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Trucks

Through the Eyes of NKP: 2019 NGOTS Champion Matt Crafton

With seven top-five’s and surprisingly no trips to victory lane, Matt Crafton put together a stellar season en route to being crowned the 2018 NASCAR Gander Outdoor 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 ThorSport Racing driver.

Lucas Oil 150 at ISM Raceway | Nigel Kinrade

 

North Carolina Education Lottery 200 | Rusty Jarrett

 

North Carolina Education Lottery 200 | Matthew T. Thacker

 

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Awards | Nigel Kinrade

 

Chevrolet Silverado 250 | Logan Whitton

 

UNOH 200 | Nigel Kinrade

 

NASCAR Hall of Fame 200 | John Harrelson

 

Ford EcoBoost 200 | Rusty Jarrett

 

Sugarlands Shine 250 | Rusty Jarrett

 

World of Westgate 200 | Rusty Labounty

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

“They Said What?” NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Edition

Sometimes when you stick a microphone in front of a driver’s face, you have no clue what they may say and a couple of times you’ll hear something that surprises you or gives you a bit of a perspective.

Throughout the 2019 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series season, I had the opportunity to speak to a bunch of different competitors. During those interviews, there were some quotes that stood out. So it seems only fitting we take a glance back through the year at what was said.

MATTHEW T. THACKER | NKP

For me, it was just the air. The first five laps of the race I struggled a little bit because I was just so taken away of how aggressive the air is, and how much it affects the truck. We tried to get behind some trucks in practice at Texas, but it just seemed no one wanted to be around each other like they did at Vegas or Atlanta. It just kind of seemed like everyone was trying to figure out their own package before qualifying and the race.

That, and how aggressive everyone drove – or how assertive how everyone drove. There were a few really aggressive drivers out there who would not get off your door. They would just drive on your door every corner, and you get pissed off around them as it’s not that respectful. There’s this gentleman’s code amongst drivers if it is 10 to go, I understand why you got down on my door and got me loose, or got me sideways. But when it’s Lap 15 or 50 or even 100, when there’s still a good distance to go, it gets frustrating.

There’s a lot of respectful drivers out there, but I just couldn’t believe what you could do to manipulate someone else’s truck without even touching them. You get a foot on either corner of the truck, and you can affect them somehow. You almost have out to outthink them. On the short tracks, you can outdrive them, but looking up front, you’re just manipulating the air and you mirror drive a lot. Even at Texas, you’re mirror driving a lot; you block and you get drafts off other trucks, and it’s a whole different style of racing than I’m used to.

Tyler Ankrum on biggest surprise in his first intermediate start

RUSTY JARRETT | NKP

I think there’s so much that I could’ve done differently. I started racing full-time when I was 19-years-old, so it’s kind of interesting to think back when you’re 25. I think like anyone whose 25 and looks back at their life when they were 19, they would do a couple things different. I think there are things that I could’ve done a little better, probably listen more and talk a little less, and maybe worked a little harder and done a bit better job here and there. I think it would’ve made a difference, but ultimately, everything happens for a reason.

I feel like all the decisions led me to where I am today – good, bad, and different – and whatever is next is going to come as a result of hard work. That’s something that I knew always was that my work ethic was always there, right or wrong. I just want to continue working hard and learn from my mistakes, and build on the things that I did right. That’s all you can do as a person, and I think it’s a really exciting time for me.

Anytime you have a big change in your life, it leads you wondering what’s next. It can be a little scary, but it also can be very exciting if you accept the challenge, and I think that I have the right system around me with mom, dad, and my girlfriend that have gave me a lot of support through it all and excitement for the future.

Ryan Reed 

NIGEL KINRADE | NKP

Dover has gotten a lot rougher over the years, so every time I go there, I try to focus on the bumps in turn three and four and getting through those bumps good. I also focus on carrying a lot of speed through the corner. Dover, to me, is all about how much throttle you can carry through the corner and not get tight. We call it the 5/8th mark of the corner, but as you get right in the middle and start to get off on exit, the car or truck starts to get tight in that spot, and I think the key is going to be being able to hold throttle through that part of the corner so you can carry a lot of speed.

Obviously, in the trucks, momentum is really important – even at Dover. When I’ve been there in the past in an Xfinity car, you’re not out of the gas very long; it’s just such a fast mile track and high-banked. One, it’s a lot of fun. It’s one of my favorite tracks that we go to, but it’s about making sure you can carry a lot of throttle through the corner and get through the bumps in turn three good and you can wrap the bottom of the corner to get off of it.

But I think we have a good game plan going into Dover. We’ve got a truck that we’ve been working on. It’s going to be a new truck for us, so I’m just excited to see the stuff that we’ve been working on and see if it pays off for us and see if we have a little bit more speed and see what we got.

Brennan Poole

VENTURINI MOTORSPORTS

They don’t know the whole story, that’s for sure, just like any other person; I’m just a normal person in the public eye. But I would like to tell them they don’t know the whole story, but thank you to all of them because it definitely pushes me harder, it makes me want to work harder for myself and prove to myself and them and the fans that support me that anything is possible and you can make your dreams come true.

Natalie Decker on her critics

LOGAN WHITTON | NKP

For me, the racing doesn’t get much better than what we do. We get to drive race trucks. That’s a dream of mine to always compete in the top level of NASCAR.  I have a beautiful family and it doesn’t get much better than that – spending time with family and getting to race fast trucks.

Timothy Peters 

NIGEL KINRADE | NKP

I’ve been able to run a bunch of sprint cars, and win some of those races which has been cool. I got to run a non-wing car in California on Thanksgiving, and that was pretty cool. Maybe getting back to the Chili Bowl is kind of a bucket list thing, and maybe having a shot at Xfinity or Cup would be something I’d like to be able to participate in before I hang it up.

Stewart Friesen

MATTHEW T. THACKER | NKP

Tire management is everything at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The surface is just a cheese grater. So you want to get out there and get as much out of the truck you can the first few laps to separate yourself from the other guys, and then just manage your tires, hold off your tires. Realize that maybe you can get them go for a couple laps if they’re going to just run off their tires real quick. So just recognizing the race pace, and not steering from that plan.

Spencer Boyd

NIGEL KINRADE | NKP

There’s a lot of good race tracks that aren’t on the schedule. It’s going to be a short track for sure, so the Milwaukee Mile or Lucas Oil Raceway Park, Memphis Motorsports Park. Something like that is what I would like to see on the schedule. I’m a short track guy so I’d like to see us go to some of those types of places for sure.

Johnny Sauter 

NIGEL KINRADE | NKP

I’d like to drive everything, pretty much. Nothing stands out in particular, as I kind of want to try everything that I can get my hands on.

Tyler Dippel

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

Dramatic pass in wild race gives Todd Gilliland first NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series win

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – In an extraordinarily wild NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race that saw four of six Playoff drivers have major issues, 19-year-old Todd Gilliland muscled his way past Ross Chastain on Lap 191 and held on to win for the first time in 46 career starts.

Just as extraordinarily, a series of wild wrecks that produced 12 cautions for 80 laps did little to affect the Playoff standings, with the Championship 4 drivers still to be settled two weekends hence at ISM Raceway in Phoenix.

After the 11th caution, Gilliland drove underneath Chastain on the restart lap, with Gilliland’s No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota clearing Chastain’s No. 45 Chevrolet for the top spot. Gilliland led the final 11 laps, though the final caution and into an overtime that took the race one circuit past its scheduled distance of 200 laps.

Before reveling in the win, Gilliland had a bittersweet moment because the expected victory in KBM equipment had been such a long time coming.

“I wish we had won two years ago, just like everyone else thought we would,” Gilliland said. “I thought we would, too. We went through some growing pains. (Marcus) Richmond was my crew chief, and we got rid of him, and then he came back and was helping us again. He’s really great here at Martinsville.

“I’m just so proud of these guys. Man, this is a long time coming. Hopefully, this will get some momentum rolling and open up some doors for next year.”

In his post-race press conference, Gilliland acknowledged he had no plans set for the 2020 season.

Chastain, who trailed Gilliland at the finish by .879 seconds, leaves the .526-mile short track third in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series standings, 20 points ahead of fifth-place Matt Crafton, who ran 23rd after stalling out and having to change a battery and computer system 81 laps into the race.

On the final two restart, Chastain had to deal with both Gilliland and his KBM teammate Harrison Burton, who spun on the final lap and finished 18th.

“If I can go head-to-head with that team, I can fight them one at a time, but I can’t take two of them,” Chastain said. “They took turns beating my back bumper off, which is fine. I’m good with it.”

Johnny Sauter ran third, followed by Grant Enfinger and Timmy Hill, who scored his first top five in any of NASCAR’s top three series. Playoff driver Stewart Friesen ran sixth after recovering from a spin off Sauter’s nose on Lap 148.

Series leader and defending champion Brett Moffitt wasn’t as fortunate. His No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet suffered damage in a four-car incident on Lap 115 and retired from the race in 29th place after completing 122 laps.

“We’ll just go on and try to win at Phoenix and Homestead,” said Moffitt, who retained the series lead and holds a 445-point margin over Crafton, with the Playoff field to be trimmed to four drivers at Phoenix.

A nine-truck wreck on Lap 123 KO’d Playoff drivers Tyler Ankrum and Austin Hill, who finished 25th and 26th, respectively. Ankrum goes to Phoenix in sixth place, 15 points below the current cut line for the Championship 4. Hill is fourth in the standings, nine points ahead of Crafton, a two-time series champion.

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News

Penalty to Johnny Sauter makes a Talladega winner of Spencer Boyd

TALLADEGA, Ala. – Johnny Sauter did a celebratory burnout. He collected the checkered flag from the flag stand at Talladega Superspeedway.

But Sauter didn’t win Saturday’s Sugarland Shine 250 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Playoff race at the 2.66-mile track. A penalty for blocking Riley Herbst below the yellow line in the final 200 yards of the event cost Sauter the victory and made an unlikely winner of Spencer Boyd.

“It’s Talladega,” the driver of the No. 20 Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet exulted in Victory Lane. “Man, I don’t drink beer, but it may happen tonight.”

Boyd, whose previous best finish in the series was a fourth in the 2019 season opener at Daytona, crossed the finish line .132 seconds behind Sauter, who started his celebration. But NASCAR informed the teams that the finish was under review and subsequently awarded the victory to Boyd.

“I was sitting there, and I’m like, man, second is amazing for us,” Boyd said. “We’re happy. We finished fourth at Daytona in this truck, and then one of my crew guys was like, ‘You just won!’ I can’t believe this. Two weeks ago I wasn’t running this race.

“We put this together late with Alabama Roofing Professionals… You dream of winning a NASCAR race. Four years ago, I was selling cars with my dad at Hendrick Automotive Group. A lot of people believed in me to get me to this point.”

Gus Dean’s hard crash into the inside wall off Turn 2 sent the race to overtime, and Sauter led the field to green on Lap 97. Sauter lost and regained the top spot in traffic and moved below the yellow line approaching the checkered flag as Herbst made a move to the inside.

After the review, NASCAR placed Sauter 14th at the finish as the last driver on the lead lap.

“I went down to put a little block on him,” Sauter said, “but then when I did, I got hooked sideways, but that’s just plate racing. You know, I didn’t block his advance or anything like that… I just hate it for my guys. They deserve better than that.”

Todd Gilliland finished second, with Herbst coming home third. Brett Moffitt in fourth and Stewart Friesen in fifth were the highest finishing Playoff drivers in the first race of the Round of 6. Fellow Playoff drivers Austin Hill, Tyler Ankrum and Matt Crafton (the pole winner) followed in sixth, seventh, and eighth, respectively.

Playoff driver Ross Chastain was leading with six laps left, but a late attempt to block Sheldon Creed ignited a 10-car crash that ended with Chastain out of the race and in the infield care center. Chastain dropped to sixth in the Playoff standings, 46 points behind Moffitt, the series leader, but only two behind Crafton in fourth place.

The Playoff field will be cut from six drivers to four after the Nov. 8 event at ISM Raceway at Phoenix.

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Trucks

Poole’s Part-Time Effort Strives In Vegas

LAS VEGAS — For Brennan Poole, the year has not been what he expected.

After starting the season with a full-time ride with On Point Motorsports, the ride quickly turned into a part-time effort, eliminating them from championship contention.

“Well we want to be a full-time team,” Poole told POPULAR SPEED. “That was our goal at the beginning of this season. I think, yeah, we had to take a look at our program. Where it was at, at the beginning of the year. We were a little thin on some people. We weren’t quite organized. We needed to take a minute to work on our stuff and make it better. I think all in all that’s been a good decision for us.”

It has not been all negatives for him and the team though, as they have proven to be competitive in the efforts they have made. This was on full display during Friday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where Poole was able to capture the team’s fourth top-10 with a sixth-place finish.

“I mean it’s big for our team. We’ve worked on our stuff this year and we continue to get better. I think we learned some stuff this weekend,” Poole said. “We were a little bit nervous about it, after practice and qualifying we weren’t sure how fast we would be. We felt like a long run would be all right, but short run speed we were a little nervous about. But tonight, we had everything. We were really good on restarts. The truck was solid in traffic and stayed with me on the long runs. I felt like we had a good shot to run in the top five tonight. We were just missing maybe just a little bit of balance, between both ends of the racetrack, to get up there and battle for the win.”

He also noted that team could have been even better. You see, the No. 30 was saving a set of tires, hoping for another caution that would never be.

“16, and the 4, and some of those guys, they got in front of us. They put tires on and they were just, tires were a lot better tonight than what we had on our truck,” Poole said. “But. all in all, I’m happy. I’m looking forward to going to Talladega before too long. It should be a good one.”

Heading to Talladega, Poole will hope to show strength again at a track he nearly captured an Xfinity Series win at.

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

Lupton Continues To Prove Himself

In the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, it is becoming increasingly more important that you take advantage of the opportunities you receive. Success could guarantee you more chances to prove yourself and may allow you to climb the ladder further in NASCAR. However, failure could get you knocked out the sport.

Dylan Lupton is a driver that knows this well.

The 25-year-old had been looking for any opportunity after last competing in NASCAR in June 2018. Over a year later, Lupton finally got his chance to return as DGR-Crosley Racing with a six-race schedule, with his first race coming at Chicagoland Speedway.

Now, this wasn’t a guarantee Lupton was going to end up back in the sport more consistently, as at the end of the six races, he could be exactly where was before the deal. So ultimately, it was critical for his career that he did well with DGR, which he has.

At Chicago, Lupton qualified and ran inside the top-10 before finishing tenth. A solid day for a driver who, let’s not forget, was not in NASCAR in anyway for over a year.

The California-native returned to the seat this weekend at Kentucky, where again he impressed. Lupton scored his first top-five with a fifth-place finish, which is a statement itself for part-time. However, what may have been more impressive was how he got there.

He started the night in 20th in a race that seemed chaotic, with several multi-truck accidents and fuel strategy biting a lot of the race’s top contenders as the race neared its conclusion. However, at the end of the Buckle Up in Your Truck 225, Lupton had a damage-free No. 15 and a career-best finish.

It has only been two races, but Lupton is doing everything that he needs to be doing and more. If the next four races for him go as well, and his current trend of succeeding continues, then it should open up more opportunities. Specifically, a full-time ride.

Let’s face it, Lupton is doing all of this without a lot of time to prepare, that it makes it interesting to wonder what he would be doing if he were given a more consistent, guaranteed, that allowed him to grow with a team for more than just six races.

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.