For six NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers, Saturday’s Texas Roadhouse 200 presented by Alpha Energy Solutions at Martinsville Speedway could be the difference between taking a major step toward securing a championship, or being left behind with just three races to go.
Christopher Bell, Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton, John Hunter Nemechek, Ben Rhodes and Austin Cindric all remain alive in the title hunt heading into the weekend. A win for any of these remaining playoff drivers will guarantee them a spot in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway next month.
Rhodes, who enters the weekend fifth in points, is looking to rebound from a disappointing spring race at Martinsville, where his truck fell victim to mechanical failure.
“We just need an overall good, solid run at Martinsville on Saturday,” Rhodes said. “We need to finish in the top-five – a win would be nice to guarantee our spot in the Final Four at Homestead, but it’s not necessary in this round. I think we can still play it safe, and get in on points. We just need a good run…We changed everything we can to cure those problems (from the spring race), and I think survival tomorrow is the biggest story.”
Sauter, the reigning champion of the Texas Roadhouse 200 presented by Alpha Energy Solutions, saw his championship run kick into high gear here last October. Three races later, he was crowned the Camping World Truck Series champion.
“Martinsville has been a really good race track for me personally. Last year, this is where we got on a roll. It’s the perfect place for me to start the second round, because we’ve been really good here through the years,” Sauter said Friday afternoon. “But, a lot of things can happen. I think it’s really important to qualify well here because it helps your pit strategy and allows you to get out front and, hopefully, stay out front and try to avoid the melees.”
Crafton set the pace in Friday’s first practice with a lap of 20.129, while Stewart Friesen topped final practice at 19.993.
The Texas Roadhouse 200 presented by Alpha Energy Solutions is the first race in the second round of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs. Last year, Johnny Sauter won the race, on his way to winning the series championship.
Kids 12-and-under are admitted free to the Texas Roadhouse 200 presented by Alpha Energy Solutions. Adult tickets to the race are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.