The Gander Trucks UNOH 200 had a surprise winner in Sam Mayer, leading the final thirty laps for his first career victory
Other than the trucks on the track, it was eerily quiet at Thunder Valley Thursday night for the Gander Trucks UNOH 200. It was the first race of the series playoffs, and a win would guarantee a spot in the next round. However, Sam Mayer had other ideas. In just his seventh career start, he found himself in the winner’s circle as the other hopefuls could only watch him lead the final 30 laps.
The 17-year old out of Franklin, Wisconsin, became the second-youngest driver to win a Gander Trucks race behind Cole Custer. And his night wasn’t over because he was to run the ARCA race that would follow at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“What? Oh my gosh, Bristol dude. I love this place,” Mayer said. “This is win No. 3 for me here and man, I don’t know what to say. I can’t thank the guys back at the shop enough. They work their tails off. We fired off so good. We only made like one trackbar adjustment all day, that’s it. That feels so good.”
— NASCAR Gander Trucks (@NASCAR_Trucks) September 18, 2020
A DOMINANT PERFORMANCE
Sam Mayer didn’t just win his first race; he did it convincingly, finishing 4.413-seconds ahead of runner-up Brett Moffitt, who led the most laps. Rounding out the top-five were rookie Tanner Gray, Parker Kligerman, and Trevor Bayne, who had his best finish since he returned to NASCAR. However, he will not be in the No. 45 next week because Travis Pastrana will pilot that truck.
Mayer is now a three-time Bristol Motor Speedway capturing two prior victories in the ARCA Menards Series East in Thunder Valley last year. Earlier this week, JR Motorsports announced that Mayer would drive for the team in a part-time role in the summer of 2021.
Unofficially, Brett Moffitt is the current Truck Series Playoff leader with a 37-point cushion over the cutoff position in eighth. Sheldon Creed is second (+28), Zane Smith (+25), Grant Enfinger (+24) and Tyler Ankrum (+19) rounds out the top-five. Matt Crafton is sixth (+13), Ben Rhodes seventh (+6) and Austin Hill (+2) in eighth. Christian Eckes is two points behind Hill in ninth and Todd Gilliland rounds out the top-10 Playoff drivers with an eight-point deficit to Hill.
A year ago, this race had a dozen cautions, but there were only three race-related cautions and five overall.
GANDER TRUCKS UNOH 200 PRERACE NOTES
There were no prerace inspection issues and no competition caution for this race. There were no fans allowed into Bristol Motor Speedway for the Gander Trucks UNOH 200, but there will be for the Xfinity race Friday night and Cup Saturday.
There were thirty-eight trucks entered for the 23rd annual UNOH 200 presented by Ohio Logistics. However, CMI Motorsports withdrew its No. 49 and No. 83 entries scheduled to be driven by team owner Ray Ciccarelli and Tim Viens, dropping the starting grid to 36.
Remnants of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sally passed over the track, but track drying efforts were successful, and the race started on time. Invocation and National Anthem took place before the broadcast went live on Fox Sports 1.
Following the Truck Series race, the ARCA Menards Series intends to run their Bush’s Beans 200. A 45-minute practice session for ARCA was canceled just after 6:00 p.m. ET due to inclement weather.
GANDER TRUCKS UNOH 200 RACE BREAKDOWN STAGE 1
LAP 1 (of 200 laps – 106.6 miles): Grant Enfinger (pole – seeded fifth, making 100th career Gander Trucks start) and Brett Moffitt (seeded fourth and defending race champion) led the field to the green flag. Regular-season champion Austin Hill started fifth. Top seed Sheldon Creed was in row four, eighth.
LAP 6: Debris on the track brings out the caution. It was a piece of the rear end of the No. 16 of Hill after Stewart Friesen made contact with his right-rear quarter panel. He would fall back to 30th after repairs. Norm Benning gets the first Lucky Dog. Restart Lap 14. GMS Racing – Moffitt, Ankrum, Creed, and Zane Smith – were the top four trucks right after the green flag waved.
LAP 55: End Stage 1 – Brett Moffitt claims his sixth stage win of the year. At the time of the caution, just 15 trucks were on the lead lap. Playoff drivers Todd Gilliland and Austin Hill were one lap down. Hill was complaining that he was losing brakes. Tyler Ankrum, Sheldon Creed, and Johnny Sauter did not pit. Parker Kligerman back on the lead lap with the free pass. Restart Lap 68.
RACE BREAKDOWN STAGE 2
LAP 81: Caution for No. 30 Danny Bohn spin after contact with No. 20 Spencer Boyd, misses wall. Sheldon Creed caught speeding on pit row, sent to the back (16th). Chandler Smith is the Lucky Dog. Restart Lap 89.
LAP 110: End Stage 2 – Tyler Ankrum took the green-white checkers for his first career stage win. He would miss pit row and had to pit with lap trucks and fell to P16. Sam Mayer had his second top-ten of the evening. Johnny Sauter caught speeding, started at the rear. Todd Gilliland and Austin Hill are a lap down. Restart Lap 120 (80 to go). Seventeen trucks on the lead lap.
RACE BREAKDOWN STAGE 3
LAP 155: Austin Hill is having a terrible night, and between the Lap 2 contact and brake issues earlier, this time, Austin Wayne Self wasn’t clear when he came up the track and clipped him. Self hits the wall hard to bring out the fifth caution of the night. Hill was two laps down at the time and then added to his misery when his crew had too many people over the wall. It was a two-lap penalty. Sam Mayer was chasing down leader Brett Moffitt when the yellow flag came out. He restarted second. Todd Gilliland is back in the hunt getting the free pass. That puts 18 trucks on the lead lap
LAP 170 (30 to go): Sam Mayer takes the lead. No one would catch him.
STAGE 1-2 TOP 10 FINISHERS – LAPS 55 / 110
1 – Moffitt, Ankrum, Creed, Z Smith, Enfinger, Crafton, Mayer, Kraus, Sauter, Eckes
2 – Ankrum, Sauter, Moffitt, Z Smith, Mayer, Kraus, Crafton, Hocevar, Kligerman, Eckes
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