Derek Kraus took his fourth career pole on Thursday afternoon and starts first on Thursday night in the 200-lap Camping World Truck Series at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Kraus cropped Chandler Smith, whose lap was 0.003 seconds slower than Kraus’ time. Kraus ran 125.609 mph and Smith’s lap was 125.584.
Two playoff contenders missed the qualifying session. John Hunter Nemechek damaged his truck in a meeting with a wall in training and moved to a spare truck, and Zane SmithThe truck was sidelined due to mechanical problems.
The race on Thursday night opens the 8th round of the Truck Series. Eight riders remain in the race for the series championship.
MORE: Bristol Truck Starting Lineup
Round 8 will include two more races at Talladega, Alabama on October 1st and Homestead, Florida on October 22nd. After Homestead, four riders will compete for the series championship on November 4 in Phoenix.
How to characterize these Cup play-offs?
But there are other ways to look at what happened and what could happen in the second round in Texas, Talladega and Charlotte Roval.
The three playoff races saw fire and rain (both at Darlington) and much, much more.
All four playoff drivers associated with Richard Childress Racing in the past, present or future have been eliminated. The two former champions are gone. Playoff rookie with one top 10 finish in the last five months (!!) advanced to the second round. The series leader at the end of the first round is now tied for the final transfer spot in the second round after the reset.
âAs for the cut line, no one is safe,â said the former champion. Chase Elliottwho enters this round as the leader in points.
This has never happened.
“Imagine if the playoffs started a couple of weeks later.” Joey Logano said. “Holy cow. What a crazy year, which is what we expected. We expected this year to be very unpredictable, and no one really understands this car, and it really seems like there are still so many questions.”
Yes it is.
Will the chaos continue? Will the riders who didn’t make the playoffs still be able to win? Who is the next retired former champion? Who’s the next surprise to promote? How will the Next Gen car affect these playoffs?
“This Machine Rebooted It All” Ross Chastain said. âItâs like you canât bring different headlines here. You can’t bring a new aero package.
âYou are trying to maximize everything, but we all have the same parts. You can’t build a new right front spindle and save it for the playoffs. You can’t bring other brake pads that have been found to be the best in testing and bring them in now. There is nothing more to bring. We all order the same thing.
âIt was the greatest reboot the sport has ever seen.”
With Talladega in the upcoming round where anyone can win and Charlotte Roval as the ultimate race – imagine if it rains there – the second round could be more volatile than the first. This makes Sunday’s race in Texas critical for the teams due to the uncertainty of the next two races.
Logano noted how different this time will be from when NASCAR held its All-Star race there in May.
âThe car has evolved and changed,â he said. âIt will be different from where we were last time. The weather will be different. Resin and how it’s appliedâthings like thatâwill be different. IndyCar has been racing since we were there, so a lot can change, but the next stage will be quite difficult.
âIf you think about Texas, maybe the most ordinary race, and then Roval and Talladega, it will definitely be a unique stage, as always.â
While questions remain about the safety aspects of the Next Gen car and it has been criticized for how it races on short tracks, the new car performed best on 1.5 mile tracks. Sunday’s race in Texas will again focus on such tracks.
Three of the next five playoff races will take place on 1.5-mile tracks (Texas in the second round and Las Vegas and Homestead in the third round). This can affect who moves forward.
Another key is to reset points.
Christopher Bell had a 4.0 average in the first round and was the points leader when the checkered flag flew over Bristol last weekend.
The points of the remaining 12 playoff drivers were changed to 3000 and then the playoff points were added. Although Bell won the Bristol stage and scored a playoff point, he did not score as many playoff points as the others. As a result, he will start this round with an equal Denny Hamlin as well as Ryan Blaney for the destination.
Briscoe pushed ahead despite finishing once in the top 10 in the last 21 races since early April. He finished 27th (Darlington), 13th (Kansas) and 14th (Bristol) in the first round. That was enough to break away by 14 points. Tyler Reddickthe rider with the most points eliminated in the first round.
âThe guys will continue to destroy themselves,â Briscoe said. âWe just have to limit our mistakes. If we do that, we understand that we need a little more speed, but if we can just correct our mistakes, it will give us a chance to go to the next round.â
In these unpredictable playoffs, anything is possible.
The change came after Busch was eliminated from the playoffs last weekend in Bristol and Hamlin advanced to the second round.
Prior to the Bristol race, Busch’s pit crew finished second in the series in average four-wheel stop times, according to Racing Insights. Bush’s pit crew averaged 11.7 seconds. That was three tenths of a second faster than Hamlin’s pit crew, who finished seventh according to Racing Insights.
Changes in pit crew between a non-playoff team and a playoff team in the same organization are not uncommon in this series.
Changing pit crew members is also not new this season for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Christopher Bell and Bubba Wallace changed some crew members in early July ahead of the Atlanta race. Joe Gibbs Racing also provides pit crews for 23XI Racing. The change was made to strengthen both teams. Bell has a 4.0 average in the first round of the playoffs. Wallace won the playoff race in Kansas.