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Playoffs Pulse: Analyzing the Trucks field after Texas

Justin Haley won Friday night’s race at Texas Motor Speedway, punching his ticket to the Camping World Truck Series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He joins Martinsville winner Johnny Sauter as the only two drivers locked into the Championship 4 on Nov. 16 (8 p.m., FS1). The field dwindles from six to four next weekend at ISM Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona.

Winner

Haley earned his third win of the season — and his Truck career — in the Lone Star State when late leader Todd Gilliland ran out of gas on the last lap, paving the path for the No. 24 driver to notch the victory. The win extends Haley’s impressive streak of consecutive top-10 results in the Truck Series to 12 straight, giving him ample momentum heading into Phoenix, and ultimately, the championship in Miami.

Who struggled

A lengthy pit stop and involvement in a wreck Friday derailed Noah Gragson’s night that began with a promising second-place starting position. Although the No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports driver finished 10th, Haley’s win put Gragson fourth in the playoff standings — the last spot above the cutline — heading into Phoenix.

“Just got to go into Phoenix with one goal in mind and that’s to win the race,” a disappointed Gragson told NASCAR.com in the garage. “I’m not worried about points, I’m just worried about winning the race, going to Homestead and competing for a championship. Just a bummer, bummer weekend. …

“I’m just over not winning. Need to get back in Victory Lane, we need that momentum. I have the team to do it, we’ve just got to execute, fire on all cylinders and mix it into these races up front and have track position and then just be able to contend for the win. I think we can do it; we definitely have the Safelite Autoglass Tundras capable. Just everything needs to fall into (place) and we just have to have the luck.”

Bubble Watch

Next race
The Camping World Truck Series heads to ISM Raceway on Nov. 9 (8:30 p.m. ET, FS1) for the penultimate race of the 2018 season.

Who’s in danger?
Gragson sits 18 points above the cutline heading into next week’s race, while Grant Enfinger and Matt Crafton are the two drivers below the cutline. Gragson’s outlook appears the best of the group, as he’s finished 16th and 15th, leading 55 laps in his most recent trip to Arizona despite a wreck. Though he has 11 career top 10s at Phoenix, Crafton has crashed in two of his last three races at Phoenix and only led 15 laps in 17 starts. His position in the standings also puts him in a precarious position. Enfinger crashed midway through his only Truck start at Phoenix, recording a 24th-place result.

Rank Driver Points to cutoff
1. Johnny Sauter WINNER
2. Justin Haley WINNER
3. Brett Moffitt +22
4. Noah Gragson +18
————— CUT-OFF LINE —————
5. Grant Enfinger -18
6. Matt Crafton -23