Sports

NASCAR truck series returns to Gateway Motorsports Park on Saturday

A BND file photo of the stands at Gateway International Raceway.
A BND file photo of the stands at Gateway International Raceway. News-Democrat

The hard-charging and always entertaining NASCAR Camping World Truck Series hits Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison on Saturday for the Drivin’ For Linemen 200.

After qualifying second last season, Darrell Wallace Jr., led 85 laps and raced to victory in the 2014 race at Gateway in his No. 54 Toyota Tundra. Justin Boston will be driving the Tundra this time around.

Among the top drivers to watch Saturday night are two-time defending series champ and current truck series points leader Matt Crafton, 18-year-old Erik Jones, Tyler Reddick and John Wes Townley.

Crafton is coming off a win last Friday at Texas Motor Speedway, his third victory this season. His best previous finish at Gateway is fifth. Crafton has been the leader for 296 laps this season, leading at least one lap in the first seven 2015 races.

Crafton has 11 previous starts at Gateway, the most of any driver entered in the race. He has one top-five finish and seven top-10s.

He led for 11 laps in 2014, but blew a right front tire and settled for a 26th-place finish.

“I was excited when they added it to the schedule last year and (I’m) glad it’s back this year,” Crafton said. “It’s a great short track with a lot of speed. We had a really, really strong truck there, and had the tire problem which was unfortunate.”

Jones was leading the race with seven laps to go last season when he was bumped into the inside wall by German Quiroga.

Boston’s top finish is seventh place at Kansas Speedway in May, but he has four top-10 finishes in seven starts. He spent the past two seasons driving on the ARCA Racing Series, where the tracks are similar to Gateway’s 1.25-mile oval.

Boston and Jones are teammates with Kyle Busch Motorports.

“I’ve had Gateway circled on my calendar since I started driving for KBM,” Boston said. “The flatter tracks seem to suit my driving style and I feel like this weekend could be that ‘breakthrough’ race for us.”

The top five finishers at the 2014 Gateway truck race were Wallace, Quiroga, Timothy Peters, Johnny Sauter and Ron Hornaday, Jr.

Gateway was an annual stop on the truck series circuit from 1998 to 2010. After the track closed and re-opened under new management headed by Curtis Francois, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returned to Gateway last year.

Ted Musgrave won the Gateway truck race in 2001 and 2005 and is the only multi-year winner.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Drivin’ For Linemen 200

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Gateway Motorsports Park, Madison

TV: 7 p.m. Saturday, Fox Sports 1

On the web: NASCAR.com; GatewayMSP.com

Parking/Grandstand: Parking ($20 and $40) opens at 8 a.m., spectator gates open at 9 a.m..

Full Schedule: Practice: 9:30 a.m.-noon; Pole qualifying: 4:45-5:45 p.m.; Driver Introductions: 7 p.m.; Race: 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: $36-59, available at the track box office, by calling 618-215-8888, ext. 101 or visit GatewayMSP.com/tickets

Current driver standings: 1. Matt Crafton (305 points); 2. Tyler Reddick (280); 3. Erik Jones (273); 4. Johnny Sauter (257); 5. John Wes Townley (227).

Last race: June 5 Winstar World Casino 400 at Texas Motor Speedway, winner was Matt Crafton

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