When it comes to racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series no track is more unique than the 2.5-mile, paved, three-turn Pocono Raceway aptly nicknamed the ‘Tricky Triangle’. This weekend the series heads to Pennsylvania for the CRC Brakleen 150 on Saturday, June 26 at 12 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Pocono Raceway has hosted 11 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races. The first Camping World Truck race at Pocono Raceway was on July 31, 2010, and the event was won from the pole by Elliott Sadler in a Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet.
The 11 Truck Series races at Pocono Raceway have produced eight different poles winners and 11 different race winners. With three of the Truck Series races having their qualifying sessions cancelled, the series lead in poles is shared among the eight different drivers with a pole – Elliott Sadler (2010), Kevin Harvick (2011), Nelson Piquet Jr. (2012), Kyle Larson (2014), Erik Jones (2015), Ben Rhodes (2017), Kyle Busch (2018) and Austin Hill (2019) – the 2013 and 2016 season races had qualifying cancelled due to weather and last season’s starting lineup was determined by random draw due to the restrictions brought on by the pandemic.
Kyle Busch Motorsport’s Kyle Busch leads the series in wins at Pocono Raceway with two victories (2015, 2018). Busch is also the only driver entered this weekend at Pocono Raceway in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race.
This weekend’s starting lineup was determined by Metric Qualifying and as a result Front Row Motorsport’s Todd Gilliland will start from the pole and GMS Racing’s Zane Smith will join him on the front row.
Playoff Bubble: Just three races till the Playoffs, six spots still up for grabs
With only three races left until the Playoffs, time is of the essence for the drivers trying to race their way into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series postseason. Currently four drivers have won and locked themselves into the Playoffs – John Hunter Nemechek, Ben Rhodes, Todd Gilliland and 2020 series champion Sheldon Creed – leaving six spots still up for grabs heading into this weekend at Pocono Raceway.
Four drivers without wins this season have decently sized points cushions between themselves and the Playoff cutline – 5. Austin Hill (+145), 6. Zane Smith (+108), 7. Matt Crafton (+73), 8. Stewart Friesen (+53). But rookies Carson Hocevar (+30) in ninth and Chandler Smith (+15) in 10th will have their work cut for them to maintain their small point advantages over the Playoff cutoff. Both rookies will be making their series track debuts this weekend at Pocono.
The drivers looking for their first career Truck win should be optimistic heading into this weekend, three of the 10 different Pocono winners scored their first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career victory at Pocono Raceway; including last season’s winner Brandon Jones (2020), Joey Coulter (2012) and Elliott Sadler (2010).
Of the drivers entered this weekend, Tyler Ankrum has the best average finish at Pocono Raceway with a 5.5 in three starts; followed by Todd Gilliland (6.0), Kyle Busch (7.3), Ben Rhodes (7.6) and John Hunter Nemechek (8.7).
Kyle Busch Motorsports stacks lineup for Pocono
After already claiming seven of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 12 races this season, Kyle Busch Motorsports has brought back their namesake owner/driver Kyle Busch to compete alongside the series driver standings leader John Hunter Nemechek and rookie Chandler Smith.
Kyle Busch Motorsports leads the series in wins at Pocono Raceway with five victories – Kyle Busch (2015, 2018), William Byron (2016), Christopher Bell (2017) and Brandon Jones (2020). And Busch leads the series in wins at 2.5-mile track with wo victories and is the only driver to win at Pocono in all three NASCAR national series.
Busch’s teammate and current driver standings leader, John Hunter Nemechek has yet to win at Pocono but has made three starts posting one top five and two top 10s. He also has the fifth best average finish (8.7) among active drivers at Pocono.
“The trickiest part of the Tricky Triangle is getting your truck to handle in all three corners,” said Nemechek. “What Turn 4? There is no Turn 4 there. Turn 1 is completely different from Turn 2 and Turn 2 is completely different from Turn 3 and Turn 3 completely different from Turn 1. There are a lot of differences, but you have to make your truck go around the racetrack and handle in all three in order for it to be fast. There are a lot of handling characteristics this weekend. There is a lot a driver can do as well in trying to manipulate what the truck can do handling wise trying to get speed out of it, especially for the long run.”
Nemechek and Busch will be joined by Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate, Chandler Smith, who will be making his series track debut this weekend at Pocono.
Todd Gilliland starts out front thanks to solid run at Nashville
Front Row Motorsport’s Todd Gilliland has hit his stride this season coming off his seventh top-10 finish in the last eight races; including a win at Circuit of The Americas and a runner-up finish last weekend at Nashville Superspeedway. Now heading into this weekend at Pocono Raceway, thanks to Metric Qualifying, the 21-year-old will be starting on the pole for the CRC Brakleen 150 on Saturday, June 26 at 12 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Gilliland from Sherrills Ford, North Carolina, is already locked into the Playoffs with a win this season, but over the next three races to close out the regular season are great opportunities to rack-up Playoff points. He currently has seven Playoff points.
Looking to Pocono Raceway, Gilliland has made three starts at the 2.5-mile track posting one top five and three top 10s. His average finish in the series at Pocono is 6.0 – second-best among active drivers.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Etc.
Preece is looking to go two-for-two – Last weekend’s Nashville Superspeedway NASCAR Camping World Truck Series winner Ryan Preece, driving for Team DGR, grabbed the win in his very first start in the series. Now the Berlin, Connecticut native will be back in the No. 17 Ford this weekend at Pocono Raceway looking to become just the second driver to take back-to-back trips to Victory Lane in their first two series career starts joining Kasey Kahne (2004: Darlington, Homestead).
This weekend race will be Preece’s series track debut at Pocono Raceway.