Race Weekend Central

Tracking the Trucks: Kyle Busch Snags Win in Wild Texas Truck Race

In a Nutshell: Kyle Busch scored his fourth straight win in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series Vankor 350 at Texas Motor Speedway Friday night. Several drivers, including runner-up Stewart Friesen, made a run at the lead during the final green flag run but just didn’t have enough to mount a challenge that stuck.

“It was a pretty good night for us,” Busch said in Victory Lane. “They made me work for it. They certainly got my money’s worth tonight.

“The Truck Series fans are the thoroughbreds of our sport,” he continued. “It’s coming out here on a Friday night, supporting the truck guys is what makes all this go round. So, appreciate them. And, of course, Gander Outdoors, Black Clover, DVX Sunglasses, Adidas and Incredible Bank. It takes a lot of us to get all of this to go, so it’s fun.”

Johnny Sauter and his ThorSport Racing teammates Grant Enfinger and Matt Crafton rounded out the top five.

Rookie Tyler Ankrum finished sixth, followed by Ross Chastain, who posted his fifth straight top-five finish with Niece Motorsports. Tyler Dippel and Brennan Poole each scored career-best finished and ended up eighth and ninth, respectively. Ben Rhodes rounded out the top 10, which puts all of ThorSport’s entries in the top 10 for the second straight event.

The race was slowed by nine cautions and a short red flag period. Grant Enfinger remains the point leader, heading into a more than one-month break before Dover.

Who Should Have Won: In his first Truck Series start at Texas Motor Speedway since 2014, it took less than 10 laps for Kyle Busch to jump to the top spot. By the time the checkered flag flew, he had lead seven times for a race-high 97 circuits and survived hard charges by Brett Moffitt, Stewart Friesen, Ben Rhodes and Ross Chastain, among others to extend his perfect record in Truck Series starts this season.

Race Rundown

Tyler Ankrum Excels in First 1.5-Mile Race

Prior to Thursday afternoon’s (March 28) pair of practice sessions, Tyler Ankrum, who had never run on a mile-and-a-half track, including Texas Motor Speedway.

Following his lap in round one of qualifying, he emerged from the truck and jumped up and down with a huge grin on his face. He was seventh-quickest and moved into the final round where he ultimately qualified sixth.

Fast forward to the race where the rookie, who made just his second start this year Friday night, remained inside the top 10 for the majority of the night before taking the checkered flag sixth.

“That was a long race. I had a ton of fun, though,” Ankrum said on pit road after the race. “Man, that was crazy. Restarting upfront there. Really, that was my biggest weakness all night was my restarts.

“We had a really good truck. The guys at DGR-Crosley – I can’t thank these guys enough for the truck they brought me. I just couldn’t believe that in my first mile-and-a-half we have this kind of a finish, this strong of a run. We actually raced upfront.

“It’s kind of still surreal. I raced against (Matt) Crafton, Kyle Busch, (Johnny) Sauter. It’s crazy. I even passed Sauter on the outside, I don’t think he realized how important that is for me. I had a ton of fun and I can’t wait to come back here.”

Ben Rhodes Unhappy With Brett Moffitt

Brett Moffitt got loose battling Kyle Busch and Stewart Friesen for the lead and dropped back, making contact with Ben Rhodes. The damage from the resulting cut tire sent Moffitt down pit road for an unscheduled pit stop, while Rhodes was able to continue, though he lost a substantial amount of momentum to the leaders.

Rhodes was none-too-pleased with the contact after the checkered flag flew.

“There at the end I thought we had a good second place finish going,” a visibly frustrated Rhodes said. “I had the outside rolling behind Busch, and I thought we could clear the two guys in front of me, but Brett Moffitt just cleared himself into my front nose. On the straightaway. I don’t know what was going on there.”

“Another incident from him,” he continued. “But that’s happened, we’ve got history I guess. He’s wrecked me twice in the past in the Truck Series. I’ll hold onto that. I’ve never really wrecked him and now he’s done that as well.

“I mean he put himself in a lot of bad positions tonight. It is what it is. We just have to know who we are racing with on the race track.”

Despite the contact, Rhodes ended up 10th when the checkered flag flew. He’ll have more than a month to cool down from the contact as the series will sit dormant until the first weekend in May at Dover International Speedway.

Quick Hits:

  • Anthony Alfredo, who made just his third career start, saw his run cut short when he got loose inside Stewart Friesen and spun hard into the outside wall. The extensive damage sparked a fire almost instantly, and the fluid put down on the track resulted in a nearly 16-minute red flag.

“I just got a little bit aero tight there on the bottom there,” Alfredo explained after emerging from the infield care center. “I tried my best to keep it on the bottom, but Stewart Friesen was on my door tight there, so I didn’t have any space to chase it. I got loose when he sucked the air off the right side. That happens in these trucks. They’re very sensitive. It’s pretty early to be aggressive, but that’s kind of a racing incident, I guess. That’s what happens in these things. I’m here to learn.”

  • For the second race in a row, ThorSport Racing put all of its trucks inside the top 10. Grant Enfinger started on the pole and ran a relatively uneventful race to a fourth-place finish. Johnny Sauter wound up third, and Matt Crafton finished fifth. Ben Rhodes, despite late-race contact with Brett Moffitt, still pulled out a 10th-place finish.
  • Greg Biffle spent most of the first practice session Thursday behind the wheel of the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota before giving way to Kyle Busch, who was scheduled for Friday night’s race. Biffle spent time in the truck in preparation for his start when the series returns to Texas June 7.

  • The Vankor 350 featured multiple three- and four-wide battles through the field. It’s still not clear how they didn’t wreck.

Rookie Report
2019 Rookie of the Year Candidates:

No. 02 – Tyler Dippel
No. 2 – Sheldon Creed
No. 12 – Gus Dean
No. 17 – Tyler Ankrum
No. 18 – Harrison Burton
No. 54 – Anthony Alfredo/Natalie Decker

Number of Rookies in the Race: 6

Number of Rookies finishing in the Top 10: 2; Tyler Ankrum, finished sixth; Tyler Dippel, finished eighth

Rookie of the Race: Ankrum

Points Update: Stewart Friesen’s runner-up finish allowed him to retain the point lead by six over Grant Enfinger. Ben Rhodes, who gained three spots sits 10 markers behind, just six ahead of teammate Johnny Sauter. Defending champion Brett Moffitt dropped two positions and rounds out the top five, 26 points behind the leader.

Matt Crafton is up two spots so sixth, followed by Austin Hill. Todd Gilliland gained a position, despite his early wreck, thanks in large part to teammate Harrison Burton’s crash. Sheldon Creed rounds out the top 10.


Up Next: The Gander Outdoors Truck Series heads takes the entire month of April off before heading to Dover International Speedway Friday, May 3. Race coverage begins at 5 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate or SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90.

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