The penultimate race of the 2020 season in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series takes place on the tiny paper clip of Martinsville Speedway. With two spots left to be clinched for the Championship 4, six playoff drivers will duel it out Friday night, and short-track racing is sure to bring the short-track tempers.
Those tempers began last Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway between playoff driver Ben Rhodes and Christian Eckes. In the closing laps of the races, Eckes chased his truck up the track in turn four, nearly causing Rhodes to hit the wall. Rhodes, then hung a left on Eckes and turned him head-on into the outside wall. Eckes gave the middle fingers to Rhodes after exiting his vehicle.
Rhodes currently sits 45 points below the cutline and is in a must-win situation. Eckes will do what he can to prevent that from happening. Rhodes starts seventh, while Eckes will roll off 14th.
Brett Moffitt and Sheldon Creed have already clinched their spots in the Championship 4. Moffitt won at Kansas Speedway two weeks ago, while Creed won at Texas last Sunday. The GMS Racing teammates have no pressure on them Friday and will just seek another victory. Creed will start on the pole, while Moffitt starts fourth.
The two may be willing to help out their other GMS teammates as Zane Smith (+12) and Tyler Ankrum (-79) fight for their playoff lives. Ankrum is in a must-win scenario after crashing out at Kansas and finishing an underwhelming 16th at Texas. He starts sixth. As for Smith, he will need to stay ahead of defending champion Matt Crafton and stay inside the top 10 to earn stage points. He will have the advantage as he starts on the front row with Creed.
ThorSport Racing has their backs against the wall as all three of their remaining title hopefuls sit below the cutline. The previously-mentioned Crafton sits 12 points below the cutline and can still earn his way into the Championship 4 without winning. However, his teammates in Grant Enfinger and Rhodes are in must-win scenarios. Crafton has won twice at Martinsville, but neither Enfinger nor Rhodes have a win. Crafton will start fifth and Enfinger will start eighth.
Austin Hill is the lone wolf left in the playoffs as he is the only driver without a teammate in the round of 8. He sits 27 points above the cutline and will start third.
Another storyline to watch will be the battle between Johnny Sauter and Stewart Friesen as they got together while battling for the lead at Texas.
Stages for the race end on lap 50, lap 100 and the finish on lap 200. Coverage begins at 8:00 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1. The Motor Racing Network will provide radio coverage.
Pit stall assignments:
Goodyear tire notes: https://www.jayski.com/2020/10/28/goodyear-fast-facts-martinsville-5/