While their request was ultimately denied, a legitimate case could be made that a playoff team tried to pull a fast one on NASCAR.
ThorSport Racing saw two of their three playoff drivers, Grant Enfinger and Johnny Sauter, eliminated from the 2019 NASCAR Truck Series playoffs following the round of 8 finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
All three of their playoff drivers were forced to retire from this race with engine issues, although Matt Crafton was fortunate in that he was one of the six drivers who still ended up above the round of 6 cut line and advanced to the second round of the three-round, seven-race playoffs.
NASCAR declined this request, and as a result, the round of 6 is scheduled to get underway this Saturday, October 12 at Talladega Superspeedway, and it is set to feature six drivers: GMS Racing’s Brett Moffitt, Hattori Racing Enterprises’ Austin Hill, Niece Motorsports’ Ross Chastain, Halmar Friesen Racing’s Stewart Friesen, DGR-Crosley’s Tyler Ankrum and Crafton.
But the way in which this request was illustrated, at least publicly, indicated solely that the idea was for Enfinger and Sauter to be reinstated into the playoffs — nothing else.
However, this would have carried other ramifications no matter which way you look at it, all to the benefit of ThorSport Racing and some even to the detriment of other teams and drivers.
ThorSport Racing general manager David Pepper stated that “we’re not asking to reset Vegas. We’ll take our last-place finishes”. He went on to say that “we’re just asking to move the cutoff date to Phoenix, eliminate four of us instead of two (after Vegas) and two (after Phoenix.)” and “we don’t want a reset or a reshuffle”.
How could this be conceived as pulling a fast one?
Because the scenario he presented would not mean a simple reinstatement, nor would it be compatible with all of his requests/statements.
After each of the rounds of the playoffs, the point totals for the drivers who advance to the next round have their point totals request.
Such was the case for the six drivers who advanced from the round of 8 to the round of 6.
Sure, Enfinger and Sauter could “take their last place finishes” like Pepper suggested. But they would start the round of 6 in second and seventh place in the playoff picture as a result of this points reset, even with their last place finishes.
With that being said, Pepper did state that “we don’t want a reset or a reshuffle”.
That’s all good and well in terms of not sending Enfinger and Sauter up the order ahead of a round they shouldn’t rightly be in.
However, now you’re not only just reinstating ThorSport Racing’s drivers in the fashion of completely ignoring the rules that had been in place for everybody since the start of the season.
You’re completely throwing out the entire playoff format for everybody for your own convenience.
The round of 6 drivers who were poised to make gains as a result of the round of 6 reset and who had banked on that reset given that they have known the rules since day one would not have done so, putting them at another disadvantage to go along with the fact that they would already have two additional playoff drivers to deal with, two drivers who should have already been eliminated.
On the flip side, the “reset” had already happened ahead of the round of 6. So perhaps Pepper meant that he didn’t want a further reset.
In that case, we’d be back to square one with Enfinger and Sauter advancing to the round of 6 in second or seventh place in the playoff picture, as that would have been the only way to send these two drivers to the round of 6 without an additional “reset” — again, even with their last place finishes.
Regardless of how you look at it and your opinion on whether or not it should have been accepted, ThorSport Racing’s request to reinstate Grant Enfinger and Johnny Sauter into the 2019 NASCAR Truck Series was more than just a simple request to reinstate these two drivers.
It would have either completely discounted their last place finishes, even with them being “willing to take them”, or it would have unjustifiably ruined the playoff format entirely for everybody else even though every driver and every team had set out to conquer that format by accruing playoff points via stage wins and race wins throughout the entire season.
Fortunately, NASCAR was wise to this request and didn’t approve it, because when you take David Pepper’s words at face value, it looks as though ThorSport Racing may have been trying to pull a fast one.