Heading into Thursday night’s UNOH 200 (8:30 p.m. ET/FOX/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at the Bristol (Tenn) Motor Speedway, I thought that Matt Crafton would be on upset alert. Tonight’s race is the regular season finale in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and unless something drastic happens to Stewart Friesen or Grant Enfinger, Crafton is going to remain on the bubble for the entire duration of the 200 Lap race in Thunder Valley.
Heading into Thursday night’s show, Crafton trails Friesen by 39 points for seventh in the standings. He’s also another 53 points behind his ThorSport Racing teammate Grant Enfinger for the top wildcard spot. So, in terms of the three available wildcard positions, it’s going to be tough for Crafton to leap frog either of those two.
Plus, Friesen was fastest in final practice on Thursday afternoon and has four straight top 10 finishes to his credit, three of which being in the top four. Enfinger, was eighth quickest in the opening session and enters this weeks race with five straight top 10 finishes in his No. 98 Ford on the season. Crafton is faced with a difficult task in trying to gain enough points to pass them. While he finished runner-up in this race just last year, he hasn’t won a Truck Series race in over a year. We’re pushing two years since he last won on pavement.
So, that means he has to hope someone behind them in the points standings doesn’t win Thursday night’s race. That too is a tall task in itself, but after two rounds of practice on Thursday, it’s clear it could happen.
First off, there are no Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers in the field. So, they’re not taking a win away tonight. Then, the only NASCAR XFINITY Series regulars in the field are Christopher Bell and Ross Chastain. Bell, has never finished better than seventh at Bristol and Chastain has never won a race before and driving for an underbudget team.
That means the likelihood of a Truck Series regular winning are high.
Myatt Snider enters tonight’s race 94 points back but he was fastest in the opening round of practice in his No. 13 Ford and seventh in final practice. Todd Gilliland won the K&N East race at Bristol back in April and was second and ninth respectively in practice on Thursday. He enters this weekend with three top seven finishes in his last four starts on the season in his No. 4 Toyota.
Dalton Sargeant was 15th and eighth respectively in his No. 25 Chevrolet and is coming off of a third place run at Pocono two weeks ago. The odds of one of them winning are in their favor.
That’s why tonight’s UNOH 200 is going to be a stressful one for Crafton but one that will be exhilarating to watch for the fan base.