Austin Hill’s Win at Michigan Helps Matt Crafton Clinch Playoff Spot

BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN – AUGUST 10: Austin Hill, driver of the #16 Hino/AISIN Group Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Corrigan Oil 200 at Michigan International Speedway on August 10, 2019, in Brooklyn, Michigan. Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Our next guest on Fan4Racing NASCAR & Race Talk Review is the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series regular-season Champion, Grant Enfinger at 9 pm ET on Monday, August 12, 2019. Call 929-477-1790 or tweet @Fan4RacingSite with any questions or comments during our LIVE broadcast.

BROOKLYN, Mich. – Austin Hill’s victory in Saturday’s Corrigan Oil 200 at Michigan International Speedway provided sweet relief for two-time NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series champion Matt Crafton.

With Hill’s second victory of the season, Crafton has a chance to run for a third title, having clinched the final spot in the series Playoffs on points.

The outcome—and Crafton’s fate—wasn’t decided until the final moments of a race that went five laps beyond its scheduled distance of 100 laps. For two nail-biting laps of overtime, Sheldon Creed chased Hill, edging ever closer over the last two miles.

But Hill had the advantage off the final corner and beat Creed to the finish line by 0.125 seconds, denying Creed the Playoff spot that went to Crafton. A victory by Creed would have knocked the two-time champion out of the postseason.

“It’s huge,” said Hill, who rebounded from a last-place finish in the previous race at Eldora Speedway. “We’ve had a struggle these last four of five races. We just keep having issues and just can’t finish these races.”

Hill’s winning No. 16 Toyota was brand new, unveiled for this race—appropriately since Hill was racing at Michigan for the first time in the series.

“When we unloaded, we had to work out some bugs in it, but we got it driving really good,” said Hill, who also won the season opener at Daytona. “I was really happy with the speed of it. Man, this race was crazy.”

A nine-car wreck moments after a restart with four laps left in regulation set up the overtime. Tyler Ankrum, the leader at the time, spun his tires, and a well-intentioned push Crafton turned him around and started the melee. The wreck collected Playoff hopeful Todd Gilliland, who had driven up to eighth after pitting for tires on lap 88.

Needing a victory to qualify for the postseason, Gilliland had led 14 laps to that point, but the wreck ended his hopes.

Similarly, Ben Rhodes saw his Playoff chances fall apart when he had to pit under green with a cut tire with 21 laps left. Rhodes had led 15 laps before his ill-fortune. He and Gilliland finished 23rd and 24th respectively.

Crafton had some nervous moments before he clinched his Playoff berth. After a restart on lap 70, three-drivers on win-or-bust missions—Gilliland, Rhodes and Harrison Burton—were running first through third.

“When all three, the 18 (Burton), the 4 (Gilliland) and the 99 (Rhodes)… when all those guys are 1-2-3 at one point, I’m like, ‘I better get up on the saddle and dig,’” Crafton said. “I was definitely doing everything I could to shuffle them out.”

Tyler Dippel finished a career-best third, followed by Brett Moffit and Austin Wayne Self. Bayley Currey, Grant Enfinger, Stewart Friesen, Ray Ciccarelli, and Crafton completed the top-ten.

BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN – AUGUST 10: Grant Enfinger, driver of the #98 ThorSport Racing/Curb Records Ford, receives the championship trophy from Scott Miller, Senior V.P. of Competition after the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Corrigan Oil 200 at Michigan International Speedway on August 10, 2019, in Brooklyn, Michigan. Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Enfinger clinched a spot in the Playoffs when he took the green flag. By the end of the first stage, he had locked up the regular-season title—and accompanying 15 Playoff points—with a sixth-place finish.

Crafton, the only driver with a remote chance to catch Enfinger for the regular-season championship, had to start from the rear of the field because of an engine change. The driver of the No. 88 ThorSport Racing Ford climbed to tenth by the end of the first stage, but by then, his chances of unseating his teammate were gone.

Polesitter Ross Chastain won Stage 1 wire-to-wire, but a three-truck accident on pit road cost him dearly. While exiting his stall under caution on lap 23, Johnny Sauter collided with the No. 9 Chevrolet of Codie Rohrbaugh, knocking Rohrbaugh into the right side of Chastain’s Chevrolet.

Chastain, Sauter, and Rohrbaugh all spent extra time on pit road dealing with the damage, but Chastain was the primary victim, his race over.

“It was gut-wrenching, for sure,” Chastain said after leaving the infield care center. “It was a shame, but that’s part of racing. They can’t all be great days… It’s tough to lose a race with a truck like we had today.”

Austin Hill(#16 Toyota), Stewart Friesen (#52 Chevrolet), Tyler Ankrum (#17 Toyota), Brett Moffitt(#24 Chevrolet), Matt Crafton (#88 Ford), Ross Chastain (#45 Chevrolet), Johnny Sauter(#13 Ford), Grant Enfinger (#98 ThorSport Ford), the 8 playoff drivers with trophy after the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series on August 10, 2019 in Brooklyn, MI. Photo – SMI

Eight drivers—Chastain, Hill, Ankrum, Sauter, Enfinger, Moffitt, Friesen and Crafton—will start their potential title runs on Thursday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Race – 20th Annual Corrigan Oil 200

Michigan International Speedway

Brooklyn, Michigan

Saturday, August 10, 2019

                1. (6)  Austin Hill, Toyota, 105.

                2. (18)  Sheldon Creed #, Chevrolet, 105.

                3. (17)  Tyler Dippel #, Chevrolet, 105.

                4. (8)  Brett Moffitt, Chevrolet, 105.

                5. (23)  Austin Wayne Self, Chevrolet, 105.

                6. (11)  Bayley Currey, Chevrolet, 105.

                7. (9)  Grant Enfinger, Ford, 105.

                8. (20)  Stewart Friesen, Chevrolet, 105.

                9. (30)  Ray Ciccarelli, Chevrolet, 105.

                10. (12)  Matt Crafton, Ford, 105.

                11. (5)  Harrison Burton #, Toyota, 105.

                12. (14)  Johnny Sauter, Ford, 105.

               13. (22)  Gus Dean #, Chevrolet, 105.

                14. (13)  Jordan Anderson, Chevrolet, 105.

                15. (2)  Christian Eckes, Toyota, 105.

                16. (24)  Trey Hutchens III, Chevrolet, 105.

                17. (21)  Codie Rohrbaugh, Chevrolet, 105.

                18. (29)  Josh Reaume, Chevrolet, 105.

                19. (31)  Jennifer Jo Cobb, Chevrolet, 105.

                20. (10)  Joe Nemechek, Chevrolet, 105.

                21. (28)  Jesse Iwuji, Toyota, 105.

                22. (27)  Spencer Boyd, Chevrolet, 105.

                23. (7)  Ben Rhodes, Ford, 103.

                24. (4)  Todd Gilliland, Toyota, Accident, 98.

                25. (3)  Tyler Ankrum #, Toyota, Accident, 96.

                26. (19)  Anthony Alfredo #, Toyota, Accident, 96.

                27. (16)  Natalie Decker #, Toyota, Accident, 96.

                28. (15)  Cory Roper, Ford, Accident, 58.

                29. (26)  T J Bell Jr., Chevrolet, Clutch, 41.

                30. (1)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, Accident, 26.

                31. (25)  Camden Murphy, Chevrolet, Vibration, 11.

                32. (32)  Norm Benning, Chevrolet, Engine, 0.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  113.616 mph.

Time of Race:  One Hr, 50 Mins, 54 Secs. The Margin of Victory:  0.125 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  Eight for 35 laps.

Lead Changes:  17 among ten drivers.

Lap Leaders:   R. Chastain 1-23;T. Bell Jr. 24;B. Rhodes 25-33;G. Enfinger 34-36;A. Hill 37;B. Moffitt 38-42;S. Creed # 43-47;B. Rhodes 48-49;S. Creed # 50-51;B. Rhodes 52-53;S. Creed # 54-55;B. Rhodes 56-57;B. Moffitt 58-61;T. Gilliland 62-75;H. Burton # 76-77;A. Hill 78-92;T. Ankrum # 93-95;A. Hill 96-105.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Austin Hill three times for 26 laps; Ross Chastain one time for 23 laps; Ben Rhodes four times for 15 laps; Todd Gilliland one time for 14 laps; Sheldon Creed # three times for nine laps; Brett Moffitt two times for nine laps; Tyler Ankrum # one time for three laps; Grant Enfinger one time for three laps; Harrison Burton # one time for two laps; T J Bell Jr. one time for one lap.

Stage #1 Top-Ten: 45,99,51,24,4,98,16,18,13,88

Stage #2 Top-Ten: 24,16,98,3,99,22,12,4,2,44