The second round of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs is here. Six drivers are left eligible to win the 2017 championship, as their chances ramp up beginning with this weekend’s race at the Martinsville Speedway. With that being said, here are the top five storylines to watch out for in Saturday’s Texas Roadhouse 200 (1 p.m. ET/FS1/MRN).
1st Race Of 2nd Round
With just six drivers being left in the playoffs, Martinsville is a place where you don’t want to get off on the wrong foot. The points are fairly tight from first to sixth, so the margin of error is so slim. That means any finish outside of the top 10 now will pretty much eliminate you from making the Championship 4 at Homestead.
This race has a lot writing on it because of that. It’s a short track and anything can happen on it.
From the Largest Fastest Track To The Slowest, Shortest
The end of the first round saw the Truck drivers race on the biggest and fastest track for the drivers at Talladega. The drivers will go from restrictor plate racing at speeds in excess of 180 mph while working the draft in close proximity of one another, to the season’s shortest track. That’s a bit of an adjustment if you ask me.
It takes two different disciplines of driving and one that if you don’t adapt quickly, you can be in for a long day.
Where brakes weren’t even discussed at Talladega, they’re the biggest thing talked about other than the playoffs this weekend. Whoever can manage their brakes the best will be in good shape in the end. The long fast straights and slow narrow long sweeping corners is tough on drivers who haven’t mastered the art of rolling the throttle and laying off of the brakes a whole lot.
We’ve seen in all three divisions of NASCAR in the playoffs just how crucial stage points are. They’re going to be an even bigger key in this round. That’s why these drivers have to qualify up front and stay there in order to receive stage points in each race. There’s a reason these six drivers are here, and if they can all six finish in the top 10 in each of the three races, moving onto Homestead is going to be predicated on stage points.
Christopher Bell got stage points in every stage but one in the first round. Austin Cindric had stage point in four of the six stages. Matt Crafton, Johnny Sauter and Ben Rhodes got stage points in every stage. John Hunter Nemechek only got stage points in half of the six stages.
See how competitive this field is going to be?
Can Sauter/Crafton Get Top 5’s?
The two veterans in the field are left standing, but for how long? While each have won at Martinsville before, including four of the last nine races there, they haven’t been threatening for wins like they should.
Crafton has one victory this season and that came at Eldora. Since that win, he’s had just one top five finish since.
Sauter, started the season off with five top three finishes in the first six races, including a second place run at Martinsville in the spring. In fact, he had seven top three results in the first nine races. But, in the 10 races since, he’s had just two top fives total. One of which was a win in Chicago though.
So, can either get a top five on Saturday?
Cindric Lone Ford
Out of the six drivers left, three of which are Toyota’s and two are Chevrolet drivers. Austin Cindric is the lone representative of Ford. But, does that work in his favor or against him? While it’s going to be tough being a rookie on a team that’s folding at seasons end, it also benefits him that he is the lone Ford driver too. Being the only driver for the manufacturer means he’s going to get all the top equipment and resources. That should help him drastically.
Cindric, has 10 top 10 finishes over his last 11 starts on the season. He finished eighth, fourth and fifth respectively in the first round. Can he keep that up?