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Trucks

Playoff Picture – Camping World Truck Series

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.

Johnny Sauter

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.

Noah Gragson

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.

Brett Moffitt 

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.

Justin Haley, Ben Rhodes

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.

Grant Enfinger, Stewart Friesen

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. 

Matt Crafton

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.

Spoilers

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.

Other possibilities?

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.

EMAIL MITCHELL AT mitchell.breuer@popularspeed.com

TWITTER: @MitchellB66

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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Trucks

ASHLEY ASKS….. Cody Coughlin

In the first four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races, Cody Coughlin has shown speed, highlighted by an eighth-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Ahead of the JEGS 200 at Dover International Speedway, the GMS Racing driver shared his thoughts with POPULAR SPEED.

PS: What are your thoughts going into Dover?

CODY: Well I’m really excited. For one, I like Dover, but the other, our company JEGS is sponsoring the event so that’s pretty exciting stuff to have the JEGS truck out there for the JEGS race. Hopefully we can do well. It’d certainly be – I don’t know much more storybook it’d be to win your first event in your sponsor’s race. So I’m excited to go there.

PS: What is the biggest challenge of Dover?

CODY: Dover has a lot of characteristics of different types of race tracks all put into a single track. It has the speed of a mile and a half, and the aerodynamics of a track like that, but the shortness of a short track and brings in your agility and maneuverability. It’s also physical demanding with how much load goes into your body. There’s a lot of challenges that go into it, so that’s why it’s such a prestige race.

PS: How would you characterize your season so far?

CODY: Well, I would say our season is going pretty well. We’ve had a lot of speed. At Las Vegas, we were in the top-three trucks I would say and had a problem on pit road, and weren’t able to finish there. We have a lot of speed. We just need to keep putting full races together, and eventually if we keep doing that, we’ll be knocking on the top-five and top-threes and get a win.

PS: What’s the biggest thing you learned last year that you feel is helping you in 2018?

CODY: Well, just kind of having a whole year of experience under my belt and knowing what to expect with what the tracks are like, and what the community is like in the garage area, and stuff like that. Also, just confident knowing the vehicles more. Anytime you have more experience, that always helps.

PS: Beyond Dover this weekend, what track are you most excited for?

CODY: Well, my favorite track is Phoenix, so I’m excited to go there. But that’s not until the end of the year so I don’t want to look too forward to it because we have a lot of good things before then. But that’s one that I’m excited to go drive again.

PS: What’s it been like working with your teammates at GMS right now?

CODY: Well, it’s good. Johnny Sauter is a very veteran person, and a nice guy, too, so it’s nice to pick his brain. He’s done a lot in this sport so he has a lot of great insight for us young ones to learn from. So it’s been good, and I look forward to doing that more.

PS: Who is your racing hero?

CODY: Jeff Gordon was my racing hero, and Tony Stewart, and Jimmie Johnson. Those three were the biggest.

PS: So having fun some now with some off-track questions, what would you say is your favorite food?

CODY: I would say Chinese food. That’s my favorite.

PS: Least favorite food?

CODY: Least favorite would be like Indian food.

PS: Favorite TV show?

CODY: Miami Vice.

PS: If you were stuck on an island, what are three things you must have?

CODY: Well, I would say something fast to drive so I can get to the end of the island fast and have some fun, probably a full surface kitchen, and a big house.

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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Trucks

Four Lessons Learned in Four Truck Series Races

Out of the three premiere series, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has the slowest start to the season with just four races in the first three months of the schedule. It can beneficial to some of the smaller teams in allowing them to get organized, but doesn’t favor for creating early momentum. 

That said, those races were some of the most exciting that we’ve seen on-track all season and as the trucks get set to return on May 4 at Dover International Speedway, here are four things we learned from the first four races.

Best Shows in NASCAR

They may be the lowest run of the top three series on the ladder, but let’s face it – most of the time they put on the best shows the sport sees. 

During the Atlanta Motor Speedway race weekend, the Active Pest Control 200 was one of the most competitive events, with trucks spending multiple laps battling for position, even going three-wide at times, throughout the entire field. From challenges for the lead, to three drivers vying for a top-five spot at once, the race had everything mixed into one. Now combine that with a dramatic ending with an overtime finish and the strategy of taking two or four tires equally four-wide jostling for the lead, and you have the perfect package for a race put together.

However, they backed it up with the Alpha Energy Solutions 250 at Martinsville Speedway that produced even more close quarter exciting racing, including a couple attempts at three-wide on the half-mile. 

Everybody talks about the need to shorten races at the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series level, and certainly the trucks put in a good argument for how well that works. With less time to get the job done, you have the drivers up on the wheel more. Combine that with a good aerodynamic package and you have a recipe for success.

Great Competition

Four races are in the books, and four different teams have won with four different drivers. Where do you see that happen? Johnny Sauter won Daytona for GMS Racing, followed by Brett Moffitt at Atlanta for Hattori Racing Enterprises, Kyle Busch at Las Vegas for his own team, and lastly John Hunter Nemechek for the family-backed Nemco Motorsports team at Martinsville. 

This is a trend that could also continue beyond Dover as well, given the talent showcased by the likes of Grant Enfinger, Ben Rhodes, Noah Gragson, and others in the first four races. It just means that the fight for the playoffs could become interesting in only taking eight drivers as what happens if you have nine winners eligible? 

It also proves that budget and size of team isn’t as dependent as other series, with single-truck organizations like Hattori and Nemco being highly successful.

Cody Coughlin Looking for Momentum

While some drivers have had great starts to the season, Coughlin isn’t among those. Making the move to GMS Racing over the off-season after spending 2017 at ThorSport Racing, he only scored one top-10 in the first four races, with a pair of finishes of 20th or worse.

Currently ranked 13th in the standings, that is where he completed last season with three top-10’s total on the year. Given the success of his teammates thus far, it is clear that GMS has the equipment. Now it’s just about seeing if he can get the job done.

Sauter is still King

Surrounded by youth and new faces, everybody wants to talk about the up-and-coming stars that are making their names known. However, the veteran presence of Johnny Sauter still rules the series.

After winning the championship in 2016, he is currently leading the standings with three top-fives in four races. He easily could’ve made it four top-fives if not for battery issues at Martinsville Speedway. 

Expect the success to continue when the series returns at Dover as he won there last year, and has scored a top-10 in each of his last five starts.

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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Trucks

Coughlin Ready For Second Season with New Team

Cody Coughlin will return to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this year, but with a different team. It was announced on Tuesday that he will drive the N. 2 JEGS Chevrolet Silverado for GMS Racing.

“I couldn’t be more excited to join the GMS Racing family,” said Coughlin, “as well as be back running for Chevrolet. GMS is a team that has proven to be one of the teams to beat every time they unload at the race track and now I have the same opportunity. I can’t thank GMS Racing, Maury Gallagher and Mike Beam enough for this chance. I think we have the right tools and personnel in place with the No.2 team to run up front and contend for race wins every weekend.”

The 22-year-old has made 35 starts to date, scoring a career-best third-place finish at ISM Raceway last season. Coughlin spent 2017 at ThorSport Racing for his rookie campaign. 

The sophomore will be partnered with veteran crew chief Jerry Baxter, who enters his second year at GMS Racing. Last year, he led Kaz Grala to victory at Daytona International Speedway for his 10th win atop the pit box, now having 78 top-10’s in 139 races. 

“I’m more than ready to get the 2018 season underway,” said Baxter. “Last year we raced against Cody every weekend, so I have an idea of the type of driver he is. It will be even better to be able to work with him now firsthand. We have a good group of hard-working guys on the No. 2 that will definitely put us in the position to run well every time we’re at the track.”

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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News

Coughlin to Join ThorSport Racing for 2017

ThorSport Racing added to their driver lineup for the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season on Monday, as they announced that Cody Coughlin would drive their No. 13 Toyota Tundra full-time this season.

Coughlin will compete for Rookie of the Year honors as well as the series championship with JEGS and RIDE TV serving as primary sponsors.

Michael Shelton will serve as crew chief for Coughlin this season. Shelton, who has been a crew chief in the Truck Series since 2009, is no stranger to success as he guided James Buescher to the 2012 series championship.

“ThorSport Racing is a great team, one I’ve always admired at the race track,” said Coughlin. “Their professionalism, the speed they display, and their record, speaks for itself. Considering the team and I are both based in Ohio, it makes for a great fit, and I’m proud to be part of this championship-caliber organization.
 
“Matt Crafton and I became good friends last year,” Coughlin continued. “His insight and help with driving these Toyota Tundra’s at all of the different tracks has been a valuable asset, and to be his teammate this year, takes it to the next level.”
Coughlin has made 12 career starts in the NCWTS with a best finish of 12th coming at Texas Motor Speedway in June 2016. He also made history last season as he became the first driver to win both the ACRA/CRA Super Series and JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Championship in the same season.

EMAIL JUSTIN at tuckerjustin65@yahoo.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @JustinTuckerWeb

 

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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Trucks

Coughlin to Sub for Townley in Texas

John Wes Townley suffered a non-racing-related injury to his left ankle and will sit out Friday’s Camping World Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. As a result, Cody Coughlin will drive the No. 05 Zaxby’s Chevrolet Silverado.

“I want to wish John Wes a speedy recovery and hope he’s back at the track soon,” Coughlin said. “I’m honored that Athenian Motorsports thought of me to drive their truck this weekend.”

Coughlin has made nine starts this season in the Camping World Truck Series, with his best finish coming at Texas Motor Speedway in the June race, where he finished 12th for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

The Ohio native is looking to make the most of his opportunity this weekend.

“I like Texas a lot. I had a lot of speed when I ran the truck there this summer,” he said. “I feel like I can really get around that place and Athenian’s trucks are fast. I think that’s going to make for a good weekend for us.”

John Wes Townley missed two races earlier this season with concussion-like symptoms at Kentucky Speedway and Eldora Speedway in July.

The Striping Technology 350 from Texas Motor Speedway is slated to go green at 8:49 p.m. ET and can be seen on Fox Sports 1 and MRN Radio.

Shane Carlson is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist

EMAIL SHANE AT shane.carlson@popularspeed.com
TWITTER: @ShaneCarlson4

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

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Trucks

Coughlin to Lean on Busch for Second Truck Start

@Cody_Coughlin is making yet another stride at furthering his racing career this weekend at Michigan International Speedway.

The 19-year-old driver will be making his second career start in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 54 Toyota Tundra. His debut occured in July at Kentucky Speedway with Venturini Motorsports, though it wasn’t exactly the start he was looking for.

Persistent rain halted on track action for most of the weekend, forcing the Truck Series to race with no practice or qualifying. Coughlin had no previous experience in a truck, leaving him in a tough spot for the race. After rolling off 30th, he battled throughout the evening and managed to notch a 20th place finish.

It wasn’t an ideal situation for a driver who was looking to learn more about the trucks and gain experience for future races.

“It was certainly a tricky situation,” Coughlin told POPULAR SPEED. “We didn’t have practice or qualifying and I had never done a truck race before. You’ve got to set yourself up for high goals, but we did the best that we could and just tried our best and got what we could out of it.

“It was just kind of a shot in the dark with that whole thing because I’m not sure about why the thing was handling this way or if it was chassis related or if it was turbulence or what. There’s a lot of unknowns from that one, so that’s almost like a scratch. I’m looking at this Michigan one as my first start.”

He came away from Kentucky with some knowledge about how the trucks drive with their current aero package. The experience was much needed, but only so much can translate to a two-mile track like Michigan where the racing is tighter and some drafting will be utilized. He’s raced the track before in the ARCA series and is hoping that can translate over to the trucks this weekend.

“We had pretty good speed there in the ARCA car this last race; we just burnt up a fuel pump,” he said. “It was one of those freak things that we didn’t get to finish and didn’t get the result we deserve. I feel like I know what it takes to go fast around there, I think the team obviously knows how to go fast.”

Coughlin has been running a handful of races for Venturini Motorsports in the ARCA Series to gain more experience going forward. He’s proven to be competitive and has put himself in contention to win several times over the last two seasons though luck hasn’t always played out in his favor. The experience has been greatly beneficial to him, and he looks to apply some of the knowledge he’s gained and put it towards the Truck Series.

Many young drivers have more experienced racers that they can seek advice from, but none may have it better than Coughlin. The Joe Gibbs Racing development driver says he will be leaning on @KyleBusch going into the race, who has already been able to give him a tremendous amount of advice.

“Kyle is a very unique person in the sense that, obviously he has unique talent behind the wheel but his memory and his ability to explain things and break it down to someone who doesn’t have much experience, particularly on these big tracks,” Coughlin said. “He can break down an entire corner and an entire race for you so that you can pretty much know what to expect when you get in.

“He can also tell you what the truck needs to feel like for practice, what the race is gonna be like this time of year at Michigan. He’s got so much experience, it’s priceless. It’s a resource that is better than any I’ve ever experienced. I’m not talking about him as a resource, but at the same time he is a very good resource to use and is also a great guy too and a good friend.”

Everything seems to be in line for Coughlin to have a strong run this weekend and grab more experience behind the wheel going forward. He’s set high goals for himself but knows that he needs to be realistic given the experience he has.

“I think, providing I can learn how to do a lot of the drafting and aerodynamic things that it will take to run up front – pass cars at these big speedways with these trucks, as long as I learn that I don’t see why we can’t come away with a really strong finish,” he said. “I won’t put a number on it. Obviously we got there with the intent to win but it’s still pretty much my first or second start, so you have to be realistic about it.”

EMAIL JOEY AT joey.chapman@popularspeed.com

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