NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Next Race: Ford EcoBoost 200
The Place: Homestead-Miami Speedway
The Date: Friday, Nov. 17
The Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 7:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 201 miles (134 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 40),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 80), Final Stage (Ends on lap 134)
Championship 4 Weekend Kicks Off With Camping World Truck Series Showdown
The 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 will crown one of four drivers as the series 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 2017 series driver champion.
Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton, Christopher Bell and Austin Cindric are the Championship 4 and will make a run at the title in the Ford EcoBoost 200 (Friday, Nov. 17 at 8 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
The drivers represent four different teams (Kyle Busch Motorsports, Brad Keselowski Racing, GMS Racing and ThorSport Racing) and all three manufacturers (Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota).
Been there, done that. Sauter, Crafton and Bell have, that is. The trio comprised 75 percent of the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship 4 in 2016. Cindric is representing the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders in the Championship 4 this year as he looks to become the second rookie in three years (Erik Jones, 2015) to win the title.
Championship 4 (By truck number):
Christopher Bell (No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota)
Christopher Bell took the series by storm in 2017, leading the field with five wins (Atlanta, Texas-1, Kentucky, Pocono, New Hampshire) and four poles (Atlanta, Kansas, Charlotte, Talladega) in just his second full-time season. The young Kyle Busch Motorsports driver also led the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in top fives (14) and top 10s (20).
Bell’s 2017 campaign has been exceptional. He led a lap in all but three races (Dover, Bristol, Canadian Tire) and had an average finish of 5.9 through 22 starts.
He is one of three drivers returning to the Championship 4, alongside veterans Johnny Sauter and Matt Crafton. In 2016, Bell posted one win en route to a chance to run for the title in Miami, where an eighth-place finish in the race netted him third place in the final series standings.
Thus far in the 2017 Playoffs, Bell has recorded a win in the opening race of the postseason at New Hampshire and has an average finish of 4.0 – two positions better than his next closest Championship 4 foe (Johnny Sauter, 6.0). He also started on the pole in Talladega and Phoenix.
Breakdown by Round of Christopher Bell’s 2017 Playoffs:
Round of 8: Christopher Bell opened the 2017 Playoffs with a win (and a sweep of Stage 1 and Stage 2) at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, guaranteeing him a spot in the Round of 6. He followed that up with second-place finishes at Las Vegas and Talladega.
Round of 6: Bell opened the round with an eighth-place finish at Martinsville and proceeded to cross the line in third at Texas. Another eight-place finish, this time at Phoenix, was enough to carry him forward into the Championship 4.
Christopher Bell Fast Facts:
- In 2017, Christopher Bell has led the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in wins (7), top 5s (14), top 10s (20) and laps led (865).
- During the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs, Bell has one win, four top fives and finished in the top-10 of every race.
- Bell’s average finish during the first six races of the Playoffs is 4.0.
- In Bell’s first two starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway, he finished 25th in 2015 after running out of fuel in the closing laps and eighth in 2016 as a member of the inaugural Championship 4.
Austin Cindric (No. 19 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford)
A late-race pass in a thrilling finish at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park propelled Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Austin Cindric to his first career win and a spot in the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs. Cindric is one of just five Sunoco Rookies to make the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs. He was joined in the Playoffs this year by Chase Briscoe and Kaz Grala, while William Byron and Christopher Bell made the postseason in 2016.
Cindric has tallied seven top-five and 15 top-10 finishes, including his win, in his rookie campaign. He led 106 laps along the way.
An average finish of 6.3, powered by top-10 finishes in every Playoff race, carried Cindric through to the Championship 4. After starting off the Round of 6 with a 10th-place finish at Martinsville, Cindric when on to a runner-up showing at Texas to boost his chances of moving on.
Breakdown by Round of Austin Cindric’s 2017 Playoffs:
Round of 8: Austin Cindric started off his first-ever Playoffs campaign with an eighth-place finish at New Hampshire and followed that up by finishing fourth at Las Vegas and fifth at Talladega.
Round of 6: Bell rebounded from a 10th-place finish at Martinsville to open the round to finish second at Texas. He then went on to finish ninth at Phoenix to capture a berth in the Championship 4.
Austin Cindric Fast Facts:
- In 2017, Austin Cindric has one win, one pole, seven top fives and 15 top 10s while leading 106 laps in 22 starts.
- During the 2017 Playoffs, Cindric has three top fives and finished in the top 10 in all six races so far.
- Cindric’s average finish through the first six races of the Playoffs is 6.3.
- This weekend marks Cindric’s first race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Johnny Sauter (No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet)
The 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion returns to defend his crown. Johnny Sauter finished third in the 2016 season finale to capture his first series title in his inaugural season with GMS Racing. He now looks to become just the second driver in series history to repeat as champion. The other driver to do it? His Championship 4 opponent Matt Crafton.
It appears the new elimination Playoff format motivates Sauter. He reached a career-high win total this season with four victories (Dover, Chicago, Texas-2, Phoenix) after visiting Victory Lane three times in 2016 on his way to his first championship. (He also had three wins in 2013.)
Sauter is on a roll. He’s won back-to-back races heading into Miami, and didn’t have a shabby race before the streak started as he finished third at Martinsville.
Homestead-Miami Speedway has been friendly to the veteran driver. He’s recorded a win (2011) and seven top 10s en route to an average finish of 10.8 through ten races on the 1.5-mile track.
Breakdown by Round of Johnny Sauter’s 2017 Playoffs:
Round of 8: Johnny Sauter started off with a relatively below-average opening round, as he finished ninth at New Hampshire, tenth at Las Vegas and edged into the Round of 6 with a 12th-place finish at Talladega.
Round of 6: Sauter owned the Round of 6 with a third-place finish at Martinsville and visits to Victory Lane at Texas and Phoenix.
Johnny Sauter Fast Facts:
- In 2017, Johnny Sauter had a career-high four wins and tallied 12 top fives and 18 top 10s. He led 455 laps.
- During the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs, Sauter has two wins and a top-10 finish in all but one race.
- Sauter’s average finish during the first six races of the Playoffs is 6.0.
- In Sauter’s 10 starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway, he has one win, three top-fives and seven top-10 finishes. He has recorded an average finish of 10.8 with an average driver rating of 100.9.
Matt Crafton (No. 88 ThorSport Racing Toyota)
Matt Crafton took home the big prize in 2013 and 2014 to become the first back-to-back NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion – and wants to add a third title to his resume in 2017. In doing so, he would prevent his Championship 4 foe Johnny Sauter from becoming the second driver to win consecutive series titles.
Eldora was the lone, and unlikely, Victory Lane that Crafton visited in 2017. But don’t let that fool you into not picking Crafton to win it all this weekend. In 2013, the year of his first title, he had just one win. He followed that up with just two wins during the season when he won his second championship in 2014. He racked up six wins in 2015, but it was rookie Erik Jones who captured the championship.
The veteran with 406 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races to his credit was sailing in the Playoffs with top-10s until a wreck at Phoenix relegated him to a 21st-place finish. Crafton was able to squeak through on points however, and has an average finish of 9.5 for the season.
Crafton has one win at Homestead-Miami Speedway (2015) with three top fives and eight top 10s. He’s led 141 laps while compiling an average finish of 11.4 in 16 starts.
Breakdown by Round of Matt Crafton’s 2017 Playoffs:
Round of 8: Matt Crafton posted finishes of sixth (New Hampshire), seventh (Las Vegas) and ninth (Talladega) in the opening round.
Round of 6: A second-place finish in the opening race of the round at Martinsville was a major help in getting Crafton to the Championship 4. He followed that up with a ninth-place finish at Texas before coming home in 21st at Phoenix after getting caught up in an incident.
Matt Crafton Fast Facts:
- In 2017, Matt Crafton has posted just one win while collecting five top fives and 15 top 10s. He led 321 laps.
- During the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs, Crafton has top-10 finishes in all but one race.
- Crafton’s average finish during the first six races of the Playoffs is 9.0.
- In Crafton’s 16 starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway, he has one win, three top-fives and eight top-10 finishes. He has recorded an average finish of 11.4 with an average driver rating of 97.2.