The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to competition Saturday night after a week off with the Wise Power 200 (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) under the lights of Kansas Speedway.
Five drivers in Saturday’s field have already claimed victories on the 1.5-mile track, including three-time series champion Matt Crafton, who has a record three wins there (2013, 2015 and 2020).
Last year, after the pandemic-induced schedule change, the series ran three times in Kansas instead of its usual single stop. Austin Hill and Brett Moffitt joined Crafton for the Victory Lane celebrations. Moffitt, however, will not race on Saturday. Hill always will, so count him as the No.2 driver with a win in Kansas.
Former series champion Johnny Sauter is the third active driver with a series victory in Kansas – dominating 101 of 167 laps to win the 2010 race. Ross Chastain is fourth, filling this weekend with Niece Motorsports. And Kyle Busch Motorsport driver Kyle Busch is the fifth entered driver to win in Kansas. The two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion claimed two wins in Kansas in the Truck Series in 2014 and 2017.
Six races in the season, second-generation star John Hunter Nemechek holds a 20-point advantage over Ben Rhodes atop the series driver standings. They are both race winners and also the only two full-time Camping World Truck Series drivers to have achieved a win so far in 2021.
The top three contenders in the Camping World Truck Series Driver Rankings – Nemechek, Rhodes and defending Series Champion Sheldon Creed – have never won in a truck in Kansas, although Nemechek earned his only career victory in NASCAR Xfinity Series on the track in 2018; it has two top-five rankings in three truck series.
Nemechek, who drives the No.4 Toyota Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota, and Rhodes, who leads the No.99 Toyota ThorSport Racing, have won five top-10 rankings in the first six races of 2021. Nemechek has four of the five rankings. first in the general classification. and wins in two of the last four races. Rhodes swept the season openers at Daytona International Speedway, winning on the oval and then on the road course the following week.
Last year’s winners from Kansas are once again the drivers to watch this weekend – two of three needing a win in 2021 to secure their place in the 10-driver playoff field. Hill and Crafton did some good deals to be considered favorites this week. Moffitt announced last week that in the future he has declared for NASCAR Xfinity Series points and will compete for a championship in that series instead of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. That’s why Moffitt is not engaged this weekend in Kansas and instead Ross Chastain will drive the No.44 for Niece Motorsports on Saturday.
Crafton, the # 88 Toyota ThorSport driver, took a 0.324 second victory over Christian Eckes in the second race in Kansas last year and was fourth in the first race.
Hill, driver of the No. 16 Toyota Hattori Racing Enterprises, led the most laps (65 of 134) and claimed a nearly 3-second victory in last year’s Kansas first race and finished among the first 10 (sixth and third, respectively). ) within two second strokes. Hill, who has had a rough start to the season, has now finished in the top 10 in the last four races and climbed 19 places in the championship standings to fourth place (74 points behind Nemechek).
Kansas is statistically Hill’s best trail. He claims an average finish of 5.2 in five sets from there.
“Kansas has been really good for us and a place where we’ve always had a lot of speed,” said Hill. “It was great to have a win there last summer and we felt like we were one of the trucks to beat in the playoffs, if we didn’t have some damage in the left side door.
Nemechek will start from pole position this week with his team owner, Busch, alongside the front row. Busch is the only active driver to have won all three NASCAR National Series in Kansas – collecting both NASCAR Camping World Truck Series trophies as well as four NASCAR Xfinity Series and one NASCAR Cup Series wins.
No driver has ever won back-to-back Truck Series races in Kansas.