Coming off a thrilling finish last Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series heads back to South Florida and Homestead-Miami Speedway carrying some momentum.
It’s an unusual trip for not only the Truck Series but the other two series, as this will be the first time in quite some time, the series will be racing in the middle of the summer compared to racing in November. For the longest time, the Truck Series finale was slated at Homestead dating back to 2002. You have to go back 19 years ago in the year 2001 when the series did not compete in November. In ’01, the Truck Series competed in March. The earliest the series ever competed at the track was February of 2000. So yes, there have been races at Homestead where it was not scheduled for November, but a very long time ago.
Coming back to the present, racing in the middle of summer will create some very hot and slick conditions at the 1.5-mile speedway, which, for some drivers, will play into their favor.
Last week, ThorSport Racing driver, Grant Enfinger, in slick conditions, scored the victory for the second time this year and now comes to Homestead hoping to click off another victory. Though there will be 38 other drivers competing for the victory and one of them hopes to keep Enfinger’s momentum in the rearview by getting a victory for themselves.
Here is this week’s preview for the Baptist Health 200.
- Austin Hill – This may be an obvious pick to some of you but hear me out. After falling short by a matter of seconds last Saturday, the Georgia native is hungry for a race win and has the truck/team capable to do it. Last November, the No. 16 Hattori Racing Team scored the victory by sweeping both of the stages, leading the majority of the race (56 laps) and taking the checkered flag. Not only does Hill have a good chance from a statistical standpoint, but HRE will bring back the race-winning truck, hoping to do the same thing they did in November, which is to win. Hill was solid last November and crew chief, Scott Zipadelli, has been with three different drivers going back to 2017. Zipadelli also won the race/championship with former team driver Brett Moffitt back in November of 2018. This team and driver will be tough to beat come Saturday. Hill also is starting on the pole.
- Brett Moffitt – Moffitt has had solid success in the past two races at Homestead, including a victory and winning the championship back in 2018. In the 2019 event, Moffitt competed with his new team, GMS Racing. The Iowan native started fourth and nabbed a fifth-place finish back in November. Moffitt also was able to lead three laps and placed the truck fourth in both stages. When Moffitt won the ’18 race, he led 59 laps en route to victory in just his first Truck start at the track. Despite having limited Truck experience, Moffitt does have other series starts, such as competing in the Cup Series several years ago. With that in mind, it’ll be hard to stop the momentum of Moffitt at Homestead. The team is still searching for their first victory of the year. and that just might come Saturday night.
- Matt Crafton – Speaking of experience, Matt Crafton has the most starts of all active drivers, with 13 dating back to 2001. Since that debut, Crafton has had a mixed bag of results at the 1.5-mile speedway but has also enjoyed recent success. Homestead has been the site where the California native has collected three Truck Series championships. The first one was in 2013 and he went back to back in 2014. Crafton also took the title home in last year’s event after placing runner up and leading nine laps. It wasn’t until 2015 however, when the ThorSport driver scored his first victory at Homestead. In total, Crafton has scored four top fives and 11 top-10 finishes with 154 laps led which has produced an average finish of 10.4. In the 2019 event, Crafton finished sixth in Stage 1 and second in Stage 2. Should Crafton pull off the win, it would be a special victory, as he celebrated a birthday Thursday.
- Christian Eckes – By finally scoring a top-five finish last week at Atlanta in 2020, Eckes is rolling into Homestead hoping to grab another top-five finish. The Kyle Busch Motorsports driver does have one start at the 1.5-mile speedway, which came a few months ago in November. Eckes started second and finished third after leading 26 laps in his first outing. He was unable to score any stage points, but finishing second was a goal achieved for that night. This time around, it wouldn’t be shocking should Eckes pull off the victory this Saturday. The No. 18 team will be using a chassis that Noah Gragson used to score his first victory at Kansas in 2018. Cup Series regulars William Byron and Christopher Bell have also won with this truck. Eckes will roll off in the fourth position on the starting grid.
- Sheldon Creed – After having a couple of rough results at Las Vegas and last week at Atlanta, Creed and the No. 2 GMS Racing team will hope to turn things around with a great finish this weekend. The Alpine, California native has made two starts with finishes of fifth and ninth. Not only has Creed been able to finish inside the top-10 in both races, but he has also piloted the No. 2 Chevy to stage finishes in both races as well, with an average finish of 7.0. Creed starts eighth on Saturday and has a decent chance to win.
Since 1996, Homestead-Miami Speedway has been host to 24 Truck Series races with many different winners. Some of those winners include Dave Rezendes, Kenny Irwin Jr, Mike Wallace, Andy Houston, Ted Musgrave, Ron Hornaday Jr, Bobby Hamilton, Kasey Kahne, Todd Bodine Mark Martin, Johnny Benson Jr, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Johnny Sauter, Cale Gale, Bubba Wallace, Matt Crafton, William Byron, Chase Briscoe, Brett Moffitt and Austin Hill.
Kyle Busch and Todd Bodine have the most victories with two apiece. This weekend, Sauter, Crafton, Moffitt, and Hill have a chance to tie that feat set by Busch and Bodine.
Toyota has 10 victories, Ford 6 victories, Chevrolet 5 wins and Dodge has just two wins.
Caution flags have been hit or miss at Homestead for a Truck Series race. The most ever flown was back in 1997 when 11 cautions flew for 52 laps. The fewest amount of cautions ever seen was one caution for four laps in 2002. The most ever lead changes was 17, three times, in ’97, ’99, and ’10. The fewest ever lead changes were five also set in the 2002 race.
In addition, the race winner has come from the pole four times (2003, 2015, 2016, and 2017). The lowest a race winner has ever started to win was 18th set by Bodine in 2008.
Since stages were implemented in 2017, Christopher Bell, Ben Rhodes, Grant Enfinger, Brett Moffitt, and Austin Hill have all won stages. Hill has been the only driver who has swept both stages, which occurred in last year’s event.
Stages will be broken into 30/60/134 to make up the 201-mile race.
The Baptist Health 200 can be seen on Fox Sports 1 and heard on MRN Radio Saturday, June 13 at 6 p.m. ET.