After the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series took last weekend off, the series jumps back into action this week at Kansas Speedway for the Wise Power 200 (Saturday, May 1, at 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Kansas has hosted 22 Camping World Truck Series races with the first in 2001 – one per year until last year. In 2020, the series ran three races as part of the schedule re-shuffling that was a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The series ran a pair of races there in July, with Austin Hill and Matt Crafton winning. The trucks then returned in October for the Playoffs, with Brett Moffitt taking the checkered flag.
In total, 19 different drivers have posted a win at the 1.5-mile track with Crafton leading all with three victories. Kyle Busch is the only other driver with multiple wins at the track with two.
Amongst the remaining series regulars, only Johnny Sauter joins Crafton, Hill and Moffitt as an active winner at the track. Cup Series regular Ross Chastain has also recorded a victory at the track.
Three times in series history at Kansas the race winner gone on to win the Camping World Truck Series title that season:
2002 – Mike Bliss
2012 – James Buescher
2013 – Matt Crafton
Next Race: WISE Power 200
The Place: Kansas Speedway
The Date: Saturday, May 1
The Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 7 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 201 miles (134 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 30),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 60), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 134)
Toyota tops in trucks thus far this season
While much of the focus in Victory Lane in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this season has been on Kyle Busch Motorsports with their four consecutive wins in the most recent four races, what may be overlooked is that Toyota has actually started the season with six straight wins.
ThorSport Racing’s Ben Rhodes opened the season by sweeping the races on the two Daytona configurations. KBM then started their streak, with John Hunter Nemechek winning at Las Vegas, team owner Kyle Busch taking the checkered at Atlanta, Martin Truex Jr. on the dirt at Bristol, and Nemechek once again last weekend at Richmond.
This marks only the fourth time in series history that a manufacturer has started out the season with six or more wins in as many races and is the second time Toyota has done it. Toyota actually owns the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series record for the most consecutive wins to start a season with 10 in 2014.
Dodge and Chevrolet have each had seasons with eight wins to start out – Chevrolet in 1995 and Dodge in 2001.
The record-setting Toyota run in 2014 has one thing in common with the current streak – Kyle Busch. Busch won five of those 10 opening wins in that season.
Looking at the driver standings in the Camping World Truck Series, Toyota drivers hold six of the top seven slots and seven of the top 10 positions. Nemechek and Rhodes are sitting one-two in the standings, while Austin Hill and Matt Crafton are fourth and fifth.
How they’ll line up
Unsurprisingly, based on their performance this season, Toyotas will occupy the top five starting positions for this Saturday’s Wise Power 200 (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
The most recent race winner, Kyle Busch Motorsports driver John Hunter Nemechek, will start on the pole with team owner Kyle Busch alongside him on the front row. ThorSport Racing will take up the second row with Ben Rhodes in third and Johnny Sauter starting fourth. Another KBM driver, Chandler Smith, will start fifth.
Todd Gilliland breaks up the Toyota pack by starting sixth in a Front Row Motorsports Ford, followed by Hattori Racing’s Austin Hill in seventh in another Toyota.
The Chevrolets of GMS Racing drivers Sheldon Creed and Zane Smith will start eight and ninth, respectively. And the Halmar Friesen Racing Toyota of Stewart Friesen wraps up the top 10.
Saturday’s front row has seen success on the 1.5-mile track. Nemechek has three starts in the series at Kansas, posting a pair of top-five results. Busch has five series starts there with a pair of wins and three top fives.
Crew chief spotlight: Eric Phillips
When John Hunter Nemechek announced his intent to return to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series to compete for Kyle Busch Motorsports for the 2021 season, the team paired him up with veteran crew chief Eric Phillips.
This season marks a return to KBM for Phillips, who was originally with the organization from 2010 to 2014. He was a vital part in Toyota’s record-setting 10 consecutive wins to open the season, serving as crew chief for six of those victories – the five with Kyle Busch and then with Erik Jones at Iowa.
And he has another connection to Nemechek as Phillips’ first job as a NASCAR crew chief was in the Xfinity Series with NEMCO Motorsports – owned by John Hunter’s father, Joe. He sat atop the pit box for one race in 2003, guiding Joe to victory at Texas.
Phillips has 39 wins under his belt in the series, including two this year with Nemechek. That 39 is the most in the series for any crew chief, with 29 of them coming with KBM trucks.
Nemechek entered this season with six wins to his credit in the Camping World Truck Series, and it appears that matching him up with Phillips has been the perfect formula for KBM as the duo has already recorded two wins together.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Etc.
Hocevar maintains lead in Sunoco Rookie standings – In the most recent race at Richmond Raceway, Carson Hocevar’s 12th-place finish was enough to allow him to maintain a 10-point lead over Chandler Smith. Smith finished fourth in the race and earned the rookie of the race award. Hailie Deegan and Chase Purdy traded places in the standings.
|Sunoco Rookie of the Year|
Corey Heim to make national series debut at Darlington – Corey Heim, who has been a superspeedway ace this season in the ARCA Menards Series, will make his NASCAR national series debut next weekend at Darlington Raceway. The 18-year-old leads the series points after winning the season-opening event at Daytona and following that up with a victory at Talladega last week in the ARCA Menards Series. (He also wrapped up the 2020 season by winning the ARCA finale at Kansas.) Heim is scheduled to run two races for Kyle Busch Motorsports this season – first in the No. 51 JBL Toyota at Darlington and then in October at Martinsville Speedway.