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Pickup Throwdown Truck Series Preview: What You Need to Know This Weekend

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What’s Happening?

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is back in action in “Sin City” this weekend. Some drivers are riding high while others are looking for a rebound. It is also the first intermediate track race of the season, which makes this race very telling about how the rest of the season will go. Here is what to watch for this weekend.

  • Las Vegas Motor Speedway is relatively new to NASCAR compared to other tracks, and the Truck Series has been here since its inception. Opened in 1996 with 12 degrees of banking and a 1.5-mile track length, the track was reconfigured in 2007. Now, it has 20 degrees of banking.
  • The Truck Series has held at least one race at the venue nearly every year since it opened in 1996. The only exception is 2001. However, racing in the spring is relatively new as every Truck Series race at the track up until 2018 was contested in September or October.
  • Fans are excited to see what the Truck Series has to offer this weekend. It serves as the curtain raiser to what should be an exciting weekend in Las Vegas.

The Favorites

Spire Motorsports and Spire Motorsports affiliated Trucks have swept the first two races of the season with Nick Sanchez winning at Daytona for Rev Racing and Kyle Busch for Spire. With Las Vegas being the first intermediate track race of the season, it will be interesting to see if that momentum translates

Corey Heim has begun the 2024 season with two consecutive top-5 finishes. It feels like only a matter of time before he returns to victory lane. However, he has only one career win on intermediate tracks, and that came at Gateway, which is nothing like Las Vegas.

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Tyler Ankrum is an interesting dark horse pick. He led multiple laps in each of the first two races for McAnally-Hilgemann Racing, and he is the series points leader. His only career win came at Kentucky Speedway, another 1.5 mile intermediate, so, watch out for Ankrum to surprise some people this weekend.

Who Needs a Boost

While Tyler Ankrum thrived, McAnally teammates Christian Eckes and Jack Wood each had their races end early. Eckes was particularly disappointing as he won at Atlanta in 2023. He did win at an intermediate in 2023 in September at Kansas Speedway.

Grant Enfinger also searches for a boost this weekend after a disappointing 25th-place finish at Atlanta. He won in the spring at Kansas in 2023, so, he can get it done on tracks like Las Vegas. This will be a big test for him and the relatively unproven CR7 Motorsports team.

Ben Rhodes followed up a crash-marred Daytona race with a 28th-place run at Atlanta. Rhodes needs to get things turned around quickly as he sits well outside of the top 20 in points.

Rookie Watch

Thad Moffitt showed some speed early in stage two at Atlanta, but, a crash during that stage relegated him to a 26th-place finish. Las Vegas is completely new territory for him and the Faction46 team, so, he enters this race as a big unknown. However, he is the top rookie in the series heading into this weekend.

Layne Riggs probably wants to forget the first two races even happened. Crashes and a disqualification at Atlanta relegated him to 39th, dead last, in the points standings. While he has never made a Truck Series start on an intermediate, he did record a top-10 at Las Vegas in the Xfinity Series with Kaulig Racing last fall.

Conner Jones had a forgettable first race of 2024 at Atlanta. Due to his age, he did not make a Truck Series start on an intermediate track in 2023, so, he, like Moffitt is a question mark. We don’t really know what to expect from Jones.

Defending Winner

Kyle Busch is the defending winner both in the Series and at this race track. Las Vegas was his first of three Truck Series wins, and he won that race from the pole leading 84 laps. This included leading 72 of the final 77 laps.

He is back in the field this weekend for Spire Motorsports. It’s tough to find a driver who could beat him, but, he is far from the only Cup Series driver in the field.

Cup Series Driver Watch

Christopher Bell makes his first Truck Series start of the season for TRICON Garage in the No. 1. He is seeking his first overall Truck Series win since 2017, and his first Truck Series win at Las Vegas. TRICON Garage should give Bell a strong horse this weekend.

Zane Smith makes his first start of a part-time schedule with McAnally-Hilgemann Racing in the No. 91 truck. Smith is the 2022 Champion of the series, and he was a full-time driver in the series from 2020 until 2023. It is a reunion of sorts for Smith, and he should be a threat this weekend.

The Truck Series is set to have an exciting and very telling race this weekend. It’s the first race on an intermediate track, and it will show who is fast and who is behind.

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