Winning is the only route to safety for Truck Series Chase drivers at Texas

The inaugural Camping World Truck Series Chase for the Cup has made it through its first elimination round and locked in one driver to the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

After Johnny Sauter won at Martinsville last weekend, it left three spots in the Championship round open for drivers heading to Texas Motor Speedway for the Striping Technology 350 on FS1 at 8:30 p.m. Friday night.

All five Chase drivers still searching to clinch a spot in the championship race are only separated by 14 points, meaning nobody but Sauter has any room for error.

William Byron won the spring race in the Lone Star State and currently holds the final advancement spot to the Championship 4 with a nine-point lead over the Chase cutline.

Ben Kennedy, who got taken out in a crash late at Martinsville has the biggest gap as he’s 10 points behind Byron for the final advancement spot.

While 10 points doesn’t seem like a lot over two races, Kennedy doesn’t want to leave anything to chance.

“We watch (the points standings) to an extent but at the same time we have to focus on us and put the blinders on,” Kennedy said at the track on Thursday. “We have to go win this weekend, to be honest. I think points is going to be difficult to do at this stage, being 10 points out. The next guy that’s with us is (Matt) Crafton and we all know how strong he is here. We’re coming here to not only run good and get points, but to win, so we’re focused on us.”

Speaking of Matt Crafton, he’s finished in the top five in his last four races in Texas and has two wins at the track. He led 133 laps in the spring race and finished second.

The other two drivers who have hopes alive for the championship are Christopher Bell and Timothy Peters, who are 13 and 12 points above the cutoff, respectively.

Bell lost an engine in his Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota and finished 32nd in the spring race while Peters placed sixth.

If any of the five remaining drivers have troubles like Bell did in the spring, then they’ll be in a deep hole, facing a must-win situation at Phoenix International Raceway.