The annual pilgrimage to the Talladega Superspeedway will be nothing short of intense this weekend for both of the NASCAR series’ that will take to the high banked Alabama track. But, for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers, Saturday’s Fred’s 250 (1 p.m. ET/FOX/MRN) will most likely be the most action packed, high stressed to the max, race of the season.
Saturday’s race on the 2.66-mile restrictor plate track is the final race of the first round. With that being said, both Christopher Bell as well as Ben Rhodes don’t have to worry about anything as they know by virtue of their wins (Bell – New Hampshire, Rhodes – Las Vegas), that they’re automatically into the next round. But, six other drivers are vying for four spots themselves.
Currently, Matt Crafton is 27 points ahead of the cutoff in third place of the standings. He’s also 33 points ahead of John Hunter Nemechek who as of right now sits last in the playoff standings. At Talladega, anything can happen, meaning Crafton, despite being 33 points ahead of the final spot and 27 ahead of the cutoff, isn’t treading lightly this week.
Yes, both him and Johnny Satuer are really in good shape, Sauter is 24 points ahead of the cutoff himself, but they can’t afford to give up too many stage points this weekend. Those gaps they have could quickly diminish if they ride around in the back and let others take points away. They have to race smart.
The big battle is going to come from both Brad Keselowski Racing Trucks versus Kaz Grala and Nemechek.
Chase Briscoe is 10 points to the good, while his BKR teammate of Austin Cindric is eight points up. But, Grala and Nemechek are eight and 14 points back. Those deficits can quickly evaporate at Talladega. Among those four, two will make it onto the second round, while two will be sent packing.
Grala, won the only other restrictor plate race this season at Daytona back in February and has four straight top 10 finishes to his credit. Nemechek, has three top 10 finishes in his last five starts on the season and finished fourth at Daytona.
Briscoe, also had a great run at Daytona in starting 16th and finishing third. He 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.
Saturday’s race will be fun and intense.