NASCAR National Series Special Edition News & Notes - Phoenix Raceway

NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: Season Finale 500

The Place: Phoenix Raceway

The Date: Sunday, November 8

The Time: 3 p.m. ET

TV: NBC, 2 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 312 miles (312 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 75),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 190), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 312)

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Next Race: Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 200

The Place: Phoenix Raceway

The Date: Saturday, November 7

The Time: 5 p.m. ET

TV: NBCSN, 4:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio                   

Distance: 200 miles (200 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 45),

Stage 2 (Ends on lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on lap 200)

 

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series

Next Race: Lucas Oil 150

The Place: Phoenix Raceway

The Date: Friday, November 6

The Time: 8 p.m. ET

TV: FS1, 7 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio                   

Distance: 150 miles (150 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 45),

Stage 2 (Ends on lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on lap 150)

 

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship 4 (In Alphabetical Order)

Below is an in-depth look at the four drivers who have qualified for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship 4 and will race for the title at Phoenix Raceway in the Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 200 on Saturday, Nov. 7 (at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

 

Justin Allgaier (No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro)

Following a three-win season and a second-place finish last weekend at Martinsville Speedway, JR Motorsports’ driver Justin Allgaier punched his ticket to the Championship 4 finale at Phoenix Raceway on Saturday. Allgaier’s season started out as a struggle and it wasn’t until his first win of the season at the first race of the Dover International Speedway doubleheader that things started to turn around. Up until that point, Allgaier had five DNF’s and was involved in various on-track incidents that put him out of races early. However, aside from those issues, his other finishes were consistent, and he was always running up front, having led 932 laps so far this season. Now for the fourth time in five years the veteran driver has a shot at the Xfinity championship in Phoenix – he finished third is his first two Championship 4 appearances (2016, 2017) and fourth in last season’s appearance.

 

Allgaier has made 32 series starts in 2020 gathering three wins (Dover-1 and both Richmond races), 10 top fives, and 18 top 10s. He has also led 932 laps this season and has managed an average start of 9.5 and an average finish of 13.6. In addition, Allgaier has posted solid season-to-date loop data stats, including a driver rating of 104.0 (fifth-best), an average running position of 8.490 (fifth-best), a total of 449 fastest laps run (third-most), and completed 89.4% of his laps (4,909) in the top 15 (second-best).  

 

Playoff Recap: Allgaier has had an up-and-down Playoff run this season. The first round started off with a fourth-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The following week at Talladega, Allgaier finished 29th and the Round of 12 ended at the Charlotte ROVAL, where he finished 23rd. In the next round, he kicked off with a 10th-place finish at Kansas Speedway but went on to Texas Motor Speedway and finished 26th. Martinsville Speedway last weekend was a nail-biter, as he needed every point he could get to solidify his Championship 4 spot but with a second-place finish and a win in Stage 2, Allgaier pulled it off.

 

Phoenix Outlook: Expect Allgaier to run well this weekend for the title, as he has the most NASCAR Xfinity Series starts (20) at Phoenix Raceway among the Championship 4. Allgaier has two wins (2017, 2019) and seven top fives and 12 top 10s. He has an average start of 10.2 and an average finish of 8.8 and has led 385 laps. With this being the first time the season finale is at Phoenix Raceway, and with Allgaier having won the second race at the track last season, expect the momentum from the No. 7 team to be strong on Saturday.

 

Crew Chief Corner: Jason Burdett, crew chief for the JR Motorsport’s No. 7 Chevrolet team, began his racing career with several local teams around the Watkins Glen area. In 1998, he transitioned to North Carolina and joined Robert Yates Racing. A year later, he helped Jarrett’s team to the title as a tire specialist. He then moved to Hendrick Motorsports, and in 2001 Burdett earned a second championship with driver Jeff Gordon. In 2007, Burdett joined Michael Waltrip Racing, reuniting with Jarrett, and serving as crew chief of the No. 44 team in the latter half of the season. It was there he honed his skills at the top level of NASCAR competition and leveraged the experience into a return to Hendrick Motorsports in 2008. In the five years since, Burdett excelled as car chief on the No. 24 team from 2008-10 before moving over to Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 team from 2011-14. In 2015, he joined JR Motorsports as crew chief of the No. 7 car with driver Regan Smith; the pair finished fourth in series standings that season. Allgaier replaced Smith in the No. 7 car in 2016 and duo has worked together ever since producing 11 wins and four Championship 4 appearances.

 

Team Talk: JR Motorsports has won three NASCAR Xfinity Series driver championships, all with Sunoco rookies – Chase Elliott in 2014, William Byron (2017) and Tyler Reddick (2018). JR Motorsports began its NASCAR Xfinity Series program in 2005 with driver Mark McFarland and since has won 51 series races; including five this season. JR Motorsports has 1,317 starts in the Xfinity Series with 357 top fives and 744 top 10s.

 

Chase Briscoe (No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang)

Following a career-best season, Chase Briscoe punched his ticket to Phoenix in the first race of the Round of 8 at Kansas Speedway. Briscoe was unstoppable this season, racking up nine wins in 32 races. In only his second full-time season in the Xfinity Series, the Mitchell, Indiana driver heads to Phoenix Raceway as one of the favorites to win the championship. It was also announced a few weeks ago that Briscoe will make the jump to the NASCAR Cup Series next season, taking over the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford for Clint Bowyer. In 82 Xfinity Series career starts, he has 11 wins.

 

Briscoe, the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series Rookie of the Year, has made 32 series starts in 2020 gathering nine wins (Las Vegas-1, Darlington-1, Homestead-Miami-2, Pocono, Indianapolis Road Course, Dover-2, Bristol-2, Las Vegas-2, Kansas-2), 16 top fives, and 21 top 10s. He has also led 991 laps this season and has managed an average start of 6.4 and an average finish of 8.4. In addition, Briscoe’s season-to-date loop data statistics have been some for the books, too, including a driver rating of 110.2 (second-best), an average running position of 7.722 (third-best), a total of 557 fastest laps run (second-most), and completed 86.6% of his laps (4,561) in the top 15 (sixth-best).  

 

Playoff Recap: With the uncertainty that some of the tracks in the Playoffs brought, Briscoe’s wins in both opening races of the Round of 12 and Round of 8, made his run to the Championship 4 a little bit less stressful. Winning at Las Vegas-2 punched his ticket to the Round of 8 so his 19th-place finish and 18th-place finish at Talladega and the Charlotte ROVAL didn’t completely count him out. He then went on to win at Kansas-2, the opening race of the Round of 8 and has less pressure heading to Texas Motor Speedway, where he finished 24th, and Martinsville Speedway last weekend, where he finished seventh.  

 

Phoenix Outlook: Briscoe has three starts at Phoenix Raceway. He made his debut at the track last season and finished sixth. In the second race at the track in 2019, he finished eighth and earlier this season, he finished sixth. Like every other weekend, expect Briscoe to start at the front and be a race-winning contender during the duration of the race. With more time to prepare for Phoenix than other teams, Briscoe will head into Saturday’s race with momentum on his side.

 

Crew Chief Corner: As a former child, Richard Boswell can appreciate and understand the needs of his driver and team. Boswell’s motorsports career started by helping his father, Dickie Boswell, working on his late model stock car. His father competed in 57 Xfinity Series races spread over six seasons in the 1980’s. Boswell followed in his father’s footsteps and went on to win multiple World Karting Association national titles in 1998. He graduated to late model racing in 2001 and Dale Earnhardt Jr. noticed Boswell’s talent and brought him over to JR Motorsports in 2006. He piloted the team’s entry in the Hooters Pro Cup Series and made 19 starts with three top fives while also working on the Xfinity Series program for the team. It was then then that Boswell decided to focus on becoming a top crew chief in NASCAR. He earned a mechanical engineering degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, all while racing on his own. In 2014, Boswell worked on Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 48 of Jimmie Johnson and returned to JR Motorsports in 2015. Two years later, Boswell transitioned to Stewart-Haas Racing to lead the team’s part-time effort. Boswell worked with veterans Kevin Harvick and Arica Almirola. After back-to-back part-time schedules with various drivers at SHR, Boswell joined Chase Briscoe full-time in 2019. Together, they have 10 wins, 29 top fives and 47 top 10s.

 

Team Talk: Stewart-Haas Racing hasn’t won a NASCAR Xfinity Series driver championship yet. The team began its NASCAR Xfinity Series program in 2017 and has since won 18 races, nine of them in this season. Stewart-Haas Racing finished runner-up last season with Cole Custer in the Championship 4. Briscoe made the Playoffs but was eliminated in the Round of 8 in 2019. By virtue of Custer’s second-place finish in the 2018 finale, the team won their first Xfinity Series owners’ championship by one point over Chip Ganassi Racing.

 

Austin Cindric (No. 22 Team Penske Ford Mustang)

It was a career season for Austin Cindric, who grabbed five wins with three of them coming back-to-back. Cindric swept the Kentucky Speedway doubleheader weekend and then went on to win at the first Texas Motor Speedway. Cindric, who announced that he would return to the Team Penske No. 22 in 2021, also announced that he would be promoted to the NASCAR Cup Series in 2022, taking over the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford. Cindric’s first win at Kentucky automatically put him in the Playoffs.

 

Cindric has made 32 series starts in 2020 gathering five wins (Kentucky-1 & 2, Texas-1, Road America and Daytona Road Course), 18 top fives, and 25 top 10s. He has also led 875 laps this season and has managed an average start of 6.6 and an average finish of 8.9. In addition, Cindric has posted great numbers in season-to-date loop data stats, including a driver rating of 111.0 (series-best), an average running position of 7.530 (second-best), a total of 571 fastest laps run (series-best), and completed 86.2% of his laps (4,544) in the top 15 (seventh-best).  

 

Playoff Recap: In the Round of 12, Cindric finished in sixth place in the Playoffs opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The following week at Talladega Superspeedway, Cindric finished 34th and looked to the following week at the Charlotte ROVAL to clinch his spot in the next round. At the ROVAL, he finished with another sixth-place finish. In the Round of 8, Cindric struggled after being involved in a couple on-track incidents and opened the round at Kansas Speedway with a 28th-place result. But a fourth-place finish at Texas-2 and a 10th-place finish last weekend at Martinsville were good enough to punch his ticket to the Championship 4.

 

Phoenix Outlook: Cindric has had pretty good results at Phoenix Raceway in the past and you can expect him to be running up front on Saturday. This weekend will mark his sixth start at the track. He has two top fives and four top 10s in those starts. He’s led 25 laps and has an average start of 6.6 and an average finish of 7.8. Cindric was eliminated from the Playoffs last season and in 2018 in the Round of 8. This will be Cindric’s first Championship 4 appearance.

 

Crew Chief Corner: Brian Wilson, crew chief or the No. 22 Team Penske Ford, joined Team Penske in 2004. He first served as a shock specialist with the team. Since then, he has served as a race engineer on the No. 22 NASCAR Xfinity Series team as well as the No. 2 NASCAR Cup Series team. Wilson played a role in the first two championships. He was the race engineer on the No. 22 team that won the Xfinity Series title in 2010 and was also the race engineer in 2012 on the No. 2 Cup Series team. In 2016, Team Penske announced that Wilson would be the crew chief for the No. 22 Xfinity Series Ford. Since he was named crew chief in 2016, he has 129 starts, 17 wins, 66 top fives and 99 top 10s.

 

Team Talk: Team Penske won three consecutive NASCAR Xfinity Series owner championships from 2013-15, tying Roger Penske with William Baumgardner and Joe Gibbs for the longest consecutive streak in series history. Team Penske added a fourth owner championship in 2017.  This year marks Team Penske’s 18th year competing in the Xfinity Series. The team has 630 starts, 75 victories, 295 top fives and 436 top 10s.

 

Justin Haley (No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro)

Justin Haley is also having a career-best season in 2020. In only his second full-time season in the Xfinity Series, Haley captured his first career victory at Talladega Superspeedway. He then went on to win at Daytona International Speedway and the second race at Talladega Superspeedway. Haley’s third win of his career and third of the season at Talladega marked his third straight victory in a superspeedway event, a streak matched only by Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

 

Haley has made 32 series starts in 2020 gathering three wins (Talladega-1 & 2, Daytona-2), 10 top fives, and 20 top 10s. He has led 113 laps this season and has managed an average start of 7.3 and an average finish of 10.4. In addition, Haley has posted solid season-to-date loop data stats, including a driver rating of 96.6 (seventh-best), an average running position of 9.225 (seventh-best), a total of 185 fastest laps run (eighth-most), and completed 87.9% of his laps (4,629) in the top 15 (fifth-best).  

 

Playoff Recap: Haley has been extremely consistent during the duration of the Playoffs. At the opener in Las Vegas, Haley finished 10th and then he went on to win at Talladega, securing his spot in the Round of 8. At the Charlotte ROVAL, he finished 35th but didn’t have to worry since he won the week prior. In the Round of 8 opener at Kansas Speedway, Haley finished fourth and the following week at Texas, he finished seventh. Last weekend, Haley’s 12th-place finish was just enough to get him into the Championship 4.  

 

Phoenix Outlook: Saturday will be Haley’s fourth start at Phoenix Raceway in his Xfinity Series career. He has one top five and two top 10s, his best finish coming most recently earlier this season in fifth. He completed all laps attempted at the track and has an average start of 12.7 and average finish of 8.0.

 

Crew Chief Corner: Alex Yontz, crew chief for the No. 11 Chevrolet of Justin Haley, has been crew chief since July 2019. Yontz is in his 18th year in racing after getting his start in go-karts at a young age. He went on to race in various series including Legends cars, Late Models, ASA National Series, ARCA and the Gander Trucks. Yontz has 55 starts as a crew chief for Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity Series. He has for wins, 14 top fives and 30 top 10s. This is his first Championship 4 appearance.

 

Team Talk: This weekend will mark Kaulig Racing’s first Championship 4 appearance. In 2019, Haley made it to the Playoffs but was eliminated in the Round of 12. In 2018, Ryan Truex made the Xfinity Series Playoffs but was also eliminated in the Round of 12. In 2017, Blake Koch made the Playoffs for the second season in a row but only made it to the first round. Kaulig Racing’s first start in the Xfinity Series was in 2016. In the team’s five years, the have 224 starts, seven wins, 41 top fives and 105 top 10s.

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

Sunoco Rookie of the Year finale – It will be hard for Harrison Burton to not win the Sunoco Rookie of the Year award for the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series. Burton has 2,211 points and leads Riley Herbst in second by 32 points. Burton has won 21 awards and Herbst has won nine.

 

Xfinity Owner championship update – The four cars and drivers that made it to the driver Playoff standings Championship 4 are the same in the owner Playoff standings this season; guaranteeing a unified driver and owner championship this year. 

 

Manufacturers championship – Chevrolet is currently leading the OEM championship standings with 10 wins and 1,155 points. Ford is in second with 14 wins and 1,126 points. Toyota is sitting in third with eight wins and 1,069 points.

 

 

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series

 

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Championship 4 (In Alphabetical Order)

Below is an in-depth look at the four drivers who have qualified for the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Championship 4 and will race for the title at Phoenix Raceway in the Lucas Oil 150 on Friday night, Nov. 6 (at 8 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

 

Sheldon Creed (No. 2 GMS Racing Chevrolet Silverado)

Known for his diversity to drive anything with four wheels, Sheldon Creed, has been successful in just about every racing series he has competed in. Not only is the California native, Creed, an X-Games Gold-Medalist and two-time Stadium Super Trucks Series champion, but he also captured the 2018 ARCA Menards Series championship. Now the 23-year old has chance to add a NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series title to his resume this weekend at Phoenix Raceway in just his second full season.

 

Despite all the abnormalities to this 2020 season brought on by the pandemic, Sheldon Creed is having a career-year in the Gander Trucks. He kicked off the season posting five top 10s in the first seven races including his first series career victory at Kentucky Speedway to lock himself into the Playoffs for the first time in his career.

 

Then at the series debut of the Daytona International Speedway Road Course, he flexed his muscles and again reminded his competitors how talented he is grabbing his second victory of the season. He then followed that up with another win at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway and in the process earned enough Playoff points to qualify for the No. 1 seed heading into the postseason. In total Creed ended the Trucks regular season with three wins, six top fives and eight top 10s.

 

Playoffs Recap: Creed danced his way into the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Playoffs with momentum as the No. 1 seed but stumbled out of the gate finishing 13th in the Playoff opener at Richmond Raceway. Creed began to rebound in the next race at Bristol finishing 11th and turned it up at Las Vegas finishing runner-up behind fellow Playoff contender Austin Hill. He then survived the wild card that is Talladega with a 12th-place finish and continued his ascension towards the Championship 4 with a runner-up finish at Kansas the following week. But it wasn’t until two weeks ago when he lassoed his fourth victory of the season at Texas Motor Speedway to secure his chance at a title in the Championship 4 round at Phoenix. Creed concluded the Round of 8 with an eighth-place finish last weekend at Martinsville.  

 

Phoenix Raceway Outlook: The GMS Racing driver Sheldon Creed has made two NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series starts at Phoenix Raceway posting a 10th-place finish in 2018 and in last season’s Playoff race he started third and led 16 laps but finished 12th.

 

Crew Chief Corner: Veteran crew chief Jeff Stankiewicz took the reins of the No. 2 GMS Racing team fulltime in 2019 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with five races to go. Since then Creed and No. 2 team have won four times and put up 15 top 10s in 27 series starts and have qualified for not only the Playoffs but the Championship 4. Stankiewicz began his Gander Trucks crew chief career in 2011 with Brad Keselowski Racing and driver Parker Kligerman; the duo finished the year 11th in points. Since then Stankiewicz has worked with 17 different drivers in the Gander Trucks and joined GMS Racing in 2014 leading driver Joey Coulter to a top-10 (seventh) finish in the championship standings that year. The 2020 season marks the first time Stankiewicz has made the Playoffs and has advanced to the Championship 4. Stankiewicz has sat atop the pit box for seven series starts at Phoenix with seven different drivers. Of the seven, Spencer Gallagher in 2015 posted the best finish at Phoenix with a sixth. Stankiewicz also led Creed to his 12th-place finish in last season’s Phoenix event. 

 

Team Talk: GMS Racing won the 2016 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series title with Johnny Sauter behind the wheel of the No. 21 Chevrolet. It was the organization’s first, and to date only, NASCAR national series title. GMS Racing has 36 Gander Trucks wins to their credit since joining the series in 2013. They are the only team to have fielded a Gander Trucks Championship 4 driver (Johnny Sauter, 2016-2018; Justin Haley in 2018, Brett Moffitt in 2019 and Sheldon Creed, Brett Moffitt and Zane Smith in 2020) in all five years of the current elimination-style Playoff format.

 

Grant Enfinger (No. 98 ThorSport Racing Ford F-150)

When ThorSport Racing driver Grant Enfinger looks back on the 2020 season there is no doubt he will smile. The 35-year old, Enfinger, is having best season of his career this year and it all started with kicking off the season opener with a massive win at Daytona International Speedway. Now the talented driver from Fairhope, Alabama is looking to etch his name in the record books with a championship in the Gander Trucks.

 

Enfinger made a name for himself as an early driver in go karts before moving up to Legends cars and winning over 50 events in the Legends Series all across the Southeast including two Alabama state championships. He then moved up to Super Late Models before trying his hand at the ARCA Menard Series in 2008. In 93 ARCA starts he won the 2015 championship and put up 15 wins, 46 top five and 65 top 10s. Enfinger then made the jump to the Trucks, making just eight series starts for GMS Racing in 2016 but he won at Talladega Superspeedway in just his seventh start that season. The win helped propel Enfinger’s career, in 2017, Enfinger signed a fulltime deal with ThorSport Racing and has been challenging for wins with the team ever since.

 

This season, Enfinger has carried the ThorSport Racing banner winning a career-best three races in the regular season (Daytona, Atlanta and Richmond) and one more during the Playoffs (Martinsville) to lock himself in the Championship 4 for the first time in his career.

 

In total, Enfinger finished the regular season with three wins, six top five and 11 top 10s and was ranked as the fourth seed entering the Playoffs.

 

Playoffs Recap: Enfinger’s postseason started off strong with consecutive top 10s in the first two events at Bristol and Las Vegas. He then managed a 13th-place finish in a wild Talladega race and rebounded at Kansas with a fourth-place finish. But Enfinger’s Championship 4 hopes took a turn for the worst at Texas when he suffered engine issues relegating him to a 32nd-place finish. As a result, Enfinger dropped to sixth in the Playoff standings 35 points behind the Championship 4 cutoff heading into a must-win situation at Martinsville. And win he did, Enfinger put on a masterful display of short track skill and strategy to grab the checker flag at the 0.526-mile short track and guarantee his spot in the Championship 4 for the first time in his career. His previous best finish in the final championship standings was fifth in 2018.  

 

Phoenix Raceway Outlook: Enfinger has made three NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series starts at Phoenix Raceway posting two top-five finishes (fourth in 2018 and fifth in 2019). He also led 10 laps at Phoenix in 2018.

 

Crew Chief Corner: Veteran crew chief Jeff Hensley began his crew chief career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for his family-owned team Hensley Racing. From 1987 to 2001, Jeff Hensley worked as crew chief for the team and in 1990, Hensley led driver Chuck Bown to the series title. In 2004, Hensley joined with Bill Davis Racing in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series back and driver Bill Lester. Since then Hensley has worked with 17 different drivers through the years in the series but has been full time with Grant Enfinger since 2017. Prior to working with Enfinger, Hensley’s best season was with Mike Skinner in 2007, the pair finished the season runner-up in the points to NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. after posting five wins and 17 top fives. This season Hensley has an opportunity to become the third different crew chief to win a Xfinity and Gander Trucks titles joining Danny Stockman Jr. (Xfinity 2013, Truck 2011) and Randy Goss (Xfinity 2002, Truck 2000). 

 

Team Talk:  ThorSport Racing is the longest tenured team in the Gander Trucks and does it all from their Sandusky, Ohio, headquarters. The organization has a pair of Gander Truck titles to their credit – with driver Matt Crafton in 2013 and 2014. With over 1,000 entries in the series dating back to 1995, ThorSport Racing has won 36 times in the Gander Trucks.  If ThorSport Racing were to win the title this season they would break the tie with Hendrick Motorsports for the most NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series driver titles with three each. ThorSport would become the first organization in the Gander Trucks with four driver championships.

 

Brett Moffitt (No. 23 GMS Racing Chevrolet Silverado)

Brett Moffitt is looking to become just the fifth driver in series history to win multiple NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series championships; joining NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. (four titles: 1996, 1998, 2007, 2009), Matt Crafton (three titles: 2014, 2013, 2019), Jack Sprague (three title: 1997, 1999, 2001) and Todd Bodine (2006, 2010).

 

Moffitt won the 2018 Gander Trucks championship with the “little team that could,” Hattori Racing Enterprises, in a Toyota with Scott Zipadelli as his crew chief. This year he’s in a Chevrolet with the multi-truck GMS Racing outfit and has Chad Norris atop his pit box.

 

Moffitt’s road to the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Playoffs in 2020 was not an easy one. He didn’t win a race in the regular season and had to point his way into the Playoffs posting seven top fives in the first 16 races of the year. He finished the regular season second in the standings and his five stage wins garnered enough Playoff points to seed him fifth entering the postseason.

 

In addition to his Gander Trucks accomplishments, the 28-year old was the 2015 Sunoco Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Cup Series.

 

Playoffs Recap: Much like his regular season effort, Brett Moffitt had to point his way through the first round of the Playoffs posting a runner-up finish at Bristol, a 15th at Las Vegas and a seventh at Talladega. It wasn’t until the 20th race in the season and fourth race in the Playoffs that Moffitt finally found Victory Lane and did so at Kansas Speedway. The win catapulted Moffitt into the Championship 4 round for the third time in career (2018-2020).

 

Phoenix Raceway Outlook: Moffitt has made two series starts at Phoenix Raceway posting a win in series debut at the Track in 2018 en route to his first career title and he also finished 10th in last season’s Phoenix Playoff race. He led just 19 laps in his 2018 victory at one-mile track.

 

Crew Chief Corner: Chad Norris began his crew chief career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Roush Fenway Racing with driver Matt Kenseth on a part-time schedule in 2005. From 2005 to 2012 Norris would crew chief on a part-time basis but in 2013 he named crew chief for Travis Pastrana at RFR and then worked with Trevor Bayne in 2014, Ryan Reed and Bubba Wallace in 2015. Then he made the move to Chip Ganassi Racing and worked with driver Brennan Poole for the 2016, 2017 seasons. Last season he moved to lone GMS Racing Xfinity entry with driver John Hunter Nemechek. The 2020 season marks his first full season of competition in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series. Working with Moffitt this season the duo have produced one win, 10 top fives and 15 top 10s.  

 

Team Talk: GMS Racing won the 2016 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series title with Johnny Sauter behind the wheel of the No. 21 Chevrolet. It was the organization’s first, and to date only, NASCAR national series title. GMS Racing has 36 Gander Trucks wins to their credit since joining the series in 2013. They are the only team to have fielded a Gander Trucks Championship 4 drivers in all five years of the current elimination-style Playoff format (Johnny Sauter, 2016-2018; Justin Haley in 2018, Brett Moffitt in 2019 and Sheldon Creed, Brett Moffitt and Zane Smith in 2020).

 

Zane Smith (No. 21 GMS Racing Silverado)

The rising star from Huntington Beach, California, Zane Smith, has the chance to become just the second rookie in series history to win the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series title; joining Erik Jones (2015).

 

Smith is just the third different Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate to make the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Playoffs Championship 4 round; joining Christopher Bell (2016), and Austin Cindric (2017). Both Cindric and Bell are tied for the best championship finish by a Gander Trucks rookie in the Playoff Era (2016-Present) – they both finished third in points.

 

Smith’s 2020 season has been a self-proclaimed dream fulfiller. The 21-year old GMS Racing driver has been lights out this season putting up two wins (Michigan, Dover) six top fives and 12 top 10s. He ultimately ended the regular season fourth in the standings, but his five stage wins were enough to seed him second in the points heading into the postseason.

 

Also, with his advancement into the Championship 4, Smith has clinched the 2020 Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors for the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series. 

 

Playoffs Recap: Smith’s path in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Playoffs to the Championship 4 has been a rocky one. His first round of the Playoffs saw a 16th-place finish at Bristol, a seventh at Las Vegas and a 33rd at Talladega barely making it through to the next round. In the Round of 8 everything turned around for Smith, he finished 11th at Kansas and then followed it up with consecutive third-place finishes at Texas and Martinsville to point his way into the Championship 4. 

 

Phoenix Raceway Outlook: Smith will be making his series track debut this weekend at Phoenix Raceway.

 

Crew Chief Corner: Veteran crew chief Kevin Manion made his crew chief debut on a part-time basis in the NASCAR Cup Series with John Andretti and in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with Dale Earnhardt Jr. Manion biggest success as crew chief came in the NASCAR Xfinity Series when he led Martin Truex Jr. to back-to-back titles 2004 and 2005. He then made the jump with Truex fulltime to the NASCAR Cup Series at Dale Earnhardt Inc. where the pair worked together from 2006-2010. He then worked with Jamie McMurray at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing from 2010-2013. In 2016 he joined Kyle Busch Motorsports and started crew chief for multiple drivers. Manion has begun to build a reputation for cultivating young talent. Last season, he led rookie Tyler Ankrum to his first win and first Playoff berth, and this season he has done the same with Zane Smith. Manion best finish in the final championship standings in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series is eighth, with Ankrum last season. Manion has worked with three different drivers at Phoenix in the Truck Series and led Daniel Suarez to a victory at the track in 2016.

 

Team Talk: GMS Racing won the 2016 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series title with Johnny Sauter behind the wheel of the No. 21 Chevrolet. It was the organization’s first, and to date only, NASCAR national series title. GMS Racing has 36 Gander Truck wins to their credit since joining the series in 2013. They are the only team to have fielded a Gander Trucks Championship 4 driver in all five years of the current elimination-style Playoff format (Johnny Sauter, 2016-2018; Justin Haley in 2018, Brett Moffitt in 2019 and Sheldon Creed, Brett Moffitt and Zane Smith in 2020). This is the first time since the inception of the elimination-style format in the Playoffs in 2016 that an organization has fielded three out of the four Championship 4 contenders in one season (Moffitt, Smith, Creed).

 

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, Etc.

Sunoco Rookie of the Year finale – With his advancement to the Championship 4, GMS Racing’s Zane Smith has clinched the 2020 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors. Smith enters this weekend’s event at Phoenix having put up two wins, six top fives and 12 top 10s. Smith has a chance this weekend to become just the second rookie in series history to win the title joining Erik Jones, who accomplished the feat in 2015.

 

Gander Trucks Owner championship update – The four trucks and drivers that made it to the driver Playoff standings Championship 4 are the same in the owner Playoff standings this season; guaranteeing a unified driver and owner championship this year. 

 

Manufacturers championship – The Gander Trucks manufacturers championship is very close and will be decided this weekend in Phoenix. Chevrolet is currently leading the OEM championship standings with nine wins and 787 points. Toyota is in second with seven wins and 780 points. Ford is sitting in third with six wins and 770 points.

 

NASCAR PR

Speedway Digest Staff

Follow us on Twitter @SpeedwayDigest