When the checkered flag flies at the end of Thursday’s Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway, it will mark the beginning of the playoffs. However, the regular season isn’t over yet, with a lot of drivers still having a lot to fight for.
Sauter currently owns a 56-point advantage over Noah Gragson, meaning he is your 2018 regular season champion. That will translate into an additional 15 playoff points, boasting another department where the veteran already leads.
Nonetheless, a victory, or at the very least a stage win would be still significant for the No. 23 team as it would give them even more of an edge.
As noted above, Gragson cannot take the points lead from Sauter. So with one championship out of the picture, and only one win and 12 playoff points,increasing those numbers would help his chances at a different title.
Hot off a win, a repeat performance could allow him to enter the playoffs with the most playoff points. Other than that, Moffitt sits pretty heading into this week.
Haley and Rhodes are both locked in virtue of wins and have nothing to lose. For the two young drivers, Thursday should be all about winning stages and the race.
Both own a significant points advantage over Matt Crafton and zero wins. While Friesen (+39 over Crafton) doesn’t hold quite the safety net Enfinger does (+53), it would still take a lot to put him in any danger of missing the post-season. Their biggest concern should be getting their first win of 2018.
Out of the top-eight drivers, Crafton is in the most danger. Fortunately for the two-time champion, no one outside the cutoff can pass him in points. The only thing that would kick him out would be a new winner (excluding Friesen and Enfinger).
Also worth noting, the 42-year-old has never won a race at Bristol.
So, who could knock out Crafton? The obvious would be Todd Gilliland.
While Gilliland has yet to be victorious, he drives for one of the best teams in the sport, Kyle Busch Motorsports. His team has also been heading in the right direction, with four finishes of seventh or better in the last six races.
His last visit to the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile” also resulted in a K&N Pro Series East win earlier this year.
A look into Bristol history shows that last first-time winner came in 2016 when Ben Kennedy won with GMS Racing, a team that has been one of the best this season. An organization that also has two drivers, Cody Coughlin and Dalton Sargeant, looking for their first wins.
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