LAS VEGAS (AP) — Austin Hill passed Ross Chastain with 11 laps to go and pulled away to win Friday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the final race of the first round of the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series playoffs.
Hill and Chastain earned spots in the Round of 6 while three of the eight playoff drivers did not finish due to mechanical issues.
“This means the world to me,” Hill said. “”When I saw the 45 (Chastain) in my sights, we were running close lap times. I changed my line a little bit. And that was a big statement win.”
Grant Enfinger was the first to drop out of the race. He entered the night in sixth place and his hopes of advancing came to an end when a rear main seal blew out of the back of the engine just a few laps into the race.
“It’s just frustrating,” Enfinger said. “These guys work their tails off all year. We had a good truck, just wasn’t meant to be.”
Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter, also members of the ThorSport Racing team, had their vehicles start smoking almost simultaneously on Lap 40. Crafton immediately left the race. Sauter returned, but had more issues that caused him to exit shortly after the start of the final stage.
Crafton advanced to the next round, but Sauter ultimately missed the cut due to 18-year-old Tyler Ankrum’s 11th-place finish. Ankram started the night in eighth place, 12 points behind Sauter and 14 points below the cut line.
Stewart Friesen had mechanical issues as well. but managed to finish in 19th and secure a spot in the next round.
Chastain won the first two stages, his sixth and seventh stage wins of the season, and finished second — 2.116 seconds behind Hill’s No. 16 Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota — after leading a race-high 88 laps.
Brett Moffitt was seventh. He was the only driver who had wrapped up a spot in the Round of 6 coming into Friday night after winning the opening two races of the playoffs at Bristol and Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.