Gateway 200 (Truck Series) Predictions, Odds & Picks
- Bubble threesome renews tight battle for final Truck Series Playoff positions.
- Will the real Johnny Sauter finally show up this weekend at Gateway?
- Zane Smith isn’t driving like a rookie. Is a championship out of the question?
Gateway 200 Odds
|Any Other Driver||+2500|
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Gateway 200 Predictions and Picks
It may be a reach to pick a rookie over established veterans, but back in 2018, in his first start in one of NASCAR’s top three touring series, Zane Smith finished fifth at World Wide Technology Raceway in his Truck Series debut. Smith has won two of the last three Truck Series races, and on Sunday, he’ll make it three of four.
Zane Smith +550
How to Watch the Gateway 200 Truck Race
|Gateway 200 Information|
|What||Gateway 200 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race|
|Where||World Wide Technology Raceway (Madison, Illinois)|
|When||Sunday, August 30, 12 noon EST|
|How to Watch||FS1|
In a rare confluence of NASCAR and the NTT IndyCar Series, Sunday’s Gateway 200 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race will serve as the opening act for the second of two IndyCar races on the same weekend.
The Truck Series race will be the 20th at World Wide Technology Raceway. The series competed therefrom 1998 through 2010, and after a three-year hiatus, returned to the 1.25-mile asphalt track outside St. Louis in 2014.
Sunday’s race will be contested at 160 laps (200 miles), with stage breaks after 55 and 110 laps. There are no former winners of the event in the field. Ross Chastain, who took the checkered flag last year, was scheduled for double duty in the NASCAR Xfinity and Cup Series races on Friday and Saturday at Daytona.
Three Bubble Drivers Renew Close Battle for Final Playoff Spots
As of right now, Tyler Ankrum and Todd Gilliland are in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Playoffs, and rookie Derek Kraus is out. Only one problem—“right now” doesn’t mean much as the series heads to World Wide Technology Raceway for Sunday’s Gateway 200.
There are three races left in the regular season, with the Playoff field scheduled to be set after the ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway on Sept. 10. Ten drivers will qualify. Ankrum currently is ninth in the standings with 383 points, followed by Gilliland with 378 and Kraus with 374.
Kraus has never raced at World Wide Technology Raceway in the Truck Series, but he has a victory and a runner-up finish in two starts there in the developmental NASCAR K&N Pro Series, which this year was combined with the ARCA Menards Series. Among the three drivers, however, the nod would have to go to Gilliland, who has posted second-place results in his last two Truck Series starts at Gateway.
Ankrum finished 30th last year in his only Truck Series race at the Illinois track.
Will the Real Johnny Sauter Finally Show Up This Weekend?
No driver has a better or more consistent record at World Wide Technology Raceway than Johnny Sauter. In seven starts at the 1.25-mile track, Sauter has finished no worse than fourth, for an average finish of 3.1, and has completed all 1,122 of a possible 1,122 laps in the races he has run.
Sauter, however, has never won at WWT Raceway, and a win is what the 2016 series champion needs to regain relevance in the Truck Series Playoff picture. All three of Sauter’s ThorSport Racing teammates will qualify for the postseason—Grant Enfinger and Matt Crafton with victories, and Ben Rhodes on points—but Sauter’s lackluster and trouble-fraught performances this season are a mystery.
The driver of the No. 13 Ford F-150 is 13th in the standings, 71 points out of 10th place. We keep waiting for Sauter to regain the form that carried him to the 2016 title, but he’s running out of time. WWT Raceway, however, provides the perfect venue for Sauter to race to a crucial comeback victory.
With Second Win in Three Races, Zane Smith Joins Title Conversation
The surprise of the Truck Series this season has to be Zane Smith, who has outrun GMS Racing teammate and 2018 series champion Brett Moffitt. Smith is second in the standings, 41 points behind leader Austin Hill and six ahead of Moffitt in third place.
Two victories in the last three Truck Series races—at two-mile Michigan and one-mile Dover—have elevated Smith to that lofty status. He also leads Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Christian Eckes by 24 points in the rookie-of-the-year battle.
Given his recent success, Smith has to be considered a contender for a victory at any track, and it’s not unreasonable to include him in the championship conversation. Nor does the driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet Silverado thinks it’s a far-fetched notion. “This is the most confident I’ve ever been,” the 21-year-old from Huntington Beach, California said after his Dover win
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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.