Truckin’ it to the Post-Season: Eight-Driver Playoff Field is Set for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series; Unpredictability Awaits for Talladega Superspeedway's Sugarlands Shine 250, Oct. 12

13 Aug 2019
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The field is set for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, and eight drivers will be gunning for the championship title and the chance to hoist the series’ trophy when all is said and done. Among the eight contenders are an Alabama native, seasoned veterans, the reigning champ, and playoff newcomers who all have their eyes set on Talladega Superspeedway’s unpredictable Sugarlands Shine 250 on Saturday, Oct. 12 - the first race in the Round of 6.

If one of the eight drivers can take the checkered flag in the Sugarlands Shine 250, he will secure his spot in the Championship 4 finale where he will race for the championship title. After a reset of points, Fairhope, Alabama’s Grant Enfinger, who was crowned the 2019 regular-season champion last Saturday, heads into the playoffs as the second seed. Although he didn’t have a victory, he was consistent, reeling off seven top-five finishes and 13 top-10 results in 16 races.

He is three points behind the 2018 champion and top seed Brett Moffitt. The seven-race playoff stretch gets underway at Bristol Motor Speedway this Thursday, Aug. 15.

Two of the playoff drivers have gone to Gatorade Victory Lane at Talladega in the truck series, while three are former series champions and one has never competed at the 2.66-mile venue. The trucks have taken to the high banks of Talladega since 2006. 

Below are the eight drivers in the season-ending playoffs and their performances at Talladega Superspeedway (TSS):

  • Brett Moffitt, No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet: (2022 points/ second playoff appearance) Moffitt already has two wins under his belt in the 2019 season. His first appearance at the most competitive track in NASCAR came in last year’s Sugarlands Shine 250, where he placed 17th.
  • Grant Enfinger, No. 98 ThorSport Racing Ford: (2019 points/ second playoff appearance) Enfinger claimed his first career Gander Truck Series win in 2016 at ‘Dega, his home track. He has also competed at the venue in the ARCA Menards Series, earning three top-10 finishes. While he is still searching for his first victory of 2019, Enfinger will be making his sixth TSS start in the Sugarlands Shine 250, where he has an average finish of 11.6.
  • Stewart Friesen, No. 52 Halmar Friesen Racing Chevrolet: (2014 points/ second playoff appearance) Canada native Friesen made his first appearance at Talladega in 2017, and in 2018, he went home with a sixth-place finish. He is in his second season running full time and notched his first career Gander Truck Series win a few weeks back in his 63rd career start at Eldora. This season, he has nine top-five finishes and 10 top-10 results.
  • Austin Hill, No. 16 Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota: (2012 points/ first playoff appearance) Hill bookended the Gander Truck Series regular-season when he won the first race of the season at Daytona and drove to victory last Saturday at Michigan. He will be making his third TSS appearance in the Sugarlands Shine 250, where he has produced one top-ten that came last year (average 16.0).
  • Ross Chastain, No. 45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet: (2012 points/ first playoff appearance) Chastain has competed in all of NASCAR’s top three series at TSS and will be making his fourth Sugarlands Shine 250 start (average 17.3). Still chasing his first victory at the biggest track in NASCAR, Chastain has scored one top-five finish and one top 10. He declared that he would contend for the Gander championship title in the middle of the season, and weeks later, claimed a victory that would propel him to two more wins and a spot in the post-season.
  • Matt Crafton, No. 88 ThorSport Racing Ford: (2011 points/ fourth playoff appearance) The seasoned veteran is the only playoff driver to compete in all 13 Gander Truck Series events held at Talladega, but has just one top-five result (fourth), along with four top 10s. The two-time Gander Truck Series champion’s (2013, 2014) average finish at TSS is 16.8. Uncharacteristically, he has yet to go to victory lane since the 2017 season.
  • Johnny Sauter, No. 13 ThorSports Racing Ford: (2009 points/ fourth playoff appearance) In ten Gander Truck Series starts at ‘Dega, Sauter boasts one win (2013), three top-five results, and five finishes in the top 10. The Gander Truck Series veteran has also contended in all three of NASCAR’s national series at the track, and holds an average finish at TSS of 11.4 in the Gander Truck Series.
  • Tyler Ankrum, No. 17 DGR-Crosley Toyota: (2005 points/ first playoff appearance) Making his Talladega debut, Ankrum hopes to be the first to cross the finish line in the Sugarlands Shine 250. The rookie secured his playoff spot and picked up his first-ever series victory last month.

In addition to the Sugarlands Shine 250 on Saturday, Oct. 12 (12:30 p.m. CDT), the 1000Bulbs.com 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) event on Sunday, Oct. 13 (1 p.m.), will also have playoff implications. It is the second race (of three) in the Round of 12 in the MENCS Playoffs. Aric Almirola is the defending 1000Bulbs.com 500 victor.

During Talladega Superspeedway’s NASCAR Playoffs doubleheader weekend, the track, which opened its doors in 1969, will be celebrating the culmination of the brand-new Talladega Garage Experience. The Garage Experience will deliver extraordinary access for fans where they can be under the same roof where the teams and drivers are prepping the race car throughout race weekend. Fans with a Talladega Garage Experience admission will also be treated to incredible $4 or less Value-Priced Concessions (except for the $9 Big One Meatball), entertainment stage for local music, Driver Q&A’s and other interviews, social areas, a reserved area at Gatorade Victory Lane to witness the winner’s celebrations after each race, FREE Wi-Fi presented by Xtreme Concepts, Inc., Sunday pre-race ceremonies and Driver Introductions at the Start-Finish line and much more!

Anyone holding a Sunday ticket for the 1000Bulbs.com 500 will also have access to the traditional Saturday Night Infield Concert, located at the intersection of Talladega and Eastaboga Blvds., featuring country music artist and Jacksonville, AL native Riley Green.

For more information on tickets for Talladega Superspeedway’s NASCAR doubleheader playoffs weekend, as well as the Talladega Garage Experience simply visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 855-518-RACE (7223). Fans can learn more about the entire Transformation Infield Project presented by Graybar by visiting www.talladegasuperspeedway.com/transformation.

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Steven B. Wilson

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