With just one race left before the Championship 4 event at Phoenix International Raceway, Truck Series drivers and teams were vying for the final two spots in the Playoffs. Two of those spots were already claimed by GMS Racing drivers Sheldon Creed and 2018 Truck Series Champion Brett Moffitt.
Positions third and fourth were up for grabs as six drivers were desperately trying to lock themselves in to fight for a championship spot with only two still available. At some points during the race it looked as though Austin Hill would race his way in, but due to engine woes, the Georgian would be out of the race early and his championship hopes were eliminated, as well. Despite six cautions making up the final stage, at the conclusion of the 200 laps, it was rookie Zane Smith and race winner Grant Enfinger who took the last two spots and earned a shot to win the championship.
However, there were other drivers like Austin Hill who was once inside the cut line but now find themselves having to wait until next year to try again. We’ll take a look at this week’s Power Rankings following the Martinsville Truck Series race.
- Grant Enfinger – After years of trying, Grant Enfinger finally can make a bid for the Truck Series championship after being so close to advancing when the Championship 4 format was implemented. Enfinger was in a must-win situation heading into Martinsville, or in a worst-case scenario, needed a lot of help from other playoff drivers who experienced trouble throughout the night. Fortunately for Enfinger, he didn’t have any trouble at all in the race, aside from lining up behind the race leaders at one point during one of the late cautions. The Alabaman reclaimed the lead with just two laps to go, and never looked back, and ultimately advanced to the Championship 4 for the first time in his career. In addition, he led 49 laps and finished eighth and third, respectively, in Stage 1 and 2.
Previous Week Ranking – Third
- Zane Smith – Smith led 20 laps before coming home with his sixth and most important top-five of the season. His finish was enough to get him locked into the Championship 4 at Phoenix. Smith was in a position to possibly win the race at some points. But his main objective was to fend off Matt Crafton to get the position, which he did, as Crafton finished behind Smith in the running order. Now, Smith will have to overcome his biggest challenge yet and that is to win the championship over his GMS Racing teammates at Phoenix.
Previous Week Ranking – Fourth
- Sheldon Creed – Despite bringing out the caution at Lap 176, Creed rebounded to an eighth-place finishing position for his 12th Top 10 of the year. Creed won the first stage and led 65 laps en route to his eighth-place position. He will also be racing for his first championship alongside his teammate Zane Smith.
Previous Week Ranking – First
- Matt Crafton – While it was a disappointing finish in Crafton’s eyes, it could have certainly been worse, such as not finishing the race. The ThorSport driver had the lead at certain moments in the race, including at one point when he was one of the four hopefuls to fight for the championship. He led six laps and finished second in both stages before finishing fifth in the running order for his ninth top-five of the season. Unfortunately for Crafton, he finished behind Zane Smith and that was not good enough to move on to defend his 2019 Truck Series Championship.
Previous Week Ranking – Fifth
- Ben Rhodes – Rhodes came home in the second position after starting seventh. He was one of the unlucky ones that did not advance to the Championship 4, missing the position by one spot. Despite not advancing, the Kentucky native collected his ninth top-five of the year.
- Austin Hill – Engines woes eliminated Austin Hill from championship contention and he was credited with a 35th place finish. Hill was above the cut line heading into the race and most likely would have been racing for the championship, had the engine not expired on his No. 16 Toyota. However, like many others, he will have to wait until next year to try again for the championship.
Previous Week Ranking – Second