Phoenix Raceway was the site of the season finale race for the 2020 Truck Series Championship. Getting this far seemed almost impossible back in March when the world was shut down for a month and a half. However, the industry, series officials and the tracks rallied together and were able to get all 23 races in to complete the season.
When the checkers flew last Friday night, the Truck Series championship went to Sheldon Creed who bested Zane Smith, Brett Moffitt and Grant Enfinger after taking four fresh tires following a caution with less than 10 laps to go in the race. Creed became the only driver to win the ARCA Menards and Truck Series Championships.
As Creed won the Truck Series title for the first time in his career, it’s safe to say that Creed will once again be a challenge and a threat for the championship in 2021 since the Californian will be back for a second consecutive year to defend his title.
With the season over at this point, we’ll take a look at things we might have missed in Friday’s Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix.
- Maury Gallagher Earns First Team Owner Title – The Team Owner Championship has been a long time coming for Maury Gallagher, the CEO of Allegiant Airlines. The title was Gallagher’s first of any kind since entering the sport in 2012 and competing in the ARCA Menards Series. Gallagher entered the Truck Series competition however back in 2013 with his son Spencer and their first Truck Series race was Kansas. Since the initial debut, Gallagher, as an owner, has achieved 37 career wins with Austin Dillon, Grant Enfinger, Ben Kennedy, Kyle Larson, Johnny Sauter, Chase Elliott, Kaz Grala, Justin Haley, Timothy Peters, Brett Moffitt, Zane Smith, Sam Mayer and, of course, Sheldon Creed. It’s been a long journey for the team who entered NASCAR eight years ago, but at the same time, fun being able to watch a team grow. As the team is becoming a powerhouse team, 2021 is looking bright for the organization as a whole and they are set to defend their title.
- Jeff Stankiewicz Gains First Truck Series Title – Staying on the topic of firsts, crew chief Jeff Stankiewicz also picked up his first championship Friday night. Creed and Stankiewicz have proved to be a great pairing as both won a total of four races with each other two years ago in ARCA competition and won the championship with Creed as well. By winning the championship Friday night, the North Carolina native was the 19th different crew chief to win a championship in the Truck Series. Stankiewicz’s best points finish prior to Friday night in the Truck Series was seventh with former series driver Joey Coulter in 2014.
- Kyle Busch Motorsports Place Three Trucks In Top Five – Even though Friday night was dominated by the GMS Racing team, Kyle Busch Motorsports was right up there in contention with Chandler Smith the highest finishing driver out of the stable as the Georgian finished third. Smith most likely could have finished runner-up had he not been passed by Zane Smith (no relation to Chandler) had Zane not pitted. The third-place finish was Smith’s best result since Talladega last month, where he also finished third. Christian Eckes finished fourth, which matched his Martinsville finish a week prior to Phoenix. Finally, after a rough Martinsville outing of 20th, Canadian Raphael Lessard rebounded to a fifth-place finish to earn his fourth top-five of the season.
- Niece Motorsports Ends The Season With A Disappointing Night – Friday night was most likely a forgettable night and end to the season for Niece Motorsports. Trevor Bayne was the highest out of the stable and finished 18th after receiving a speeding penalty following the stage break. Meanwhile, Ryan Truex placed 21st in the No. 40 machine. Carson Hocevar, who will go full-time for Niece ‘21, wrecked out of the event and was credited with 32nd place. 2020 has certainly been a struggle for the team as none of their drivers recorded any wins despite being close at Talladega with Bayne. It is a significant dropoff from last year, where Ross Chastain gave Niece three wins and a spot in the Championship 4. Here’s hoping 2021 will be better for the team.