Welcome to the NASCAR DFS Truck Series for Friday’s Truck Series from Indianapolis Raceway Park, or Lucas Oil Raceway as it’s also known. This is the first race of the 2022 NASCAR Truck Series playoffs. It will be 11 years to the day since the last time the Truck Series raced here on Friday. Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter are the only drivers in the field on Friday that was also in the field 11 years ago so practically the entire field will be new to this track.
IRP is a .686-mile short track oval that is comparable to Bristol (without DIRT), Dover, and Darlington. Unfortunately, Darlington is the only track that the Truck Series has run at in 2022. This is a 200-lap race so we have 140 dominator points available and will want to identify potential dominators.
This isn’t going to be my typical breakdown because we don’t have practice or qualifying numbers as of Thursday night when I am writing this. I will post my thoughts post-qualifying on Friday evening. I will go over how certain drivers faired at Darlington this season and at other tracks previously to give some insight on who should run well here on Friday.
NASCAR DFS: Darlington Look Back
John Hunter Nemechek ($11,000) won this race from the pole after leading 69 laps. Outside of Nemechek, only one driver (Ross Chastain) led more than 10 laps (46) and I think we will have a similar outcome on Friday. Two drivers will most likely lead 60-75% of the laps and I will try to identify them after Friday’s practice.
In this season’s Darlington race there were eight cautions for incident which isn’t unusual for the Truck Series, especially at short tracks. Since this is a playoff race we should expect some craziness similar to Darlington.
Place differential was not extremely important in this race with five different drivers having an average running position in the top 5. Outside of Nemechek and Chastain, Grant Enfinger ($8,900), Carson Hocevar ($10,200), and Parker Kligerman had an avg running position in the top 5. As for the value drivers, Colby Howard, Jesse Little, and Dean Thompson were the top drivers in that race and all three finished in the top 15. Only Thompson started outside the top 20 in this race (33rd).
NASCAR DFS: Top Drivers at Track Type
Chandler Smith ($10,400) – Chandler Smith potentially is the best value in this tier. Smith also has been nothing short of excellent at Bristol, which I think is the most comparable track. In three career races at Bristol (on pavement), Smith has a career avg finish of 2.7 and has never finished lower than 5th. Last season Smith led only 5 laps, but he won the race.
Johnny Sauter ($9,100) – Sauter has run this track four times and has done really well. In his four career races, Sauter has two top fives and only has one finish lower than 13th. Also in those four races, Sauter has led 183 laps.
Kaz Grala ($7,200) – Grala is typically a Superspeedway and road course racer but he has run pretty well at this track type. In two career races at Dover, Grala has two top 10’s and an average finish of 6th. The one thing that worries me is that Grala has only finished in the top 15 on road courses and has not faired well on other track types.
Tyler Ankrum ($8,100) – Ankrum’s stats on this track type aren’t anything special but he is usually a safe driver. This season Ankrum enters the playoffs running well with three top 10’s in the last five races and no finish lower than 21st in his last seven.
Timmy Hill ($6,800) – Hill could be viewed as severely underpriced for this race. Hill has been successful at all three tracks that I view as comparable with an average finish of 18th (Bristol), 10.7 (Darlington), and 18th (Dover).
Austin Wayne Self ($6,600) – Self has top 20 potential in every race, but the issue is finishing the race. Bristol has been one of Self’s better tracks in his career. Over his last four races there, Self has three top 15 finishes.