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Nigel Kinrade Photography

GALLERY: NASCAR Xfinity Playoff Picture Entering Texas

Although nobody was able to lock themselves into the next round at Kansas Speedway, the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs certainly experienced a shake-up with each of the contenders experiencing up-and-down days. 

With just two races remaining until the Championship 4 is set, there is a lot on the line over the next two weeks.

Jasen Vinlove | NKP

1. Christopher Bell +49

Christopher Bell appeared to have a chance to win at Kansas Speedway after as he led 69 laps, but contact with a lap car while battling for the lead took him out of contention. He was able to rebound to finish 12th.

With only 60 points to be gained per event, it appears that a pair of solid finishes over the next two weeks would see Bell as one of the drivers to fight for the championship. However, nothing is set in stone, because if two of the drivers on the outside looking in were to win the next two races, that moves the cut-up line, with Bell currently just 12 points ahead of Tyler Reddick. Hence why winning is still his best bet to transfer.

In four races at Texas Motor Speedway, Bell has scored three finishes of sixth or better, including a runner-up last season to go with two pole positions. He also has ran strong at ISM Raceway, winning last year to go with three top-five’s and led 68 laps in the spring before crashing out.

John Harrelson | NKP

2. Cole Custer +38

Cole Custer battled up front all day at Kansas, pacing 85 laps, before contact with Tyler Reddick resulted in him fading back to 11th at the checkered flag. He confronted his championship foe post-race, with words and shoves being traded.

Custer is in a similar position as Bell with solid finishes being the key to him transferring forward – but only if nobody below the cut-line scores a victory in the next two races. If a pair of drivers score a win, that moves up the cut-off line, and a single point separating himself and Reddick certainly makes things interesting. Likewise, winning is still his best bet to transfer.

Despite crashing out of the event at Texas in the spring, Custer finished in the top-five in his previous four starts, including out-dueling Reddick to win last season. And since placing 27th in his first trip to ISM Raceway, he has scored a top-10 in the four races since, including fourth in March.

Jasen Vinlove | NKP

3. Tyler Reddick +37

Tyler Reddick battled up front all day at Kansas, before coming up just short of scoring the victory with a runner-up to Brandon Jones.

It’s the same story for Reddick as those in front of him with solid finishes being the key as long as nobody below the cut-line scores a victory in the next two races. If a pair of drivers below were to win, then Reddick would currently be outside of the Championship 4 by a single point.

Considering his most recent confrontation with Custer, it’s apparent they will race each other hard moving forward. But as the defending series champion stated at Kansas, the focus needs to be on doing well the next two weeks and winning as he deserves a chance to defend based on his season to date.

After failing to score a top-20 in his first two trips to Texas, he scored a runner-up in his last two appearances. He also finished in the top-10 in his last three races at ISM Raceway, including a third in March.

Jasen Vinlove | NKP

4. Justin Allgaier +2

Justin Allgaier avoided all the drama at Kansas Speedway, steadily making up ground throughout the event to finish fifth. It seems to be the story of the season for JR Motorsports driver, with consistency keeping his championship hopes alive.

The only concerning factor is he has yet to win a race this season, and a victory may be what he needs if he wants to have another chance to win the title. Now that isn’t to say he has not come close, as there have been some big disappointments in 2019. 

He has had a mix of results at Texas, with just three top-10’s in his last seven races, including a fifth last season. Despite placing outside of the top-10 in his last two appearances at ISM Raceway, he scored seven straight top-10 finishes before then, including a victory in 2017; he has also led 145 laps in the last three events.

Rusty Jarrett | NKP

5. Chase Briscoe -2

Chase Briscoe is putting himself in the discussion for the championship by showing that he can run up front with the contenders. He was battling for the lead with Bell at Kansas when they made contact with a lap car. Despite needing to put a new rear tail on the No. 98 Ford, Briscoe battled back to finish fifth. 

Continuing to fight for wins is what Briscoe needs to do if he wants to be part of the conversation. He could possibly beat Allgaier on points, however needs to also consider locking himself in via a victory, in case one of the drivers behind him in the standings scores a win first. 

He has finished 11th and fourth in his pair of appearances at Texas, while placing sixth at ISM Raceway in March.

Russell Labounty | NKP

6. Michael Annett -12

Running in the teens most of the afternoon, crew chief Travis Mack made the strategy call to leave Michael Annett out on old tires while the rest of the leaders pitted, followed by taking fresh rubber on a later caution. Annett almost made the decision work out in his favor, driving his way to the front and battling for the lead, but ultimately finished fourth after a couple late cautions slowed his charge.

Considering Annett has been just an average consistent driver through his career, it may take a strategy call of that nature by Mack to get his driver into the Championship 4. Certainly solid finishes could beat Allgaier and Briscoe to transfer, but banking on that does not seem plausible based on the recent performance by both.

After going six consecutive races at Texas without a top-10 finish, Annett placed sixth in the spring event. Likewise, he went three events at ISM Raceway without a top-10 before finishing eighth in March.

Russell Labounty | NKP

7. Noah Gragson -17

Noah Gragson would get into the wall on two separate occasions, resulting in flat tires and unscheduled pit stops for the No. 9 Chevrolet. As a result, he would cross the finish line scored 13th despite running inside the top-five at one point.

As noted following the event, Gragson stated he wanted to be more aggressive than before, but ultimately that backfired as he lost valuable ground he could not afford to lose already. He will need to find the balance being fighting hard and staying out of trouble if he wants to keep his championship hopes alive, as certainly it seems a win will need to be his way to transfer – unless those ahead of him cross the line of no return.

He was 13th at Texas in the spring, along with an 11th-place finish at ISM Raceway in March.

Rusty Jarrett | NKP

8. Austin Cindric -30

Cindric appeared to be over aggressive in his approach at Kansas Speedway, making contact with a pair of drivers that resulted in a flat tire, damage to his No. 22 Ford and unscheduled trips down pit road. As a result, he finished 25th and has put himself in an early hole in the Round of 8.

Cindric’s focus the next two weeks needs to be solely on winning, but not being over aggressive that he shoots himself in the foot as he did at Kansas. There is still a mathematical chance to transfer without a victory, but that would only happen if the four drivers ahead of him ran into significant issues the next two weeks.

He has two top-10’s in three appearances at Texas including a third last season, along with a fourth and a fifth in his last two starts at ISM Raceway.

All Images Courtesy of Nigel Kinrade Photography

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Nigel Kinrade Photography

GALLERY: NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series Playoff Picture Entering Martinsville

After a small break, the stars of the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series are ready to get back after it this weekend at Martinsville Speedway for the second race in the Round of 6. While normally Talladega Superspeedway has been notorious for flipping the standings on it’s lid, five of the competitors managed to get out of there with a top-eight finish. 

Now it’s a matter of seeing who can negotiate through the tight confines of Martinsville Speedway this weekend.

Nigel Kinrade | NKP

1. Brett Moffitt +45

Battling up front all day, combined with a pair of runner-up finishes in the first two stages, paid off for Brett Moffitt en route to finishing fourth. Combined with his four victories and four prior stage wins, he sits fairly comfortably at the top of the standings. As long as he is steady through the next two weeks with a couple more solid runs, he will have a shot at the championship.

He has scored three top-five’s in four starts with no finishes worse than sixth at Martinsville, while winning in his lone start at ISM Raceway. 

Matthew T. Thacker | NKP

2. Stewart Friesen +22

Stewart Friesen ran up front at Talladega all day, including a win in the second stage to secure 10 previous points, en route to a fifth-place finish.

This gives him a sizable gap compared to the rest entering the weekend, but nothing to be comfortable about. You just need one of the drivers behind him in points to score a victory, perhaps two of those competitors, and he’s down to the cut line and only inside the bracket by a small margin. Needless to say, performance is still a must out of the Canadian, best case scenario a victory, if he wants to keep his championship hopes alive.

He enters Martinsville Speedway coming off a track-best performance in April where he placed fifth after winning the pole. For ISM Raceway, though, after finishing 18th in his first trip to the desert, he has finished sixth and fifth in the races since.

Matthew T. Thacker | NKP

3. Austin Hill +12

Austin Hill may be regretting not scoring any points in the second stage at Talladega Superspeedway if he keeps inching closer to the playoff cut-off line. However, he still did not make out too badly, scoring a sixth-place finish. Just like Friesen, performance is still a must because there’s no way that you count a gap this small anywhere near safe. 

He has only posted a pair of top-10’s in eight starts at Martinsville, with a track-best ninth in 2018. It doesn’t get better at ISM Raceway, as he has failed to take the checkered flag in his previous two starts due to brake failure (2017) and engine failure (2018). 

John Harrelson | NKP

4. Matt Crafton +1

Known for a conservative style at the restrictor plate tracks, Matt Crafton survived the chaos to score an eighth-place finish. However a lack of stage points, combined with just three bonus entering the round, have the veteran just barely inside the Championship 4 right now.

Crafton’s performance this season has just been average compared to his past years in the series, with him barely sneaking his way through each round of the playoffs thus far. If he wants to assert himself in the conversation for the championship, a victory would certainly help conversation – and erase any worries over a lone point.

Crafton has won twice at Martinsville, with eight top-10’s in his last 11 starts. He also has 11 top-10’s in 18 races at ISM Raceway, but those haven’t come in his two most recent appearances.

Rusty Jarrett | NKP

5. Tyler Ankrum -1

Tyler Ankrum continue to put together solid numbers, scoring a solid seventh-place finish at Talladega. Now sitting below the cut-line, the rookie is going to need to make a big splash in the next two weeks if he wants to stay in the hunt.

He has finished 18th and 19th in his previous two appearances at Martinsville, and placed sixth in his first and only trip to ISM Raceway.

Nigel Kinrade | NKP

6. Ross Chastain -2

Ross Chastain was the lone playoff driver to not finish within the top-10, wounding up 22nd after being involved in an incident. He is used to having his back up against the all, fighting the odds to secure a spot in the playoffs despite starting off behind in points compared to his fellow drivers. It would shock nobody to see him score his fourth win of 2019 to get into the Championship 4.

He has finished in the top-10 in his last two starts at Martinsville, including a track-best fourth in April. The good vibes continue to ISM Raceway, as despite running into ignition issues in his first trip to the desert in 2012, he came back a year later to finish second after winning the pole.

All Images Courtesy of Nigel Kinrade Photography

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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PREVIEW: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 12

Following the craziness at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, four drivers saw their hopes at winning a championship this year end as they were eliminated from the playoffs. Now 12 competitors remain entering the second round, with another four set to see their dreams extinguished in three races.

As we get set for this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event at Dover International Speedway, here is a preview ahead of the Round of 12.

Matthew T. Thacker | NKP

1. Kyle Busch +41

Virtue of four victories, 11 stage wins, and the regular season championship, Kyle Busch enters Dover with a healthy advantage. But he does not have any momentum on his side with just a single top-15 finish – second at Richmond Raceway – in the first round. That said, as long as he is solid through the next three weeks, he should easily move forward in the post-season.

Dover International Speedway – In 29 starts, he has won three races with 18 top-10 finishes. Most recently, he has a win and three top-10’s in his last three appearances.

Talladega Superspeedway – In 28 starts, he has just six top-five and eight top-10 finishes, including a single victory. Most recently, though, he has a best finish of 10th in his last four appearances.

Kansas Speedway – In 23 starts, he has 10 top-10 finishes, including a victory in 2016. He has posted eight top-10 finishes in his last nine appearances, including six top-five’s.

Nigel Kinrade | NKP

2. Martin Truex Jr. +36

Right now, Martin Truex Jr. enters the second round as the championship favorite after winning at both Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Richmond, before placing seventh at the ROVAL. Just like Busch, he only needs solid finishes to continue through the next round of the playoffs.

Dover International Speedway – In 27 races, he has scored three wins and 15 top-10 finishes, including a trip to victory lane in May.

Talladega Superspeedway – In 29 races, he has only two top-five’s and eight top-10 finishes. Most notably, he has not posted a top-10 in his last seven appearances.

Kansas Speedway – In 22 races, he has scored a pair of victories and eight top-five finishes. Most recently, he has two wins and four top-five’s in his last five appearances.

Nigel Kinrade | NKP

3. Denny Hamlin +25

Despite a rocky three races with two finishes outside of the top-14, Denny Hamlin made his way into the second round of the playoffs. You can thank four wins and three stage victories for the bonus points to help out, but he will need to be stronger this time around if he wants to move forward.

Dover International Speedway – In 27 starts, he has four top-five’s and 11 top-10 finishes. Most recently, he has five top-10 finishes in his last seven appearances.

Talladega Superspeedway – In 27 starts, he has 10 top-10 finishes, including a victory in 2014. Most recently, he has three top-10 finishes in his last six appearances.

Kansas Speedway – In 22 starts, he has seven top-10 finishes, including a victory in 2012. Most recently, he has a pair of fifths and a pair of finishes outside of the top-12 in his last four appearances. 

Krysten Harrelson | NKP

4. Joey Logano +24

Three solid top-11 finishes allowed Joey Logano to move onto the second round of the playoffs, and the same consistency will be needed once again if he has any plans on defending the championship this year.

Dover International Speedway – In 21 starts, he has scored 12 top-10 finishes, with just four top-five’s. Most recently, he has finished third and seventh in his latest appearances.

Talladega Superspeedway – In 23 starts, he has three wins and 10 top-10 finishes. Most recently, he has finished in the top-five in his last four appearances, including a victory last year.

Kansas Speedway – In 20 starts, he has two wins and eight top-10 finishes. Most recently, he has two top-10’s in his last three appearances.

Rusty Jarrett | NKP

5. Kevin Harvick +23

A pair of top-five’s with no finishes worse than seventh in the first three races of the playoffs give Kevin Harvick some momentum heading into the second round. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver just now needs to keep things rolling through the next three weeks.

Dover International Speedway – In 37 starts, he has two wins and 18 top-10 finishes. Most recently, he has finished in the top-six in his last three appearances, including a victory last season.

Talladega Superspeedway – In 37 starts, he has scored 15 top-10 finishes, including a victory in 2010. Most recently, he has posted just one top-five in his last five appearances.

Kansas Speedway – In 27 starts, he has scored three wins and 14 top-10 finishes. Most recently, he has two wins, and five top-eight finishes in his last seven appearances.

Matthew T. Thacker | NKP

6. Chase Elliott +19

It appears Chase Elliott has made a statement in the playoffs, after coming back from a late-race mistake on a restart to win at the ROVAL in a dominating performance. Combined with a fourth at Las Vegas and recent success at the next three tracks, a lot of people have their eyes on the No. 9 being the strongest this round. 

Dover International Speedway – In seven starts, he has six top-five finishes, including winning the playoff October event last year.

Talladega Superspeedway – In seven starts, he has scored three top-five finishes, including a victory in April.

Kansas Speedway – In seven starts, he has scored three top-five finishes, including a victory last fall. 

Matthew T. Thacker | NKP

7. Brad Keselowski +19

Brad Keselowski was one of the most impressive drivers in the first round, scoring three top-five finishes. Currently flying under the radar following the performances from others, he could easily continue sneaking his way forward through consistency.

Dover International Speedway – In 19 starts, he has scored eight top-10 finishes, including a victory in 2012. Most recently, he has just two top-10 finishes in his last five appearances.

Talladega Superspeedway – In 21 starts, he has scored five victories and 11 top-10 finishes. Since winning in 2017, though, he has failed to post a top-10 finish in his last three appearances.

Kansas Speedway – In 19 starts, he has scored a pair of victories and 10 top-10’s. By the way, the most recent of those wins was May of this very year.

Matthew T. Thacker | NKP

8. Kyle Larson +1

It did not take a heroic performance like last season at the ROVAL, but Kyle Larson has once again made it to second round of the playoffs. Now he needs to not repeat the misfortunes of last year, and put together a solid string of races if he wants to move forward in 2019.

Dover International Speedway – In 11 starts, he has scored five top-five’s and eight top-10 finishes. Most recently, he finished third in May.

Talladega Superspeedway – In 11 starts, he has posted just two top-10 finishes, with the most recent being sixth in 2016.

Kansas Speedway – In 11 starts, he has scored three top-five’s and five top-10 finishes. Notably, he has scored a top-eight finish in his last three appearances.

Rusty Jarrett | NKP

9. Alex Bowman -1

Alex Bowman may not have made any friends through the first round, but he can still say that his playoff hopes are alive unlike others. Now he needs to hope those foes do not succeed in taking revenge, while continuing the performances like his runner-up at the ROVAL if he wants to move forward.

Dover International Speedway – In seven starts, he has posted just one top-five at Dover – a runner-up in May.

Talladega Superspeedway – In eight starts, he has posted two top-10’s, including a runner-up in May.

Kansas Speedway – In eight starts, he has posted three top-10’s, including a runner-up in May.

Nigel Kinrade | NKP

10. Ryan Blaney -2

Although Ryan Blaney posted a pair of top-10’s in the first round, a repeat of his 17th-place finish at Richmond Raceway would certainly not be warranted at this time if he wants to move forward.

Dover International Speedway – In seven starts, he has posted just two top-10 finishes, with the latest coming in the form of an eighth last season.

Talladega Superspeedway – In 10 starts, he has posted just two top-10 finishes, with the latest being ninth in 2016.

Kansas Speedway – In nine starts, he has posted three top-five’s and five top-10 finishes. Most recently, he just one top-10 (seventh) in his last three appearances.

Nigel Kinrade | NKP

11. William Byron -5

William Byron showed potential in the first round virtue of finishing seventh at Las Vegas and sixth at the ROVAL. However, the inconsistency that has led to just 11 top-10’s in 29 races this season needs to leave if he wants to become part of the championship conversation.

Dover International Speedway – In three starts, he has posted just one top-10 finish – eighth in May.

Talladega Superspeedway – In three starts, he has posted a best finish of 20th last October.

Kansas Speedway – In three starts, he has posted a best finish of 20th in May.

Nigel Kinrade | NKP

12. Clint Bowyer -6

After starting the playoffs on a sour note, Clint Bowyer kept his championship hopes alive with back-to-back top-eight finishes in the two races that followed. Now he needs to continue the momentum into the second round if he wants to move forward.

Dover International Speedway – In 27 starts, he has posted three top-five’s and 15 top-10 finishes. Most recently, he has posted a top-10 in his three of his last four appearances, including a runner-up last year.

Talladega Superspeedway – In 27 starts, he has posted 13 top-10 finishes, including a pair of victories. Most recently, he just one top-10 in his last six appearances.

Kansas Speedway – In 22 starts, he has posted three top-five’s and seven top-10 finishes. Most recently, he just one top-10 – fifth in May – in his last four appearances. 

All Images Courtesy of Nigel Kinrade Photography

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Nigel Kinrade Photography

GALLERY: NASCAR Xfinity Playoff Picture Entering Dover

The first two races in the opening round of the NASCAR Xfinity Series have brought excitement, with close racing throughout the field. Though entering Dover International Speedway this weekend, there is still a lot of points on the line.

Here is the playoff picture as we enter the weekend.

Matthew T. Thacker | NKP

1. Christopher Bell – Locked In

Virtue of picking up the win at Richmond Raceway, Christopher Bell locked himself into the Round of 8 without having to worry at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL or Dover. That’s a good thing, as he tangled with Chase Briscoe in the late stages last weekend.

He could very well give himself some more playoff points (one per stage win, five with a race win) as he has won the previous two Xfinity Series races at Dover.

Matthew T. Thacker | NKP

2. Cole Custer – +71 (Locked In)

Virtue of his playoff points and kicking off the playoffs with a third and eighth, Cole Custer has mathematically locked himself into the second round of the post-season.

He could add some additional playoff points, as he has scored three top-five’s in five appearances at Dover, including a runner-up last fall.

John Harrelson | NKP

3. Tyler Reddick +52

With the winner possibly able to secure 60 points on any given race day, Tyler Reddick has yet to lock himself mathematically into the next round. However, it would take a lot to remove him from the playoffs as he’d need the worse day you can have, combined with the best day for one of those on the outside looking in. He also enters this weekend with momentum, having scored a top-10 in the last three races, including a runner-up last Saturday.

In four starts at Dover, he has scored a pair of top-five’s, including a third-place finish in May.

Matthew T. Thacker | NKP

4. Austin Cindric +50

Cindric enters this weekend in the same situation as Reddick, courtesy of a second and third in the first two events of the playoffs. Other than Bell, you could argue that Cindric is right now the hottest driver in the series statistical wise.

He has been solid at Dover, with three top-10’s in three appearances, including a track-best sixth in May.

Nigel Kinrade | NKP

5. Justin Allgaier +40

The solid consistency that we’ve come to see out of Justin Allgaier is paying off as a pair of fourths in the first two races of the playoffs give him a comfortable cushion entering this weekend. Notably, he has finished in the top-five in the last four events on the schedule.

In 17 appearances at Dover, he has scored 10 top-10 finishes, including a victory. But more notably, he has scored a podium finish in his last four starts, including the aforementioned win in 2018. 

Matthew T. Thacker | NKP

6. Chase Briscoe +35

Despite having the run-in on-track with Bell at the ROVAL, Chase Briscoe has started off the playoffs solidly with a fifth and ninth. As long as he puts together a solid top-10 day at Dover, he should be fine to move to the next round.

He has finished 19th and fifth in his pair of appearances at Dover.

Matthew T. Thacker | NKP

7. Noah Gragson +26

With finishes of seventh and fifth in the first two races of the playoffs, Noah Gragson just needs another top-10 and he should solidly move to the next round of the playoffs.

He has finished seventh and 19th in his pair of appearances at Dover.

Matthew T. Thacker | NKP

8. Michael Annett +11

After showing a lot of promise through the summer months, Michael Annett finds himself right on the edge entering Dover following a 15th-place finish this past weekend at the ROVAL. The JR Motorsports driver has posted 16 top-10’s in 28 races this season, but will need to be on his A-game this weekend.

In 15 starts at Dover, he has only posted a pair of top-10 finishes – including a 10th in May.

John Harrelson | NKP

9. Brandon Jones -11

With Dover appearing to not be the strongest track for Annett, this could be the perfect time for Brandon Jones to capitalize and get himself into the next round of the playoffs. A solid run on Saturday would be perfect redemption after finishes of 11th and 16th to start the post-season.

After failing to post a top-10 in his first four appearances at Dover, he has done so in the last three events – including a track-best sixth last fall. 

Rusty Jarrett | NKP

10. John Hunter Nemechek -11

After finishing 15th at Richmond, it certainly put John Hunter Nemechek in a hole to start the playoffs, and a seventh at the ROVAL did not do much to help his cause. He will need to find the speed that delivered four top-five finishes this season if he wants to move forward to the next round.

After finishing 14th in his first appearance at Dover, he has finished eighth and ninth in the races since.

Matthew T. Thacker | NKP

11. Ryan Sieg -37

It’s technically not a must-win situation, but it certainly is not an easy amount of points to make-up as Ryan Sieg will need to hope his fellow competitors have issues following a 30th-place finish at the ROVAL. That said, a victory would solve all of his problems – and be one of the biggest upsets in the series, given the size of RSS Green Light Racing.

He has yet to post a top-10 finish at Dover despite running 11 races there, posting a track-best 11th in May. 

Nigel Kinrade | NKP

12. Justin Haley -39

Haley enters this weekend in the same situation as Sieg following a 31st-place finish at the ROVAL. Although he has yet to win a race this season, Kaulig Racing has proven capable of doing so as A.J. Allmendinger scored the team’s second victory of 2019 on Saturday.

Haley finished 17th in his lone appearance at Dover.

All Images Courtesy of Nigel Kinrade Photography

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Nigel Kinrade Photography

PREVIEW: NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series Round of 6

Johnny Sauter and Grant Enfinger unfortunately saw their chances at the 2019 NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series Championship end, leaving six drivers fighting for the title with four races remaining.

Spread across a couple of weeks, the next three events on the schedule will set the stage for the final event of the season, the Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Four of the six drivers currently in the playoffs will get to battle for the championship then, while two others will be left dreaming about their chance in 2020.

So who will move forward and who will get left behind? Let’s take a glance through the field.

John Harrelson | NKP

1. Brett Moffitt +30

Virtue of four victories and four stage wins, Brett Moffitt enters this round with a considerable advantage ahead of the rest of the contenders. As long as he can avoid trouble through the round and be consistently a top-five contender, he should be a lock for the Championship 4.  

The challenge is easily accepted by the defending series champion as he has finished the last four races in the top-seven, including a pair of victories in the first round of the playoffs. 

Talladega Superspeedway – He finished 17th in his lone truck series start on the 2.66-mile oval, and crashed out of the truck series opener at Daytona International Speedway.

Martinsville Speedway – He has scored three top-five’s in four starts with no finishes worse than sixth.

ISM Raceway – He won in his lone start at the Arizona oval.

Russell Labounty | NKP

2. Austin Hill +6

Austin Hill enters the second round of the playoffs with momentum on his side, as he has finished inside the top-10 in the last four series events, including a pair of victories. If there is any driver that has shown they can run right with Moffitt, it’d be the team that won the title last year with him.

Talladega – He has finished 22nd and 10th in his pair of starts at the superspeedway

Martinsville – He has only posted a pair of top-10’s in eight starts, with a track-best ninth in 2018.

ISM Raceway – He has failed to finish in his previous two starts in the desert due to brake failure (2017) and engine failure (2018). 

John Harrelson | NKP

3. Ross Chastain +5

After putting together a string of wins to get himself qualified for the playoffs, Ross Chastain has been solid thus far with a pair of top-five’s and an eighth in the last three series events. Despite not winning an event, he led more than 50 laps at Bristol Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Talladega – In three starts at the superspeedway, he has just one top-five – finishing third in 2013. But recall he placed third in the season opener at Daytona.

Martinsville – He has finished in the top-10 in his last two starts at the paperclip, including a track-best fourth in April.

ISM Raceway – Although running into ignition issues in his first trip to the desert in 2012, he came back a year later to finish second after winning the pole.

Russell Labounty | NKP

4. Stewart Frisen +3

After winning at Eldora Speedway to secure his spot in the playoffs, Stewart Friesen finished the next three races in the top-10, but posted a 19th-place finish in the series’ most recent event in Las Vegas. It seems to be the story of the Canadian’s season as he has been fast and put himself in position to win races, but cannot find consistency with his results.

Talladega – He has finished 17th and sixth in his pair of starts at the superspeedway

Martinsville – He put together a track-best performance in April, finishing fifth after winning the pole.

ISM Raceway – After finishing 18th in his first trip to the desert, he has finished sixth and fifth in the races since.

Russell Labounty | NKP

5. Matt Crafton -3

Consistency has been the name of the game for Matt Crafton this season, in a year that hasn’t certainly met the expectations that ThorSport Racing had. Surprisingly, the past series champion has yet to visit victory lane this season. He also enters this round without any momentum as he blew up in the series’ most recent event in Las Vegas. Before then, he had posted four top-10’s in the previous five races.

Talladega – In 13 races at the superspeedway, Crafton has only posted four top-10 finishes.

Martinsville – Crafton has won twice at the paperclip, with eight top-10’s in his most recent 11 starts.

ISM Raceway – Crafton has 11 top-10’s in 18 starts, but those haven’t come in his two most recent appearances.

Rusty Jarrett | NKP

6. Tyler Ankrum -3

The rookie has shown potential thus far this season, but seeing him move forward may prove to be a tall task. After all, he has just two top-10 finishes in the last five races.

Talladega – He has yet to run a truck series event at the superspeedway, and was not old enough to run the season opener at Daytona.

Martinsville – He has finished 18th and 19th in his previous two appearances.

ISM Raceway – He placed sixth in his first and only trip to the desert.

All Images Courtesy of Nigel Kinrade Photography

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Nigel Kinrade Photography

GALLERY: NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series Playoff Picture Leaving Bristol

The first race of the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series playoffs for 2019 is in the books, and it came and gone in dramatic fashion. Tempers flared between drivers, as contact was shared with the defending champion ultimately punching his ticket into the next round.

Now heading north of the border, here is where the drivers sit with two races remaining in round one.

Matthew T. Thacker | NKP

1. Brett Moffitt – Locked In

Brett Moffitt is going to have an easy ride into the next two weeks, as he has punched into his ticket virtue of winning Saturday night’s UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway. The defending champion also has momentum on his side, winning three of the last seven series races. 

John Harrelson | NKP

2. Ross Chastain (+25)

Ross Chastain may have gotten back to third by the checkered flag at Bristol, but he did not make any friends in the process. He ran up front until a pit road penalty dropped him back in the field, and then made his way back up to the top-five virtue of his using his front bumper. His aggressive nature has created discussion, and may be something to either help or bite him moving forward.

He finished seventh in his lone start at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, and has two top-10’s in four races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. 

Matthew T. Thacker | NKP

3. Stewart Friesen (+17)

Stewart Friesen certainly had to pull up the gloves and work hard on Thursday night at Bristol. He was running solidly in the top-10 until contact with Matt Crafton sent him around spinning. He was able to rebound, ultimately finishing fourth. He also managed to talk out his differences with his fellow competitor post-race.

He finished seventh in his lone trip to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, and has led laps at Las Vegas Motor Speedway en route to a pair of top-five’s in his last three trips.

Rusty Jarrett | NKP

4. Grant Enfinger (+13)

Grant Enfinger started off the night struggling at Bristol, running just outside of the top-10 through the beginning. However, his ThorSport Racing crew kept working on the track, and he avoided the chaos in the late stages to finish fifth with some pit strategy.

He has a best finish of 13th in his two trips to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, but has finished no worse than 12th in six races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Oh, and he used a win in last year’s event to make it into the second round of the playoffs.

Nigel Kinrade | NKP

5. Matt Crafton (+13)

Despite qualifying 11th, Matt Crafton was able to keep the No. 88 Ford F150 in the top-10 all night long at Bristol, finishing seventh.

He has five top-10’s at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in six starts, with the 25th-place finish happening as a result of a engine failure in 2017. On the flip side, he has 12 top-10’s in 20 races at Las Vegas, including a pair of top-five’s in the last two. 

Matthew T. Thacker | NKP

6. Johnny Sauter (+3)

Johnny Sauter played tag with a couple different drivers throughout the event, sustaining damage en route to an 11th-place finish. Oddly, it marks his third consecutive result outside of the top-10, with just two top-10 finishes in the last 10 races.

He has finished in the top-10 in his last five races at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, as well as his last five events in Las Vegas. Notably, that stretch has included a pair of runner-ups in the city that never sleeps.

Jasen Vinlove | NKP

7. Austin Hill (-3)

Austin Hill managed to escape the contact that plagued his fellow competitors, but also wasn’t able to do anything spectacular en route to finishing 10th. It seems the No. 16 is hitting it’s stride at the right time still, though, as he posted three finishes worse than 30th before winning at Michigan International Speedway and his top-10 at Bristol on Thursday night.

He finished eighth in his lone trip to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, and has just one top-10 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in three previous starts.

Nigel Kinrade | NKP

8. Tyler Ankrum (-13)

While his competitors battled each other, Tyler Ankrum was unable to join in the fun as motor issues took him out of contention with a 20th-place finish. It marks the second consecutive finish of 20th or worse for the 2019 Sunoco Rookie of the Year.

He has yet to run a race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, though finished seventh in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East event at Watkin’s Glen International last season. He has also yet to run a truck series event at Las Vegas, either.

All Photos Courtesy of Nigel Kinrade Photography

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Nigel Kinrade Photography Trucks

Through the Eyes of NKP: 2018 NCWTS Champion Brett Moffitt

With six victories and 13 top-five’s, Brett Moffitt put together a stellar season en route to being crowned the 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion.

With the help of Nigel Kinrade Photography (NKP), led by veteran photographer, Nigel Kinrade, lets take a look back at the season that was for the Hattori Racing Enterprises driver.

Matthew T. Thacker | Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway
Barry Cantrell | Lucas Oil 150 at ISM Raceway
Nigel Kinrade | Active Pest Control 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway
Rusty Jarrett | Corrigan Oil 200 at Michigan International Speedway
Nigel Kinrade | JAG Metals 350 at Texas Motor Speedway
Nigel Kinrade | Overton’s 225 at Chicagoland Speedway
Nigel Kinrade | Fr8Auctions.com 250 at Talladega Superspeedway
Russell Labounty | M&M’s 200 at Iowa Speedway
Nigel Kinrade | World of Westgate 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
John Harrelson | Texas Roadhouse 200 at Martinsville Speedway 

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Nigel Kinrade Photography XFINITY

Through the Eyes of NKP: 2018 NXS Champion Tyler Reddick

With two victories and seven top-five’s, Tyler Reddick put together a stellar season en route to being crowned the 2018 NASCAR XFINITY Series Champion.

With the help of Nigel Kinrade Photography (NKP), led by veteran photographer, Nigel Kinrade, lets take a look back at the season that was for the JR Motorsports driver.

Barry Cantrell | Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway
Russell Labounty | O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway
Nigel Kinrade | Drive for the Cure 200 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL 
Logan Whitton | Rosanne 300 at Auto Club Speedway
Nigel Kinrade | Alsco 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Barry Cantrell | Whelen Trusted to Perform 200 at ISM Raceway 
Russell LaBounty | PowerShares QQQ 300 at Daytona International Speedway
Matthew T. Thacker | Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway
Nigel Kinrade | Johnsonville 180 at Road America
John Harrelson | Bar Harbor 200 at Dover International Speedway

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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NASCAR Cup Series Nigel Kinrade Photography

Through the Eyes of NKP: 2018 MENCS Champion Joey Logano

With three victories and 13 top-five’s, Joey Logano put together a stellar season en route to being crowned the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion.

With the help of Nigel Kinrade Photography (NKP), led by veteran photographer, Nigel Kinrade, lets take a look back at the season that was for the Team Penske driver.

Nigel Kinrade | Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway
John Harrelson | First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway
Rusty Jarrett | Ticket Guardian 500 at ISM Raceway
Nigel Kinrade | GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway
Matthew T. Thacker | Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Russell Labounty | Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway
Nigel Kinrade | 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway
Matthew T. Thacker | Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway
Nigel Kinrade | Gander Outdoors 500 at Talladega Superspeedway
Matthew T. Thacker | Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Nigel Kinrade Photography

GALLERY: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4

It may have taken us nine playoff races to get to this point, but the cream has risen to the top once again as the best four competitors all season long will battle for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

JOHN HARRELSON | NKP

Joey Logano

Season Statistics: Two races wins, five stage wins, 12 top-five’s, 25 top-10’s

Joey Logano may have wrecked out at ISM Raceway, but that’s okay as his victory at Martinsville Speedway gave him a ticket to the Championship 4. Despite hitting a snag in the momentum, he has posted eight top-14 finishes in the last nine races. But the concern for him as whether the line of drivers who are upset with him – Martin Truex Jr. and Aric Almirola – will take action on their feelings at Homestead, especially Almirola who is out of contention.

He has a pair of fourths and a sixth in his last three starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

RUSSELL LABOUNTY | NKP

Kyle Busch

Season Statistics: 8 race wins, 6 stage wins, 21 top-five’s, 27 top-10’s

Kyle Busch did not have the day he wanted in Texas Motor Speedway, having a loose wheel along with a pit road penalty, but that’s in the rear view now following a victory at ISM Raceway. 

He has finished in the top-six in his last three appearances at Homestead, including a victory in 2015 en route to being crowned the series champion.

MATTHEW T. THACKER | NKP

Kevin Harvick

Season Statistics: 8 race wins, 18 stage wins, 22 top-five’s, 28 top-10’s

With seven wins during the regular season, Kevin Harvick had a healthy cushion entering this round. He used that to his advantage, along with a 10th (Martinsville) and fifth (ISM) when he was stripped of his automatic playoff lock and 40 points due to an illegal spoiler at Texas Motor Speedway. There may be some concern with crew chief Rodney Childers suspended, but Tony Gibson seems to have everything in control.

He has finished in the top-10 in his last 10 races at Homestead-Miami Speedway, including a victory in 2014 en route to being crowned the series champion.

RUSSELL LABOUNTY | NKP

Martin Truex Jr.

Season Statistics: Four race wins, 10 stage wins, 19 top-five’s, 20 top-10’s

Although there may be concerns about Martin Truex Jr.‘s performance due to a lack-luster post-season, he was able to use his 38 playoff points and mostly solid top-10 finishes (he placed 14th at ISM) to enable him to be apart of the Championship 4. That said, he has shown potential via vying for wins both the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL and Martinsville until he was wrecked on the last lap.  There is extra motivation with Furniture Row Racing closing doors at season’s end, along with him telling Logano at Martinsville, “He may have won the race, but he ain’t winning the damn war.”

After three straight races with finishes outside the top-10 at Homestead, Truex won the Ford EcoBoost 400 last year to secure the 2017 series championship. 

All Photos Courtesy of Nigel Kinrade Photography

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.