The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will take to the Gateway Motorsports Park on Saturday for another under the lights show. This is the third straight race on the year for them in a four race consecutive week stretch.
Here are five more storylines to watch for Saturday’s Eaton 200 (8:30 p.m. ET/FS1/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Last weekend, all eyes on the racing world in North America were on Iowa Speedway. The Verizon IndyCar Series, Formula One and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series were all off. The only two series’ racing were the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers in Iowa. Now, the XFINITY Series drivers are off and the Cup stars are out west in Sonoma. While F1 and INDYCAR are back in action this weekend, both of them and the Cup teams are on road courses.
The Truck Series race on Saturday night is the only major oval race of the weekend. They’ll take the attention.
We’ve had 17 Truck Series races in Gateway and all of them have produced a different winner. This year, we could extend that mark to 18-for-18. The only driver entered on the entry-list that is a previous Gateway winner is John Hunter Nemechek who’s the defending winner in fact. He’s got a great shot of winning though, as he has three straight top six finishes on the St. Louis area track. He’s also won a race already in 2018 and did so at Martinsville back in the spring.
But, with how Johnny Sauter is running this year (4 wins in 9 starts) and him not being a winner before in Gateway, this could be another year with another different winner.
Of the 34 drivers entered, so far, 11 of them have never raced at Gateway before. They are – Myatt Snider, Bobby Reuse, Brett Moffitt, Dalton Sargeant, Justin Fontaine, Christian Eckes, Riley Herbst, Chad Finley, Stewart Friesen, Zane Smith and Jesse Little.
Snider, Sargeant and Fontaine are all rookies – Todd Gilliland, another NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver in his rookie year, is the only one who has raced at Gateway before. It was his second career race in 2017 where he started fourth and finished 21st because of a transmission issue. This weekend will be his second visit to Gateway Motorsports Park.
Another Sauter Win?
As I stated above, it’s hard to believe that none of Johnny Sauter’s 21 career victories have come at Gateway. He’s made six starts on the short track and none of which have sent him to victory lane. But, in those six races, Sauter hasn’t finished worse than fourth. He was second in 2009, third in 2010, fourth in 2014 and again in 2016 and third in 2015 and again last year. With having those good of finishes and five straight top five finishes to his credit entering this weekend, including four wins in nine tries this year overall, how can you bet against him on Saturday night?
Matt Crafton’s Struggles
The switch to Ford for ThorSport Racing has thrown Matt Crafton for a loop. As we head into this weekend’s race in Gateway, Crafton hasn’t won a race yet in 2018. In fact, over his last 49 races, Crafton has just one victory to his credit and that came on dirt in Eldora last July. That’s right, Crafton’s only win since the early portions of 2018 was on dirt. He holds a 21 race winless streak and is hoping to snap that on Saturday night.
Crafton, has 14 career Truck Series victories and 246 top 10’s to his credit. He can figure out how to get out of this slump. But, is Gateway the track to do so at? Out of 14 career starts in Gateway, Crafton has just two total top five finishes. One was last year with a fourth place run and the other in 2010. Three of his last four starts saw him finish 26th, 21st and 27th respectively. On the season, he has just one top five finish over the last four starts and came home 26th when his tire cut down last weekend in Iowa.
Will his struggles continue?