Erik Jones stands atop the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings with three races left in the 2015 campaign. His lead is far from insurmountable, however, with Matt Crafton and Tyler Reddick both within striking distance of a championship, as well.
Just 13 points separate those top three contenders in what's been a highly entertaining season. Now the only question is which one of those teams will be able to peak at the right time and catch the couple of breaks they'll need to capture the title.
So let's check out all of the important viewing information for this week's race in Texas. That's followed by the complete schedule, series standings and preview for the WinStar World Casino & Resort 350.
Where: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas
When: Friday, Nov. 6, at 8:30 p.m. ET
Watch: Fox Sports 1
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
|WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 Schedule|
|Thursday, Nov. 5||3 - 4:25 p.m.||Practice|
|Thursday, Nov. 5||5:30 - 6:25 p.m.||Practice|
|Friday, Nov. 6||4:40 p.m.||Qualifying|
|Friday, Nov. 6||8:30 p.m.||Race|
|2015 Camping World Truck Series Top 10|
|8||John Wes Townley||-149|
For complete truck series standings, visit NASCAR's official site.
NASCAR created the Chase for the Sprint Cup in its top division a decade ago to develop a playoff atmosphere for the final races of the season. Whether you like that format or not, it's hard to argue against the truck series having the most exciting championship chase this year.
That's mostly because it's developed naturally. Jones, Crafton and Reddick have proven themselves as the top drivers all season long, and the fact the battle remains so close without a reset in points or various elimination rounds makes it all the more satisfying.
It also places a greater emphasis on each result without any safety nets to ensure advancement to a latter stage of the playoffs.
For example, Crafton finished 24th at Talladega a couple of weeks ago after a string of bad breaks. It put him on the brink of falling out of the title race, and he responded with a much-needed victory at Martinsville to close the gap again.
Now he's got a chance to get on a roll. Catchfence provided some of the No. 88 driver's impressive numbers at Texas:
In 29 previous starts, the ThorSport Racing driver has led 243 laps en route to two wins, 10 top-five, and 18 top-10 finishes. In fact, among active series drivers entered in the field, Crafton has the most starts (29), is tied with the most wins (2) with teammate, Johnny Sauter, has the most top-five finishes (10), the most top-10 finishes (18), has completed the most laps (4438), and has the most lead laps finishes (20).
Those stats put pressure on Jones to secure another solid finish, because otherwise, there's a good chance Crafton can make a serious push toward the lead.
The series leader admitted after last week's race that the No. 4 team had some work to do after a frustrating run at Martinsville, per Reid Spencer of NASCAR.com.
"It was just a fight all day," Jones said. "We missed it a little bit as an organization. I think it showed we were off most of the day for the three trucks (including the Toyotas of 16th-place Daniel Suarez and 21st-place Gray Gaulding). We'll work on it and get it better."
Then there's Reddick. He's been remarkably consistent throughout the campaign, finishing outside the top 15 just once. That said, if he's going to emerge with the trophy at season's end, he'll need to turn some top 10s into firsts or seconds over these last few races to make up the necessary ground.
All told, the last three races of the truck season are worth watching, even for Sprint Cup fans who typically don't keep tabs on the other series. There should be no shortage of drama with the contending trio and everybody else trying to play the role of spoiler.
Jones holds the inside edge and can settle things on his terms with three great outings to close out the season. It's rarely that easy, though. Expect more twists and turns, both figuratively and literally, before a champion is officially crowned.