The 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs continue Friday, as four races remain in the season-long battle for the championship.
Last week, the Round of 10 concluded at Bristol Motor Speedway. Two title-eligible drivers were eliminated from the postseason competition – Todd Gilliland and Austin Hill – while eight carried on – John Hunter Nemechek, Sheldon Creed, Ben Rhodes, Zane Smith, Chandler Smith, Matt Crafton, Carson Hocevar and Stewart Friesen. Creed won the first two Round of 10 events (World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway and Darlington Raceway) to clinch a Round of 8 berth, and Chandler Smith won the elimination race (Bristol) to survive another round. The other six advanced on points.
Up next is the Round of 8, featuring Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Friday), Talladega Superspeedway (Oct. 2) and Martinsville Speedway (Oct. 30). Afterward, the Championship 4 will be set and compete at Phoenix Raceway on Nov. 5 in a straight-up race for the ultimate trophy.
Now, a Round of 8 track-by-track breakdown:
LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
(📅 Friday | ⏰ 9 p.m. ET | 📺 FS1 | 📻 MRN, SiriusXM)
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Length: 1.5 miles
Distance: 134 laps, 201 miles
Previous winner: John Hunter Nemechek (March 5, 2021)
John Hunter Nemechek won the regular-season event at Las Vegas earlier this year, leading a race-high 94 of the 134 laps. There were four other playoff drivers who also finished in the top 10 – Stewart Friesen (fourth), Matt Crafton (fifth), Zane Smith (sixth) and Ben Rhodes (10th).
Crafton has the most Las Vegas experience in his career and with that comes the most top-five and top-10 finishes among his postseason competition. He has not won, though. Nemechek and Rhodes are the only playoff drivers with previous Las Vegas wins. Zane Smith then has the best average finish.
(📅 Oct. 2 | ⏰ 1 p.m. ET | 📺 FS1 | 📻 MRN, SiriusXM)
Location: Talladega, Alabama
Length: 2.66 miles
Distance: 94 laps, 250.04 miles
Previous winner: Raphael Lessard (Oct. 3, 2020)
Raphael Lessard won this race last year, holding the lead on Lap 94 of 94 only. He was not – and is not – a playoff contender. There were, however, three drivers with 2021 title potential in the top-10 finishing order – Chandler Smith (third), Ben Rhodes (fourth) and Matt Crafton (eighth).
Not a single playoff driver has won at Talladega before. Four of the eight – Rhodes, Smith, Crafton and Stewart Friesen – have one top-five finish apiece. Crafton has the most top 10s, given his unique double-digit start count. Smith holds the best average finish, though skewed since he has only one start in his career. Carson Hocevar has no prior Talladega experience.
(📅 Oct. 30 | ⏰ 1 p.m. ET | 📺 FS1 | 📻 MRN, SiriusXM)
Location: Martinsville, Virginia
Length: 0.526 miles
Distance: 200 laps, 105.2 miles
Previous winner: Grant Enfinger (Oct. 30, 2020)
Grant Enfinger, who was not playoff eligible this season as he was not entered in an early-season race, won the Martinsville playoff race in 2020 after leading 49 of the 200 laps. Five drivers currently in the playoffs were also in the top 10 – Ben Rhodes (second), Zane Smith (third), Matt Crafton (fifth), Stewart Friesen (sixth) and Sheldon Creed (eighth).
Crafton dominates four of the five statistical categories in consideration for Martinsville heading in the Round of 8 elimination race – starts, wins, top fives and top 10s. Zane Smith has the best average finish, though skewed with just one career start. Otherwise, Crafton would be tied with Rhodes for best average finish in the postseason field. Chandler Smith has never raced at Martinsville before.