The highly anticipated final race of the first round of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs is upon us, as the drivers will take on the Talladega Superspeedway this weekend. Saturday’s Freds 250 (1 p.m. ET/FOX/MRN) will set the second round of the playoffs, which means that combined with a restrictor plate race, will make this weekend’s race very intense.
Here are the five storylines to watch.
Final Race Of The Opening Round
As I mentioned in the lead in, this is the final race of the first round. Currently, there are four open spots among six drivers to advance to the second round. That makes this weekend’s race very interesting. Just 16 points separate fifth in the standings to eighth. Only two of them will continue on in the postseason.
Need I say more?
We all saw on the Cup level just how important stage points are in advancing in the playoffs. Well, with just 16 points between fifth and eighth in the standings, the first and second stages on Saturday could make or break these guys’ chances at racing in the second round for a championship. That will make the racing up front intense this weekend as no one wants to be outside of the top 10. But, it’s a restrictor plate track and they may not be able to control where they run.
Due to stage points and the playoff drivers wanting to be up front in the lead group, it could cause some more intense action than usual from the get go. We all know that drivers running in close proximity of one another on a plate track normally creates chaos. With several drivers in the field not having very much restrictor plate experience, it could create carnage on Saturday. That in turn could greatly affect the playoffs.
Brad Keselowski Racing Duo Looking To Advance
Neither of the BKR rookies have won a race this season. Both also know that the team is folding after the year is up. But, as we head to Talladega, the final race of the first round, both are currently on the plus side of the playoff standings. If they can remain there when the checkered flag flies on Saturday, both would advance to the second round.
Right now, Chase Briscoe is 10 points to the good and Austin Cindric is eight.
Briscoe, had a great run at Daytona in starting 16th and finishing third. He also hasn’t finished worse than 12th since the second race of the season in Atlanta.
Cindric, was caught up in a first lap crash at Daytona and finished 27th. If something like that happens again, he would be on the outside looking in leaving Talladega. But, Cindric does have nine top 10 finishes over his last 10 starts, so he will be a force to be watched too.
Can Grala Win Again?
Rookie Kaz Grala won the season opener at Daytona in his first ever Trucks start in his first ever restrictor plate race. Now, he needs to put himself in position to win again this weekend in order to move along to the second round of the playoffs. Currently, Grala is eight points behind the cutoff spot with one race remaining in the opening round. But, he has four straight top 10 finishes to his credit heading into this weekend’s race and is looking to sweep both plate races in 2017.