Who wins Saturday’s United Rentals 200 (1 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN) race preview with my picks

Race Day Schedule

8:30 am: Garage Opens

12:25 pm: Drivers To Cars

12:30 pm: Driver Intros

12:52 pm: Invocation

12:53 pm: National Anthem

12:59 pm: Command

1:10 pm: Green Flag



Race Details

Coverage: 1 p.m. ET

Green Flag: 1:14 p.m. ET

TV: FS1

Radio: MRN (Local Affiliates here)

Computer: NASCAR.com

Phone: NASCAR App

Race Distance: 200 Laps/105.2 Miles

Stage Lengths: 50-50-100

Playoffs: Round 2, Race 3

Track: Martinsville Speedway


Starting Lineup


2-for-2 In Round of 8 Without A Playoff Winner

We’re down to the final race of the second round. With three races in the Round of 8, most thought we’d get a playoff driver taking at least two of them. Instead, we’re 0-for-2 so far with all four spots for the taking still heading to Martinsville (VA) Speedway this Saturday. In fact, both winners this round are first timers at that.

Christian Eckes won in Las Vegas to kickoff the semifinal round with Tate Fogleman’s rare triumph in Talladega earlier this month setting up a wild showdown on the Virginia paperclip. Its left the field almost wide open for the .526-mile paperclip on Oct. 30.

Young’s Motorsports’ Fogleman was the fifth different first-time winner this season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with his surprising win three weeks ago at Talladega Superspeedway; joining Martin Truex Jr. (Bristol Dirt), Ryan Preece (Nashville), Chandler Smith (Bristol) and Christian Eckes (Las Vegas).

With Fogleman’s victory, the 2021 season becomes the third consecutive season and 14th overall (since 1995-Present) the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has produced five or more first-time winners in a single season. Every season since the inception of the series in 1995 has it produced at least one first-time winner. The 2012 season holds the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series record for the most first-time winners in the series in a single season at nine.

Martinsville Speedway has been home to 11 different first-time winners in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the most recent was Todd Gilliland’s win in 2019.

First-Time Camping World Truck Winners at Martinsville Speedway

Track First-Time Winners Date
Martinsville Todd Gilliland Saturday, October 26, 2019
Martinsville Noah Gragson Saturday, October 28, 2017
Martinsville Joey Logano Saturday, March 28, 2015
Martinsville Bubba Wallace Saturday, October 26, 2013
Martinsville Denny Hamlin Saturday, October 29, 2011
Martinsville Timothy Peters Saturday, October 24, 2009
Martinsville Bobby Labonte Saturday, April 9, 2005
Martinsville Ricky Craven Saturday, October 22, 2005
Martinsville Jamie McMurray Saturday, October 23, 2004
Martinsville Scott Riggs Saturday, April 7, 2001
Martinsville Bobby Hamilton Monday, April 10, 2000


Nemechek vs. Crafton

We have drama brewing between two playoff drivers heading to a short track to settle the Championship 4 field. Talk about sparks flying. Back in the spring at Bristol, John Hunter Nemechek wasn’t happy with how Matt Crafton raced him on the dirt. Now in Talladega, it was Nemechek’s turn to piss Crafton off.

A couple of times he got Crafton squirrely and Crafton wasn’t too thrilled by that. He slapped Nemechek’s rear end in his post race interview with Nemechek calling Crafton old and not sure why he was mad.

Crafton is saying what goes around comes around.

They make up half of the four spots in the top four spots of the standings with one race remaining in the round. Is there any paybacks coming on Saturday afternoon?



Who Wins Saturday’s United Rentals 200?

The five NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff races Martinsville Speedway has hosted have produced four different winners, led by ThorSport Racing’s Johnny Sauter with two postseason victories at the half-mile track (2016, 2018).

 

Martinsville Speedway Playoff Race Winners

Track Race Winner Date Race Number
Martinsville Grant Enfinger Friday, October 30, 2020 22
Martinsville Todd Gilliland Saturday, October 26, 2019 21
Martinsville Johnny Sauter Saturday, October 27, 2018 20
Martinsville Noah Gragson Saturday, October 28, 2017 20
Martinsville Johnny Sauter Saturday, October 29, 2016 20

Grant Enfinger won this race last year to stamp his name into the Championship 4. Will we see another one do so on Saturday? Right now, we have two drivers who are sitting really good. That’s John Hunter Nemechek (+36) and Ben Rhodes (+35). Neither have made it to the Championship 4 yet in their careers and here they are one race away from doing so.

If Nemechek can get by, he will be the first Kyle Busch Motorsports driver to do so since Noah Gragson in 2018. Christopher Bell did so in 2017 in a championship winning year. They’ve been shutout of the final round in each of the last two years but here JHN is one race away from bringing them back.

He’s had three top four finishes in the playoffs to go along with a top three in both short track races run this season. Overall, he has seven top four’s in his last 11 races on a season that’s seen him reach victory lane five times. The thing is, he’s not won in the last seven races though.

Rhodes, has a pair of top three’s in five playoff races to go along with three top 10’s in general. Those are his only top fives in his No. 99 Ford in the last 10 starts. But, ThorSport has pout a Truck in the final round in each of the last two years including three of the four overall. Rhodes, the winner of the first two races of the season, has won three times overall this year.

All these two need to do on Saturday is score stage points in both stages and come away with a top 10 result and they’re onto Phoenix with a championship dream still intact.

Matt Crafton is +10 but has four top 10 finishes in five playoff races and seven of the last nine races overall. He’s a veteran of Martinsville and should be in the fight for a win on Saturday afternoon.

Sheldon Creed (+5) is a two-time winner this postseason but those are his only top 10’s though. At the point of his second straight win, he had four top three finishes in five races run. Over the last three?

19th, 36th and 12th respectively. At short tracks in Richmond and Bristol, he’s only finished 11th and 19th respectively. Does the GMS driver get to Phoenix to defend his crown? GMS had three drivers in the final round last year, one in 2019, two in 2018 and one again in 2017. With Zane Smith facing a must win, can Creed keep their streak alive?

Then you get Stewart Friesen (-5) who has four top sixes in five playoff races who can points his way in. Chandler Smith (Bristol winner), Carson Hocevar and Zane Smith all have to win.

Hocever has one top five in his last 12 starts and has never won a Truck race before. Zane Smith has one top five all year.

So, who gets it done?

  1.  4 Nemechek – A pair of top 3’s on short tracks this season plus Martinsville success is enough for me. He has four top three finishes in his last eight Martinsville tries and none of which were with KBM.
  2. 38 Gilliland – 3 top 5’s in his last 4 playoff races as well as the 2019 winner of this race overall.
  3. 99 Rhodes – He was runner-up in two of his last three starts at Martinsville.
  4. 13 Sauter – He’s won 2 of the last 5 Martinsville playoff races to go along with 4 top 8 finishes in his last 5 starts on the season, 3 of which in the top 5.
  5. 52 Friesen – 4 top 6’s in 5 playoff races as well as being 4th in Bristol in the last round is enough for me to advance him on. He’s had 3 straight top six finishes at Martinsville including four in his last six tries there in general.

Championship 4:

John Hunter Nemechek (Kyle Busch Motorsports)

Ben Rhodes (ThorSport)

Matt Crafton (ThorSport)

Stewart Friesen (Halmar)

Will be the 1st time since 2017 that we didn’t have multiple Chevrolet drivers in the final round. We had 2 in 2018 and 3 in each of the last 2 years.

Also, just once in the four past years of this format did the defending champion come back to the Championship 4 in the next year. Christopher Bell (2017) moved up to Xfinity competition in 2018. Brett Moffitt (2018) was back in 2019 and also in 2020, Matt Crafton (2019) didn’t make it to the Championship 4 in 2020 and Sheldon Creed is on the current bubble.

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