Race Weekend Central

NASCAR Mailbox: Who Could Sneak into the Truck Series Playoffs With 2 Races Left?

So far in 2019, there has been a debate as to whether the current NASCAR season has been a good one, leading to a more existential question of what exactly makes for a good race.

Does a good race need constant side-by-side action? Does strategy and a good finish do enough for people to classify a race as good or does it need much more than that?

In the Gander Outdoors Truck Series, there are only two more races until the playoffs begin with Eldora and Michigan. standing in the way. There are several drivers who are nervously hanging on by the skin of their teeth at the cutoff and a few who are outside looking in who are also capable of stealing a win.

Who may fall out and what are the chances somebody finds their way in? Can we see a new winner for the final two races or will each winless driver inside the top eight at the moment make it in?

Q: There has been a lot of talk about what makes for a good race. What do you think a good race entails? Sean S., Hagerstown, MD

A: A good race is one that fans and everyone else watching can get excited about during the entire event. While every race does seem to have at least one long green-flag run with little action, many will still deem it a good race if there is a good finish or exciting racing near the end.

Jeff Gluck from The Athletic runs a poll each week, simply asking, “Was ____ a good race?” With this question, so many people on Twitter debate what makes a race a good race and why the poll results have had a greater yes than no (or vice-versa). Many believe the races have been good only at the end and that is what influences people to vote “yes” even though it may have only been exciting for the last few laps.

We have seen races this season have action from the drop of the green flag all the way until the checkered such as both Daytona races, Chicago, Bristol, Charlotte and Talladega. I’m sure I left out a few, but the point is that it seems as though more people have believed that this season has been better than some in the recent past. While the disgruntled fans are still present, statistics show that this has been one of NASCAR’s better years.

Kentucky provided arguably the most amazing finish we have seen in this sport in quite some time. There were those who said that the race was dull for the first 230 laps or so, yet the poll Gluck posted received a high amount of votes for it being a good race.

Does an amazing finish mean it was a good race? Not necessarily. The finish of a race does have a big impact on the overall perception, which would make sense as to why some statistically average races received higher praise than others. In reality, there have been some events that weren’t that great but made up for it with a fantastic finish.

Being at a race can change the perception too because TV does not capture everything you see in person. Personally, I think most races I go to have been good but many watching on TV have thought otherwise.

Overall, a good race has so many characteristics to it. You can have multiple strategies, lots of passing and close racing, side-by-side racing throughout a good portion of the event, and of course, a great finish. These are what make up a great race.

Q: With the playoffs approaching next month for the Truck Series, who do you think is shaping up for a big run to make it, or is someone just slumping and in danger of falling out? Matthew R., Plano, TX

A: The playoff race for the Gander Outdoors Truck Series has really closed up in the last few weeks. Since Tyler Ankrum locked himself in a few races ago, it seemed as if the battle was done and the eight drivers were set with a 60-point gap back to ninth place Harrison Burton.

Now, that has all changed.

Burton is now only 13 points behind Stewart Friesen for the final spot in the playoffs. Ankrum’s win at Kentucky shook up the battle even more than we thought. While Burton has scored the fifth-most points in the series this season, he is outside of the cutoff since he has not yet made it to victory lane.

With that said, Burton is coming on at the right time of the season. After his third-place finish at Pocono, that makes it five top five’s in the last six races, including two straight third-place finishes. He is getting close to finding victory lane, and with only a few races left until the playoffs, time is running out.

Friesen’s playoff run was severely affected after Pocono, after a lap one crash relegated him to a last-place finish (32nd). The one good thing he does have going for him is the series heads to Eldora later this week, which is his cup of tea. Everybody knows Friesen’s dirt background and how talented he is when it comes to dirt racing. He will definitely be one of the favorites to win this week.

The one driver I would keep my eye on is Matt Crafton. Even though he is a solid third in points, he could be the one driver in danger of falling out if he does not score a win soon. Friesen has an excellent shot this week with his experience and Burton is inching toward that first win every single week. If those two find victory lane, Crafton would be outside of the cutoff and miss the playoffs. The good news is that he has won at Eldora before (2017). The bad news is that he hasn’t won since then.

No matter what happens in the final few races before the playoffs, the battle will be one for the ages with young drivers and veterans mixed in. We will have some very good trucks miss the playoffs this year, which just shows how tight the competition is. It is going to be exciting to watch for all of us.

PS: If anyone has any questions, please submit them to us on Twitter or Facebook and we will gladly feature yours in next week’s edition.

About the author

Brandon is a 22-year-old from NY and has been a passionate follower of motorsports for 14 years now. He recently graduated from Molloy College on Long Island with a BA in Communications. Working within NASCAR has been a dream for Brandon for a while, and he hopes to be able to live out the dream in the very near future.

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