By: Ashley McCubbin
Don’t let the spread out appearance of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule fool you, because there’s certain to be a lot of action when the tailgaters hit Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Friday, March 3 for the Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200.
It will be the first real test for Kyle Busch Motorsports after making the switch from Toyota to Chevrolet in seeing if they can repeat the success they have experienced in the past at the intermediate oval. After all, they have been victorious in five of the last nine races for the series there. Kyle Busch will be back behind the wheel himself, and that should certainly put the competition on notice. After all, he captured three of those trophies for his team, alongside two runner-ups for an average finish of 1.5.
The only other recent winner scheduled to be in the field is Christian Eckes, after winning there in September 2021 with ThorSport Racing. Outside of his victory, he has scored three other top-10’s, including a runner-up. However, he will be a different team than the past, driving for the third different team in the past couple years of his career having joined McAnally Hilgemann Racing for the 2023 campaign. Whether he can carry forth the momentum depends on the team’s intermediate program. There is momentum on his side, though, as he is the current points leader following a third at Daytona International Speedway.
ThorSport Racing will have a good chance at repeating their past success if you take a simple glance at their driver line-up, highlighted by Ty Majeski and Matt Crafton. They both bring momentum to Daytona, ranked second and third in points respectively.
Majeski was one of the drivers in the Championship 4 last season, consistently showing speed on intermediates as he challenged for victories, capturing the checkered flag at Homestead-Miami Speedway in October. He may have only placed 10th last season, but with how early the 1.5-mile oval fell in the schedule and his adaption to the trucks, it may not be a fair judge.
Crafton, meanwhile, knows what it takes to do anything in the series, given how long he has been involved and the multiple championships. In his five most recent Las Vegas appearances, he has scored no finishes worse than ninth, with the best of those being a third.
Don’t let a 20th-place finish at Daytona fool you for Matt DiBenedetto, by the way, as he was solid on the intermediate tracks in the Truck Series last season with three top-10’s, including a sixth at Las Vegas. You can expect him to be apart of the conversation alongside the other veterans on the grid.
On the flip side, Tanner Gray is one of the youngsters that will be apart of the conversation, as he enters the event ranked sixth in the standings, after a runner-up with Zane Smith at Daytona. Gray ran well at Las Vegas last season with a sixth, along with three other intermediate top-10 performances.
Smith. There’s a driver that should not be forgotten entering the weekend. Not only is your Daytona winner, but he also won the series championship last season following a pair of runner-ups in points. The only thing holding him back, as he has placed outside of the top-25 in his last two Las Vegas appearances after a pair of sixths and seventh in the first three.
Stewart Friesen was one of the drivers which Smith battled against last year, and will be apart of the equation once again as he has finished no worse than ninth in his last five Las Vegas Motor Speedway appearances, boasting an average finish of 9.4 over the past 10. As one of the drivers taken out early in the wrecks, he could utilize a rebound performance.
2018 race winner Grant Enfinger will try and put GMS Racing into the conversation, as he was the highest finisher out of their stable at Daytona in fifth. While he has seven top-10’s across 12 appearances at Las Vegas, though, the fact his average finish is only 12.7 explains the topsy-turby history he has with the oval.
Categories: Commentary, Feature, NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series
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