Only one time in its 20-year history has a driver won back-to-back NextEra Energy 250 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series races – Todd Bodine in 2008-09. And with the stacked field set for Friday night’s season-opener, defending winner Austin Hill faces a mighty challenge.
Three-time race winner Johnny Sauter will look to add his historic tally of trophies but will face plenty of inspired competition from other series veterans such as newly-crowned three-time series champion Matt Crafton, Crafton’s teammate, the 2019 regular season champ Grant Enfinger and fellow title contender Stewart Friesen.
Last year’s Daytona race winner Hill made his first NASCAR Playoff appearance in 2019 and is expected to be a big player in this year’s title run, as is 2018 series champion, Brett Moffitt.
Five drivers begin their Sunoco Rookie of the Year campaigns – Raphael Lessard, Zane Smith, Christian Eckes, Ty Majeski, and Tanner Gray – and all of them bring stacked resumes to the series.
Former ARCA Menards Series champion Eckes won three pole positions and had three top-five finishes in eight starts for his Kyle Busch Motorsports team last year. Lessard is teaming with Eckes at series powerhouse KBM.
Majeski, a late mode champion, takes over the Niece Motorsports ride that Ross Chastain won three races in last season, qualifying for the championship. Gray comes to his full-time NASCAR ride with the DGR-Crosley team transitioning from a hugely successful drag racing career where he hoisted the 2019 NHRA Pro Stock championship trophy.
The Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series teams take to the track for their season opener at 7:30 pm ET Friday, February 14th with television and radio coverage available on FS1, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Here’s what to watch for…
- Johnny Sauter is the winningest driver in this event with three victories.
- Two-time series champion Matt Crafton holds the record for most starts (19) and most consecutive starts (19, 2001-19).
- Joe Ruttman holds the record for winning the most pole positions (2000 and 2001) He is the only multi-time pole winner.
- Four drivers have won from pole position: Ruttman (2001), Mark Martin (2006), Jack Sprague (2007) and Kaz Grala (2017).
- The pole position is the winningest starting spot on the grid.
- The most different leaders in a single race is 17.
- The record for lead changes is 31 (2000).
- The lowest starting position for a race winner is 36th (Bobby Hamilton in 2005).
- The most laps led in a race is 59; a mark set by Mike Wallace in 2000.
- Toyota is the winningest manufacturer with nine victories.
- The closest Margin of Victory is .016-seconds in Kyle Busch’s 2014 win over Timothy Peters.
- Ty Dillon holds the record for the fastest qualifying lap (188.774 mph in 2015).
- NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin’s 2006 victory marks the fastest race in history – he averaged 146.622 mph.
- The 2017 race winner Kaz Grala is the youngest winner (18 years, one month, 26 days) in race history.