The hunt to the Truck Series Playoffs continued this past Sunday with a trip to World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.
All eyes were on rookie stand-out Zane Smith, who has been strong as of late and is making a considerable bid to be a championship favorite. Meanwhile, his GMS Racing team-mates Sheldon Creed, Brett Moffitt and Tyler Ankrum continue to chase him for wins.
Smith shone in the first 45 laps of the event. But it was ultimately his teammate Sheldon Creed who got the victory after some controversial contact with then race leader, Todd Gilliland, who dominated the majority of the event.
Things may get tougher for the Californian as things progress late into the season as Creed noted that Gilliland “owes him one,” meaning payback from Gilliland could potentially happen.
Nonetheless, Creed scored the victory, and picked up an additional $50,000 thanks to the “Triple Truck Challenge” and now is a threat for the championship with three wins to his name.
Yet, there were other drivers who needed a solid run and did just that.
We’ll analyze them in this week’s Power Rankings following the CarShield 200 at Gateway.
- Todd Gilliland – It was a great day gone bad for Gilliland after sweeping both stages and leading the most laps in a Truck Series race in his career but then getting together with eventual race winner Sheldon Creed in Turns 1 and 2 when Creed accidentally made Gilliland slide up the track and pound into the wall. The incident left a damaged No. 38 Ford F-150 and dashed Gilliland’s hopes of winning the race. His day got even worse when the Front Row Motorsports driver got caught two laps down as the yellow flew during his pit stop. Despite the negative outcome, there are some positives to take away from this race. Gilliland was on the outside looking in coming to Gateway but with two stage victories, he now sits 10th, the last position in the playoff grid, 15 points above the cut line.
Previous Week Ranking – Fourth
- Brett Moffitt – A solid outing in Moffitt’s No. 23 GMS camp after he came home in the runner-up position. The Iowan placed third in Stage 1 and sixth in Stage 2. It’s still disappointing that Moffitt has not yet won this year when everyone expected him to but he’s got a comfortable points lead, +118, and five playoff points. Should Moffitt avoid any bad mishaps in the next two races, he can easily lock himself into the Playoffs at Darlington this weekend.
Previous Week Ranking – Third
- Sheldon Creed – It went from worst to first in one week for the Californian. The week prior at Dover, he placed 22nd, four laps down. Now, Creed was back in victory lane again just a couple of weeks following his Daytona Road Course win. I would like to see a little more consistency out of this camp as some of his finishes have been up and down. When Creed won at Kentucky earlier in the season, he finished 16th a week later at Texas, a few laps down. In the Kansas doubleheader, he placed eighth in race 1, but wrecked out and was credited with a 26th place finish in the second race. He finished 30th at Michigan, one lap down, won the Daytona Road Course but finished 22nd at Dover. If the No. 2 team can find a little consistency in the Playoffs, there’s no doubt Creed can end up in the Championship 4.
Previous Week Ranking – Not Ranked
- Austin Hill – Hill and the No. 16 Hattori Racing Enterprises seem back on track after scoring finishes inside the top 10 in the past three races. Hill earned a finish of third in Sunday’s race, his best finish since winning at Kansas in July. The Georgian made a bid late in the race to challenge for the win but ultimately settled for his seventh top-five finish of the season.
Previous Week Ranking – Not Ranked
- Ben Rhodes – Overall, it was a quiet day for Rhodes as he finished 11th in the running order. Despite placing outside the top 10, Rhodes earned stage finishes of seventh and ninth, respectively. However, he’ll need to pick it up a notch, if he wants to be a strong contender for the championship.
Previous Week Ranking – Fifth
- Matt Crafton – After experiencing an unusual issue in Crafton’s No. 88 Menards Ford F-150, he finished an uncharacteristic 14th place. After finishing fifth in Stage 1, Crafton’s Truck started to have some issues when he came down pit road during the stage break as his truck shut off prior to entering his pit box. There was some radio chatter from the crew that the truck could have run out of gas, but a full diagnosis was not discovered. It was an unfortunate day for Crafton who was strong early.
Previous Week Ranking – Second