South Carolina Education Lottery 200 (Truck Series) Predictions, Odds & Picks
- NASCAR Trucks return to the Lady in Black for the first time in nine seasons.
- Accident at Gateway tightened the race for the boys on the Playoff bubble.
- Time is running out for drivers who must win to qualify for the Truck postseason.
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South Carolina Education Lottery 200 Odds
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South Carolina Education Lottery 200 Predictions and Picks
In what amounts to an old home week for retired NASCAR Cup Series drivers, Greg Biffle leads the parade of veterans to Darlington. The 2000 Truck Series champion won at Texas last year in his only NASCAR start of the season, a one-off appearance for Kyle Busch Motorsports. For this race, he’s driving the No. 24 Chevrolet for GMS Racing.
Though Biffle has never raced a Gander Truck at Darlington, he scored back-to-back NASCAR Cup Series victories there in 2005 and 2006, following an Xfinity Series win in 2004. How can you bet against The Biff at Darlington?
Greg Biffle +650
How to Watch South Carolina Education Lottery 200
|South Carolina Education Lottery 200Information|
|What||South Carolina Education Lottery 200 NASCAR Truck Series race|
|When||Sunday, September 6, 2 p.m. EST|
|How to Watch||FS1|
There are two NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series races left before the Playoffs, and the full-time drivers fighting for Playoff berths and postseason seeding have their own concerns. Heightening the interest in Sunday’s South Carolina Education Lottery 200, however, is an influx of veteran talent. Greg Biffle, David Ragan, and Trevor Bayne—all of whom are retired from full-time driving and all of whom raced for owner Jack Roush for at least a portion of their respective careers—are entered in this event.
The race is scheduled for 147 laps (200.1 miles), with stage breaks after 45 and 90 laps. There are no former winners in the field, not surprising since the Truck Series hasn’t raced at Darlington since 2011. In fact, only ThorSport Racing drivers Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter, along with also-rans Jennifer Jo Cobb and Norm Benning, are the only drivers entered in Sunday’s event who have ever raced a Truck at the Lady in Black.
NASCAR Truck Series Returns to Darlington after Nine-Year Absence
Playoff contender Tyler Ankrum was two months old when the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series first raced at Darlington in 2001. He had just turned 11 years old when the Truck Series last raced there.
When the field of 34 takes the green flag at one of NASCAR’s most challenging speedways on Sunday afternoon, most of the competitors will be driving into the great unknown—without the benefit of practice.
Historically, the Truck Series has raced at Darlington only six times. The late Bobby Hamilton won the inaugural race in 2001 and triumphed again two years later. Ted Musgrave took the checkered flag in the 2002 event. Kasey Kahne won in 2004 and in the last race there in 2011. Todd Bodine went to Victory Lane in 2010 when the Trucks returned to Darlington after a six-year absence.
Wreck at Gateway Has Tightened the Playoff Race for Bubble Drivers
For the first two stages of last Sunday’s Truck Series event at World Wide Technology Raceway, all was right in Todd Gilliland’s world. His No. 38 Ford was the dominant force in the Gateway 200. Gilliland swept the first and second stages and had led 75 laps before Sheldon Creed’s No. 2 Chevrolet broke loose under Gilliland’s F-150 and knocked the Ford into the outside wall and out of contention.
Gilliland finished 24th, three laps down, as his hopes of locking up a playoff berth with his first victory of the season disappeared. Instead, the disappointing result left the 20-year-old driver locked into an intense battle against Tyler Ankrum and rookie Derek Kraus for the final two spots in the postseason.
With 10 drivers set to qualify for the Playoff two races hence, Gilliland is 10th in the standings, two points behind Ankrum and 13 ahead of Kraus in 11th—with very little margin for error. In other words, Gilliland can ill afford another wreck.
Time Is Running Out for Drivers Who Need Victories to Earn Playoff Spots
Unless he wins one of the next two races, 2016 NASCAR Truck Series champion Sauter won’t have a chance to earn a second title. Likewise, Stewart Friesen, a Playoff driver last year, won’t qualify for the postseason unless he triumphs either at Darlington on Sunday or at Richmond Raceway on Sept. 10.
Friesen is 14th in the standings behind rookies Tanner Gray and Raphael Lessard, who also would need a victory to qualify for the Playoff. Sauter is in even worse shape, having dropped to 15th in the standings after an engine issue knocked him out of last Sunday’s Gateway 200 after 22 laps.
Sauter does have one advantage—experience at Darlington. In NASCAR’s top three series, Sauter has a combined 13 starts at the Track Too Tough to Tame. In the 2010 and 2011 Truck Series races at Darlington, Sauter finished fourth and ninth, respectively.
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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.
Email: [email protected]