By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
BRISTOL, Tenn. – For those not yet locked into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs, their hopes of competing for a championship rest with their performance in Thursday night’s UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
After dialing in their trucks with two practice sessions, a handful of drivers took the time to give their thoughts on how tonight’s race would play out in their minds. Some of them have no worries for the unpredictability of Bristol given that they have wins in the bank already as a safety net, but others are taking a take no prisoners attitude.
With his win at Kentucky, Rhodes is locked into the Playoffs, but noted that he still wants another win to be able to claim valuable points heading into the postseason, as long as he can bring his truck back in one piece.
“I think the race is going to be pretty aggressive, just like it always is here,” Rhodes said. “You’re going to have some new guys in the series where everything is going a million miles per hour, and it was for me when I first unloaded and you have to get used to this place again. Then you’re going to have some guys that need to get into the Playoffs and are going to be driving really, really, really aggressively.
“For me, I need to keep my truck as clean as possible. This is our truck that won Las Vegas last year. It’s a very good truck for mile and a half’s, so we need to keep it clean and make sure we’re staying out of wrecks. But at the same time, I need those Playoff Points. I’m going to drive it as hard as I can.”
Without a win, Friesen doesn’t have the safety net of others, but as it stands he would currently be in the Playoffs in points. The chance of him getting knocked out on points at Bristol is there, but the Canadian born driver will still be trying for that elusive first win on Thursday night, locking himself in for sure.
He topped the board in final practice, giving himself good odds of being in the mix as the race plays out.
“There’s obviously a big picture race going on tonight that we need to take care of, but winning a race and having those five bonus points going into the next couple of weeks would help us too,” said Friesen. “It would give us a better launch for the Playoffs, but if somebody outside the top-eight wins and we have an awful night and (Matt) Crafton has a really good night, that could bump us out.
“That’s definitely on our radar and we just have to have a solid night. Judging by practice, our Silverado was good and it has some speed, so hopefully it carries over.”
Then there are drivers like Snider, who is too far out on points to be able to make it in on consistency and the only avenue that leads to a postseason berth is a win on the high banked, half-mile. As evidenced by his comments, the Thorsport Racing driver is well aware of his position heading into the race.
“Obviously we need to get that win, from a points standpoint, so just about anything an everything is game tonight.
“I’m going in with the mindset that I’ll race how I want to be raced and how my teammate might want to be raced…We’re in a situation where we need a win and I’ll do everything I can to make it happen.”