By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
The last time the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series visited Kentucky Speedway, Matt Crafton took home the victory. Crafton won after the race was called after just 145 of the scheduled 150 laps when an accident sent Ben Kennedy’s truck into the catch fencing, damaging several sections of the fencing. Erik Jones finished second that day.
Crafton and defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Kyle Busch are the only repeat winners in the field this week. Busch is also the only Cup driver in the field this weekend.
Truck Series Chase
Nine races into the 2016 Camping World Truck Series Season, there have been six different winners. Only one of those winners, Busch, is not eligible for the Truck Series Chase. Crafton, William Byron, John Hunter Nemechek, Johnny Sauter, Christopher Bell have all won at least one race, and are likely to be in the Chase thanks to those wins. Byron has three wins, and Crafton with two wins, have likely boosted their odds of locking themselves into the Truck Series Chase. The reason why no driver is locked in as of now is the fact that only eight drivers will make the Truck Series Chase. Even though there is less than half of the regular season left, there is still a strong possibility that the series will have more than eight winners.
The other drivers currently in the Chase on points are Timothy Peters, Daniel Hemric, and Ben Kennedy.
Kentucky Speedway’s Repave and Reconfiguration
Since the last time any of NASCAR’s three national series has been at the 1.5-mile track, a dramatic transformation has taken place. The track went through a repave, while also making alterations to turns one and two. The banking of turns one and two have increased from 14 to 17 degrees.
Another change that has taken place is that the exit of pit road has been increased from a width of 14 feet to 30 feet. This has decreased the racing surface from a width of 74 feet to a width of 56 feet as a result. The changes have made each end of the racetrack unique, giving the track a much different personality than it had before.
What to Watch For
There are several storylines going into this weekend’s race to watch for:
- Many Truck Series regulars are looking at scoring their first win of the season and to lock themselves into the Truck Series Chase, while those with a win are looking for more security with their Chase position.
- Will the recent repave and reconfiguration of Kentucky Speedway level the playing field between those with and without previous experience at the track?
- Kyle Busch returns for his third start of the season in his own No. 18 Toyota Tundra.
- Cole Custer will also be competing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race this weekend. Will the extra seat time pay off for him?
- Parker Kligerman with be in the No. 05 Chevrolet Silverado for Athenian Motorsports, filling in for John Wes Townley who is under-going treatments for a possible concussion.
- Austin Hill will be in the No. 02 Chevrolet Silverado in place of Tyler Young.
- Brett Moffitt will be in the No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota Tundra.
- Ben Kennedy continues his tenure at GMS Racing in the No. 33 Wheelwell Chevrolet Silverado.
- Grant Enfinger returns to GMS Racing’s No. 24 Chevrolet Silverado for the first time since Atlanta earlier this year. This is Enfinger’s third start of the season.
- Timmy Hill will be in the Premium Motorsports No. 49 Chevrolet Silverado.
- Daniel Suarez will be in the No. 51 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports, for the seventh time this season.
- Brandon Jones will be the No. 71 Chervolet Silverado for Contreras Motorsports.
- Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender William Byron looks to increase his 41 point lead on teammate Christopher Bell. Meanwhile, Cole Custer, Ben Rhodes, and Rico Abreu continue to try to gain ground on the rookie point leaders.
- Points leader William Byron is looking to extend his one point lead over Matt Crafton.
Where and When to Watch
Qualifying: Thursday, June 7th, 5:00pm Eastern, Fox Sports 2
Race: Thursday, July 7th, 8:30pm Eastern, Fox Sports 1, SiriusXM Channel 90, MRN Radio