This past Friday night, the NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series playoffs continued at Las Vegas. This race was a story of domination throughout the majority of the race. There was not much action on track, overall. The playoff drama was still present, however, as every driver tried to get as many points as possible before the cutoff race at Talladega.
The race started with the unfortunate news that Natalie Decker was not medically cleared to compete. No update on her condition or future was offered at the time it was first reported. The first two stages of the race were uneventful. Sheldon Creed took the lead from his GMS teammate, Brett Moffitt, on lap 2 and never gave it up again for the remainder of the stages. There were no cautions for incident throughout the first two stages. Creed was able to get the win in Stage 1 with Moffitt, Kraus, Enfinger, Z. Smith, Rhodes, Eckes, Gray, Crafton, and C. Smith all earning stage points behind him. Creed was able to continue this dominance in Stage 2. He led every lap of Stage 2 getting yet another playoff point to add to his total. Z. Smith, Moffitt, Kraus, Rhodes, Sauter, Eckes, Crafton, Hill, and Gray followed Creed to earn stage points in Stage 2.
The final stage here in Las Vegas under the lights appeared to be the same as the first two. However, a spin by Ben Rhodes on lap 85 would prove otherwise. Rhodes made some contact with fellow playoff competitor, Todd Gilliland. This contact sent Rhodes up a couple lanes where Stewart Friesen, trying to get by the incident, get Rhodes around with the air off his truck. This shook up the field and allowed Austin Hill to take over the lead. Sheldon Creed attempted to track down Hill but ultimately did not have enough time to do so. Austin Hill would pick up the win over Creed securing his spot into the Round of 8. Following Austin Hill in the top 10 would be Creed, Gray, Friesen, C. Smith, Enfinger, Z. Smith, Eckes, Crafton, and Ankrum. Todd Gilliland (13th), Brett Moffitt (15th), and Ben Rhodes (23rd) were the only playoff drivers to finish outside of the top 10. After Vegas the playoff standings shape up like this:
1. Austin Hill - Advanced
2. Sheldon Creed - +52 Points
3. Brett Moffitt - +44 Points
4. Zane Smith - +39 Points
5. Grant Enginger - +31 Points
6. Tyler Ankrum - +15 Points
7. Matt Crafton - +15 Points
8. Christian Eckes - +6 Points
9. Ben Rhodes - -6 Points
10. Todd Gilliland - -19 Points
There are certain drivers that look like they have a solid spot locked up for the Round of 8. However, Talladega has proven to be a wild card in the past. Given the fact that it's a cutoff race, that makes it even more so. Austin Hill is the only driver that can truly rest easy. This week's race at Talladega should prove to be a fun one.