Check out all the latest news and notes, including race times, for this weekend’s Strat 200 from Las Vegas…
NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series
Next Race: Strat 200
The Place: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
The Date: Friday, March 1
The Time: 9 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 8:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90)
Distance: 201 miles (134 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 30),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 60), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 134)
2018 Winner: Kyle Busch
King of the trucks returns home
Last week’s win at Atlanta Motor Speedway checked off another historic box in Kyle Busch’s NASCAR Hall of Fame-worthy career. It marked his 52nd trip to Victory Lane in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series – putting him in sole possession of first place on the series’ all-time wins list.
The win broke a tie with NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr.
Busch isn’t one to rest on his laurels as the Las Vegas native is heading right back to the track to take on the triple-header weekend at the 1.5-mile venue located right across the street from the 3/8-mile Bullring where he cut his teeth in racing.
He’ll pilot his No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota in Friday night’s Strat 200 (9 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in Saturday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Boyd Gaming 300 (4 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and then cap off the weekend in his Monster Energy Series No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the Pennzoil 400 (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Friday night’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series race could set Busch up to collect a hat trick of weekend wins for the third time in his career. Twice before (Bristol – August, 2010 and August, 2017) he has completed the sweep with the 2010 feat marking the first time a driver had taken the checkered flag in all three of NASCAR’s national series races in a weekend.
Also of note, Busch is part of a select group of 31 drivers who have captured at least one win in each of the three national series.
Busch doesn’t have an extensive Gander Outdoors Truck Series resume at his home track, but it is impressive. In his two starts, spaced 17 years apart, Busch placed ninth in 2001 and then won this spring race last year. As impressive are his starting stats – he started third in 2001 and was the pole sitter for the win in 2018.
Leader of the pack
By virtue of solid finishes in the opening two races of the season, journeyman Grant Enfinger has quietly taken the reigns of the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series points standings for the first time in his career.
After starting fifth at both Daytona and Atlanta, Enfinger crossed the line as the runner-up at the season opener and was third last week at Atlanta. That gives him a one-point advantage over Daytona winner Austin Hill in the points.
Now in his third full-time season in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series, Enfinger has a pair of wins to his credit – including last fall’s race at Las Vegas. In total, he has made five starts at the desert venue, and improved upon his finish each time he took to the track. His first venture in 2012 netted a 12th-place finish, and he scored a 10th-place finish when he returned in 2016.
Since then he finished ninth in 2017 and then fourth and first in the two races last year.
Overall, Enfinger has led 45 laps at Las Vegas – including 40 en route to the win in the fall. He’s completed 100% of the laps run during his five starts and has an average finish of 7.2.
Former Vegas winners in looking to double down
The field for the Strat 200 (Friday, 9 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) features five previous Las Vegas NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race winners – and all are looking to double their wins under the neon lights.
Johnny Sauter’s first career NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series victory came at Las Vegas in 2009, as he outlasted his then…and now current, again…teammate at ThorSport Racing, Matt Crafton. The win came from the front row, after qualifying second, and marked the first of 11 starts so far at the track for the Wisconsin native.
He won the race in a Chevrolet during his first stint with ThorSport but will be in the No. 13 Ford this time around for the Ohio-based team. Sauter has tallied six top-five finishes at Vegas, including four runner-up placements – two in the pair of races last year. He’s led 121 laps and tallied an average finish of 7.0 there.
Timothy Peters, now behind the wheel of the No. 44 Chevrolet for Niece Motorsports, won the race in 2013 after passing NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. on a late-race restart.
Peters has 11 starts at the 1.5-mile track, with one pole award, the win, and five top fives to his credit. He’s led 82 laps there and tallied an average finish of 10.4
However, his luck hasn’t been as good in recent years. After a string of six straight top-10 finished, Peters placed 11th in 2017 and 19th in the fall race last year.
Ben Rhodes also captured his first career NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series win at Las Vegas, beating Christopher Bell on the final restart and holding him off to take the win in 2017. The victory came in the second of four total starts Rhodes has made at the track.
Rhodes also has a strong average finish at Las Vegas, a 6.0, in fact. He’s led 24 laps (20 coming during his win) and completed all 570 of the laps in those starts.
Both of the winners from 2018 are back – Kyle Busch (spring race) and Grant Enfinger (fall race). Busch has just two Gander Outdoors Truck Series starts at his home track, while Enfinger has made five appearances at Las Vegas.
Fugle looking for win at Vegas
Rudy Fugle, who will be atop the pit box for Kyle Busch’s attempt at back-to-back wins this week, has won at a lot of tracks as a crew chief – 14 different ones in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, in fact – but never at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
If there was ever a time to bet on him to get that missing trophy, this weekend would be a good one. Fugle has 23 Truck Series wins – 17 of them on tracks 1-2 miles in length and 13 of those at 1.5-mile tracks. In fact, Las Vegas is the only active 1.5-miler he hasn’t won at.
And he’s going to Las Vegas this week with the all-time winningest Gander Outdoors Truck Series driver behind the wheel…in the driver’s hometown…where he is the defending winner of this spring race.
Sunoco Rookie Update: Burton Jumps Out Front
Heading to Las Vegas this weekend, the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series 2019 Sunoco Rookie of the Year class now has two races under their belts (Daytona and Atlanta) and look to be an impressive bunch already.
Kyle Busch Motorsport’s Harrison Burton has launched himself into the rookie standings lead, followed by Sheldon Creed (-11), Gus Dean (-23), Tyler Dippel (-33), Anthony Alfredo (-47), Natalie Decker (-18) and Tyler Ankrum (-67). The Huntersville, North Carolina, native scored some stage points and finished eighth in last weekend’s race at Atlanta to propel him into the rookie standings lead.
Burton also is ranked fifth in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series points standings, just 24 points back from the series standings leader Grant Enfinger. The other six rookies this season are ranked as follows in the driver points standings – Sheldon Creed (10th), Gus Dean (14th), Tyler Dippel (18th), Anthony Alfredo (27th), and Natalie Decker (29th), while Tyler Ankrum has yet to make a start this season.
All six rookies this season have yet to make a start in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series at Las Vegas, this weekend will be their track debut.
Decker, Ruch and Cobb are women to watch in Vegas
This weekend’s NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race the Strat 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will have three female competitors – Natalie Decker (No. 54 DGR-Crosley Toyota), Angela Ruch (No. 8 NEMCO Motorsports Chevrolet) and Jennifer Jo Cobb (No. 10 Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing Chevrolet) attempting to qualify for the event.
Decker, the 21-year-old Eagle River, Wisconsin, native is making the transition to the Truck Series after competing in the ARCA Menards Racing Series for the past two years. She is coming off a career-best season, finishing seventh in the 2018 ARCA driver championship standings after scoring two top-five and nine top-10 finishes throughout the 20-race season. This season, Decker exited the season-opener at Daytona early after a cut tire damaged her truck and relegated her to a 32nd-place finish. Then last week at Atlanta, she made her track debut at the 1.5-mile facility; starting 16th and finishing 24th.
Returning this weekend, after not competing at Atlanta, is 35-year old Puyallup, Washington native Angela Ruch, who will be piloting the No. 8 NEMCO Motorsports truck in Vegas. Ruch is coming off an eighth-place finish (second-best finish by a woman at Daytona) after becoming the first female competitor to lead laps at Daytona two weeks ago. Ruch is currently 21st in the series standings despite not starting last weekend. Both Decker and Ruch will be making their series track debuts this weekend at Las Vegas.
The veteran of the three women entered this weekend is Jennifer Jo Cobb, who is the only owner/driver of the three; as Jennifer runs her own trucks out of Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing. At the age of 45, the Kansas City, Kansas, native Cobb has been competing in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series since 2008. She and Ruch are the only two female competitors to have posted a top-10 finish in the series – Cobb finished sixth at Daytona in 2011. Cobb has made 10 series starts at Las Vegas, posting a best finish of 12th last season – which is the best finish for a female driver at Las Vegas in the Truck Series.
NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series etc.
OEM win breakdown: Chevrolet leads the manufacturers in truck wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with nine, but hasn’t won since John Wes Townley’s victory in 2015. Toyota has seven victories, including two recently back-to-back with Ben Rhodes (2017) and Kyle Busch (spring, 2018). Ford, the most recent winner in the fall with Grant Enfinger, has five series wins at Las Vegas. Dodge owns the other two series wins at the track – in 2001 with Ted Musgrave and in 2003 with Vegas native Brendan Gaughan.
Stefan Parsons attempting to make third start: Stefan Parsons, son of Phil Parsons and nephew of NASCAR Hall of Famer Benny Parsons, will be attempting to make his third NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series start, first of 2019. In the fall last year, Parson finished 15th at Bristol and 20th at Phoenix. He’ll be driving the No. 1 Beaver Motorsports Chevrolet.
Reed all about it – another Ryan is back: Ryan Reed returns to the track this weekend to drive the No. 17 DGR-Crosley Toyota at Las Vegas – the only site he has raced at previously in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series. He raced to a 17th-place finish at Las Vegas in 2012…his only career series start. Reed did run five full-time seasons in the NASCAR Xfinity Series all with Roush Fenway Racing, mostly recently posting 10 top-10 finishes in 2018.