After a two-week layoff, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series returns to competition in Saturday night’s Heart of America 200 (8 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), and the two winningest drivers in the track history will both be on the grid.
Three-time series champion Matt Crafton and two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch each have three Truck Series wins at Kansas. Either is a good bet to earn the wins-record solo after this week, although Saturday’s race does feature a robust five former winners in the field — including defending race winner Zane Smith, Ross Chastain and Johnny Sauter. A win for Busch would mark a historic 100th victory for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
Crafton’s last series win coincidentally came at Kansas Speedway in 2020. The veteran would love to end the winless streak he has endured since and comes into the race ranked seventh in the championship with three top-10 finishes in the opening seven races. When it comes to Kansas, not only is the driver of the No. 88 ThorSport Racing Ford tops in victories, but he leads the series in top-five (seven) and top-10 (14) finishes, as well as starts (25) and laps completed (3,889) at the track.
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2022 reigning champion Smith has also proven to be especially strong at Kansas. He has top-10 finishes in all but one of his six starts there and, since last year, boasts six top-five finishes at 1.5-mile tracks — including a runner-up showing already this season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
With victories already at Daytona and Austin, Texas, the Front Row Motorsports driver in Smith is ranked second in points, 36 points behind Ty Majeski, who is still racing for his first 2023 trophy but whose top-five (five) and top-10 (six) efforts in the opening seven races are best in the field. Majeski, driver of the No. 98 ThorSport Racing Ford, has finished 11th or better in three of his four Kansas starts, including a runner-up showing to Zane Smith in this race last year.
Toyota leads all manufacturers with 11 wins and has won at least one Kansas race in nine of the last 10 seasons. The fall Kansas winner, John Hunter Nemechek — one of only three drivers to earn a Kansas victory from pole position – is not entered this week. No driver has ever won back-to-back Kansas races, and there have been eight different winners in the last eight races.
MORE: Kansas weekend schedule
Of note, ARCA standout Tony Breidinger hopes to pull double-duty this weekend and make her Truck Series debut. The 23-year-old, who also competes full-time in the ARCA Menards Series, is entered in the No. 1 Tricon Garage Toyota for the Truck Series race. Should she make the field, Breidinger would become the first Arab American woman to compete in the series.
Practice for the Heart of America 200 is set for noon ET on Saturday, with qualifying following the session on FS1.