What to watch for during the NASCAR Trucks race at Martinsville

The path to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship begins in earnest this weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

Ben Rhodes and Stewart Friesen were eliminated after the first three-race round at Mosport, Las Vegas and Talladega. That leaves six elite contenders eligible with just three races remaining to decide the four that will battle for the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway next month.

First, let’s take a look at the playoff grid before Martinsville, Texas and Phoenix.

1. Johnny Sauter +39
2. Brett Moffitt + 24
3. Noah Gragson +15
4. Grant Enfinger +4

5. Justin Haley -4
6. Matt Crafton -15

Here’s what to look for on Saturday at the Half-Mile of Mayhem.

Championship Shake-Up

More than any other race this round, Saturday could be where championships are won and lost. It’s no secret that the close quarters and tight corners of the paperclip will produce explosive racing and bent fenders.

It’s possible that a championship contender could be knocked out early and forced into a must-win scenario at Texas and Phoenix.

"This is a place that takes a lot of, what do I want to call it, compromise," Johnny Sauter said on Friday. "Racing the race track is one thing and racing the competitors is another."

Looming Rules Update targets Brett Moffitt

The Hattori Racing No. 16 team is going to be a bit of an enigma over the final four races because while they seemingly have more than enough points to make it to the Championship Race if the simply stay out of trouble, it’s unknown how competitive they will be should they get there. 

That question has to be asked due to recent NASCAR gear and horsepower reveals that will take a little bit of speed away from the TRD motor it uses. Moffitt and crew chief Scott Zipadelli have proven to be tenacious underdogs and very well still could be contenders at all four remaining tracks.

Moffit believes his team is good enough to overcome any perceived disadvantage come Miami.

"Yeah, we are really proud of everything we’ve done this year with Toyota and the OEM engine and Mark Cronquist," he said. "Right now, we’re just going to continue to do our thing. It’s been working for us. The engine deal has been a moving target all year. We re-evaluate after every race, but as of right now, we’re going to stick with what’s been working."

Ladder Champions Set for Trucks debut

ARCA Racing Series champion Sheldon Creed, 21, has made three Camping World Truck Series starts but none on pavement until this weekend. NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion Tyler Ankrum, 17, will make his overall first start in the series.

Ankrum burst onto the scene with four wins in his rookie K&N season and will race Martinsville with his championship-winning DGR-Crosley Racing team. Creed will make the first of four consecutive starts with GMS Racing after winning the ARCA crown with MDM Motorsports.

Starting Lineup

1. Todd Gilliland
2. Harrison Burton
3. Noah Gragson
4. Ben Rhodes
5. Kyle Benjamin
6. Grant Enfinger
7. Austin Hill
8. Johnny Sauter
9. Timothy Peters
10. Matt Crafton
11. Stewart Friesen
12. Christian Eckes
13. Justin Haley
14. Parker Kligerman
15. Sheldon Creed
16. Myatt Snider
17. Brett Moffitt
18. John Hunter Nemechek
19. Tyler Ankrum
20. Chad Finley
21. Kyle Donahue
22. Jeb Burton
23. Dawson Cram
24. D.J. Kennington
25. Tyler Dippel
26. Jordan Anderson
27. Chase Purdy
28. Justin Fontaine
29. Austin Wayne Self
30. Tanner Thorson
31. Brad Foy
32. Jennifer Jo Cobb

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