Camping World Truck Series Playoffs opener set for World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway

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Following the weather-shortened regular season finale two weekends ago at Watkins Glen International that set the 10-driver Playoff field and saw Hattori Racing Enterprises’ Austin Hill claim his second victory of the season, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is ready for the Playoff opener, the Toyota 200 presented by CK Power at World Wide Technology Raceway on August 20 at 9 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. 

The 2021 season will be the sixth running of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs (2016-2021). The previous five Playoff-era seasons have produced five different champions – 2016: Johnny Sauter; 2017: Christopher Bell; 2018: Brett Moffitt; 2019: Matt Crafton and 2020: Sheldon Creed.

Once again, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 2021 season will feature a seven-race, three-round Playoff format. All three national series will conclude the Playoffs with a Championship 4 race at Phoenix Raceway to crown a champion. 

Characteristics of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff format include: 

  • The number of championship drivers in contention for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship will decrease after every three Playoff races, from 10 to start in the Playoffs; eight after race No. 3; and four after race No. 6.
  • The first three races of the Playoffs (16-18) will be known as the Round of 10; races 19-21 of the season will be known as the Round of 8; and race No. 22 will be the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship (Championship 4 Round).
  • A win by a championship-eligible driver in any Playoff race automatically clinches the winning driver a spot in the next round.
  • Four drivers will enter the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship race with a chance at the title, with the highest finisher among those four capturing the championship.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff Structure:

  • Round of 10: The first round (races 16-18), called the Round of 10, consists of the races at Gateway, Darlington and Bristol. If a driver in the Playoffs wins a race in this round, the driver automatically advances to the next round (Round of 8). The remaining available positions (1-8) that have not been filled by wins will be filled on points. Each will then have their points reset to 3,000, plus any Playoff points awarded to that point are added.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff Outlook – Round of 10 (Gateway, Darlington, Bristol)
RankPlayoff DriversPointsPts From Cutoff
1John H. Nemechek204948
2Austin Hill202120
3Ben Rhodes201918
4Todd Gilliland201514
5Sheldon Creed201110
6Zane Smith20098
7Matt Crafton20043
8Carson Hocevar #20021
9Chandler Smith #2001-1
10Stewart Friesen2001-1
  • Round of 8: The second round (races 19-21) is the Round of 8 (Las Vegas, Talladega and Martinsville). Likewise, if a driver in the top eight in points wins a race in this round, the driver automatically advances to the next round (Championship 4). The remaining available positions (1-4) that have not been filled by wins will be filled on points. Each will then have their points reset to 4,000.
  • Each eliminated driver will return to the Playoff-start base of 2,000 (plus any awarded Playoff points), with their accumulated points starting with race No. 17 added. This will allow all drivers not in contention for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title to continue to race for the best possible season-long standing, with final positions fifth-through-10th still up for grabs.

Championship Race:

  • The 22nd and final race of the season will be the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship finale. Simply stated, the highest finisher in that race among the remaining four eligible drivers will win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title.
  • Stage Playoff points will not apply in the season finale, so the official finishing position alone will decide the champion.
  • Note:  All rules outlined above also apply to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series owner championship structure.

First Playoff Race: World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway

World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway will be home to the first of seven Playoff races to decide the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion, the Toyota 200 presented by CK Power on August 20 at 9 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).

The 2021 season marks the first year World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway has participated in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs, becoming the fourth different track to open the Playoffs; joining New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2016, 2017), Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (2018), Bristol Motor Speedway (2019, 2020).

World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway is a 1.25-mile paved oval. In total, World Wide Technology Raceway has hosted 20 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races dating back to the inaugural event on September 19, 1998. The first Truck race at Gateway was won by Rick Carelli driving the No. 6 Chevrolet owned by Marshal Chesrown. The 20 Camping World Truck Series races at World Wide Technology Raceway have produced 19 different race winners, led by Ted Musgrave with two victories (2001, 2005). Two former series Gateway winners are entered this weekend – 2020 NCWTS champion Sheldon Creed (2020) and 2021 Regular Season Champion John Hunter Nemechek (2017).

This weekend’s race will be 200 miles (160 laps) and will be broken up into three stages – the first two stages are 55 laps each and the final stage is 50 laps.

A total of 12 different NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers have qualified on the pole at World Wide Technology Raceway, led by Greg Biffle (1998, 2000) and Ted Musgrave (2001, 2005) with two poles each. This weekend’s starting lineups will be set by Metric Qualifying and as a result Austin Hill will start from the pole and will be joined by John Hunter Nemechek on the front row.

Three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Gateway have been won from the pole or first starting position. The most recent driver to accomplish the feat was Kevin Harvick in 2010; the other two were by Ted Musgrave in 2001 and 2005. The deepest in the field a driver has started and gone on to win the race was 17th by Sheldon Creed last season.

Scouting the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff field

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 2021 Playoff 10-driver field is stacked with contenders ready for their shot at the title. Seven different organizations are represented in this year’s postseason driver field. Below is a quick look at the challengers in this season’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs heading into this weekend:

Kyle Busch Motorsport’s John Hunter Nemechek (No. 4 Toyota) enters the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs as the No. 1 seed with 2,049 points; up 28 points on his nearest competitor. Nemechek enters the postseason as the 2021 Regular Season Champion – the first time in his career he has won the title. This season is his third NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs appearance (2016, ’17, ’21). Nemechek’s previous best finish in the series Playoff standings is eighth – twice (2016, ‘17).

Nemechek has made five starts at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway posting one win (2017), two top fives and three top 10s. His average finish at the 1.25-mile track is 10.2.    

Nemechek’s 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season statistics:

StartsRace WinsStage WinsTop FivesTop 10sDNFs
15599121
Driver RatingAvg. Running PositionLap Led
117.05.886487

Hattori Racing Enterprises’ Austin Hill (No. 16 Toyota) enters the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs as the No. 2 seed with 2,021 points; just 28 points back from standings leader John Hunter Nemechek with 2,049. This season marks Hill’s third consecutive appearance in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs (2019-’21). Hill’s previous best finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs is fifth in 2019. 

Hill has made four starts at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway posting one top-five finish. His average finish at the 1.25-mile track is 9.8.   

Hill’s 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season statistics:

StartsRace WinsStage WinsTop FivesTop 10sDNFs
15217120
Driver RatingAvg. Running PositionLap Led
103.58.73848

ThorSport Racing’s Ben Rhodes (No. 99 Toyota) enters the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs as the No. 3 seed with 2,019 points; 30 markers back from Nemechek in the standings lead and just two points behind Hill in second. The 2021 season marks the fourth time he has competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs. His previous best finish in the Truck Series Playoffs is fifth in 2017. 

Rhodes has made five starts at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway posting one top five and three top 10s. His average finish at the 1.25-mile track is 9.6.   

Rhodes’ 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season statistics:

StartsRace WinsStage WinsTop FivesTop 10sDNFs
15215110
Driver RatingAvg. Running PositionLap Led
98.29.80568

Front Row Motorsport’s Todd Gilliland (No. 38 Ford) enters the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs as the No. 4 seed with 2,015 points; 34 points behind standings leader John Hunter Nemechek and just four points back from Rhodes in third. This is Gilliland’s first appearance in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs; his previous best finish in the championship standings was 10th – twice (2018, ’20).

Gilliland has made four starts at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway posting two top-five finishes. His average finish at the 1.25-mile track is 12.3. 

“Last year, we went out (at World Wide Technology Raceway) and won both stages and then I’d say I had a top five truck at the end of the race and got wrecked, but just overall to have that confidence going into the first race of the Playoffs. I think even if we came out of here with a really solid run that would definitely set our Playoffs on the right track.” 

Gilliland’s 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season statistics:

StartsRace WinsStage WinsTop FivesTop 10sDNFs
15137111
Driver RatingAvg. Running PositionLap Led
102.39.98852

2020 series champion and GMS Racing driver Sheldon Creed (No. 2 Chevrolet) enters the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs as the No. 5 seed with 2,011 points; 38 markers back from Nemechek in the standings lead and just four points behind Gilliland in fourth. Creed in his first appearance in the series Playoffs last season rallied off two wins (Texas and season finale at Phoenix), made the Championship 4 Round and won the title. This year marks his second go at the postseason.

Creed has made two starts at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway posting one win (2020), one top five and two top 10s. His average finish at the 1.25-mile track is 4.0 – best among Playoff drivers.    

Creed’s 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season statistics:

StartsRace WinsStage WinsTop FivesTop 10sDNFs
1511673
Driver RatingAvg. Running PositionLap Led
98.411.936109

GMS Racing’s Zane Smith (No. 21 Chevrolet) enters the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs as the No. 6 seed with 2,009 points; 40 points down from the standings lead but just two points back from his GMS Racing teammate Sheldon Creed in fifth. Smith is coming off an impressive rookie season (2020) that saw him make the Playoffs and earn a spot in the Championship 4 Round ultimately finishing the season runner-up in the championship and the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award winner. This season, Smith returns for his second career appearance in the postseason.

Zane Smith has made two starts at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway posting one top five and two top 10s. His average finish at the 1.25-mile track is 6.0 – second-best among Playoff drivers.    

Z. Smith’s 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season statistics:

StartsRace WinsStage WinsTop FivesTop 10sDNFs
15031101
Driver RatingAvg. Running PositionLap Led
96.310.11147

Three-time series champion (2013, ’14, ’19) and ThorSport Racing driver Matt Crafton (No. 88 Toyota) enters the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs as the No. 7 seed with 2,004 points; 45 markers behind Nemechek in the series standings lead. The 2021 season marks the sixth-time Crafton has competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs. Crafton is the only driver in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series history to compete in all six Playoffs (2016-2021). A three-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion (2013, 2014 and 2019) and the only driver in series history to win titles in both the Playoff Era (2016-Present) and the prior points format (1995-2015). Crafton has appeared in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship 4 Round three times (2016, ’17, ’19) – tied with Brett Moffitt and Johnny Sauter for the series-most Championship 4 Round appearances with three each. Crafton finished fifth in last season’s Playoffs.

Crafton has made 17 starts at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway posting two top fives and nine top 10s. His average finish at the 1.25-mile track is 12.6.   

Crafton’s 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season statistics:

StartsRace WinsStage WinsTop FivesTop 10sDNFs
1500271
Driver RatingAvg. Running PositionLap Led
90.412.62314

Niece Motorsport’s Carson Hocevar (No. 42 Chevrolet) enters the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs as the No. 8 seed with 2,002 points; 47 points back from John Hunter Nemechek in the standings lead. Hocevar and Chandler Smith are the only two Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates from the 2021 class to make it to the postseason. Hocevar joins Chandler Smith this season as the ninth and 10th different Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates to make the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs all-time; joining Christopher Bell (2016), William Bryon (2016), Austin Cindric (2017), Chase Briscoe (2017), Kaz Grala (2017), Tyler Ankrum (2019), Zane Smith (2020) and Christian Eckes (2020).

Hocevar made his series track debut at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway last season; he started 16th and finished 15th. 

Hocevar’s 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season statistics:

StartsRace WinsStage WinsTop FivesTop 10sDNFs
1500350
Driver RatingAvg. Running PositionLap Led
82.815.2637

Kyle Busch Motorsport’s Chandler Smith (No. 18 Toyota) enters the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs as the No. 9 seed with 2,001 points; 48 points behind the standings lead. Smith and Carson Hocevar are the only two Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates from the 2021 class to make it to the postseason. Smith joins Hocevar this season as the ninth and 10th different Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates to make the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs all-time; joining Christopher Bell (2016), William Bryon (2016), Austin Cindric (2017), Chase Briscoe (2017), Kaz Grala (2017), Tyler Ankrum (2019), Zane Smith (2020) and Christian Eckes (2020).

Chandler Smith has made two starts at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway posting one top-five finish. His average finish at the 1.25-mile track is 13.5.   

C. Smith’s 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season statistics:

StartsRace WinsStage WinsTop FivesTop 10sDNFs
1501352
Driver RatingAvg. Running PositionLap Led
85.014.60894

Halmar Friesen Racing’s Stewart Friesen (No. 52 Toyota) enters the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs as the No. 10 seed with 2,001 points; 48 points back from John Hunter Nemechek in the No. 1 seed.  The 2021 season marks the third time he has competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs. Friesen finished a career-best fourth in the 2019 Playoffs after posting a win in the penultimate race at Phoenix to earn a spot in the Championship 4 Round. He failed to make the postseason last year ultimately finishing the season 15th in points.

Friesen has made three starts at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway posting two top fives. His average finish at the 1.25-mile track is 7.0 – third best among Playoff drivers.    

Friesen’s 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season statistics:

StartsRace WinsStage WinsTop FivesTop 10sDNFs
1500343
Driver RatingAvg. Running PositionLap Led
85.212.79113