By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
Christopher Bell won a dramatic Drivin’ For Linemen 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park on Saturday night, and by claiming his second career victory in the Camping World Truck Series, Bell became the fifth different Truck Series points eligible driver to win a race in the first nine races of the season.
What this essentially means is that the eight driver grid that will make up the inaugural Camping World Truck Series Chase for the Championship is getting pretty damn full, pretty damn quickly and there is still seven races until the cutoff for the start of the Chase.
When you factor in that capable winning drivers like Timothy Peters, Daniel Hemric, Tyler Reddick, Ben Rhodes and Cole Custer haven’t won yet, you start to think that there is a strong possibility that some eventual winners will be left out of this season’s Chase.
Currently the only drivers who should be breathing a sigh of relief are: William Byron — who has three wins — and two-time champion Matt Crafton — who has two wins. They have just about secured their place in the Chase by winning multiple races. Everyone else who currently has just one victory (Johnny Sauter, John Hunter Nemechek, and Bell) would be wise not to rest on their laurels. But it’s a double-edged sword because they can’t be too aggressive either.
If nobody else wins multiple races the rest of the way, one win will be able to get you into the seven-race championship Chase, the caveat though is that you have to finish higher in the point standings than the other guys with one win. However, if you’re too aggressive trying to get a second victory, you could crash out of some events and mire yourself back in the point standings and miss the Chase by way of too many other single-win drivers placing ahead of you in the standings.
This simple win and you’re in NASCAR playoff format, has morphed into ultimate complication — in the Truck Series at least.
Here is the current Camping World Truck Series Chase Grid, with seven races left until the Chase begins:
- William Byron (3 wins)
- Matt Crafton (2 wins)
- Johnny Sauter (1 win)
- John Hunter Nemechek (1 win)
- Christopher Bell (1 win)
- Timothy Peters (221 points)
- Daniel Hemric (216 points)
- Ben Kennedy (192 points)