Truck Playoffs’ Round of 8 set to begin at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

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Just four races left in the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season to decide the championship and the competition has reached red hot following an electric Round of 10 elimination race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Now the Playoff contenders turn their attention to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200 Presented by Westgate Resorts this Friday, September 24 at 9 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) for the final 1.5-mile track on the 2021 schedule. 

When the dust settled last Thursday night, eight competitors from the 10-driver NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff field advanced to the Round of 8 on their performance in the elimination race at Bristol Motor Speedway – John Hunter Nemechek, Sheldon Creed, Ben Rhodes, Zane Smith, Chandler Smith, Matt Crafton, Carson Hocevar and Stewart Friesen all advanced. But it was the drivers with the last name Smith that stole the show. Heading into last weekend at Bristol, both Zane Smith and Chandler Smith were ranked below the Round of 8 cutline in the Playoff standings and both drivers managed to race their way into the next round. Chandler Smith advanced by winning his first career Camping World Truck Series race and Zane Smith finished eighth in the event giving him enough points to clinch the final spot. Front Row Motorsport’s driver Todd Gilliland and Hattori Racing Enterprises’ driver Austin Hill unfortunately failed to qualify for the Round of 8.  

With the Round of 10 in their rearview mirror, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Round of 8 opener. This season marks just the first-time Las Vegas Motor Speedway has hosted the Round of 8 opener since the inception of the postseason in the series in 2016.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway will become the fourth different track to host the Playoffs’ Round of 8 opener; joining Martinsville Speedway (2016-2018), Talladega Superspeedway (2019) and Kansas Speedway (2020). Prior to 2021, Las Vegas Motor Speedway occupied the second race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs from 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020 and the final race of the first round in 2019.

The five NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway have produced four different winners – Tyler Reddick (2016), Ben Rhodes (2017), Grant Enfinger (2018) and Austin Hill (2019, 2020). Only once has a non-Playoff driver won the Las Vegas Truck Series postseason race – Tyler Reddick in 2016 – he was ranked in the standings at the time of the win. None of the Las Vegas NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff race winners have gone on to win the title in the same season. 

Las Vegas Playoff Race WinnersDate
Tyler ReddickSaturday, October 1, 2016
Ben RhodesSaturday, September 30, 2017
Grant EnfingerFriday, September 14, 2018
Austin HillFriday, September 13, 2019
Austin HillFriday, September 25, 2020

Camping World Trucks in Sin City

In total, Las Vegas Motor Speedway has hosted 28 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races producing 20 different pole winners and 23 different race winners. Mike Skinner and Jack Sprague leads the series in poles at Las Vegs with three each. Kyle Busch leads the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in wins at his home track of Las Vegas with three victories (2018-2020).

Of the 23 different series race winners at Las Vegas, five are active this weekend, led by Austin Hill with two victories.

Active Las Vegas WinnersWinsSeasons
Austin Hill22020, 2019
John H. Nemechek12021
Grant Enfinger12018
Ben Rhodes12017
Johnny Sauter12009

Kyle Busch Motorsport’s Chandler Smith answered the bell in Bristol

Kyle Busch Motorsport’s Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Chandler Smith had his back against the wall last weekend in the elimination race of the first round at Bristol Motor Speedway and fought his way to his first career win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and with it clinched his spot in the Playoffs’ Round of 8. Smith’s win was the first time since the inception of the Playoffs in 2016 that a driver below the cutline in the first-round heading into the elimination race won the event to advance to the next round.

Smith becomes the third driver this season to win his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race joining Martin Truex Jr. (Bristol Dirt) and Ryan Preece (Nashville).

With the win and Playoff points that go with it, Chandler Smith finds himself fifth in the Playoff standings just three points back from Zane Smith in fourth – the final transfer spot to the Championship 4 Round. Chandler Smith, from Talking Rock, Georgia, is hoping to keep the positive momentum going in the Round of 8. He has made two series starts at Las Vegas posting one top-five finish and an average finish of 12.0. 

Clinch Scenarios for Las Vegas: Trucks are rolling the dice

This weekend will be the first of three races in the second round of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs, the Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200 Presented by Westgate Resorts (September 24 at 9 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Playoff standings have been reset to 3,000 points for the drivers that advanced to the Round 8. John Hunter Nemechek currently holds the Playoff standings lead with 3,050 points. 

Already Clinched

No drivers have clinched a spot in the 4-driver field of the next round yet.

Can Clinch Via Win

All eight drivers in the Round of 8 would clinch on their win alone this weekend at Las Vegas: John Hunter Nemechek, Sheldon Creed, Ben Rhodes, Zane Smith, Chandler Smith, Matt Crafton, Carson Hocevar, Stewart Friesen. 

RankDriverPointsRace WinsStage WinsPlayoff PtsPts From Cutoff
1John H. Nemechek3,0505105044
2Sheldon Creed3,026362620
3Ben Rhodes3,019211913
4Zane Smith3,0090393
5Chandler Smith3,006116-3
6Matt Crafton3,004004-5
7Carson Hocevar3,002002-7
8Stewart Friesen3,001001-8
9Todd Gilliland2,1001315Eliminated From The Playoffs
10Austin Hill2,0942121

John Hunter Nemechek back to the top of the reseeded Playoff standings

All those regular season wins, and stage points are sure coming in handy in the postseason for Kyle Busch Motorsport’s driver John Hunter Nemechek who finds himself atop the Playoff standings following the reseeding for the Round of 8. 

Nemechek is currently 24 points ahead of second place Sheldon Creed and 44 points ahead of the Championship 4 round cutoff in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs standings following Bristol. This is just the second-time in his career he has advanced out of the first round of the Playoffs (2017, 2021).

Nemechek is one of five former winners entered this weekend at Las Vegas and is the most recent competitor to visit Victory Lane at the 1.5-mile track. Nemechek won at Las Vegas earlier this season by holding off his owner/teammate Kyle Busch. It was Nemechek’s first of a series leading five wins this season. In total, Nemechek has made seven series starts at Las Vegas posting one win, two top fives and three top 10s.

Sheldon Creed’s hot start has him seeded second heading to Vegas

Kicking off the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs with back-to-back wins at Gateway and Darlington was a great way to start postseason for GMS Racing’s Sheldon Creed, who now finds himself ranked second in the postseason standings just 24 points back from John Hunter Nemechek.

The 2020 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion is looking to become just the second driver in series history to win back-to-back titles joining Matt Crafton (2013, 2014). This is the second time he has advanced out of the first round of the Playoffs in as many seasons (2020, 2021). Creed is currently 20 points above the Championship 4 Round cutoff.

Looking ahead to Las Vegas, Creed has made five series starts on 1.5-mile track posting two top fives and four top 10s. He finished 18th at Las Vegas earlier this season.

Ben Rhodes looking to rebound in this round of the Playoffs

ThorSport Racing’s Ben Rhodes advanced to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs’ Round of 8 on points after finishing in the top-10 at Bristol last weekend.

The Louisville, Kentucky native, Rhodes, is currently ranked third in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff standings just 13 points above the Championship 4 Round cutoff. This season marks the third time in his career he has advanced out of the first round of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs (2017, ’20, ’21).

Keep an eye on Rhodes this weekend, he has made nine series starts at Las Vegas putting up one win (2017), three top fives and six top 10s.

Zane Smith squeaked into the Round of 8

Just two points, that was how little the point margin was for Zane Smith to clinch the final spot in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs Round of 8 last weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. GMS Racing’s Zane Smith pulled off an eighth-place finish last Thursday night to advance out of the first round of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs for the second-time in his career (2020, 2021).

After the reseedings for the Round of 8, Smith finds himself in the fourth position in the Playoff standings – the final transfer spot to Championship 4 Round. Smith is currently separated by three points over Chandler Smith in the fifth position – the first spot outside the Championship 4 Round.

Luckily for Smith Las Vegas is one of his better tracks. He has made three starts at the 1.5-mile speedway posting three top 10s an average finish of 6.3 (series-best among active drivers). 

Chandler Smith sits in the first spot outside the Championship 4

Chandler Smith took the saying ‘Win and you’re in’ to heart last weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway and did just that. The Georgia native grabbed his first career the win and in doing so guaranteed his spot in the Round of 8. 

Now the rookie Chandler Smith finds himself in fifth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff standings just three points back from the Championship 4 Round cutoff.

Heading into this weekend, Smith has made two series starts at Las Vegas posting one top-five finish and an average finish of 12.0.

Three-time champ Matt Crafton keeps the campaign for his fourth title going

ThorSport Racing driver Matt Crafton’s quest for a fourth championship continues, after the veteran put up three top-10 finishes in the first three races of the Playoffs to score enough points to advance to the Round of 8 for the sixth consecutive season in his career (2016-’21) – series-most. If Crafton were to win this season championship, he would tie NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series most titles all-time.  

Crafton is currently ranked sixth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff standings a mere five points back from the Championship 4 Round cutline.

In 24 starts at Las Vegas, Crafton has amassed 10 top fives and 15 top 10s. His average finish at the 1.5-mile track is 11.6. 

Rookie Carson Hocevar has his work cut out for him in the Round of 8

Sitting in the seventh seed is quite the accomplishment for the young NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Carson Hocevar. The Niece Motorsports driver advanced on points to the Round of 8 but now sits seven points behind the Championship 4 Round cutline heading to Las Vegas.

Hocevar has been incredibly consistent this season, he leads the series in percentage of laps completed with him completing 99.92% of his laps attempted.

Hocevar made his series track debut at Las Vegas earlier this season; he started 10th but finished 24th.

If Hocevar can advance to the Championship 4 Round he would become just the fourth rookie since the inception of the Playoffs in the Camping World Truck Series in 2016 to accomplish the feat; joining Christopher Bell (2016), Austin Cindric (2017) and Zane Smith (2020).

Stewart Friesen finds himself in the eighth and final position of this round

Despite not winning in the first round of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs, Halmar Friesen Racing’s Stewart Friesen led all the Playoff challengers in average finish (3.7) in the Round of 10 and because of that he earned himself a spot in the Round of 8.

Now after the reseeding, Friesen resides in the eighth and final spot in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Round of 8 Playoff standings, and ironically, is eight points back from the Championship 4 Round cutoff. 

Friesen has made nine series starts at Las Vegas posting four top fives and five top 10s. His average finish is 11.556.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Etc.

HRE’s Austin Hill can tie Kyle Busch for most win at Las Vegas – Though Hattori Racing Enterprises’ driver Austin Hill was recently eliminated from the Playoffs, he could still add a pretty nice stat to his resume this weekend in Las Vegas. If Hill were to win this weekend, he would tie NASCAR Cup Series driver and Las Vegas native Kyle Busch for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series most wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at three each. Busch rallied his wins off in the spring races of 2018, 2019 and 2020. Austin Hill secured his trips to Victory Lane at Las Vegas in the last two Playoff races at the 1.5-mile track (2019 and 2020). 

Two man race out front in Trucks – This season two drivers have gobbled up the lion’s share of the laps led in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Sheldon Creed and John Hunter Nemechek have combined to lead nearly half of the laps this season (47.04%). Creed leads the Truck Series in laps led this season with 596 laps out front (24.99% of his total laps completed). Nemechek is right behind him with 526 laps led (22.05%).