NASCAR

NGOTS Race Preview: Corrigan Oil 200 at Michigan

2018_michigan_ncwts_augustNASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series

Next Race Corrigan Oil 200
The Place Michigan International Speedway
The Date Saturday, August 10
The Time 1 p.m. ET
TV FS1, 1 p.m. ET
Radio MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance 200 miles (100 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 20), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 40), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 100)
2018 Race Winner Brett Moffitt

NGOTS Michigan Fast Facts

Races 19
Pole Winners 14
Youngest Pole Winner Austin Dillon (06/12/2010 – 20 years, 1 months, 16 days)
Oldest Pole Winner Mike Skinner (06/14/2008 – 50 years, 11 months, 17 days)
Race Winners 16
Youngest Winner Colin Braun (06/13/2009 – 20 years, 8 months, 22 days)
Oldest Winner Dennis Setzer (06/18/2005 – 45 years, 3 months, 22 days)
Races Won from Pole (or 1st Starting Position) 1
Last Race Won from Pole (or 1st Starting Position) Travis Kvapil (06/16/2007)
Race Record Johnny Sauter 161.11mph (08/16/2014)
Qualifying Record Jeb Burton 185.759mph (08/17/2013)

NGOTS News and Notes

He won, and he’s in

When the checkered flag dropped last Thursday night at Eldora Speedway, two things became clear for Stewart Friesen – he had **finally** won his first career NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race and he was officially locked into the 2019 Playoffs.

The first NASCAR national series victory for the 36-year-old dirt ace came in his 63rd career Gander Trucks start. He recorded six previous runner-up finishes, including at Eldora in 2017, before breaking through for the win.

That the win came on his favorite surface, which is where he made his name coming up through ranks in the northeast, had to have been sweet. But the real icing on the cake was ensuring that his name would be included in the postseason conversation in a year in which the competition to race for the season-ending trophy is especially tight.

Friesen has now qualified for the Gander Trucks Playoffs two consecutive seasons – the only two seasons in which he has run every race in the series.

Playoff clinch scenarios 101

You won’t need a fancy calculator to figure out if your favorite driver is in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Playoffs at the end of Saturday’s Corrigan Oil 200 at Michigan International Raceway (1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

If you follow Brett Moffitt, Stewart Friesen, Ross Chastain, Johnny Sauter, Austin Hill and Tyler Ankrum – no math is needed. They are locked in with wins.

If Grant Enfinger is the one you cheer for, you can also rest easy. When he takes the green flag on Saturday, he clinches his spot. And he only needs to score nine total points in the race to secure the regular season championship.

With those seven drivers heading to the postseason, it leaves one position up for grabs this weekend.

If one of those seven above mentioned drivers wins – or he, himself, wins – Matt Crafton earns that final spot.

But for one more race, the saying, “Win and you’re in” takes on special significance for a host of other drivers chasing the Gander Trucks title.

If any other Playoff-eligible driver wins the race – for example Harrison Burton, Todd Gilliland, Ben Rhodes, Sheldon Creed or Tyler Dippel – they would earn that eighth coveted spot in the postseason, knocking Crafton out. And for those drivers, that is the only way they can earn their way into the Playoffs as their points deficits are too great to makeup at Michigan.

Here’s a look at the Playoff grid if the postseason were to start today:

Driver                         Current Points           Wins*              Playoff Points#

Grant Enfinger            622                              0                      19

Brett Moffitt                 564                              2                      18

Stewart Friesen         567                              1                      15

Matt Crafton               570                              0                      13

Ross Chastain          250                              2                      11

Johnny Sauter           418                              1                      9

Austin Hill                 431                              1                      7

Tyler Ankrum            322                              1                      5

                                  

Ben Rhodes              507                              0                      –

Harrison Burton         506                              0                      –

Todd Gilliland            473                              0                      –

Locked in with wins

Current regular season championship leader

Outside looking in

*   Indicates only Playoff-eligible wins

#   Playoff points include those awarded for regular season finish based on current points standings

It all comes down to Michigan

With six drivers locked in on wins and Grant Enfinger as good as locked in on points, the final venue of the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series regular season is key to drivers’ Playoffs hopes and dreams.

The Irish Hills provide the backdrop for Saturday’s Corrigan Oil 200 (1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio) at this spacious, smooth and speedy two-miler that features 18 degrees of banking in the corners. The Gander Trucks have raced 19 times at Michigan.

The only championship-eligible Gander Trucks drivers with wins at Michigan have already visited Victory Lane in 2019 (Brett Moffitt won in 2016 and 2018 at Michigan, while Johnny Sauter won in 2014).

Matt Crafton may have a tentative grasp on the eighth and final Gander Trucks Playoffs spot, but his only sure way to ensure a shot at postseason glory is to win this weekend. He has a trio of top-five finishes in 17 starts at the track. His best finish was a runner-up placement in the 2014 race, en route to his second of two consecutive series titles.

And Todd Gilliland finished fifth in his first visit to the track last year. But they are the only two drivers with top fives who are still trying to lock themselves into the Playoffs.

Harrison Burton has yet to visit the Michigan oval, and has only raced twice on circuits two-miles or greater in length – the season-opener at Daytona when he finished 18th as a result of a crash and just two weeks ago at Pocono, where he recorded his seventh top-five of the season by placing third.

Ben Rhodes has three starts in the Irish Hills, posting finishes of sixth place twice (2016, 2018). In his only other race there, he finished 11th.

Moffitt is on the top in the Irish Hills

Brett Moffitt is looking to something that no other driver has done at Michigan – win three NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series races.

Currently, he is tied with Greg Biffle (1999, 2000) and Travis Kvapil (2004, 2007) with two wins at the track. Moffitt got his wins in 2016 and 2018.

He’s also looking to do something that has only been done by Biffle…and that’s win two in a row at the massive oval in the Irish Hills. Biffle accomplished that feat by visiting Victory Lane in the first two series races held at the track.

And to further the comparisons between the two drivers – Biffle (2000) and Moffitt (2018) are the only two Michigan race winners who went on to win the Gander Trucks championship that year.

The only other active series driver with a win at Michigan is Johnny Sauter (2014).

Ankrum looking to lock up Sunoco Rookie title early

Heading into this weekend’s race at Michigan International Speedway, Harrison Burton has a 56-point lead over Sheldon Creed in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings (506 to 450). Tyler Dippel is third with 337 points while Tyler Ankrum has 322 points in fourth.

But that could all take a drastic turn this weekend, depending on the results of the Corrigan Oil 200.

As the Playoff outlook stands now, only Ankrum has qualified for the postseason – and if he remains the only rookie to qualify for the Playoffs, Ankrum would clinch the Sunoco Rookie of the Year title following Michigan. This is due to the points reset that happens at the beginning of the Playoffs, guaranteeing Ankrum would finish the season with no less than 2000 points.

Parade Laps: Insights ahead of this week’s driver media breakouts  

Six drivers from the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series – Kyle Busch Motorsports drivers David Gilliland and Harrison Burton, Halmar Friesen Racing Stewart Friesen, ThorSport Racing driver Ben Rhodes, GMS Racing drivers Brett Moffitt and Sheldon Creed – will be participating in this week’s media rotations at Michigan International Speedway. These six drivers are preparing for the Corrigan Oil 200 on Saturday, August 10, at 1:00 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Stewart Friesen (No. 52 Halmar Friesen Racing Chevrolet Silverado)

Birthdate: July 25, 1983

Driver’s Age: 35

Hometown: Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada

Team: Halmar Friesen Racing

Crew Chief: Trip Bruce II

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • 2019 marks Friesen’s second full-time season in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series.
  • In 2018, he competed in all 23 races, qualifying for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Playoffs for the first time; ultimately finished the season seventh in points.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Captured his first series win last week at Eldora and currently sits third in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series standings
  • In 15 starts this season he has posted nine top-five finishes and 10 top-10 finishes.
  • He’s earned one pole award and has led 203 laps

Michigan Performance:

  • Friesen has two starts at Michigan, he finished eighth in 2018

 

Harrison Burton (No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra)

Birthdate: October 9, 2000

Driver’s Age: 18

Hometown: Huntersville, North Carolina

Team: Kyle Busch Motorsports

Crew Chief: Mike Hillman Jr.

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • 2019 marks Burton’s first full-time season in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Trucks Series.
  • In 2018, he competed in eight races for Kyle Busch Motorsports and recorded his first pole award at Iowa and tallied a total of three top-five and six top-10 finishes overall.
  • He raced in six races for KBM in 2017, recording one top-five and one top-10 finish.
  • He made his Truck Series debut in 2016 at Martinsville, finishing 22nd.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Burton is currently sixth in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series points standings, 10th on the Playoff grid, and leads the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings.
  • In 15 starts, Burton has seven top-five finishes and nine top-10s.

Michigan Performance:

  • Burton will make his track debut at Michigan this weekend

 

Ben Rhodes (No. 99 ThorSport Racing Ford F-150)

Birthdate: February 21, 1997

Driver’s Age: 22

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky

Team: ThorSport Racing

Crew Chief: Matt Noyce

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • In 2018, he grabbed his second-career win (Kentucky) and posted a career high three poles (Martinsville, Eldora, CTMP).
  • Won his first NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race (Las Vegas) and earned his second-career pole (Pocono Raceway) in 2017.
  • In 2016, he competed in his first full NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series season finishing 14th in the final standings and posting his first career pole at Martinsville.
  • In 2014, he made his NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series debut at Martinsville Speedway for Turner Scott Motorsports

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Rhodes is currently fifth in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series points standings and ninth on the Playoff outlook – one spot outside the postseason eligibility.
  • His best finish this season is second – three times – Martinsville, Kansas and Iowa
  • In 15 starts this season he has posted five top fives, nine top 10s and an average finish of 11.5.

Michigan Performance:

  • Rhodes has three starts at Michigan. He has an average start of 16.7 and an average finish of 7.7.

 

Todd Gilliland (No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra)

Birthdate: May 15, 2000

Driver’s Age: 19

Hometown: Sherrills Ford, NC

Team: Kyle Busch Motorsports

Crew Chief: Michael Shelton

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • In 2018, he competed in 19 races finishing 10th in the championship points and recorded career-highs in top fives (four) and top 10s (nine).
  • In 2017, he made his NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series debut at Dover International Speedway for Kyle Busch Motorsports. In total, made six starts, posting two top fives and three top 10s

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently seventh in NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series driver championship point standings and 11th on the Playoff outlook.
  • In 15 starts this season he has posted three top five and nine top 10s.
  • He has led 39 laps this season.

Michigan Performance:

  • He has one Gander Trucks start at Michigan, he finished fifth last year after starting second.

 

Sheldon Creed (No. 2 GMS Racing Chevrolet Silverado)

Birthdate: September 30, 1997

Driver’s Age: 21

Hometown: Alpine, California

Crew Chief: Jeff Stankiewicz

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • In 2018, made five series starts, posting a best finish of fifth at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
  • In 2016, he made his NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series debut, placing 16th at Eldora.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Creed is currently eighth in the points standings.
  • He has five top-10 finishes this season –Las Vegas, Texas, Iowa, Gateway and Eldora

Michigan Performance:

  • Saturday will be Creed’s Gander Trucks debut at Michigan International Speedway
  • He has three starts at the track in the ARCA Menards Series, scoring a win in 2018

 

Brett Moffitt (No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet Silverado)

Birthdate: August 7, 1992

Driver’s Age: 26

Hometown: Grimes, Iowa

Team: GMS Racing

Crew Chief: Jerry Baxter

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • Last season, Moffitt drove Hattori Racing Enterprise’s No. 16 Toyota to six wins, leading the way for the first career NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship for both Moffitt and HRE.
  • Won his first NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race in 2016, taking home the checkers at Michigan for Red Horse Racing.
  • Made the most of his six NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series starts in 2016, with three top-three finishes and four top 10s.
  • In 2013, entered the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series scene with a pair of starts (Kentucky and Michigan).

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Won the NASCAR Ganders Outdoors Truck Series races at Iowa and Chicagoland.
  • Currently fourth in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series points.
  • In 15 starts this season he has posted two victories (Iowa, Chicagoland), eight top fives and 10 top 10s with an average finish of 9.5.
  • Has led 232 laps this season.

Michigan Performance:

  • Moffitt has made three previous starts at the speedway, winning in 2016 and 2018.

 

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