The first cutoff race in the playoffs comes Friday night for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at Kansas Speedway.
Four drivers are locked into the Round of 8: Ty Majeski (IRP win), Grant Enfinger (Milwaukee win), Corey Heim (+70 points to cutline), Christian Eckes (+61)
Carson Hocevar (+56) is also a virtual lock for the next round.
That leaves the other half of the playoff field to duel for the final three spots in the next round.
Zane Smith (+29), Matt Crafton (+9) and Nick Sanchez (+3) are above the cutline, while Ben Rhodes (-3) and Matt DiBenedetto (-20) are below it.
Since joining Front Row Motorsports last year, Zane Smith has one win and finishes of fourth and third at Kansas with at least 48 points scored in each race there.
If he finishes seventh or better, Smith will lock in no matter what happens.
Matt DiBenedetto, on the other end, needs to make up double-digit points – or win, which he has only done once in the Truck Series, at Talladega last fall.
If he won, it would come after a dismal 27th-place run at the Milwaukee Mile and announcing his departure from Rackley W.A.R at season’s end.
DiBenedetto has no plans for 2023 yet. What he can tout for any prospective owners are clean, consistent finishes.
If others have issues at Kansas, that could vault DiBenedetto into the next round.
Ben Rhodes stands out with a win at Charlotte in May. With 251 points in seven speedway oval races this season, Rhodes has earned the third-most points in these races – behind only Corey Heim (306) and Carson Hocevar (269).
Meanwhile, Sanchez ranks seventh (205), DiBenedetto eighth (185) and Crafton ninth (183).
If each driver earned the average of those points at Kansas, the cutline would shake out like this:
- Ben Rhodes – 2092 points (+4)
- Matt Crafton – 2091 points (+3)
- Nick Sanchez – 2088 points (-3)
- Matt DiBenedetto – 2065 points (-26)
Anything can happen at Kansas, however. Take the spring race, for example.
Ben Rhodes went from racing for the lead to wrecking out of contention in a flash – just shortly before Matt DiBenedetto saw a top-10 run end with a wreck.
They’ll be among the 36 drivers dueling for 134 laps in the Kansas Lottery 200. The green flag will drop just after 9 p.m. ET. Broadcast is on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Ch. 90).