric Qualifying and as a result Austin Cindric will start on the pole and will be joined by AJ Allmendinger on the front row.

Only three of the 28 NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Michigan International Speedway have been won from the pole or first starting position; the most recent driver to accomplish the feat was Brad Keselowski in 2010. The deepest in the field that an Xfinity Series race winner has started at Michigan is 38th, by Ryan Newman in 2005.

Different Winners Streak: Michigan has seen 10 different Xfinity winners

Michigan International Speedway is currently riding a different winners streak in the NASCAR Xfinity Series that has reached 10 different winners and dates back to 2010. This weekend, the New Holland 250 on Saturday, August 21 at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, has chance to produce an 11th different winner and keep the streak going. Only one former winner is entered this weekend, Tyler Reddick, who grabbed the victory in 2019.

The streak of different winners began in 2010 with Brad Keselowski, then Carl Edwards (2011), Joey Logano (2012), Regan Smith (2013), Paul Menard (2014), Kyle Busch (2015), Daniel Suarez (2016), Denny Hamlin (2017), Austin Dillon (2018) and Tyler Reddick (2019). The series did not compete at Michigan last season due to the pandemic.

Two drivers in NASCAR Xfinity Series history have recorded their first series win at Michigan International Speedway – Ryan Newman in 2001 and 2016 Xfinity Series champion Daniel Suarez in 2016.

Clinch Scenarios: Five to go in the regular season

Seven Playoff positions are still up for grabs, as just five drivers have secured their spot in the NASCAR Xfinity Series postseason heading into Michigan International Speedway this weekend.

Already Clinched

The following five drivers have clinched a spot in the 12-driver postseason field: Austin Cindric, AJ Allmendinger, Justin Allgaier, Jeb Burton and Myatt Snider.

Can Clinch Via Win

The following drivers would clinch on their win alone this weekend: Daniel Hemric, Harrison Burton, Justin Haley, Noah Gragson, Brandon Jones, Jeremy Clements, Riley Herbst, Brandon Brown, Ryan Sieg.

The following drivers could clinch with a win and some help: Tommy Joe Martins, Alex Labbe, Landon Cassill, Josh Williams.

Team Penske’s Austin Cindric grabs fifth win, eyes regular season title

2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion and Team Penske driver Austin Cindric is on feverish pace this season posting his fifth victory in just his 22nd start of the season, opening his points lead on AJ Allmendinger in second in the driver standings to a stout 82 markers.

The next goal for the former series champ Cindric is to lock-up the regular season title and the 15 additional Playoff points that go with it. Cindric has already accumulated 33 Playoff points – most of any driver this season. If he accomplishes the feat, he will become the first driver in the Xfinity Series to win multiple Regular Season Championships.

Regular Season Champions
Rank Titles Drivers Years
1 1 Austin Cindric 2020
Tyler Reddick 2019
Justin Allgaier 2018
Elliott Sadler 2017

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

Josh Berry to race fulltime in 2022 for JR Motorsports – JR Motorsports announced this week Josh Berry will drive fulltime in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition beginning in 2022. The 30-year-old Berry will pilot the No. 8 Chevrolet in pursuit of the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship.

“This moment is something we’ve been working toward for a long time,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr., JRM team owner. “Josh took full advantage of the opportunity he had this year in the No. 8 car. He went out, raced hard, and earned every bit of this. With all he’s accomplished on a limited schedule, I can’t wait to see what he can do in this series full time.”

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Camping World Truck Series Playoffs opener set for World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway

Following the weather-shortened regular season finale two weekends ago at Watkins Glen International that set the 10-driver Playoff field and saw Hattori Racing Enterprises’ Austin Hill claim his second victory of the season, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is ready for the Playoff opener, the Toyota 200 presented by CK Power at World Wide Technology Raceway on August 20 at 9 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

The 2021 season will be the sixth running of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs (2016-2021). The previous five Playoff-era seasons have produced five different champions – 2016: Johnny Sauter; 2017: Christopher Bell; 2018: Brett Moffitt; 2019: Matt Crafton and 2020: Sheldon Creed.

Once again, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 2021 season will feature a seven-race, three-round Playoff format. All three national series will conclude the Playoffs with a Championship 4 race at Phoenix Raceway to crown a champion.

Characteristics of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff format include:

  • The number of championship drivers in contention for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship will decrease after every three Playoff races, from 10 to start in the Playoffs; eight after race No. 3; and four after race No. 6.
  • The first three races of the Playoffs (16-18) will be known as the Round of 10; races 19-21 of the season will be known as the Round of 8; and race No. 22 will be the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship (Championship 4 Round).
  • A win by a championship-eligible driver in any Playoff race automatically clinches the winning driver a spot in the next round.
  • Four drivers will enter the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship race with a chance at the title, with the highest finisher among those four capturing the championship.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff Structure:

  • Round of 10: The first round (races 16-18), called the Round of 10, consists of the races at Gateway, Darlington and Bristol. If a driver in the Playoffs wins a race in this round, the driver automatically advances to the next round (Round of 8). The remaining available positions (1-8) that have not been filled by wins will be filled on points. Each will then have their points reset to 3,000, plus any Playoff points awarded to that point are added.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff Outlook – Round of 10 (Gateway, Darlington, Bristol)
Rank Playoff Drivers Points Pts From Cutoff
1 John H. Nemechek 2049 48
2 Austin Hill 2021 20
3 Ben Rhodes 2019 18
4 Todd Gilliland 2015 14
5 Sheldon Creed 2011 10
6 Zane Smith 2009 8
7 Matt Crafton 2004 3
8 Carson Hocevar # 2002 1
9 Chandler Smith # 2001 -1
10 Stewart Friesen 2001 -1
  • Round of 8: The second round (races 19-21) is the Round of 8 (Las Vegas, Talladega and Martinsville). Likewise, if a driver in the top eight in points wins a race in this round, the driver automatically advances to the next round (Championship 4). The remaining available positions (1-4) that have not been filled by wins will be filled on points. Each will then have their points reset to 4,000.
  • Each eliminated driver will return to the Playoff-start base of 2,000 (plus any awarded Playoff points), with their accumulated points starting with race No. 17 added. This will allow all drivers not in contention for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title to continue to race for the best possible season-long standing, with final positions fifth-through-10th still up for grabs.

Championship Race:

  • The 22nd and final race of the season will be the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship finale. Simply stated, the highest finisher in that race among the remaining four eligible drivers will win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title.
  • Stage Playoff points will not apply in the season finale, so the official finishing position alone will decide the champion.
  • Note:  All rules outlined above also apply to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series owner championship structure.

First Playoff Race: World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway

World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway will be home to the first of seven Playoff races to decide the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion, the Toyota 200 presented by CK Power on August 20 at 9 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).

The 2021 season marks the first year World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway has participated in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs, becoming the fourth different track to open the Playoffs; joining New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2016, 2017), Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (2018), Bristol Motor Speedway (2019, 2020).

World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway is a 1.25-mile paved oval. In total, World Wide Technology Raceway has hosted 20 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races dating back to the inaugural event on September 19, 1998. The first Truck race at Gateway was won by Rick Carelli driving the No. 6 Chevrolet owned by Marshal Chesrown. The 20 Camping World Truck Series races at World Wide Technology Raceway have produced 19 different race winners, led by Ted Musgrave with two victories (2001, 2005). Two former series Gateway winners are entered this weekend – 2020 NCWTS champion Sheldon Creed (2020) and 2021 Regular Season Champion John Hunter Nemechek (2017).

This weekend’s race will be 200 miles (160 laps) and will be broken up into three stages – the first two stages are 55 laps each and the final stage is 50 laps.

A total of 12 different NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers have qualified on the pole at World Wide Technology Raceway, led by Greg Biffle (1998, 2000) and Ted Musgrave (2001, 2005) with two poles each. This weekend’s starting lineups will be set by Metric Qualifying and as a result Austin Hill will start from the pole and will be joined by John Hunter Nemechek on the front row.

Three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Gateway have been won from the pole or first starting position. The most recent driver to accomplish the feat was Kevin Harvick in 2010; the other two were by Ted Musgrave in 2001 and 2005. The deepest in the field a driver has started and gone on to win the race was 17th by Sheldon Creed last season.

Scouting the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff field

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 2021 Playoff 10-driver field is stacked with contenders ready for their shot at the title. Seven different organizations are represented in this year’s postseason driver field. Below is a quick look at the challengers in this season’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs heading into this weekend:

Kyle Busch Motorsport’s John Hunter Nemechek (No. 4 Toyota) enters the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs as the No. 1 seed with 2,049 points; up 28 points on his nearest competitor. Nemechek enters the postseason as the 2021 Regular Season Champion – the first time in his career he has won the title. This season is his third NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs appearance (2016, ’17, ’21). Nemechek’s previous best finish in the series Playoff standings is eighth – twice (2016, ‘17).

Nemechek has made five starts at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway posting one win (2017), two top fives and three top 10s. His average finish at the 1.25-mile track is 10.2.

Nemechek’s 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season statistics:

Starts Race Wins Stage Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs
15 5 9 9 12 1
Driver Rating Avg. Running Position Lap Led
117.0 5.886 487

Hattori Racing Enterprises’ Austin Hill (No. 16 Toyota) enters the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs as the No. 2 seed with 2,021 points; just 28 points back from standings leader John Hunter Nemechek with 2,049. This season marks Hill’s third consecutive appearance in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs (2019-’21). Hill’s previous best finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs is fifth in 2019.

Hill has made four starts at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway posting one top-five finish. His average finish at the 1.25-mile track is 9.8.

Hill’s 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season statistics:

Starts Race Wins Stage Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs
15 2 1 7 12 0
Driver Rating Avg. Running Position Lap Led
103.5 8.738 48

ThorSport Racing’s Ben Rhodes (No. 99 Toyota) enters the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs as the No. 3 seed with 2,019 points; 30 markers back from Nemechek in the standings lead and just two points behind Hill in second. The 2021 season marks the fourth time he has competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs. His previous best finish in the Truck Series Playoffs is fifth in 2017.

Rhodes has made five starts at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway posting one top five and three top 10s. His average finish at the 1.25-mile track is 9.6.

Rhodes’ 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season statistics:

Starts Race Wins Stage Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs
15 2 1 5 11 0
Driver Rating Avg. Running Position Lap Led
98.2 9.805 68

Front Row Motorsport’s Todd Gilliland (No. 38 Ford) enters the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs as the No. 4 seed with 2,015 points; 34 points behind standings leader John Hunter Nemechek and just four points back from Rhodes in third. This is Gilliland’s first appearance in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs; his previous best finish in the championship standings was 10th – twice (2018, ’20).

Gilliland has made four starts at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway posting two top-five finishes. His average finish at the 1.25-mile track is 12.3.

“Last year, we went out (at World Wide Technology Raceway) and won both stages and then I’d say I had a top five truck at the end of the race and got wrecked, but just overall to have that confidence going into the first race of the Playoffs. I think even if we came out of here with a really solid run that would definitely set our Playoffs on the right track.”

Gilliland’s 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season statistics:

Starts Race Wins Stage Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs
15 1 3 7 11 1
Driver Rating Avg. Running Position Lap Led
102.3 9.988 52

2020 series champion and GMS Racing driver Sheldon Creed (No. 2 Chevrolet) enters the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs as the No. 5 seed with 2,011 points; 38 markers back from Nemechek in the standings lead and just four points behind Gilliland in fourth. Creed in his first appearance in the series Playoffs last season rallied off two wins (Texas and season finale at Phoenix), made the Championship 4 Round and won the title. This year marks his second go at the postseason.

Creed has made two starts at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway posting one win (2020), one top five and two top 10s. His average finish at the 1.25-mile track is 4.0 – best among Playoff drivers.

Creed’s 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season statistics:

Starts Race Wins Stage Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs
15 1 1 6 7 3
Driver Rating Avg. Running Position Lap Led
98.4 11.936 109

GMS Racing’s Zane Smith (No. 21 Chevrolet) enters the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs as the No. 6 seed with 2,009 points; 40 points down from the standings lead but just two points back from his GMS Racing teammate Sheldon Creed in fifth. Smith is coming off an impressive rookie season (2020) that saw him make the Playoffs and earn a spot in the Championship 4 Round ultimately finishing the season runner-up in the championship and the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award winner. This season, Smith returns for his second career appearance in the postseason.

Zane Smith has made two starts at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway posting one top five and two top 10s. His average finish at the 1.25-mile track is 6.0 – second-best among Playoff drivers.

Smith’s 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season statistics:

Starts Race Wins Stage Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs
15 0 3 1 10 1
Driver Rating Avg. Running Position Lap Led
96.3 10.111 47

Three-time series champion (2013, ’14, ’19) and ThorSport Racing driver Matt Crafton (No. 88 Toyota) enters the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs as the No. 7 seed with 2,004 points; 45 markers behind Nemechek in the series standings lead. The 2021 season marks the sixth-time Crafton has competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs. Crafton is the only driver in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series history to compete in all six Playoffs (2016-2021). A three-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion (2013, 2014 and 2019) and the only driver in series history to win titles in both the Playoff Era (2016-Present) and the prior points format (1995-2015). Crafton has appeared in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship 4 Round three times (2016, ’17, ’19) – tied with Brett Moffitt and Johnny Sauter for the series-most Championship 4 Round appearances with three each. Crafton finished fifth in last season’s Playoffs.

Crafton has made 17 starts at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway posting two top fives and nine top 10s. His average finish at the 1.25-mile track is 12.6.

Crafton’s 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season statistics:

Starts Race Wins Stage Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs
15 0 0 2 7 1
Driver Rating Avg. Running Position Lap Led
90.4 12.623 14

Niece Motorsport’s Carson Hocevar (No. 42 Chevrolet) enters the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs as the No. 8 seed with 2,002 points; 47 points back from John Hunter Nemechek in the standings lead. Hocevar and Chandler Smith are the only two Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates from the 2021 class to make it to the postseason. Hocevar joins Chandler Smith this season as the ninth and 10th different Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates to make the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs all-time; joining Christopher Bell (2016), William Bryon (2016), Austin Cindric (2017), Chase Briscoe (2017), Kaz Grala (2017), Tyler Ankrum (2019), Zane Smith (2020) and Christian Eckes (2020).

Hocevar made his series track debut at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway last season; he started 16th and finished 15th.

Hocevar’s 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season statistics:

Starts Race Wins Stage Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs
15 0 0 3 5 0
Driver Rating Avg. Running Position Lap Led
82.8 15.263 7

Kyle Busch Motorsport’s Chandler Smith (No. 18 Toyota) enters the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs as the No. 9 seed with 2,001 points; 48 points behind the standings lead. Smith and Carson Hocevar are the only two Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates from the 2021 class to make it to the postseason. Smith joins Hocevar this season as the ninth and 10th different Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates to make the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs all-time; joining Christopher Bell (2016), William Bryon (2016), Austin Cindric (2017), Chase Briscoe (2017), Kaz Grala (2017), Tyler Ankrum (2019), Zane Smith (2020) and Christian Eckes (2020).

Chandler Smith has made two starts at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway posting one top-five finish. His average finish at the 1.25-mile track is 13.5.

Smith’s 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season statistics:

Starts Race Wins Stage Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs
15 0 1 3 5 2
Driver Rating Avg. Running Position Lap Led
85.0 14.608 94

Halmar Friesen Racing’s Stewart Friesen (No. 52 Toyota) enters the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs as the No. 10 seed with 2,001 points; 48 points back from John Hunter Nemechek in the No. 1 seed.  The 2021 season marks the third time he has competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs. Friesen finished a career-best fourth in the 2019 Playoffs after posting a win in the penultimate race at Phoenix to earn a spot in the Championship 4 Round. He failed to make the postseason last year ultimately finishing the season 15th in points.

Friesen has made three starts at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway posting two top fives. His average finish at the 1.25-mile track is 7.0 – third best among Playoff drivers.

Friesen’s 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season statistics:

Starts Race Wins Stage Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs
15 0 0 3 4 3
Driver Rating Avg. Running Position Lap Led
85.2 12.791 13

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Etc.

Carson Hocevar Returns to Niece Motorsports Full Time in 2022 – Niece Motorsports announced this week driver Carson Hocevar will return fulltime in 2022. Hocevar is one of two Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates to make the Playoffs in 2021.

“I’m so excited and thankful for the chance to race fulltime again with Niece Motorsports in 2022,” said Hocevar. “The support of Al [Niece], Cody [Efaw], Phil [Gould] and every single employee at Niece Motorsports has meant the world. We are still 100 percent focused on chasing that championship this year, but it’s definitely a relief to have next year’s plans already in place.”

Through the first 15 races of the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season, Hocevar has earned three top-five and five top-10 finishes.

— NASCAR —