The Truck Series visited ISM Raceway for the final race in the Round of 6 this past Friday night, prior to the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The playoff drivers that were already in a Championship 4 spot, had to do what they needed to do in order to move on to Homestead.
The battle was really for the fourth and final spot between Austin Hill, Matt Crafton and Tyler Ankrum. Rookie Tyler Ankrum was in a must-win situation going in. It wasn’t impossible, but Ankrum fell short with a disappointing 26th place finish. With Ankrum out of the picture, the battle came down to Crafton and Hill.
Hill was above the cut line heading into Phoenix and Crafton was below. While both drivers weren’t in a must-win situation, they were in a must-do well situation. In the end, Crafton got the job done with a sixth-place finish, while Hill will have to wait another year to fight for the championship, as he wound up 13th after starting on the pole.
With the Championship 4 spots set, a few other notable comments and instances may have been overshadowed in the Lucas Oil 150 Friday night.
Here are this week’s four takeaways from Round 21 in the Truck Series race at ISM Raceway.
- Friesen rebounds to win, 2020 not set – After an early penalty, Friesen came back to win and made a statement in Friday night’s race. He didn’t take the lead until Lap 107 but the Canadian proved that he belongs in the Championship 4 race at Homestead by winning. Many have probably thought Friesen had a lot to prove, considering he had not won yet on asphalt aside from his dirt win at Eldora this past summer. With the win, Friesen proved his doubters wrong and now he vies to fight for the title with a team that has pretty much started from the ground up. As Friesen focuses on the Truck Series championship, it was also noted that he does not have anything for the 2020 season right now. Though, winning the championship this weekend could certainly help those causes in a return at Halmar Racing next season.
- ThorSport Has Strong Night at ISM – Despite a frustrating playoff run that came to an early end for Johnny Sauter and Grant Enfinger, all four drivers had decent runs when the checkered flag flew. Ben Rhodes won the first stage and led 47 laps en route to a fourth-place finish, his seventh top five of the year. Enfinger qualified eighth and finished fifth with a finish of eighth in Stage 1. Crafton locked himself into the championship race with a sixth-place finish after having stages finishes of third and second, respectively. Sauter rounded out the ThorSport quartet with an eighth-place finish after finishing 10th in both stages.
- Ty Majeski Returns To NASCAR – Majeski returned to the NASCAR circuit Friday night in Phoenix for the first time since 2018, when he last competed in the Xfinity Series. The last time the Wisconsin native competed in NASCAR was Phoenix of last year for the now-defunct Roush Fenway Racing Xfinity team, where Majeski started 39th and finished 18th. This time around, Majeski returned to the Niece Motorsports team, piloting the No. 44 Chevy. He started fifth and finished 11th, not bad in his NASCAR return with a field stacked with talent.
- Championship 4 Set – It’s hard to believe that we are now one race away from closing the 2019 Truck Series season. It feels like yesterday when we were all in Daytona for the season opener, trying to figure out who would win this season and who would be fighting for the championship come season end. Now the time has come to settle it among the top four drivers who are going to be competing for the Truck Series championship Friday night. Brett Moffitt challenges for his second title in a row, while fan-favorite Ross Chastain competes for his Truck title. Matt Crafton returns for the third time in the playoff format since 2016 in hopes of a third Truck title. Should Crafton win, he would be the only driver winning his third championship but will join the likes of Ron Hornaday to have more than two. Finally, the most likely underdog coming into this race is Stewart Friesen. Friesen has been quietly consistent this season, earning 12 top fives and 16 top-10 finishes with an average finish of 8.4. It certainly would be quite the story if Friesen could pull off the victory Friday night.