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Battle for playoff spots intensifies as Truck Series heads to Nashville

With three races left in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular season, five drivers have clinched playoff spots on the basis of race wins — John Hunter Nemechek, Zane Smith, Ben Rhodes, Chandler Smith and Stewart Friesen.

That leaves five berths available, at least two of which will be decided by position in the points standings.

Hovering around the cutline for the final spot are Matt Crafton and Derek Kraus, who are 10th and 11th in the standings, respectively.

Crafton, a three-time series champion, currently holds a 27-point lead over Kraus entering Friday night’s Rackley Roofing 200 (8 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Crafton has 14 starts at Nashville, 13 of which came from 2001-11.

RELATED: Weekend schedule for Nashville | Truck Series standings

The battle for the final five playoff spots isn’t the only intense competition. At the top of the standings, Nemechek, Zane Smith and Rhodes are waging a pitched battle for the regular-season championship, a title worth 15 playoff points to the winner.

Nemechek currently leads Smith by five points and Rhodes by 10. To Nemechek, the key to securing the regular-season title is executing three mistake-free races.

“I think for us, we just need to have consistent runs and not make mistakes,” Nemechek said. “We’ve got to be fast, and we know we have trucks capable of doing that, so (the key is) not dialing ourselves out during practice, putting good races together, finishing up high in the stages and having good results at the end of the race.

“Just have to put everything together, execute, and not beat ourselves and not make any mistakes.”

Friday’s race is the second of three Triple Truck Challenge events on the NCWTS schedule, with a $50,000 bonus available to the winner. Corey Heim won the first Triple Truck Challenge race at World Wide Technology Raceway and can earn a $150,000 bonus for a second victory.

RELATED: Learn more about the Triple Truck Challenge