OBSERVATIONS: Buckle Up Your Truck 225 at Kentucky Speedway

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is known for their dramatic chaotic competition on a weekly basis, but Thursday night at Kentucky Speedway failed to deliver. With clean air seeming to reign supreme, and a spread out field, the Buckle Up Your Truck 225 was just average.

That said, Eddie Troconis played the perfect strategy for his driver Ben Rhodes. Knowing they were good on the longer run at the end, he chose to go with no tires, just fuel, and an adjustment to get his driver out front. Once the ThorSport Racing driver got the lead, there was no looking back as he cruised to the win. 

From the drop of the first green flag this season, Rhodes has been up front – but mechanical gremlins and wrecks kept taking him out of contention. Now after going three straight weeks with finishes outside of the top-15, he has placed on the podium two weeks in a row highlighted by this hometown victory.

They always say there’s a right time to get momentum, and with only four events remaining before the playoffs, Rhodes has found the secret.

On the flip side, Stewart Frisen had led the entire third stage up until the final round of stops began, where his team elected for tires. That didn’t play out for him as well he was fast initially and closing on Rhodes, he got tighter as the checkered neared and lost ground.

You never want to say that a driver is deserving of their first win more than somebody else, but let’s just use that expression for the No. 52 right now. He came close throughout the final half of 2017 and has led laps in seven events this season with seven top-10’s in 12 races. When it comes to the next intermediate track, do not let him slip under your nose as Frisen may be celebrating in victory lane. Possibly sooner, as we are heading to where he’s most comfortable on dirt next Wednesday at Eldora Raceway.

Speaking of Eldora, Matt Crafton scored the victory last year – and like his ThorSport Racing teammate, he got a good kick in the butt with at third-place finish on Thursday night. While he is a multi-series champion, the switch to Ford hasn’t treated him well as this was only his fifth top-10 of 2018. You can never count the veteran out, but finding consistency through the summer is necessary.

Like the past several weeks, Noah Gragson has been fast – but yet once again came up short on victory. This time after winning the second stage, an extended pit stop for a wheel spacer set him back deep in the field and he only rebounded to eighth. Nice way to overcome a difficult night, but continuing to come up short is well, not championship material. An argument in his situation could easily be made longer here, but we’ve done that several times this year so please just refer to previous observation editions for further notice.

When you look at mistakes, it was also strange to see Johnny Sauter make two back-to-back on the final pit stop.

Ah yes, we’re getting to the time of the season where the discussion begins to solely focus on the championship.

Four races remaining, and you have five drivers locked in – Sauter, Brett Moffitt, Justin Haley, Rhodes, and Gragson. As of right now, that leaves three drivers to get in on points. With Frisen, Grant Enfinger and Crafton having a gap of 79 points on Myatt Snider, it’s going to take a lot for someone to change the situation based on points. 

However, we do know that situation can change in a split second as the manta goes win and you’re in, meaning if any other competitor wins a race – like Cody Coughlin, Dalton Sargeant, or Todd Gilliland – and we’d certainly have a battle on our hands for the last position. With wild cards such as Eldora on Wednesday, and Canadian Tire Motorsports Park still in play, who knows what could happen.



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By Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.