By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
The last time the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series visited Gateway Motorsports Park, Cole Custer took home the victory. Custer beat out Spencer Gallagher for the victory last year. There are no NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars entered into this weekend’s Truck Series race. However, NASCAR Xfinity Series regular Erik Jones will be in the field. In last year’s race Jones started on the pole and led 84 laps before an electrical issue ended his day with 15 laps to go.
Custer is the only past Gateway winner in the field for this weekend’s race.
Truck Series Chase
Eight races into the 2016 Camping World Truck Series Season, there have been five different winners. Only one of those winners, Kyle Busch, is not eligible for the Truck Series Chase. Matt Crafton, William Byron, John Hunter Nemechek, and Johnny Sauter 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, and with nearly half of the regular season left, there is strong possibility of more than eight winners.
The other drivers currently in the Chase on points are Timothy Peters, Daniel Hemric, Tyler Reddick, and Ben Kennedy.
Parker Kligerman and Ricky Benton Racing originally planned and had funding to run just the first six races. That has since grown to be the first eight races. After starting the season with a third at Daytona, and a pair of eighth place finishes at Atlanta and Martinsville, Kligerman has not had the same success in the races since. Kligerman was caught in a hard crash at Kansas and lost a rear gear at Dover. Kligerman finished just inside the Top 20 at both Charlotte and Texas.
Iowa was a make or break race for Kligerman and his No. 92 Ford F-150 Ricky Benton Racing team. After contact with Austin Wayne Self cut down a left rear tire, Kligerman spun, making hard contact with the turn three SAFER barrier. As a result, Kligerman and his team are taking a week off to regroup and will return at Kentucky Motor Speedway. This effectively eliminates Kligerman from Chase contention. Kligerman was 50 points behind the final spot in the Chase.
What to Watch For
There are several storylines going into this weekend’s race to watch for:
- With no Cup Series regulars in the field which Camping World Truck Series regular will step up to contend for the win?
- 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.
- After failing post-race tech inspection last week in Iowa for being too low, John Hunter Nemechek and his NEMCO Motorsports team has been hit with a P2 penalty. Nemechek lost 10 driver points, and NEMCO lost 10 owner points. Crew Chief Gere Kennon was also fined $8,000 and has been placed on probation through December 31st.
- German Quiroga returns to the No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota Tundra, filling in for an injured Matt Tifft for the second week in a row.
- Ben Kennedy continues his tenure at GMS Racing in the No. 33 Wheelwell Chevrolet Silverado.
- Kaz Grala returns to GMS Racing’s No. 24 Chevrolet Silverado as he attempts to make his fourth career start.
- Justin Haley returns to make his fifth career start in the No. 32 Chevrolet Silverado for Braun Racing.
- Spencer Boyd will be making his second career start in the Truck Series, driving the Premium Motorsports No. 49 Chevrolet Silverado.
- Erik Jones will be in the No. 51 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports, filling in for Cody Coughlin who had a scheduling conflict.
- Ryan Truex returns to the track in the No. 81 Toyota Tundra for Hattori Racing Enterprises.
- Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender William Byron looks to increase his 54 point lead on Cole Custer. Meanwhile, Christopher Bell, Ben Rhodes, and Rico Abreu continue to try to gain ground on the rookie point leaders.
- Points leader Matt Crafton is looking to extend his championship points lead even further over Timothy Peters.
Where and When to Watch
Practice 2: Saturday, June 25th, 11:30am Eastern, Fox Sports 1
Qualifying: Saturday, June 25th, 5:45pm Eastern, Fox Sports 1
Race: Saturday, June 25th, 8:30pm Eastern, Fox Sports 1, SiriusXM Channel 90, MRN Radio