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In a Nutshell: Kyle Busch stomped the field in his seventh straight Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series victory Friday night at Las Vegas Motor speedway. The owner/driver led 108 of 134 laps en route to a nearly six second victory over Johnny Sauter. Austin Hill and Matt Crafton put on a spirited battle for third, which Hill ultimately took. Ben Rhodes rounded out the top five.
— Las Vegas Motor Speedway (@LVMotorSpeedway) February 22, 2020
Tanner Gray Scores Career-Best 8th-Place Finish
When Tanner Gray joined DGR-Crosley full-time this year, he had just three starts to his name and then crashed out to a 23rd-place finish in the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway.
“I was disappointed in the way my first few truck starts went,” he said about 2019. “I felt like we were better than what we showed. I want more and I think the truck is capable of more.”
Fast forward to Las Vegas and he’s walking away with a career-best finish.
“I feel like I’ve struggled a little bit on the mile-and-a-halves as far as racing and being there at the end of a run,” Gray explained. “All in all it feels good; we overadjusted on the last stop and got it a little too free.”
For Gray, it’s a step in the right direction in his first full-time year in the series. But perhaps what’s more important is that he’s still working on his transition from winning the 2018 NHRA Pro Stock championship. And based on what we’ve seen in his first five Truck Series starts, Gray is one to keep an eye on throughout the 2020 season.
Sheldon Creed‘s Las Vegas Motor Speedway result may show a 10th-place finish, but that doesn’t begin to tell the story of his race. As one of the only drivers to show anything even remotely close to challenging eventual winner Kyle Busch, Creed battled hard with the two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion before ultimately getting loose and chasing his truck up the track… twice.
“I got to the point where I could run wide open behind him,” Creed said. “But Kyle’s so good, so smart, that I every time I almost got clear, he’d pull me right back. I could feel myself getting freer and freer and I knew I if I wasn’t careful I was going to get loose, and I ended up getting loose underneath him and lost a few spots.”
— NASCAR Camping World Trucks (@NASCAR_Trucks) February 22, 2020
— NASCAR Camping World Trucks (@NASCAR_Trucks) February 22, 2020
For Creed, it’s a tale of how far he’s come since the beginning of his rookie season. A year ago, he raced overly aggressively and well over his head and the ability of his trucks. As 2019 wore on, though, you could see the maturity shine through from the rookie, and it appears he’s picked up right where he left off.
As for his 10th at Las Vegas? It’s a confidence booster for the sophomore driver, who’s “been working so hard on my craft this year, in the gym and in general.
“It’s nice to see that my racing is getting better and I battled for the lead with one of the best. Got some work to do in the shop with our trucks.”
- Kyle Busch’s third victory in four starts at Las Vegas put him atop the list of race winners at the mile-and-a-half oval. Friday night’s trip to victory lane allowed him to surpass Mike Skinner and Jack Sprague, the only other two multi-win drivers at the track, who have two apiece.
- After struggling with his truck in practice on Friday, Matt Crafton and crew chief Junior Joiner, opted to adjust on the No. 88 Ford ahead of the Strat 200. Because it was an impound race, the unapproved adjustments dropped Crafton to the rear of the field at the start despite qualifying 13th. But it appears the work done by the team was just what was needed to give the truck the speed it needed for the race. Crafton recovered to a fourth-place finish.
- While Zane Smith‘s sixth-place finish wasn’t a career high for the rookie, it backs up an 11th-place run in the season-opener last weekend in only his third series start. He also currently leads the 2020 Rookie of the Year standings by a slim two-point margin over Christian Eckes.
- Tate Fogleman suffered ignition problems at the start of Friday night’s race and found himself in a hole early on. And while he never was able to rejoin the lead lap, he did receive a couple of free passes and ended up 19th on a night that could have been disastrous for the No. 02 team.
2020 Rookie of the Year Candidates
Tate Fogleman – No. 02 Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet
Raphael Lessard – No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota
Spencer Davis – No. 11 Spencer Davis Motorsports Toyota
Zane Smith – No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet
Tanner Gray – No. 15 DGR-Crosley Ford
Christian Eckes – No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota
Derek Kraus – No. 19 McAnally-Hilgemann Racing Toyota
Ty Majeski – No. 45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet
Number of Rookies in the Race: 8
Number of Rookies finishing in the Top 10: 2; Zane Smith, finished sixth; Tanner Gray, finished eighth
Rookie of the Race: Smith
Crazy night, first time on a mile and a half in a truck. Made some mistakes on my part, came from the back multiple times and brought home a P6 finish. Thanks @Cosmopolitan_LV pic.twitter.com/xoOYpPBoad
— Zane Smith (@zanesmith77) February 22, 2020
P12 tonight. We’d drive from the cheap seats to right outside the top 10 at the end of each stage. Just to have pit road miscues and go all the way back to 25th+. Passed apt of trucks and came home without a mark. First race for SDM wasn’t the best but wasn’t the worst. On to ATL
— Spencer Davis (@SpencerDavis_29) February 22, 2020
— Derek Kraus (@derek9kraus) February 22, 2020
Dang that was a tough one. Proud of everyone at @NieceMotorsport! We’ll be better at @amsupdates! Huge thank you to @iRacing. Sure meant a lot to me to have them on board. We have a lot to look forward to this season! #PressTheAttack ?? pic.twitter.com/yKUXHHOCP4
— Ty Majeski (@TyMajeski) February 22, 2020
Great @safelite Tundra tonight. Restart performance was poor on my end and put me in a position to get put in the fence, end of story. I’m ready for Atlanta already, hungry.
— Christian Eckes (@christianeckes) February 22, 2020
A race incident on lap 90 ended our night earlier than expected at @LVMotorSpeedway. The Toyota Tundra #4 was fast and lap times were getting better and better every lap!
Stage 1: P6
Stage 2: P8
Thanks to the #4 team ? pic.twitter.com/0fOKyp1TE7
— Raphaël Lessard (@raphael_lessard) February 22, 2020
Points Update: Austin Hill is the new point leader after a quiet third-place finish. Johnny Sauter sits nine points back after gaining one position. Ben Rhodes, who jumped 16 spots after a fifth-place finish is third, followed by Brett Moffitt. Sheldon Creed rounds out the top five.
Zane Smith jumped six spots to sixth and is followed by Daytona winner Grant Enfinger, who dropped six positions after a 31st-place finish. Christian Eckes, Todd Gilliland and Codie Rohrbaugh round out the top 10.
Series-regular winners this season: Grant Enfinger (Daytona)
Up Next: The Truck Series takes the next two weekends off before heading to Atlanta Motor Speedway Saturday, March 14. Coverage begins at 1:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate or SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90.
About the author
Content Director Beth heads up management of our 30-person staff, acting as Tom’s main assistant with technology and personnel while working as Frontstretch’s Truck Series expert. The author of Truckin’ Thursdays and the coordinator of the site’s pre and post-race coverage, she also runs a periodic charity column that spotlights when NASCAR gives back. A childhood transplant to Texas, Beth is a 15-year writing veteran who has contributed content to BRANDT and Athlon Sports, among other outlets.