Race Weekend Central

Tracking the Trucks: Spencer Boyd Scores 1st Career Win at Talladega

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In a Nutshell: Johnny Sauter crossed the finish line first, but Spencer Boyd walked away from Talladega Superspeedway with his first career win Saturday afternoon (Oct. 12).

“Two weeks ago, I wasn’t running this race,” Boyd said in victory lane. “…Four years ago, I was selling cars with my dad at Hendrick Automotive Group. A lot of people have believed in me to get me to this point. … Man, I don’t drink beer, but it’s gonna happen tonight.”

A NASCAR review of the final lap determined Sauter forced Riley Herbst below the yellow line while blocking and dropped him to a 14th-place finish. Todd Gilliland finished second, followed by part-time Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Herbst. Brett Moffitt and Stewart Friesen rounded out the top five.

Race Rundown

Stewart Friesen, Brett Moffitt Recover to Top Fives After Controversial Penalty

On lap 51, NASCAR assessed a penalty allowed by specific superspeedway guidelines in the 2019 rule book to Friesen and Moffitt. The offense? Locking bumpers.

Despite the penalty that caused the pair to lose the draft and fall off the lead lap during a late green-flag run, cautions inside 10 laps remaining gave both drivers the free pass and allowed them to move through the field. Moffitt and Friesen ended up fourth and fifth, respectively, on a day where the pair showed the kind of speed that could have put them 1-2 at the finish.

Moffitt, who was furious on the team’s radio at the time of the call, didn’t think any differently of the call by the time the checkered flag flew, despite recovering to a top five.

“I would love to see it, love to see where we locked bumpers because I was very conscious of it and staying off him, giving him a bubble,” Moffitt explained to Autoweek.com. “I would love to see proof. Everyone’s pushing the limit.’’

Friesen was a bit more laid back in his response, though he was just as confused about the call.

“I don’t really know what to say about anything,” Friesen said. “I didn’t see it. I have no idea, no clue. But we were fortunate to get back to the lead lap and get a fifth out of it.”

NASCAR senior vp of competition Scott Miller addressed the call after the race with Fox Sports.

“Those are tough calls, and I think there were several instances… finally they just kept doing it,” Miller explained. “There was really no other choice for us but to make that call.”

Once again, a judgment call brings NASCAR’s credibility into question at a superspeedway race. While there were times where it appeared the two locked bumpers periodically throughout the race, it wasn’t clear what finally necessitated the penalty. Obviously, the sanctioning body felt there was enough evidence for it to stand, though when a sport’s broadcast partner can’t even pinpoint what led to a penalty, it’s not a good look.

NASCAR Makes Controversial Call After Checkered Flag

Sauter may have crossed the finish line first, and though he did celebrate with a burnout and receive the checkered flag, he ultimately walked away with a 14th-place finish at Talladega Saturday afternoon. A controversial call by NASCAR determined Sauter forced Herbst below the double yellow line on the track while defending the lead coming to the checkered flag.

“It ain’t the first win NASCAR’s taken from me,” Sauter said after emerging from his truck. “I went down to put a little block on him, but then when I did, I got hooked sideways. That’s just plate racing. I didn’t block his advance or anything like that. If I remember, Tony Stewart and Regan Smith had the same deal a few years back. What are you gonna say?

“We did what we thought was right to win the race. Whatever.”

Despite a career-best third-place finish, Herbst was “bummed” because he felt like he “could’ve ended up in victory lane, for sure.”

“I could have absolutely stayed in the throttle and wrecked the whole field,” Herbst said. “I didn’t think that was necessary though. Tony Hirschman (spotter) put me in a good spot. He gave me a huge run off of (turn) 4 and I faked Sauter to the high side and he bought it. I went to the bottom and he drove me all the way to the grass.

“I’m glad NASCAR made the right call there. All in all, it was a good day in the [No.] 51 Tundra. I’m happy with the result.”

Officially, the penalty report lists the call as “NASCAR discretion” for “forcing another driver under [the] double yellow line.” It’s a judgment call that’s drawn criticism for the sanctioning body in the past and will likely leave people talking well into next week, even though the rule enforced is clearly written in the 2019 rule book.

“He actually did two things wrong,” Miller said. “He had his whole car down below the yellow line, which you can’t do, and you can’t force another car below the yellow line and he did both.”

Regan Smith summed up what many are likely thinking following a pair of controversial calls Saturday.

Quick Hits:

  • Several of the playoff drivers found themselves involved in a variety of incidents throughout the race, but despite all of that, five of the six remaining in the championship battle ended up inside the top 10. The only outlier was Ross Chastain, whose ill-timed block at the front of the field sent him wrecking and knocked him out the race with a 22nd-place finish.
  • Tyler Ankrum, who missed the season opener at Daytona International Speedway, made his first superspeedway start at Talladega. After starting on the front row alongside polesitter Matt Crafton, the rookie was sixth at the end of stage two after falling outside the top 10 in stage one. A later speeding penalty during a round of green-flag pit stops put Ankrum a lap down before he received the free pass on the final yellow that set up the overtime finish. He ended up seventh by the time the checkered flag flew.
  • After leading 15 laps in stage one, Sheldon Creed got hit with a tire violation during his pit stop under the stage two caution and was forced to restart at the tail end of the field. By the time the checkered flag flew, he had recovered to ninth. It was the rookie’s sixth straight top-10 finish and his 10th overall this season.
  • Boyd’s win highlights a largely up-and-down day for Young’s Motorsports. The organization fielded three trucks at Talladega, and rookie Tyler Dippel was the first to retire after a crash just 29 laps in. Meanwhile, Gus Dean crashed just before the field took the white flag, suffering a hard hit that appeared to leave him with a bit of a limp after emerging from the truck. It was a few minutes after the checkered flag flew before NASCAR declared Boyd the winner.
  • Dean became the victim of late-race jockeying and was sent spinning into the inside wall. The impact with the SAFER barrier raised the back end off of the track and put Dean out of the race on the spot. He ended up with a 20th-place finish and his sixth DNF in 20 starts this season.

  • Saturday’s race was slowed by seven cautions and a pair of red flags, one of which came after the Big One on lap 89 that officially involved 10 trucks. The first involved a bit of confusion for the FOX Sports 1 crew over fluid on the track. The trio speculated it had come from Mason Massey‘s No. 33 Chevrolet, which had gone to the garage and ultimately retired with an engine failure, though no one sounded completely sure about the source.
  • Ask anyone who’s truly passionate about NASCAR and you’ll hear most people say the sport has some of the greatest fans across the board, and that was on full display at Talladega, though the story wasn’t really covered. Jennifer Jo Cobb, who typically depends on the bigger teams that have fallen out of the race for extra tires at superspeedway events, found herself in a predicament after spinning in the fluid that brought out the first red flag.

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: 7

Number of Rookies Finishing in the Top 10: 2; Ankrum, finished seventh; Creed, finished ninth

Rookie of the Race: Ankrum

Points Update: Moffitt was the highest finishing playoff driver, allowing him to expand his lead over the cut line to 45 markers. Friesen leaves Talladega with a 22-point advantage over fifth-place Ankrum. Austin Hill sits third, followed by Crafton, who sits just one marker ahead of Ankrum. Chastain, who was the only playoff driver to score a DNF, is currently sixth, two points behind Crafton and the final Championship 4 position with two races remaining in the Round of 6.

ThorSport Racing teammates Sauter and Grant Enfinger, who were eliminated at Las Vegas Motor Speedway the last time the Truck Series raced, are separated by just nine points and sit seventh and eighth, respectively.

Ben Rhodes holds a nearly 40-point lead over the remainder of those who didn’t make it to the championship battle in ninth. SCreed rounds out the top 10.


Up Next: The Truck Series takes a weekend off before heading to Martinsville Speedway on Saturday, Oct. 26. Coverage for the NASCAR Hall of Fame 200 begins at 1:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate and SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90.

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