The penultimate round of the 2020 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Playoffs begins Saturday afternoon at Kansas Speedway with the Clean Harbors 200 (4 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and a tightly-ranked field of championship-eligible drivers ready to earn an automatic ticket into the Championship 4 round to determine who hoists that season trophy.
Gander Truck Series regular-season champion Austin Hill and three-race winner Sheldon Creed are tied in the points standings heading into this weekend‘s race at the 1.5-mile Kansas track. Two-race winner, rookie Zane Smith and three-race winner, veteran Grant Enfinger are six and nine points behind the leading pair, respectively.
Brett Moffitt, the 2018 series champion, is ranked fifth and only 12 points back from the series lead, followed by Ben Rhodes (-14 points), reigning series champ Matt Crafton (-19) and rookie Tyler Ankrum (-25 points). Moffitt and Ankrum are the only two drivers among the eight who have not won a race in 2020.
Of the playoff drivers, Crafton has multiple wins at all three tracks in this playoff round (Kansas, Texas Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway). He is the only driver among those eight championship eligible competitors with victories at all three stops.
Crafton has an all-time series best mark of three victories at Kansas — the last coming in July. Hill won the opening half of the July doubleheader weekend and is the only other racer among the playoff eight who has a previous win at one of the upcoming tracks in this round.
Both Hill, driver of the No. 16 Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota, and Creed, driver of the No. 2 GMS Racing Chevrolet, would like to raise their playoff game. Hill — who leads the series in top 10s (15) and top fives (nine) — won at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to guarantee his spot in this round. But it was the only top-10 finish he earned in the three races. He crashed out of the last playoff race — at Talladega Superspeedway two weeks ago — and finished 19th. Kansas has been good to him, however. He is the most recent winner and has accumulated three top-10 finishes at in four starts there, leading 85 laps.
Creed, who boasts the most stage wins (seven) in the series this season, has struggled in the last month with only a single top 10 in the last five races (runner-up to Hill at Las Vegas). His best finish in three previous Kansas starts was eighth-place in the race Hill won this summer.
If Crafton is looking to make a bold statement in his quest to tie NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. as the series‘ only four-time champions, this may well be the round of playoffs he does that. Not only does the driver of the No. 88 ThorSport Racing Ford easily boast the best track record among the playoff drivers for these upcoming three tracks, he shows up in Kansas this weekend riding a four-race streak of top-10 finishes, including a runner-up at Richmond Raceway. He has finished top 10 at Kansas in eight of the last nine races there, posting three victories and another two runner-up finishes in that span.
Among the eight with a championship on the line, Enfinger is enjoying a stellar season — three wins in 2020, a career high. He has earned top-10 finishes in six of the last eight races in the No. 98 ThorSport Ford and has four top-10 finishes in five Kansas races. His best work — third place — came at both races this July.