Team DGR’s Todd Gilliland wins Knoxville, steals opportunity to win a spot in the Playoffs
Team DGR called upon the expertise of NASCAR Cup Series driver Todd Gilliland to pilot their No. 17 Ford at Knoxville Raceway last weekend and the decision paid off big-time with a trip to Victory Lane, the first for the organization this season. Ultimately the win was great for Gilliland, but for the drivers vying for the final five spots in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs, it stole a chance for one of the championship contenders to lock themselves into the postseason with a win. Now, the series heads to Nashville Superspeedway for the Rackley Roofing 200 on Friday, June 24 at 8 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) with just three races left in the regular season to decide who will make up the 10-driver Playoff field and who will win the Regular Season Championship.
With five drivers securing their spots on wins this season, that leaves five Playoff spots still up for grabs and since there are only three races left in the regular season, we know at least two of the Playoff spots will be filled by drivers on points.
The following five drivers have clinched a spot in the 10-driver postseason field: John Hunter Nemechek, Zane Smith, Ben Rhodes, Chandler Smith and Stewart Friesen.
Can Clinch Via Points:
If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the Playoffs, the following driver(s) could clinch by being 111 points above the fourth winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements will hold true if a new win comes from either Ty Majeski, Christian Eckes or Carson Hocevar this weekend.
- Ty Majeski: Could only clinch with help or a Christian Eckes win and help.
Camping World Truck Series on the Nashville concrete
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will return to Music City, U.S.A. for the Rackley Roofing 200 at Nashville Superspeedway this Friday, June 24 at 8 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Nashville Superspeedway is a 1.33-mile, D-shaped, all concrete oval located just outside Nashville, Tennessee. The first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Nashville Superspeedway was on August 10, 2001, and the race was won by Scott Riggs driving a Dodge for team owner Jim Smith. Riggs dominated the event leading 131 of the 150 laps (87.3%).
In total, Nashville Superspeedway has hosted the Camping World Truck Series 14 times producing 11 different pole winners and 12 different race winners from 2001 to 2011 and 2021. ThorSport Racing’s Matt Crafton is the only series driver to make starts in all 14 previous Camping World Truck Series races at Nashville.
On-track activity for the Truck series will begin on Friday, June 24 with practice at 4 p.m. ET followed by qualifying at 4:30 p.m. ET on FS1. Nashville has produced 11 different Truck Series pole winners all-time, led by Mike Skinner (2005, 2007), Kyle Busch (2010, 2011), and Todd Bodine (2008, 2010) with two poles each.
Johnny Benson (2006, 2008) and Kyle Busch (2010, 2011) lead the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in wins at Nashville Superspeedway with two victories each. Last season’s Nashville race was won by Team DGR’s Ryan Preece, leading just eight laps of the total event.
Regular Season Champion Watch: Three races to go
The battle for the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Regular Season Championship is heating up with just three races left until the Playoffs kickoff. The top four drivers in the series driver standings following Knoxville Raceway are separated by only 14 points, with Kyle Busch Motorsport’s John Hunter Nemechek in the standings lead.
Kyle Busch Motorsports’ John Hunter Nemechek won last season’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Regular Season Championship and looks to become the first driver since the inception of the regular season title in the series in 2017 to win multiple championships. Former Camping World Truck Series Regular Season Champions include Christopher Bell (2017), Johnny Sauter (2018), Grant Enfinger (2019), Austin Hill (2020) and John H. Nemechek (2021).
Nemechek currently holds the points standings lead by five points over Front Motorsports’ driver Zane Smith in second, followed by ThorSport Racing’s and 2021 series champion Ben Rhodes (-10) in third and Nemechek’s KBM teammate Chandler Smith (-14) in fourth.
All four of the regular season title contenders this season made their series track debuts at Nashville Superspeedway last season. Zane Smith had the best finish of the four in fourth, followed by Rhodes (seventh), Nemechek (10th) and Chandler Smith (13th).
Playoff Bubble: Five spots left to fill in the next three races
With three races left in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular season, time is winding down to make the Playoffs. As it stands, the last two drivers seated ninth and 10th in the series driver standings are Grant Enfinger and Matt Crafton. In Enfinger’s first season back with a new-look GMS Racing, he has racked up a solid three top-fives and seven top-10s for the year. Crafton, a long-tenured veteran on ThorSport Racing’s roster, sits just above the cutoff line with one top-five and seven top-10s. Heading into Nashville, Crafton will look to utilize his extensive experience of 14 starts at the track to distance himself from the cutoff line while Enfinger hopes to remain consistent.
Sitting below the cutline include a mix of eager drivers hoping to race for the championship. Derek Kraus of McAnally Hilgemann Racing leads this group sitting 27 points back from the cutoff line. The driver of the No. 19 Chevrolet had a solid weekend at Knoxville, starting the race from the pole position and finishing sixth. Kraus and his team aim to carry this speed into Nashville Superspeedway, a track where he also won the pole in 2021 and brought home a fifth-place finish.
Matt DiBenedetto sits just behind Kraus in the Playoff outlook standings at twelfth. In his first year driving the No. 25 Chevrolet for Rackley W.A.R., DiBenedetto has yet to finish a race in the top-five but has garnered six top 10s on the year. Coming into Nashville, he has two previous starts in two different series. He finished 10th driving part-time for Joe Gibbs Racing’s NASCAR Xfinity Series team in 2010 along with a 24th-place finish last year in the NASCAR Cup Series for Wood Brothers Racing. Being 43 points back from the cutline, DiBenedetto will need to lock in competitively for the next three races if he wants to point his way into the Playoffs.
In a similar situation, Tanner Gray hopes to gain ground on those ahead of him with a dwindling number of races to do so. The 21-year-old from Artesia, New Mexico sits 50 points back from potentially making the Playoffs in his third year of full-time Camping World Truck Series racing. The No. 15 Team DGR Ford has shown glimpses of speed with Gray behind the wheel. His most recent finish at Nashville, 18th, came after having to start from the rear of the field. He will look to make the same kind of headway toward the front this weekend as he hopes to add another Ford into the Playoff bracket.
Tyler Ankrum, 14th in the series Playoff outlook, still has a shot to point his way into the Playoffs. Coming off two straight top-10 finishes at Sonoma and Knoxville; the driver of the No. 16 Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota has had a streak of solid runs. Ankrum will need to improve on a 23rd-place finish last year at Nashville if he hopes to keep his Playoff hopes alive.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Etc.
2022 Camping World Truck Series Season Competition Update – The 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season has been action-packed all year long and the stats back it up. The 2022 season has seen eight different pole winners and 10 different race winners. Plus, the 2022 season had produced an average of 7.08 leaders per race and an average of 12.62 lead changes per race through the first 13 races of the year. In total, 26 different drivers have led laps this season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
In addition, the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season has produced 272 green flag passes for the lead, the fourth-most since the inception of the Loop Data stat in 2007; behind the 2020 season (359), 2018 (343) and 2019 (330). The first 13 races in the 2022 Camping World Truck Series season have also produced 20,022 total green flag passes throughout the field, the third-most since the statistic was initially tabulated in 2007; behind the 2020 season (20,870) and 2021 (20,281).
Looking to Nashville Superspeedway this weekend, the 2021 Camping World Truck Series race at the 1.33-mile track generated eight lead changes among six different leaders.
Sunoco Rookie of the Year Update: Alan retakes rookie standings lead – The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings had another shakeup after this weekend’s dirt race at Knoxville Raceway. After recently falling back to second in the standings, Lawless Alan is back atop the rookie leaderboard. This comes after another top-20 finish this season, placing 18th at Knoxville. Alan and the No. 45 Niece Motorsports team now have seven total top-20 finishes, the most among active full-time rookies.
Now ranked second in rookie points is GMS Racing’s Jack Wood. The 21-year-old driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet brought his team a 21st-place finish on Saturday at Knoxville Raceway. Wood trails Alan by nine points in the rookie standings. Looking to Nashville this weekend, Wood is hoping to build on his solid run last year where he started on the front row and finished 11th.
Returning to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this Friday is part-time Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Corey Heim. As the only rookie to win a race this season and one of two multi-time winners in the Camping World Truck Series, Heim looks to pick up right where he left off at World Wide Technology Raceway and compete for the win in the No. 51 Toyota Tundra. Driving only a partial schedule this season, Heim has still managed to previously lead the rookie standings having won two (Atlanta, WWTR) out of the six races he has ran this season. After having the last two races off, Heim will work to make up for missed time as he wishes to take back control of the rookie standings. With no previous experience at Nashville, however, it will be no easy feat.
Dean Thompson of Niece Motorsports sits fourth in rookie standings. The 20-year-old from Anaheim, California came away from Knoxville with a 23rd-place finish for his No. 40 Chevrolet. Like Heim in having zero experience at Nashville, Thompson hopes to leave the weekend with a greater standing on the rookie leaderboard and more experience at a new track for him. The same can be said for CR7 Motorsports rookie Blaine Perkins. After a 25th-place outing at Knoxville, the 22-year-old from Bakersfield, California will look to gain any momentum he can find for his No. 9 Chevrolet Silverado team heading into the final stretch of the regular season.