Talladega Superspeedway marked the final race in the Round of 10 Playoffs for the NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series. Ten drivers had the same goal in mind and that was to advance to the Round of 8, but only eight drivers could move on leaving two in the dust.
Those two drivers were Christian Eckes and Todd Gilliland who were both eliminated from the Truck Series Playoffs after having disastrous days. Gilliland was running inside the Top 10 before his engine let go on the backstretch while Eckes failed to finish due to being in the last-lap crash. Gilliland was credited with a 28th place finish and Eckes an 18th place finish, but not good enough to advance into the next round.
Despite two drivers not having a fun Saturday, one driver enjoyed his first career series win, Canadian and Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Raphael Lessard. Lessard was ahead at the time the caution flew and nabbed his first victory in just his 24th Truck Series start and his first-ever Truck Series track debut at Talladega.
With the Candian soaking in his first victory, other drivers had solid days and did what they needed to do to advance.
Here are this week’s Power Rankings following the Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Talladega Superspeedway.
- Matt Crafton – Crafton was back and forth with the points Saturday afternoon. There were numerous moments where the ThorSport driver was either below the cut line or above the cut line. Fortunately for Crafton, he was one of the lucky ones to avoid the carnage during the race and move on to the Round of 8 after finishing eighth. Previous Week Ranking – Second
- Grant Enfinger – A hard-fought 13th place finish by Enfinger and the No. 98 team. Enfinger suffered a flat right-rear tire as early as Lap 8 and spent most of the race two laps down. The Alabaman caught a couple of breaks and was back on the lead lap when a caution flag threw in the final stage. Like his teammate Crafton, Enfinger was also below the cut line, but with hard work, Enfinger brought home the No. 98 truck to a 13th place finish. That’s a day well spent. Previous Week Ranking – First
- Ben Rhodes – Rhodes quietly finished fourth following the hectic Talladega truck race. In addition, the Kentucky native placed fifth and sixth in both stages. The ThorSport driver is moving on to the next round as well. Previous Week Ranking – Not Ranked
- Sheldon Creed – Even though Creed was shuffled back to 12th in the running order when the checkered flag flew on Lap 94, the Californian had a decent run in the No. 2 GMS Racing Chevrolet. Creed led early on in the event but then settled in, running inside the Top 10 or Top 15. At one point with 12 to go, Creed caught race leader Jennifer Jo Cobb (who was using a different strategy by staying out in hopes of a caution) and retook the lead. While it looked as though he could go on to win his fourth race of the season, Creed suffered a flat tire and brought out the caution on Lap 90. Despite finishing 12th, the GMS driver was able to clinch a playoff spot after the completion of Stage 1. Previous Week Ranking – Not Ranked
- Austin Hill – It was an up and down day for Austin Hill’s No. 16 Hattori Racing team. Hill claimed the Stage 1 victory and finished fourth in Stage 2. Unfortunately, his day started to go south just a tad when the final green-flag pit stops started to take place with 30 to go. That was when Hill was busted for being too fast on pit road after making his final stop and had to serve a pass-thru penalty. Hill’s day ultimately ended prematurely on the last lap a few yards before the finish, when he was caught up in the wreck on the backstretch. His No. 16 Toyota Tundra was on fire, but fortunately for Hill, he was able to walk away with no injuries and was credited with a 19th place finish after leading 11 laps. Previous Week Ranking – Third
- Christian Eckes – Eckes was involved in the last-lap wreck, and out of the playoffs due to his finishing position of 18th. Previous Week Ranking – Fourth
- Tanner Gray – After having momentum the last few weeks of finishing third, Tanner Gray was caught up in an accident on Lap 49 when the No. 15 went sideways and hit the inside backstretch wall. Gray was credited with a 29th place outing. Previous Week Ranking – Fifth