Thursday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at the Bristol (Tenn) Motor Speedway was the 16th and final race of the 2018 regular season. That meant that the eight driver playoff field would be set upon the completion of the UNOH 200.
Heading into this weeks race, five drivers had automatically stamped their names into the playoffs. There were three spots available for seven drivers. If one of the drivers outside of the top eight would have won on Thursday night, then they’d have knocked Matt Crafton out.
The two time Truck Series champion entered the race with a big enough advantage that he could points his way into the playoffs. But, if Todd Gilliland, Myatt Snider, Dalton Sargeant or someone else outside of the top nine in the standings won, well they’d be in and Crafton out.
Instead, those drivers had issues as Crafton brought his No. 88 Ford home in eighth. Johnny Sauter was victorious for the fifth time of the season which allowed Sauter to clinch the top seed and get an additional 15 playoff points and Crafton to sneak his way in after all.
Todd Gilliland had a fast truck but he was involved in an incident on Lap 67 with Jesse Little. Gilliland, had to pit for repairs on his No. 4 Toyota and he’d fall a lap down as a result. Luckily, he’d get his lap back but he’d never have enough time to make up for the ground that he lost.
Gilliland, finished fifth for his third straight top seven finish on the season and fourth over the last five races.
Snider had a good truck but he was involved in a crash on Lap 110 and brought out the fifth and final caution of the night. He’d finish 29th.
Sargeant was never really a factor and came home 11th.
That allowed Crafton to ease his way in as despite not winning a race in his last 27 starts (July 19, 2017 at Eldora) he’s into the postseason.
For Sauter, he ended the regular season how he started it, in victory lane. From his season opening win at Daytona to his third place finish in late June at Chicago, Sauter had 10 top five finishes in 11 tries in 2018. But, in the three races after, Sauter only had results of 15th, 16th and eighth respectively. Now, he’s since gotten hot again with a runner-up finish last weekend and a win this week.
- Sauter 2042
- Moffitt -15
- Gragson -20
- Rhodes -28
- Friesen -30
- Enfinger -31
- Haley -33
- Crafton -39