Race Weekend Central

Tracking the Trucks: Sweet Redemption for Ross Chastain at Gateway

In a Nutshell: Just one week after having a win at Iowa Speedway stripped, Ross Chastain scored his second victory for Niece Motorsports at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway Saturday night. The driver of the No. 45 Chevrolet had to hold off hard-charging Kyle Busch Motorsports teammates Christian Eckes and Todd Gilliland on the final restart with seven laps remaining. Gilliland wound up second when Eckes spun on the white-flag lap and ended up 14th. Stewart Friesen ended up third, followed by Chandler Smith. Brett Moffitt rounded out the top five.

Grant Enfinger, who finished sixth, won the first two stages and led flag-to-flag in stage two. Meanwhile, rookie Sheldon Creed ended up seventh, just ahead of the ThorSport Racing trio of Ben Rhodes, Matt Crafton and Myatt Snider, rounding out the top 10.

Race Rundown

Todd Gilliland Scores Season-Best Runner-Up Finish

It’s been a tough sophomore season for Todd Gilliland, and it’s a year that Kyle Busch Motorsports owner Kyle Busch has been quite critical of his young group of drivers. The performance this season even brought about a crew chief shuffle to the No. 4 camp.

But Saturday night, Gilliland scored his season-best finish of second, surpassing a third-place result at Kansas Speedway last month. He started 11th after qualifying was rained out earlier in the day, and lost a few positions after taking four tires on the pit stop at the end of stage one.

A later two-tire stop put Gilliland inside the top five for the final stage, and he restarted fourth with seven laps remaining, following the final round of green flag pit stops. After some intense side-by-side battling with teammate Eckes and a last-lap spin for the driver of the No. 51, Gilliland ended up second.

“In practice, I thought this was going to be our night. Starting in the back didn’t help us there,” Gilliland said. “We had to do some pit strategy. We executed a really good race, so that’s one thing I’m really proud of and I felt like I drove a good race. Overall, like I said, just a well-executed weekend, really smooth.

“This is a brand new Mobil 1 Tundra so a good job to everyone at Kyle Busch Motorsports. This is one of the fastest Tundras I’ve had yet, and we just need to keep this momentum rolling.”

And momentum is exactly what Gilliland needs on his side as the regular season begins the downhill slide toward the playoffs.

Myatt Snider Shines in Substitute Role for Johnny Sauter

Just one week after tangling with Austin Hill under caution, Johnny Sauter was forced to sit out of Saturday night’s race at Gateway, and in his place, ThorSport driver Myatt Snider piloted the No. 13 Ford.

He started 10th and only moved up to ninth by the end of stage one, however, a bit of pit road strategy, combined with some strong moves on the track saw him finish stage two behind teammate Enfinger. Pit stops between stages two and three dropped Snider back outside the top 10, though he was able to move back to 10th by the time the checkered flag flew.

“We had a really strong Tenda Ford Performance F-150 tonight,” Snider said. “We were able to contend for the lead multiple times and chased down the front runners from over a straightaway back. I’m really proud of everyone on this team and proud of how we ran tonight. Also, very thankful to Duke and Rhonda (Thorson) for giving me this opportunity. I think we proved what this team is capable of and then some.”

While it’s unknown when or if Snider will make another Truck Series start, it’s runs like these that put his name in the conversation, likely leading to more starts.

Quick Hits:

  • Natalie Decker posted her fifth DNF in 11 races this season after she spun into the outside wall driver’s side first. The race broadcast didn’t have a decent replay to tell what happened, however, Decker exited the truck rather gingerly. A team representative confirmed later in the evening via text message that she had been released from the care center and was alright, despite there being no mention of her on the race broadcast or at the track.
  • The Triple Truck Challenge is complete, and three different drivers ended up taking home a $50,000 bonus apiece. Greg Biffle, Brett Moffitt and Ross Chastain took the bonus at Texas, Iowa and Gateway, respectively.
  • Harrison Burton had a strong run going and likely would have helped Kyle Busch Motorsports complete a race with all four trucks inside the top 10 until late-race contact with teammate Chandler Smith ended with Burton in the wall. Though he was able to keep going, the rookie was left to settle for a 16th-place finish after running inside the top five for much of the night.

Rookie Report
2019 Rookie of the Year Candidates:

No. 02 – Tyler Dippel
No. 2 – Sheldon Creed
No. 12 – Gus Dean
No. 17 – Tyler Ankrum (now running part-time due to sponsorship)
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: 0

Rookie of the Race: Anthony Alfredo, finished 12th


Up Next: The Gander Outdoors Truck Series heads to Chicagoland Speedway for a triple-header weekend at the mile-and-a-half oval. Coverage for the Overton’s 225 begins at 9 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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