Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 at Kentucky (Truck Series) - Predictions & Picks

  • Where are the usual suspects in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series? They’re behind the youth movement, that’s where.
  • Can lightning strike twice at Kentucky Speedway?… in the form of Tyler Ankrum, that is.
  • Here’s a dominant trend to follow on Saturday: Kentucky has a long history of producing a wide range of different winners.

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What Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race
Where Kentucky Speedway
When Saturday, July 11, 6 p.m. EST
How to watch FS1

After an off week during which the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series battled at Indianapolis, the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series returns to action as part of a four-day, four-race weekend at Kentucky Speedway.

The Trucks were first among NASCAR’s top three touring series to race at Kentucky, having run for the first time in 2000. Greg Biffle won that event on the way to the series championship. NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. leads the series with three victories at the 1.5-mile track.

There are three former winners in the 40-driver field for Saturday night’s Buckle Up in Your Truck 225—Matt Crafton, Ben Rhodes and Tyler Ankrum, who picked up his only Truck Series win in last year’s race. The event will be contested at 150 laps (225 miles), with stage breaks scheduled at 35 and 70 laps.

NASCAR Truck Series at Kentucky July 11 Odds

The odds for the Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 are provided by betMGM Sportsbook!

Winner Odds
Austin Hill +355
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Christian Eckes +500
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Brett Moffitt +550
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Johnny Sauter +900
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Ben Rhodes +1100
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Chandler Smith +1100
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Zane Smith +1200
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Todd Gilliland +1450
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Any Other Driver +1450
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Tyler Ankrum +1600
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Grant Enfinger +1600
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Sheldon Creed +1800
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Matt Crafton +2500
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Stewart Friesen +2500
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Ryan Truex +4000
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Tanner Gray +5000
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Raphael Lessard +5000
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Parker Kligerman +6600
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Where Are the Usual Truck Contenders? Behind the Young Guns

Generally speaking, the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series is a meeting ground for established veteran drivers and youngsters hoping to make a mark in NASCAR racing. Typically, the members of the old guard are quite competitive. Matt Crafton, for example, won his third series title last year at age 43.

This season is different. The veterans are nowhere near the top of the standings. A “lifer” in his 20th Truck Series season, Crafton is mired in 14th place after six races. Johnny Sauter, the 2016 champion, is 10th in points, one spot behind 2018 title winner Brett Moffitt. Of those three drivers, only Moffitt (+550) is getting significant respect from the handicappers, in part because he drew the pole position for Saturday night’s race.

On the other hand, 26-year-old Austin Hill, currently the series leader, is the betting favorite at +355. Surprisingly, 19-year-old Christian Eckes is the second choice at +500. OK, Eckes has put up impressive numbers in qualifying this season, with a pole at Atlanta and an average starting position of 3.7. But Eckes has never won a Truck Series race, and his average finish this year is 17.2.

Can Lightning Strike Twice at Kentucky for Tyler Ankrum?

Driving for owner David Gilliland and veteran crew chief Kevin “Bono” Manion, Tyler Ankrum picked up the only Truck Series victory of his young career last year at Kentucky Speedway. His whopping 7.373-second margin of victory was deceptive, though. Ankrum didn’t get the lead for the last time until Brett Moffitt ran out of fuel on the next-to-last lap.

This season, Ankrum is driving for GMS Racing, and his results haven’t been as impressive, with the exception of a second-place run at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Otherwise, the 19-year-old from San Bernardino, California, has the best result of ninth at Pocono and an average finish of 12.8.

There hasn’t been a repeat Truck Series winner at Kentucky since James Buescher swept both races in 2012 (the last time the series raced twice at the 1.5-mile track in the same season). Apparently, the oddsmakers don’t give Ankrum (+1600) much of a chance to win a second straight race in the Bluegrass State.

Variety Is the Spice of Racing Life at Kentucky Speedway

The 22 NASCAR Truck Series races at Kentucky Speedway have produced 18 different pole winners and 18 different race winners. Ron Hornaday Jr. with three victories and Kyle Busch and James Buescher with two each are the only multiple winners at the track.

Since Buescher’s sweep of the two 2012 races, seven different drivers have won at Kentucky. That number includes three drivers who will be racing Saturday night—Matt Crafton (2015), Ben Rhodes (2018) and Tyler Ankrum (2019).

That doesn’t mean Kentucky is conducive to drivers in search of first victories in the series. Only Ankrum and Carl Edwards (2003) claimed their first Truck Series wins at the 1.5-mile intermediate oval. If there is a first-time winner, it’s likely to be either Zane Smith (+1200, starting second) or rookie Christian Eckes (+500, starting fourth).

Our Pick

Austin Hill (+355)—The series leader gets his first win of the season. We’re counting on a long green-flag run at the end of the race, and that should suit the setup on Hill’s No. 16 Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota. Hill has six top-10 finishes in six starts this season.

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Reid Spencer

Expert on NASCAR

Award-winning motorsports writer Reid Spencer has served as lead writer for the NASCAR Wire Service for 16 years, having also spent a four-year stint as NASCAR columnist and beat writer for Sporting News. He is currently serving as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Email: [email protected]