After the elimination race in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Round of 10 at Kansas Speedway last weekend, two drivers were eliminated from the Playoffs – Matt Crafton and Matt DiBenedetto. Now, the series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway to kick off the Round of 8 for the UNOH 200 presented by Ohio Logistics on Thursday, September 14 at 9 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, and SiriusXM Radio.
Thursday night marks only the second time that Bristol Motor Speedway has hosted the opening race in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Playoffs’ Round of 8 (2022-2023). In total, this will be the fifth-time Bristol has hosted a CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Playoff Race (2019-2023). Prior to moving to the Round of 8 opener last season, Thunder Valley was the first race of the Playoffs in 2019 and 2020. Then in 2021, the half-mile track served as the elimination race for the Round of 10.
Bristol Motor Speedway (2022-2023) is the fifth different track to occupy the third race on the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Playoff schedule, joining Martinsville Speedway (2016-2018), Talladega Superspeedway (2019), Kansas Speedway (2020), and Las Vegas Motor Speedway (2021).
Five different drivers have won the first race in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Playoffs’ Round of 8, led by Johnny Sauter with two postseason victories (2016, 2018).
|NCTS Playoffs Round of 8 – Opening Race Winners (2016-2022)|
|Date||Track||Playoff Race Winner||Season||Race No.|
|Saturday, October 29, 2016||Martinsville||Johnny Sauter||2016||20|
|Saturday, October 28, 2017||Martinsville||Noah Gragson (non-Playoff Driver)||2017||20|
|Saturday, October 27, 2018||Martinsville||Johnny Sauter||2018||20|
|Saturday, October 12, 2019||Talladega||Spencer Boyd (non-Playoff Driver)||2019||20|
|Saturday, October 17, 2020||Kansas||Brett Moffitt||2020||20|
|Friday, September 24, 2021||Las Vegas||Christian Eckes (non-Playoff Driver)||2021||19|
|Thursday, September 15, 2022||Bristol||Ty Majeski||2022||20|
Only one of these race winners has gone on to win the CRAFTSMAN Truck Series championship in the same season – Johnny Sauter at Martinsville in 2016. The Martinsville Speedway win was the first of two victories for Sauter en route to his championship.
Of Bristol Motor Speedway’s four Playoff races, there have been four different winners: Johnny Sauter (2019), Sam Mayer (2020), Chandler Smith (2021), and Ty Majeski (2022). None of these Bristol Playoff race winners have gone on to win the title in the same season.
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Tonight’s UNOH 200 presented by Ohio Logistics will be broken up into three stages, the first two stages will be 55 laps each and the final stage will be 90 laps for a race total of 200 laps (106.6 miles).
Make sure to catch all the on-track action this week. Practice and qualifying will begin on Thursday, Sept. 14 at 4:00 p.m. ET on FS2.
NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series
Next Race: UNOH 200 presented by Ohio Logistics
The Date: Thursday, September 14
The Time: 9 p.m. ET
The Purse: $692,239
TV: FS1, 8 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)
Distance: 106.6 miles (200 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 55),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 110), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)
Three’s Company: Eckes steals win at Kansas
Christian Eckes, who hadn’t contended for the lead all night during the Kansas Lottery 200, found himself in a three-wide battle with Corey Heim and Zane Smith on the final two-lap restart of the night. Making a bold move, Eckes was able to steal the win from his fellow Playoff contenders.
The Kansas Lottery 200 was the Middletown, New York native’s third win of the season and 11th top-10 finish. Additionally, it was his first victory, and sixth top-10 finish in eight races at Kansas Speedway.
While the driver of the No. 19 McAnally-Hilgemann Racing had already advanced to the Round of 8 previously, the win provides him more Playoff points to begin this new round. Friday night’s race cut the Playoff field from 10 to eight competitors, meaning Matt Crafton and Matt DiBenedetto were eliminated.
Driver of the No. 99 ThorSport Racing Ford Ben Rhodes was able to hold off DiBenedetto by five points to earn the final transfer spot to the Round of 8. Despite being slowed by right rear issues, Rhodes managed to survive the race and finished 25th.
As for the other NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Playoff contenders entering the Round of 8, the return to Kansas had its ups and downs: Heim (fourth), Smith (fifth), Hocevar (sixth), Sanchez (eighth), Enfinger (17th), Majeski (18th).
Playoff Clinch Scenarios: Bristol Motor Speedway
With the Round of 10 in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Playoffs in the books, here is a look at the clinch scenarios for the now 8-driver field:
No drivers have clinched a spot in the 4-driver field of the next round.
Can clinch via win
The following drivers would clinch on their win alone: Corey Heim, Christian Eckes, Grant Enfinger, Carson Hocevar, Zane Smith, Ty Majeski, Ben Rhodes, Nicholas Sanchez
|NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Playoff Outlook Following Race No. 19|
|Rank||Driver||Points||Race Wins||Playoff Pts||+ /- Cutoff|
|1||Corey Heim (P)||3,030||2||30||8|
|2||Christian Eckes (P)||3,024||3||24||2|
|3||Grant Enfinger (P)||3,024||3||24||2|
|4||Carson Hocevar (P)||3,022||3||22||0|
|5||Zane Smith (P)||3,022||2||22||0|
|6||Ty Majeski (P)||3,016||1||16||-6|
|7||Ben Rhodes (P)||3,013||1||13||-9|
|8||Nicholas Sanchez # (P)||3,006||0||6||-16|
Ty Majeski returns to Bristol looking to defend last season’s Playoff victory
ThorSport Racing’s Ty Majeski returns to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend looking for a repeat of last season and another trip to Thunder Valley’s Victory Lane.
Last year, Majeski grabbed the lead off pit road during the second to last caution of the race and proceeded to lead the final 45 laps en route to the win, beating Front Row Motorsports’ and eventual 2022 champion Zane Smith to the finish line by 1.152-seconds. It was Majeski’s series track debut at Bristol and the win catapulted Majeski into the Championship 4 Round for the first time in his Truck Series career.
If Majeski were to win this weekend, he would become just the third driver in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series all-time to win consecutive races at Bristol Motor Speedway, joining NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. (1997-1998) and Kyle Busch (2008-2010).
NCTS Playoffs Contender’s Career Performances at Bristol Motor Speedway
|Rank||Driver||Races||Poles||Wins||Top Fives||Top 10s||DNFs||Average Finish|
|8||Nicholas Sanchez #||0||0||0||0||0||0||0.0|
Majeski is the only Playoff contender entered this weekend with a win at Bristol, and going back-to-back will be a challenge, as the CRAFTSMAN Truck Series is currently riding a streak of nine different winners at Bristol Motor Speedway dating back 2014 – Brad Keselowski (2014), Ryan Blaney (2015), Ben Kennedy (2016), Kyle Busch (2017), Johnny Sauter (2018), Brett Moffitt (2019), Sam Mayer (2020), Chandler Smith (2021) and Ty Majeski (2022).
NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series, Etc.
Ryan Vargas set for Germany-Talladega doubleheader – NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Ryan Vargas announced he will compete in a unique doubleheader in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and CRAFTSMAN Truck Series in back-to-back weeks.
On September 23-24, Vargas will make his Euro Series debut at the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben in Germany, piloting the No. 30 Critical Path Security Chevrolet in a collaborative effort between Team FJ and 3F Racing in the EuroNASCAR PRO division. Following his debut, Vargas will turn his attention to his first CRAFTSMAN Truck Series start at Talladega Superspeedway on September 30 behind the wheel of the No. 30 On Point Motorsports Toyota Tundra TRD.
Motorsport Arena Oschersleben and Talladega Superspeedway may be 4,714 miles apart and Vargas won’t get much time to mentally decompress, the La Mirada, California native is excited about participating in the upcoming doubleheader – finally being able to fulfill a childhood passion of competing across the Atlantic Ocean.
“I’ve always wanted to race in the NASCAR Euro Series,” Vargas said. “My dream has always been to go overseas and drive a race car, whether it be GT racing or NASCAR Euro. I’ve always had a fascination with racing overseas, so when the opportunity arose for [the doubleheader] to happen, I jumped on it as quickly as I could.”