Truck Race Preview: Kentucky

Johnny Sauter

Johnny Sauter has held the series championship standings lead since Martinsville back in April, and has since opened the gap between second to 42 points following Iowa. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Schedule of Events | Practice SpeedsDriver Averages | Past Race Winners

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series news, notes and fast facts in advance of Thursday night's Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 at Kentucky Speedway.

Radio: MRN, 7 p.m. (ET)
TV: FS1, 7:30 p.m. (ET)
Race Distance: 225 miles (150 laps)
Stage Lengths: Stage 1 (Ends on lap 35), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 70), Final Stage (Ends on lap 150)

Races: 19
Pole Winners: 16
Youngest Pole Winner: Ryan Blaney (6/27/2013 - 19 years, 3 months, 27 days)
Oldest Pole Winner: Ron Hornaday (7/18/2009 - 51 years, 28 days)
Race Winners: 15
Youngest Race Winner: William Byron (7/7/2016 - 18 years, 7 months, 8 days)
Oldest Race Winner: Hornaday (10/1/2011 - 53 years, 3 months, 11 days)
Races Won from Pole: 3
Last Race Won From Pole: Matt Crafton (7/9/2015)
Race Record: Mike Bliss - 143.515 mph (7/13/2002)
Qualifying Record: Daniel Suarez - 182.983 mph (7/7/2016)

  Last Race Most/Largest Fewest/Smallest
Trucks: 32 36 - 15 Times (6/27/2013) 31 (7/9/2015)
Lead Changes: 9 18 (10/1/2011) 5 (6/27/2013)
Leaders: 6 11 (10/1/2011) 4 - 4 Times (6/26/2014)
Cautions: 5 9 (6/17/2000) 3 (7/13/2002)
Caution Laps: 32 49 (6/17/2000) 12 (7/13/2002)
Lead Lap Finish: 18 18 - 3 Times (7/7/2016) 6 (10/1/2011)
Running at the Finish: 25 30 (9/3/2010) 18 - 2 Times(9/21/2012)
Laps Led (Winner): 70 135 (7/14/2007) 6 (7/9/2005)
Margin of Victory*: 0.19 18.197 (7/13/2002) 0.135 (7/19/2009)

*Since 1993 (advent of digital timing and scoring); does not include races completed under caution

Magic Number 8: Nemechek Eyes Third Consecutive Win
John Hunter Nemechek is doing more with less, and has made it look effortless, especially in the last two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races (Gateway and Iowa), where he snatched the lead late and parked his No. 8 NEMCO Motorsports Chevrolet in Victory Lane. Now the ascending star has banked two wins and rolls to Kentucky Speedway this weekend for the Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 on Thursday, July 6 (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) looking to become the eighth driver in series history to win three consecutive races or more.

If Nemechek pulls off the win this weekend, he is looking to join some of the best to ever compete in the series like Ron Hornaday Jr. (who holds series record for most consecutive wins with five in 2009, he also won three straight in 1997), Johnny Benson (2008), Greg Biffle (2000), Todd Bodine (2005), Kyle Busch (2011 and 2014), Kevin Harvick (2011) and Mike Skinner (1996 and 2007) as a three-consecutive race winner.

Nemechek has a solid chance of joining that list this weekend. In two career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at Kentucky, he has posted an average finish of 6.5; including finishing runner-up last season.

Stage Left: Sauter, Bell and Briscoe Racking Up Mid-Race Points
It shouldn’t be too surprising the top three in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship points, GMS Racing’s Johnny Sauter (points leader), Kyle Busch Motorsport’s Christopher Bell (second) and Brad Keselowski Racing’s Chase Briscoe (third) are the same three drivers that lead the series in the accumulation of stage points this season.

Johnny Sauter has held the series championship standings lead since Martinsville back in April, and has since opened the gap between second to 42 points following Iowa. A big key to Sauter’s success this season is his ability to gather stage points, having amassed 134 – the series-most. Sauter’s 134 stage points account for 30.9% of his driver standings total of 433 points. Sauter’s 2017 season has been a strong one. In nine starts this season he has posted one win (Dover), and the series-most seven top fives. His average finish this season is 4.2 (series-best).

Watch for Sauter to be upfront again this weekend as he has made 10 starts at Kentucky, posting two top fives, five top 10s and an average finish of 11.2.

Christopher Bell is currently second (-42) in the series championship standings after posting three poles, two wins (Atlanta and Texas), six top fives (second-most) and eight top 10s (tied with Johnny Sauter for the series-most). Bell has also been one of the best at accumulating stage points this season with 106 (second-most) through nine races. His stage points total accounts for 27.1% of his total driver standings 391 points.

One can expect Bell to continue his assault on the stage points this weekend as he has made two series starts at Kentucky Speedway, posting one top five and an average finish of 10.5 -  he finished fourth in this event last season.

Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Chase Briscoe is currently third in the series championship standings, 76 points back from the standings leader Johnny Sauter. Briscoe is having an outstanding rookie campaign, having posted two poles, four top fives, five top 10s and an average finish of 8.7 (fourth-best) in nine starts. Briscoe has also excelled in accruing stage points, as he now has 102 (third-most) this season. Briscoe’s 102 stage points account for 28.5% of his driver standings total of 357 points.  This weekend at Kentucky will be his series track debut, but don’t count him out just yet. Briscoe has an average finish of 10.8 on 1.5-mile tracks this season, including a runner-up finish at Texas.

Kyle Busch Goes for the Tripleheader
Sweeping a triple header has only been done once in NASCAR national series history and that record belongs to Kyle Busch, when he won all three races at Bristol Motor Speedway during the August 2010 events. This weekend at Kentucky Speedway, Busch will again try to match his record and compete in all three NASCAR national series including this Thursday’s Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 at 7:30 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). This weekend’s race will be Kyle Busch’s fourth start of the season, in his previous three starts he has posted two wins (Kansas and Charlotte) and an average finish of 9.3.

Busch has made six series starts at Kentucky Speedway posting two wins (2011 and 2014), three top fives, five top 10s and an average finish of 8.0. In last season’s race, he finished 30th after being caught in an accident.

Playoff Bubble: Seven Races Left
Only seven races remain until the cutoff for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs, meaning time is of the essence for drivers without wins to click their ticket to the post-season.  Four drivers (Christopher Bell, John Hunter Nemechek, Johnny Sauter and Kaz Grala) are already locked in on wins, leaving four playoff spots up for grabs.

Chase Briscoe (+65) and Matt Crafton (+46) currently are the two winless drivers that have the largest points cushion ahead of Ryan Truex in ninth, the first spot outside of the playoffs. Briscoe will be making his series track debut at Kentucky this weekend. Crafton, on the other hand, will be making his 19th series start at Kentucky. In his previous 18 series starts on the 1.5-mile track he has posted one win (2015), five top fives, 13 top 10s and an average finish of 10.4.

Next is Ben Rhodes (+18), currently in seventh in the playoff outlook and then Grant Enfinger is eighth with the last and final playoff spot – just eight points ahead of ninth-place Ryan Truex. Both Rhodes and Enfinger needs wins as soon as possible, because all it will take is a bad run and they could be on the outside of the playoff cutoff line looking in.

Rhodes has had a career season thus far, having posted three top fives, five top 10s and an average finish of 10.9. Rhodes made his series track debut at Kentucky last season, starting ninth and finishing 13th.

Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Grant Enfinger currently sits in the final playoff spot (eighth) just eight points ahead of ninth-place Ryan Truex. Enfinger will have his work cut out for him to hold on the final playoff spot but he has been consistent this season having posted four top fives, six top 10s and an average finish of 8.2 (third-best) in nine starts. He made lone series start at Kentucky last season, starting 17th and finishing 12th.

One thing going for Rhodes and Enfinger is this will be Ryan Truex’s series track debut this weekend at Kentucky.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Etc.
Moonlighting Drivers: Tommy Regan, Ross Chastain, JJ Yeley and Brandon Jones are joining Kyle Busch as drivers who don’t content for NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points and are also on the entry list.

Sunoco Rookie of the Year Points Update: Following the ninth race of the season at Iowa, Grant Enfinger (122 points) is the series rookie standings leader; followed by Chase Briscoe (-5), Noah Gragson (-24), Kaz Grala (-30), Austin Cindric (-53), Justin Haley (-60), Cody Coughlin (-62), Wendell Chavous (-78) and Stewart Friesen (-92).

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