The Camping World Truck Series took on World Wide Technology Raceway on June 4. Part-time driver Corey Heim captured his second win of the year while the caution-filled race significantly shook up the playoff picture.
There are only five races remaining in the Camping World Truck Series season, and John Hunter Nemechek is no longer the points leader. The 2021 regular-season champion entered the race weekend with a seven-point lead over Ben Rhodes, but his day came to an early end after he spun while trying to pass Stewart Friesen.
Nemechek left WWTR in 35th place while Rhodes took over the points lead. The defending Truck Series champion took back the lead in the standings after ending his day eighth overall, putting him in line for the 15 bonus playoff points and the regular-season championship trophy. Meanwhile, Nemechek’s teammate Chandler Smith took over the second position in the standings.
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Nemechek dropped from the top spot all the way to fourth overall. He is one point behind three-race winner Zane Smith with five events remaining in the regular season. There is no danger that Nemechek misses the playoffs, but he could miss out on some significant points.
A 3x Champion Gained Some Ground
Matt Crafton, the winner of three Truck Series championships, entered the WWTR weekend on the playoff cutline. He had 281 points and in need of a strong performance to keep him in contention for a spot in the 10-driver field.
The wily veteran did enough to build up a buffer between him and the cutline. He finished Stage 1 ninth overall and Stage 2 second behind Rhodes. Crafton then ended the race in 12th place, which helped him leapfrog a former teammate.
Crafton is now in the ninth position on the championship standings, and he is 49 points above the cutline. Grant Enfinger, however, dropped to the 10th spot after a 28th-place finish at WWTR in which he hit the outside wall while battling Chandler Smith for the lead. Enfinger remains above the cutline by virtue of 44 points, but he can not afford any slip-ups in the remaining races.
2 Drivers in Playoff Contention Moved in Opposite Directions
The trip to WWTR benefited some drivers, such as Rhodes and Crafton. Others, however, missed out on some crucial points. This list includes Tanner Gray, who spent six weeks above the cutline before dropping to 11th.
The driver of the No. 15 Ford F-150 had some struggles at WWTR. He sustained damage after contact with Jake Garcia and then he hit the wall at the end of the scheduled laps that brought out the caution and forced overtime. Gray ended the day 30th overall, and he dropped to 12th in the standings.
Derek Kraus, for comparison, jumped ahead of Gray after his best run of the year. He entered the weekend with two top-10 finishes and two DNFs. He was 12th in the standings, but he finished third in Stage 2 before ending the day seventh overall.
Kraus nearly disrupted the playoff picture at WWTR. He had the lead late after passing Rhodes, and he appeared to be en route to his first-ever Truck Series win. However, Christian Eckes chased him down and took the lead prior to overtime. Kraus lined up on the second row behind Eckes for the final restart, but Heim jumped to the lead and captured the win and the $50,000 bonus.
If Kraus had pulled off the win, he would have knocked Enfinger below the cutline and put extra pressure on his fellow drivers. Instead, he left the weekend 44 points below the cutline and in need of a win to reach the playoffs.
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