Saturday’s Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 Race Preview

Buckle up for Gander Trucks at Kentucky

The Gander Trucks return to the track this weekend for a Saturday night showdown under the lights race at Kentucky Speedway.

The Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 will take place on Saturday, July 11 at 6 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. The race will be 150 laps and 225 miles.

Tyler Ankrum is the defending race winner and this weekend will mark the series 23rd race at the track.

The 1.5-mile, Sparta, Kentucky track has 17 degrees of banking in corners in Turns 1 and 2 and 14 degrees of banking in corners of Turns 3 and 4.

There’s eight degrees of banking on the frontstretch and four degrees of banking on the backstretch. The frontstretch is 1,662 feet and the backstretch is 1,600 feet.

The inaugural Gander Trucks race at Kentucky was won by Greg Biffle on June 17, 2000.

Noah Gragson holds the qualifying record at the track from July 2018 at 183.955 mph. Ben Rhodes holds the race record, also from July 2018, at 146.739 mph.

Ron Hornaday Jr. has the most wins at Kentucky (three), Austin Dillon has the most poles (two), and Matt Crafton has the most top fives (six) and top 10s (15). The most lead changes at the track was in 2011 with 18 and the fewest was in 2013 with five.

Only three of 22 races have been won from the pole and Kyle Busch has the most wins as a truck team owner with four.

The closest margin of victory in the Gander Trucks at Kentucky was in 2009 at 0.135-second and the greatest margin of victory was in 2002 at 18.197 seconds.

This weekend will be the seventh race of the season for the Gander Trucks. Grant Enfinger is the only fulltime driver in the series to have won so far this season (Daytona, Atlanta). The other five races were won by drivers that are fulltime in other series. Most recently, Xfinity Series regular Brandon Jones got his first Gander Trucks career win at Pocono Raceway.

Toyota has three of the wins, Ford has two and Chevrolet has one.

Saturday’s Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 will be 150 laps with Stage 1 ending on Lap 35 and Stage 2 ending on 70.

Starting Lineup

Home cooking for Ben Rhodes

Ben Rhodes just made his 100th career Gander Trucks start at Atlanta Motor Speedway. This weekend, he’ll make his 103rd career start at his home track of Kentucky Speedway.

Rhodes, who is from Louisville, not only has the connection to Kentucky for growing up just outside of the track’s location but it’s also the place where he got his second career win.

In 2018, Rhodes started third at Kentucky and won the race. Rhodes’ first career win was in 2017 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Rhodes has quietly moved his way up to second in the points standings this season, 51 points behind points leader Austin Hill. Although he doesn’t have a win so far this season, he has two top fives, four top 10s and is also ranked third in the Playoff standings.

He is even sitting in front of his ThorSport Racing teammate Grant Enfinger in the points standings without a win.

Rhodes has four starts at Kentucky with one win, one top five and one top 10. He led 43 laps and has an average start of 6.2 and an average finish of 15.0.

Eyeing the Playoff Outlook Following Pocono Raceway

With six NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series races in the books, the Playoff picture is coming into focus. Grant Enfinger’s two wins have him atop the Playoff standings as he is the only driver locked in on wins. That leaves nine spots still up for grabs on points.

Among the nine vying for a Playoff spot on points, series driver standings leader and Hattori Racing Enterprises driver, Austin Hill, has the most comfortable points cushion heading into the weekend break with 94 points up on the postseason cutoff.  

Right behind Hill is Ben Rhodes with ThorSport Racing, who is 43 points ahead of the Playoff cutoff following Pocono. Rhodes’ Pocono performance put him up a spot in the standings. Sheldon Creed made the biggest jump, going from ninth in the outlook to fourth with his two stage wins and third-place finish at Pocono. Christian Eckes is the highest-ranked rookie in the Playoff outlook right now in sixth but fellow rookie Zane Smith is sitting two points behind him in seventh.

Then down in the Playoff bubble hotseat sits veteran and former series champion Johnny Sauter, 10th in the driver standings just nine points ahead of 11th place Derek Kraus.

Reigning NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series champion Matt Crafton is sitting all the way down in 14th in the standings, 31 points back from Sauter in 10th.

Rank

Driver

Points

Wins

1

Grant Enfinger

192

2

2

Austin Hill

253

0

3

Ben Rhodes

202

0

4

Sheldon Creed

189

0

5

Todd Gilliland

187

0

6

Christian Eckes

179

0

7

Zane Smith

177

0

8

Tyler Ankrum

174

0

9

Brett Moffitt

170

0

10

Johnny Sauter

168

0

11

Derek Kraus #

159

0

12

Stewart Friesen

148

0

13

Tanner Gray

142

0

14

Matt Crafton

137

0

15

Raphael Lessard

119

0

Sunoco rookie standings update

Christian Eckes still leads the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings with 179 points following Pocono Raceway.

Zane Smith currently holds second in the rookie standings with 177 points; followed by Derek Kraus with 159 points, Tanner Gray with 142 points, Raphael Lessard with 119, Ty Majeski with 114, Spencer Davis with 86 and Tate Fogleman with 70.

Every rookie except for Davis will be making their Kentucky Speedway debut in the Gander Trucks next week. Davis ran at Kentucky last season and finished in eighth.

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, Etc.

First one for Smith: After turning 18 last month, Chandler Smith will make his first Gander Trucks start on a mile-and-a-half oval. In limited Gander Trucks starts last season, Smith’s impressive results included a runner-up finish at Bristol Motor Speedway. In three ARCA Menards Series starts this season, Smith has two wins at Phoenix Raceway in March and Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis last weekend.

Long Motorsports new sponsor: American Mask & Sanitizer is partnering with Long Motorsports and Dawson Cram beginning this weekend at Kentucky Speedway. American Mask & Sanitizer specializes in medical supplies. They will also be on board the No. 55 truck at Texas and Kansas Speedway.

The Wounded Blue partner with Angela Ruch: America’s only national organization dedicated to assisting officers injured in the line of duty announced that they will partner with Angela Ruch at Kentucky Speedway. Donations to The Wounded Blue help fund the organization’s Code 4 Wellness program, including medical appointments, COVID-19 testing, PTSD and more.

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