Thursday, November 17, 2016

NASCAR Weekend Kicks Off With Camping World Truck Series Showdown

#NASCAR Weekend Kicks Off With Camping World Truck Series Showdown

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

  • Next Race: Ford EcoBoost 200
  • The Place: Homestead-Miami Speedway
  • The Date: Friday, Nov. 11
  • The Time: 8 p.m. ET
  • Tickets:
  • TV: FS1, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
  • Distance: 201 miles (134 laps)

Championship 4 Weekend Kicks Off With Camping World Truck Series Showdown

The inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship 4 race kicks off what promises to be a thrilling weekend in Miami, NASCAR’s title town. Friday night’s race wraps up a four round elimination-style playoff that will crown one of four drivers as the champion in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. 

The first of the Championship 4 drivers to cross the finish line at Homestead will become the 2016 series driver champion. Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton, Christopher Bell and Timothy Peters are the Championship 4 and have competed all season for the chance at the title in the Ford EcoBoost 200 

#NASCAR Weekend Kicks Off With Camping World Truck Series Showdown

Christopher Bell
(No. 4 JBL Toyota)

The young upstart in the Championship 4, 21-year-old Christopher Bell, will attempt to keep the NASCAR Camping World Series driver’s title at Kyle Busch Motorsports for another year by achieving the same feat Erik Jones did last season – winning the series crown as a rookie.

In his lone start at Homestead last season, Bell finished 25th after running out of fuel on the 131st of 134 laps.

"Racing against three veterans that have made a bunch of laps at Homestead is going to be a tough battle – nothing can replace that experience," said Bell, who is competing against Matt Crafton, Timothy Peters and Johnny Sauter for the series championship. "I feel like where I have the advantage is that I'm driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports. They are so competitive and have their stuff together and week in and week out when I show up to the track I know that I'll have a Tundra that is capable of winning. I've only won once this year, so I need to keep piecing that puzzle together – but there's no better place to start than this weekend at Homestead."

Bell boasts a 7.4 average finish in six starts during the Chase. He has finished no worse than 11th.

In 22 starts this season, Bell owns one win, nine top fives and 16 top 10s.

Breakdown by round of Christopher Bell’s 2016 Chase:

Round of 8: Bell registered a 4.7 average finish in the Round of eight, placing second (New Hampshire), sixth (Las Vegas) and sixth (Talladega) to easily advance to the Round of 6.

Round of 6: Bell put himself in good position to move on in the Chase by placing fourth at Martinsville, but hit a road block with an 11th-place showing at Texas. His Kyle Busch teammate William Byron suffered mechanical issues at Phoenix, a situation Bell took advantage of to sneak into the Championship 4 with a seventh-place showing.

#NASCAR Weekend Kicks Off With Camping World Truck Series Showdown

Timothy Peters
(No. 17 Red Horse Racing Toyota)

A model of consistency, Timothy Peters is the one driver in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship 4 without a victory this season.

The No. 17 Red Horse Racing Toyota driver has advanced by registering eight top-five and 15 top-10 showings for an average finish of 9.1. In the Chase, he has posted four top fives, five top 10s and an average finish of 6.8.

"I love that place, worn out race track, you can go run up by the fence," Peters said about Homestead-Miami Speedway where he will race Matt Crafton, Johnny Sauter and Christopher Bell for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship. "If that isn’t working, you can go down to the bottom. There’s a lot of characteristics to that race track that can help your balance. I’m ready."

Peters has logged a top-10 championship finish in each of his eight NASCAR Camping World Truck Series seasons. His best championship showing was a runner-up result in 2012.

The Providence, North Carolina, native has never won at Homestead, but has three top fives and six top 10s in nine starts there.

For his career, Peters claims 10 wins, 56 top fives and 117 top 10s.

Breakdown by Round of Timothy Peters’ 2016 Chase: 

Round of 8: Peters breezed through the Round of 8 with a fifth-place showing at New Hampshire, ninth-place effort at Las Vegas and third-place result at Talladega.

Round of 6: Peters started the Round of 6 off well with a fifth-place performance at Martinsville, but almost doomed his title aspirations with a 14th-place showing at Texas. He bounced back with a fifth-place showing at Phoenix to earn his bid to the Championship 4.

#NASCAR Weekend Kicks Off With Camping World Truck Series Showdown

Johnny Sauter
(No. 21 Allegiant Travel Chevrolet) 

No driver in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is on as big of a tear as Johnny Sauter lately. The No. 21 GMS Racing driver boasts two wins and a runner-up in his last three races entering Friday’s Ford EcoBoost 200 championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway (8 p.m. ET on FS1).

Asked after the Phoenix race if he thought he was the favorite to take home the series title, Sauter said:

"Absolutely (joking). I mean I’d like to think so. Anything can happen. Someone just asked me down on pit road, ‘What’s your strategy to win the championship?’ I said, ‘Try to win the race, that’s the best way to do it. You’re going to have to go down there and be aggressive and also be a little bit smart. I’m not sure. It’s new for everybody. I don’t think anybody really knows what the official strategy is, but I think you’re going to have to be fast. With the way people are running and the guys who are in the Chase, I wouldn’t be surprised if the champion won the race."

In nine career Homestead starts, Sauter claims one win (2011), two top fives, six top 10s and an average finish of 11.7.

Sauter, whose only victory in the regular season was the opener at Daytona, has upped his performance in the Chase. In seven Chase races, he’s posted two wins, three top fives, six top 10s and a 4.7 average finish. He leads the Championship 4 in each of the aforementioned statistical categories.

Sauter’s best NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship finish was a runner-up showing in 2011.

On the season, the Wisconsin native boasts three wins, 11 top five, 18 top 10s and a pole.

Breakdown by Round of Johnny Sauter’s 2016 Chase:

Round of 8: Sauter started the Chase off solid with a 10th-place finish at New Hampshire. He followed up the performance with seventh-place efforts at Las Vegas and Talladega to advance to the Round of 6.

Round of 6: Sauter clinched his berth in the Championship 4 by leading 50 laps on his way to Victory Lane at Martinsville. He won the next race at Texas for good measure and registered a runner-up showing at Phoenix.

#NASCAR Weekend Kicks Off With Camping World Truck Series Showdown

Matt Crafton
(No. 88 Black Label Bacon/Menards Toyota)

Advantage Matt Crafton in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway?

Sure looks like it.

In the last three years he has dominated the intermediate tracks on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series circuit. In the series’ last 25 starts at tracks ranging from 1.5-1.54 miles, Crafton boasts seven wins, 17 top fives, 22 top 10s and a 5.76 average finish.

Crafton’s been decent in his career at Homestead with one win (last season from the pole), three top fives, seven top 10s and an average finish of 11.7.

"I have no friends," Crafton said about the intensity of Friday’s race. "All my friends are going to come in yellow firesuits with Menards on them. We’re going to take the gloves off. I promise you that. We’re going to have no friends going into that race and we’re going to do whatever it takes to win."

The No. 88 Menards Toyota driver will be racing for his third career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship. With another title he can join Jack Sprague for second-place all-time with three Truck Series championships. Ron Hornaday holds the series record with four titles.

When asked if the pressure was off him Friday because he knows what it’s like to race for a championship, Crafton spoke with supreme confidence.

"Yeah, without a doubt," he said. "I have nothing to lose to be honest. I have nothing to lose."

On the season, Crafton has two wins, eight top fives, 15 top 10s and one pole.

Breakdown by Round of Matt Crafton’s 2016 Chase:

Round of 8: Crafton started the Chase off hot, finishing third at New Hampshire and eighth at Las Vegas. He stayed out of trouble at Talladega, earning a 22nd-place finish to transfer to the Round of 6.

Round of 6: Crafton rebounded from a rough 17th-place result at Martinsville with results of second at Texas and third at Phoenix to clinch his spot in the Championship 4.

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