Truckin' Back to Gateway
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on June 12, 2014 | 11:22 A.M. EST
Camping World Truck Series points leader Matt Crafton is chasing his second straight victory of the season, Saturday night at Gateway Motorsports Park. (Photo: Getty Images)
This weekend, the Camping World Truck Series returns to Gateway Motorsports Park for the first time since 2010.
Saturday night’s Drivin’ For Linemen 200 takes NASCAR back to the 1.25-mile oval just outside St. Louis. Nine drivers scheduled to compete at Gateway this weekend have previous experience on the unique facility with only one, four-time series champion Ron Hornaday, a former winner.
"Hopefully, we can build upon the fast truck we had in Texas and my previous experience at Gateway to put together another solid finish, perhaps even a win for Turner Scott Motorsports," said Hornaday, who drives the No. 30 Rheem Chevrolet. He finished sixth in his last start last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.
Defending series champion Matt Crafton enters the weekend with an 11-point lead over Johnny Sauter, his ThorSport Racing teammate. Crafton, who won the Texas race, also goes to Gateway with the most Truck Series experience at the track.
He has 10 career starts with one top-five finish and seven top 10s. He’s hoping to make it back-to-back trips to Victory Lane after his dominating run last weekend when he led 118 of 167 laps and stretched his final fuel run 61 circuits to the checkered flag.
"They didn't tell me a lot (about his final-run fuel program)," Crafton said. "I just asked if I could make it all the way and they said, 'Yeah.' So we took off and got such a big lead, I could slow down and was able to save fuel. But that's the hardest thing to do as a racecar driver, to slow down when you want to go and win a race."
There are a number of young drivers entered in Saturday night’s race to challenge veterans like Hornaday, Crafton and Sauter - including Erik Jones, fresh off his Super Late Model win at the Milwaukee Mile, and German Quiroga, who sits sixth in the series point standings. The Red Horse Racing driver has been one of the season’s pleasant surprises with five top-10 finishes so far. He lost some ground in the standings last week after an engine expired at Texas.
“We're not as close to the points leader as we'd like to be after our race at Texas, but we'll keep doing what we've been doing all season - which is focusing on the big picture," said Quiroga. "Our goal is to be fighting for a championship at the end of the season, so we need to have consistent finishes each weekend and that's what we plan to do at Gateway."
Although Quiroga has no Gateway experience, he’ll rely on veteran crew chief Butch Hylton for advice and expertise with his wealth of knowledge at the track.
"Even though it's a new track for me, it reminds me a lot of the tracks I raced at in the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series," he said. "Hopefully, I can apply some of that knowledge as well as my crew chief, Butch Hylton's, experience at Gateway to do well there."
Motor Racing Network – "The Voice of NASCAR" – will have live coverage of the Camping World Truck Series from Gateway, presented by Keystone Light. Air time for Saturday’s Drivin’ for Linemen 200 is 8:15 p.m. (ET), with live streaming at MRN.com.