2021 Sauter
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Camping World Truck Series drivers looking to rebound in NASCAR’s Nashville return

Nashville Superspeedway is a familiar venue for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the track having hosted 14 races between 2001-11. But Friday night’s Rackley Roofing 200 (8 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will be a new ball game for most of the drivers in the field.

RELATED: Full weekend schedule for Nashville Superspeedway

There will be a practice and qualifying session Friday prior to the green flag. There are no defending winners entered, and only six Truck Series regulars have competed previously at the 1.33-mile track – Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Norm Benning, Parker Kligerman and Clay Greenfield.

Among those with some Nashville laps, Sauter boasts an impressive resume – four top-10 finishes in five series starts. His runner-up work in the 2011 race – the last time the series competed at the track – is tops among those with previous starts.

Sauter could certainly use that promising past this week. The former series champion sits in 11th in the series driver standings – one position outside the Playoff cutoff. He trails 10th place Chandler Smith by eight points.

Four-time winner John Hunter Nemechek continues to lead the points. The Kyle Busch Motorsports driver holds a commanding 78-point advantage on two-race winner Ben Rhodes. Austin Hill is third, followed by Todd Gilliland, Zane Smith and 2020 series champion Sheldon Creed. Gilliland and Creed are the only other drivers with a win this season to guarantee their playoff run.

None of these championship frontrunners has ever raced at Nashville previously.

Even so, Nemechek has to be considered a favorite this weekend. The driver of the No. 4 Toyota has won the last two races – at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway – and led double-digit laps in nine of the 11 races to date. A win at Nashville would make him only the eighth driver in series history to win three consecutive races.

Nemechek finished eighth at Darlington Raceway last month but led a race-best 65 of the 147 laps – significant in that Darlington is a 1.366-mile oval and Nashville is a 1.333-miler.

Creed, driver of the No. 2 GMS Racing Chevrolet, could use a boost this weekend. His only victory this year came at Darlington, which is encouraging for the team. However, he has finished 32nd or worse in three of the last five races – including DNFs in the last two.

Rhodes, driver of the No. 99 ThorSport Racing Toyota, was runner-up to Creed at Darlington and is another looking to rebound from a poor performance last week in the Lone Star State. His 26th-place finish at Texas was his worst showing of the season.

Also entered in this weekend’s Truck race, eager to get some competitive laps, are Cup regulars William Byron and Ryan Preece as well as 2021 Xfinity Series race winner Josh Berry.