With the cutoff race at Homestead-Miami this Saturday, only Corey Heim is locked into the Truck Series championship race. Who of the seven drivers can lock themselves into the final race at Phoenix?
With Brett Moffitt winning the last Craftsman Truck Series race at Talladega, only Corey Heim is locked into the championship race at Phoenix. Seven other drivers are looking to fight for a title. Let’s take a look at the round of eight drivers and who has the best chance at locking themselves into the championship race.
— NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Trucks (@NASCAR_Trucks) October 2, 2023
Truck Series Points Standings:
Sitting in P2 in the standings, Carson Hocevar wants to end his time in the Truck Series with a championship. He recently announced that he will move up to the Cup Series with Spire Motorsports in 2024. Hocevar has been having his breakout season, in both Cup and Trucks. He scored his first win at Texas in the spring and followed it up with wins at Nashville and Richmond.
Since the last win at Richmond, he has not finished worse than eleventh, which came at Talladega. Hocevar has only raced at Homestead once, 2022 was his first start. He qualified twenty-second and finished twelfth. This year he has qualified second.
Hocevar does not need to win this race to lock himself into the race at Phoenix. Good finishes in both stages and keeping himself ahead of the others in the round of eight, He’s a solid lock for the championship race.
— Niece Motorsports (@NieceMotorsport) October 20, 2023
Third in the points and with a new contract for 2024, Christian Eckes also wants to capitalize on his breakout season and get McAnally-Hilgemann Racing their first championship four appearance. Eckes also has three wins this season, Atlanta, Darlington, and Kansas, and three pole positions with them.
In qualifying for this race, Eckes’ time will give him a tenth-place starting spot. Being only nine points above the cutoff line, he needs to keep the #19 Silverado out front and score points. He has a lot of drivers also fighting for points starting ahead of him.
Nick Sanchez is having one of the most impressive Truck Series rookie seasons in recent memory. Five pole positions and he has the speed in qualifying to win at his home track. Earning the pole position for this race is helping alleviate the bad PR from Talladega.
Sanchez and Matt Crafton were involved in a wreck at Talladega. Crafton was not pleased with the rookie, and the two fought in the garage area. The two were fined by NASCAR.
Only three points from elimination, Sanchez needs to win the race. He has had race-winning pace several races this year and I think he has a fire inside of him. A win in his hometown that locks him into the championship race would silence the critics and further solidify him as Rookie of the Year.
— Rev Racing (@RevRacin) October 20, 2023
The first driver outside the cutoff line, Grant Enfinger is another driver with three wins this season. He took the checkered flag at Kansas, Gateway, and a pole position win at Milwaukee. A veteran racer, he has been in this position before and knows how to get the job done.
Enfinger qualified third for the race and is three points below the cutoff line. He needs to get out front, earn points, and potentially win. GMS is shutting its doors at the end of the season, and Enfinger would love to end his tenure there on top and running for a championship.
With only one win this season, Ben Rhodes is looking for a late-season rebound. With an average finish of 11.4, Rhodes has just two top-ten finishes in the last five races, most recently a second place at Talladega. To make matters worse, he has qualified 21st for the race. Rhodes has a tough road to make the playoffs.
— ThorSport Racing (@ThorSportRacing) October 20, 2023
With a starting position of fourth, Ty Majeski is the highest qualifying of the two Thorsport trucks in the playoffs. With one win at Indianapolis Raceway Park and an average start of 6.0, Majeski qualifies extremely well. Where he seems to struggle is finishing the races, with his best finish in the last three races being 18th.
Majeski and the #98 Team are the defending race winners. In 2022, Majeski swept the two races before the championship race. He finished fourth in the standings in 2022, after a spin late in the race sent him toward the back of the field. Majeski and his team also faced the wrath of NASCAR, with the team getting caught with tire bleeders at Milwaukee.
With a solid qualifying effort and being the defending race winner, expect Majeski to have race-winning speed.
Defending champion and another driver with plans for Cup in 2024. Zane Smith started the season incredibly well, with wins at Daytona and Austin and three poles. But a string of bad finishes has put the defending champion at the bottom of the round of eight. Zane has been in a must-win situation before, Martinsville in 2021, and he has come out on top.
A seventh-place starting position should help the defending champion in his hope of title defense. The #38 team could pull one off and lock themselves into the final four.
— Front Row Motorsports (@Team_FRM) October 20, 2023
Who is in the Final Four?
Out of the seven drivers not locked into the final four, these are who I believe will be racing for a championship in Phoenix. Hocevar is in, he has the points to go out and lock himself in without needing a win. I think Sanchez has the potential to win this race. He has motivation and is back at home.
Who makes the last spot, it is a toss-up between Majeski and Smith. While Majeski is the defending winner, he has not had the speed they had before the penalty. Smith has been in a must-win situation before, but they also have not had good pace in this back half of the season.
Eckes and Enfinger have speed, but I do not see them winning this race. Rhodes has not had race-winning pace except for Talladega. These drivers will end their seasons, eliminated in the round of eight.
Tune into the Baptist Health 200, on Saturday, October 21st at 11:00 AM ET to see if my picks make Truck Series championship four.