The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to action after nearly one month away for the final elimination race of the Round of Eight. The drivers will head to Martinsville Speedway and fight for spots in the championship race. This battle will be wild considering that no drivers have locked themselves in.
The first two Truck Series Round of Eight races featured first-time winners. Christian Eckes locked up the win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 24 and then Tate Fogleman won at Talladega Superspeedway on October 2. Both drivers are ineligible for playoff points, so their victories mattered little in the overall championship race. They just prevented other drivers from locking up spots in the final four.
Regular-season champion John Hunter Nemechek is in the best position heading towards Martinsville. He sits 36 points above the cutline, one point ahead of Ben Rhodes (+35). Matt Crafton is 10 points above the cutline while Sheldon Creed (+5) holds the final transfer spot.
The Truck Series elimination race will take place on Saturday, October 30, at 1 p.m. ET. FS1 will provide coverage for the 200-lap event as the Truck Series drivers kick off a packed playoff weekend that also features elimination races in the Xfinity Series and Cup Series.
Crashes Disrupted Multiple Drivers at Talladega Superspeedway
While four drivers sit above the cutline, the others have work to do. Stewart Friesen (-5), Carson Hocevar (-37), Chandler Smith (-34), and Zane Smith (-40) are all in danger of elimination after incidents at Talladega Superspeedway.
Zane and Chandler will enter the Martinsville race in must-win situations. Zane finished 33rd after a crash while Chandler ended his day 19th overall and multiple laps behind the field. He had to head to the pits after a crash so the No. 18 team could make repairs, but he was able to return to the track and finish the race.
Hocevar ended his day 25th after a crash while Friesen crashed and finished 22nd. Though only one of these drivers can easily secure his spot in the championship four with a strong performance at Martinsville. Friesen will have the opportunity to overcome a five-point deficit at a track where he has seven starts with four top-10s and one top-five.
Multiple Playoff Drivers Have Wins at Martinsville Speedway
All eight drivers will head to Martinsville Speedway with the goal of winning and automatically locking up a spot in the championship four. There are multiple drivers that have previous wins at the Virginia short track, including two still eligible for playoff points.
Matt Crafton, a three-time Truck Series champion, has two wins at Martinsville in his career. He held off Bubba Wallace on March 30, 2014, after leading 47 laps. He then returned to Victory Lane on October 31, 2015, after a fierce battle with Nemechek. Now he will fight for his third win at Martinsville and the opportunity to compete for a fourth title.
The driver of the No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota has also won a race at Martinsville Speedway, albeit with a different team. Nemechek captured the checkered flag on March 26, 2018, while driving for his family-owned team, NEMCO Motorsports. Kyle Benjamin made a late push and even hit Nemechek from behind, but he could not complete the pass in the final turn.
Nemechek will now return to Martinsville in the No. 4 Toyota. He has already reached Victory Lane five times in his first season with KBM, including at another short track in Richmond. Now Nemechek will fight for another win, which would lock him into the championship race.