The Truck Series visited Bristol Motor Speedway Thursday night for the 16th race of the season and the beginning of the 2019 Playoffs. The 2018 Truck Series champion Brett Moffitt won the event and is locked into the next round. He will not have to worry about the wildcards of Canadian Tire Motorsport Park or Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Ross Chastain finished third after being dominant throughout the race. Chastain led 78 laps, won Stage 1 and finished second in Stage 2. Chastain is currently second in the playoff points standings, -16 behind Moffitt.
While Moffitt and Chastain were expected to have great runs, others did not as their night went from bad to worse. Some drivers who are in the Playoffs have already dug themselves in a hole following Bristol and will need some big breaks over the next two races if they want to keep fighting for the championship.
Here is a look at this week’s Four Takeaways from the UNOH 200.
- Chandler Smith Continues Impressive Run – Smith competed in his fourth Truck Series race of the 2019 season, his first since Iowa. While it was his first race back since June you wouldn’t know it. Smith came into Bristol looking to win and confident with his short-track dominance in his young career. He started seventh, finished fifth in Stage 1 and third in Stage 2. While Smith was certainly a contender in the late parts of the race, especially the final restart that came with four to go, he had to settle for a runner up finish. Still, it was not bad for his first outing at Bristol in a truck. But by finishing up front, Smith’s expectations might be raised a little too high about a full-time ride next season after his 18th birthday. Though, as Busch has stated, nothing is set in stone yet for the 2020 Truck Series season.
- Bad to Worse For Decker – Natalie Decker and the No. 54 DGR-Crosley team just can’t seem to catch a break this season after being involved in an incident in every race since her first outing at Daytona. At Bristol, the night went bad to worse for the Wisconsin native. Decker spun around on Lap 137 and then was involved in an accident on the front stretch on Lap 183. The second accident is where things got heated between her and her crew. Decker was being pushed by the tow truck to the garage area but got spun around again by the wrecker after going too fast. This is when her spotter, Kevin Hamlin, came in and said, “That’s it, I’m taking my sh*t off, I’m outta here.” Decker’s crew chief told her that she needs to start listening to her spotter a lot more. To make matters worse, it was the most talked about incident on social media. The audio from the team was also eventually uploaded after the race was over. It’s been a difficult season for Decker. Perhaps, it may be time to step down a series for Decker in order to gain more experience at the bigger tracks.
- Wrecks, Wrecks and More Wrecks – Bristol and the Truck Series are known for wrecks and we saw a lot of them on Thursday night. There were 12 cautions for 73 laps. It’s what we have come to expect from the Truck Series at Bristol and it always adds to the excitement.
- Mayer Has Rough First Start – Rookie sensation Sam Mayer was making his first Truck Series start at Bristol this past Thursday night for the No. 21 GMS Racing team. Before the race, Mayer was in victory lane after winning the K&N Pro Series East. Shortly after, he had to jump into a truck and hope he would be in a position to have a shot at the win. However, the GMS driver was involved in an accident late on Lap 194. The accident ended his hopes for a strong outing in his first Truck Series start, as Mayer finished 21st and out of the race. It is possible that he may have the opportunity to compete in some more Truck Series races in the 2020 season for GMS.