NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series News & Notes – Martinsville on March 23rd

One week after breaking his tie with NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. to become the all-time winningest driver in NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series history, Kyle Busch again added to his win total by collecting victory No. 53 at his home track, Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series
Next Race: NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series 250
The Place: Martinsville Speedway
The Date: Saturday, March 23
TV: FS1, 2 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 131.5 miles (250 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 70),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 140), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 250)
2018 Winner: John Hunter Nemechek

The win was the first of two on the weekend for Busch, who also won the NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Saturday, but fell short of the weekend sweep with a third-place finish in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday.

Busch has made 147 starts en route to his 53 career wins in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series – a winning percentage of 36.1%. He has also posted 95 top-five and 116 top-10 finishes. Plus, he’s led 6,608 laps and has an average finish of 7.0.

The speed at which Busch has accumulated these stats is pretty impressive.

To compare, Hornaday reached his 51st win in his 296th career start. He tallied 158 top-five and 234 top-10 finishes in the 360 total series starts he made.

And on the track in 2019, active Gander Outdoors Truck Series champs and ThorSport Racing teammates Matt Crafton (433 starts, 14 wins, 111 top fives, 257 top 10s) and Johnny Sauter (247 starts, 23 wins, 103 top fives, 159 top 10s) have impressive numbers – but still pale in comparison to the all-time leader.

Predicting the champ?

An interesting trend has been developing in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series. In five of the last six years, the eventual series champion won his first race of the season within the opening four contests.

The lone exception was in 2015, when Erik Jones first reached Victory Lane at Iowa in the ninth race.

Brett Moffitt won in the second race (Atlanta) last year, as did Christopher Bell in 2017.

Johnny Sauter took home the checkered in the season opener at Daytona in 2016. Matt Crafton won the second race (Martinsville) in 2014 after scoring a victory in the fourth race (Kansas) to win his first championship in 2013.

And James Buescher also won the fourth race of the season at Kansas in 2012.

When the trucks return from a two-week break at Martinsville, we’ll hit the fourth race of the season. Right now, only Daytona winner Austin Hill is in position to contend for the championship, as Monster Energy Series regular Kyle Busch won the other two races.

Looking at Martinsville, there are only two potential championship contenders with previous wins at the half-mile track: Johnny Sauter (Fall 2018, Fall 2016, Spring 2013, Spring 2011) and Matt Crafton (Fall 2015, Spring 2014).


Enfinger looks to maintain his lead

Grant Enfinger, driver of the No. 98 ThorSport Racing Ford F-150, maintains a hold on the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series points lead following an 11th-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last weekend.

In his third full-time season in the series, Enfinger has posted top-five finishes in the opening two races of the season and captured the points lead for the first time in his career following the Atlanta race.

At the series’ next track, Martinsville, Enfinger has an average finish of 13.4 in five starts – but has a fourth-place finish in the Spring race last year. Tossing out his 20th-place finish in a 2011 appearance, his average finish over the past two seasons moves up to 11.75.

Enfinger will need to continue with that level of consistency to stay on top in the points, where he currently holds a six-point advantage over Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Harrison Burton.

To compare at the track, Burton has also made five Martinsville starts, finishing second last year in the Fall race. He has an average finish of 11.0 with one top-five and three top-10 finishes.


Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders impressive early

Harrison Burton, driver of the No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra, not only leads the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, but he trails overall points leader Grant Enfinger by just six points in the series driver championship standings.  

Burton finished fifth at Las Vegas last week, just ahead of fellow rookie and sixth-place finisher Sheldon Creed. Creed sits second in the rookie standings but is 10th overall in the driver championship points.

Natalie Decker has put up solid qualifying efforts each week but hasn’t seen the results in the races she has been looking for to start the season. A blown tire ending her day on the opening lap of the Daytona race (32nd-place) and then finishing three-laps down in 24th at Atlanta.

But she rebounded nicely at Las Vegas, driving her No. 54 DGR-Crosley Toyota Tundra to a career-best 13th-place finish.

Tyler Dippel also struggled in the season-opener, finishing 29th after being caught up in an early crash, but he’s finished 11th (Atlanta) and 17th (Las Vegas) to get his rookie season back on track in the No. 02 Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado.

Of the four Sunoco rookies mentioned above, all but Decker have experience at the upcoming Martinsville half-mile track. Burton’s five starts have yielded an average finish of 11.0 while finishing second last Fall. Dippel has taken to the track once, placing 17th in the Fall last year. In that same race, Creed placed 19th.


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