If it's not Kyle Busch, it's Matt Crafton taking the checkered flag.
The two drivers have traded off wins over the first six races, with Busch holding four victories and Crafton notching the other two triumphs. With Busch and many of the other full-time Sprint Cup drivers once again taking the weekend off from the Camping World Truck Series, Crafton looks like the man to beat.
Following a dominant performance for Crafton, the driver will have to tame a track the entire truck series hasn't competed at since 2010. Gateway Motorsports Park owner Curtis Francois spoke about having the trucks back at the track this season, per Holly Cain of NASCAR.com:
The number one question I get from fans is when does NASCAR return, so to be able to answer 2014 is just wonderful. The truck series is some of the best racing in NASCAR and we know that our fans are just going to be thrilled to attend the race.
The re-opening of Gateway has been great for the racing community and now to add a great NASCAR race to our schedule couldn’t be better for the motorsports fan here in the St. Louis region.
Though he hasn't driven on the track in a number of years, Crafton has experienced a great amount of success at the track during his 10 starts. The last race at the track was dominated by drivers like Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski, but the race will have a completely different look on Saturday night.
Before the race gets underway this weekend, here's a look at the schedule, standings and a preview ahead of the Drivin' For Linemen 200.
Drivin' For Linemen 200 Information
Where: Gateway Motorsports Park
When: Saturday, June 14, 8:30 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports 1
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
|2014 CWTS Standings|
|Pos.||Driver||Points||Wins||Top 5||Top 10|
|3||Ron Hornaday Jr.||209||0||1||4|
|6||German Quiroga Jr.||200||0||0||5|
|8||John Wes Townley||198||0||2||2|
Not to belabor the point, but Crafton has been pretty good this season.
The 2013 points champion has four top-fives and two wins in his six starts this season, more than any other full-time driver in both categories. But even the top dog needs some luck every once in a while.
That's exactly what Crafton got Friday night, winning the Texas race by driving on fumes—something another No. 88 driver was unable to accomplish earlier in the season. Crafton spoke about his win at Texas, per NASCAR.com:
I asked if we could make it all the way (on fuel). They said 'yeah.' That helped because I could slow down so much. They'd let me run for five laps and then slow down for five laps. That is the hardest thing to do for a driver. But we had the fastest truck.
It's awesome to be able to do it in this fashion. We marched through them. We had a brand-new motor package from Triad and they stepped up as well. I'm just lucky enough to drive it. We have an awesome organization.
Not only was Crafton's driving on point, but he also had something to look forward to this week. Talladega Superspeedway notes Wednesday was the driver's birthday:
Turning 38 years old might just be topped off with another win on the season, but he has stiff competition behind him.
In the standings, Johnny Sauter sits just 11 points behind Crafton for the lead. While the birthday boy has seven top-10 results in his 10 starts at Gateway, Sauter has never finished outside of the top three in his career at the track.
Granted, that's only a two-race sample size, but finishing second and third in his only races at the track could mean a win is in store for the now-experienced driver. The two ThorSport drivers might just have competition from a younger driver who has been on the rise lately.
Darrell Wallace Jr. notched his second top-10 finish of the season at Texas and heads into Gateway with confidence. David Caraviello of NASCAR.com noted the driver's maturity throughout the season:
With multiple drivers vying for the first win at the track since 2010, it will be another all-out brawl to the checkered flag. After seeing Crafton once again throttle the field, it might just be time for a third winner on the season at the track.
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