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Trucks

GOOD & BAD: 2019 NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series Season

Another year of NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series competition is in the books, with a familiar sight as Matt Crafton was crowned the series champion. Along the way, though, there were some highlights and low lights to consider from the action on-track all year.

Although I was unable to watch all of the races, let’s take a look back at the good and the bad.

GOOD: Through the years, the trucks have earned the reputation of putting on the best shows of the weekend with the right race package being put together. That did not change in 2019 as there were certainly many events where they out-shined both the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. 

ISM Raceway was one of those weekends, for example. The Cup Series semi-final saw great racing on the restarts with drivers all over the surface, but they seemed to spread apart once the green flag had been flying for awhile. In contrast, the truck series long green-flag runs brought forth close fights for positions, including for the lead in the late stages between Stewart Friesen and Brandon Jones.

BAD: The ideology that the traction compound can fix anything as it seemed each weekend, officials were trying to lay that sticky stuff where they felt it could improve the racing. Instead of using a manufactured substance, why don’t we get back to basics and actually fix the issue?

ISM Raceway tried to apply it in the higher groove for their event, and for the most part, drivers avoided it. Mind you, Sheldon Creed showed a bit of promise with a couple strong runs off the corner, it did not seem to make a difference in the type of battles witnessed. So why bother?

Furthermore, the substance can be tricky especially if it is not worked in properly. Both Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott experienced that the hard way last week in the Cup Series, sliding it sideways and making contact with the wall. Now imagine if something like that happens to take a driver out of contention for the Championship 4 either tomorrow or Sunday. There’d be certainly tons of backlash from fans, considering we’ve proven it’s not a necessary for ISM Raceway. Do you really want to risk that? 

GOOD: Thank you for the pair of ThorSport Racing teammates not listening to what the commentators in the booth were saying.

As the ISM event neared conclusion, Matt Crafton ran behind a pair of his ThorSport teammates sitting just six points above the cutline. Both the No. 88 truck crew chief Carl Joiner and NASCAR on FOX’s analysts Michael Waltrip and Phil Parsons expected both Ben Rhodes and Grant Enfinger to lay over and allow Crafton go by. Despite the constant complains by the booth through the final laps of the event, they did the right thing running their race.

If Crafton was sitting was in jeopardy of being above the cutline and needed those two points, then certainly it would be nice to see his teammates work with him. However, he was safe where he was racing them for position so it was not a necessity for them to give up ground in their own race for his sake. Let’s say that they let him go by and then a late race caution comes out to set-up a restart. How would they feel restarting further back than intended?

The unique factor in NASCAR is watching drivers compete every single lap against each other as hard as they can – despite being teammates. The day that team orders become a thing is the day that you ruin the utmost important rule of racing in competition.

BAD: It’s been discussed many times before, and yet nothing has been done about it. Initial green flag and restart rule procedures need to be adjusted.

As the field came to the green flag for the Lucas Oil 150 at ISM, Friesen would beat pole sitter Austin Hill to the line, enabling a penalty from NASCAR for jumping the start. However, Friesen did not get into the throttle before the leader, rather laying off to try and avoid, except Hill spun his tires causing a slower start. How is it fair for a competitor to get penalized for another driver’s mistake?

NASCAR is famously known for inconsistency with race calls, and certainly has made some highly visible mistakes through the years. However, they are always looking for ways to improve and that was shown with an adjustment to pit road and where tires can be throughout a stop, whether in arm’s length of a crew member or not.

It’s time for them to take another glance at this rule and perhaps include a judgment aspect that if the leader spins the tires, then the penalty is waved for the second-place car jumping. Sure, it adds a layer that nobody wants to be sitting and deciding, but that’s the nature of the game as proven by the yellow line rule and judging whether a driver was pushed below or not. 

GOOD: It’s Bristol Baby” is a famous tagline that has been heard through the years, due to the track’s reputation. It was nice to see the Truck Series bring back some of that old flare. Throughout the entire UNOH 200, the playoff drivers were mixing it up with not only each other, but their fellow competitors on the track. Nobody appeared to be giving each other an inch, with bumps being traded throughout the field, and some going around as a result. 

The fans have been asking for the old Bristol to come back, and if this event is any indication, they got their wish. It’s easy to see why they wanted the bottom groove to be prime real estate as sparks flew, with drama throughout the night. Certainly the drivers who grew up running tracks of this style with a rough edge to their driving enjoy it. Just ask Ross Chastain.

“That’s what built this place,” he said. “You come through this tunnel, and there’s talk about rattling cages, there’s helmets thrown. If we’re going to fill these places up, the CarShield Chevy’s going to be the one that adds to the excitement.”

GOOD: The trucks always put on some of the craziest restrictor plate racing, and the NextEra Energy Resources 250 was no exception. Throughout the event, from the drop of the initial green flag to the end, there was side-by-side racing as drivers jockeyed for positions, sometimes even three-wide.

Over the course of Daytona Speedweeks, fans have practically begged for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers to stop running single file up against the wall as we saw in both the Advance Auto Parts Clash and the Gander RV Duels.

However, patience was the name of the game as drivers solely wanted to go to the event of the with a car, and  on the case Thursday, save their equipment for Sunday’s DAYTONA 500. There’s no time for that in the trucks as stage points are given out on two different occasions, and the race is only 100 laps total in length. Combined with a lot of youthful drivers eager to prove themselves, riding along doesn’t happen. 

BAD: There is a price to pay with what we saw happen, though, as the truck series only had nine drivers complete the race out of the 32 who took the green flag. The constant battling for position resulted in several wrecks, with 11 cautions taking happening. Oddly enough, more than half of the event was run under the yellow flag (55 laps).

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Trucks

OBSERVATIONS: Lucas Oil 150 at ISM Raceway

There’s a reason why ISM Raceway is known as the crown jewel in the desert, and that was on full display Friday night.

The NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series put on a great event as they set their Championship 4 for the playoffs in 2019. The unique track layout allotted for drivers to battle all the way around the speedway, sometimes even four-wide at times with different wide lanes being taken through the frontstretch dogleg. Though it was not just restarts producing solid competition, as the long green-flag runs brought forth close fights for positions, including for the lead in the late stages between Stewart Friesen and Brandon Jones.

The Truck Series has proven to put on the best shows of the weekend with the right race package being put together. However, unlike other weekends where you would be letdown the further you got from Friday, you should expect the same great racing to continue with the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series the next two days.

Traction Compound

ISM Raceway has always been known as a place for great racing everywhere, so the thought of adding a traction compound to the speedway asks several questions. Like, is this really necessary?

For the most part, the higher groove where it was applied was not used throughout the night, except by a couple drivers. Although Sheldon Creed showed a bit of promise with a couple strong runs off the corner, it did not seem to make a difference in the type of battles witnessed. So why bother?

Furthermore, the substance can be tricky especially if it is not worked in properly. Both Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott experienced that the hard way last week in the Cup Series, sliding it sideways and making contact with the wall. Now imagine if something like that happens to take a driver out of contention for the Championship 4 either tomorrow or Sunday. There’d be certainly tons of backlash from fans, considering we’ve proven it’s not a necessary for ISM Raceway. Do you really want to risk that? 

Something Needs to Change

As the field came to the green flag, Friesen would beat pole sitter Austin Hill to the line, enabling a penalty from NASCAR for jumping the start. However, Friesen did not get into the throttle before the leader, rather laying off to try and avoid, except Hill spun his tires causing a slower start.

How is it fair for a competitor to get penalized for another driver’s mistake?

NASCAR is famously known for inconsistency with race calls, and certainly has made some highly visible mistakes through the years. However, they are always looking for ways to improve and that was shown with an adjustment to pit road and where tires can be throughout a stop, whether in arm’s length of a crew member or not.

It’s time for them to take another glance at this rule and perhaps include a judgment aspect that if the leader spins the tires, then the penalty is waved for the second-place car jumping. Sure, it adds a layer that nobody wants to be sitting and deciding, but that’s the nature of the game as proven by the yellow line rule and judging whether a driver was pushed below or not. 

Teammate Etiquette

As the race neared conclusion, Matt Crafton ran behind a pair of his ThorSport teammates sitting just six points above the cutline. Both the No. 88 truck crew chief Carl Joiner and NASCAR on FOX’s analysts Michael Waltrip and Phil Parsons expected both Ben Rhodes and Grant Enfinger to lay over and allow Crafton go by.

Despite the constant complains by the booth through the final laps of the event, they did the right thing running their race.

If Crafton was sitting was in jeopardy of being above the cutline and needed those two points, then certainly it would be nice to see his teammates work with him. However, he was safe where he was racing them for position so it was not a necessity for them to give up ground in their own race for his sake. Let’s say that they let him go by and then a late race caution comes out to set-up a restart. How would they feel restarting further back than intended?

The unique factor in NASCAR is watching drivers compete every single lap against each other as hard as they can – despite being teammates. The day that team orders become a thing is the day that you ruin the utmost important rule of racing in competition.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Trucks

Are We Forgetting About Enfinger?

This weekend the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series will crown it’s 2019 Regular Season Champion, and if you have been paying close attention, you will already know who it will likely be.

However, if you haven’t, the driver currently holding a 55-point advantage may come as a surprise, as he is not one of the six competitors that have won this season. No, but instead this driver has established themselves with four stage wins, seven top-fives, and 12 top-10’s.

Grant Enfinger, driver of the No. 98 Thorsport Ford, who has shown that you do not need to flashy to be a champion in NASCAR’s top-three series with the playoff format.

That is not a bash at the points system either, but rather a compliment. You see, it’s a model that rewards consistency, and throughout the regular season, Enfinger has been exactly that.

He has only finished outside the top-20 once, and outside the top-seven four times. It is not the most dominant of stats, but regardless of the format, they are numbers that can easily win a championship.

Now, as stated earlier, the championship is not his yet; however, the road to glory one has just one small hurdle left. Enfinger needs a 24th-place finish or, four-stage points, to guarantee himself a huge advantage heading into the playoffs.

Now, let’s talk about that advantage.

The regular-season champion is not just a name, as if Enfinger does in indeed capture the title, he would receive 15 additional playoff points. For a driver who has consistently been near the front, this would go a long way in the end goal of making the Championship 4.

In fact, if the No. 98 team were to continue the pace they have set this year, this advantage could pretty much cement their spot at Homestead, regardless of if they win or not.

Now, whether or not Enfinger could go to Homestead and win the championship, without at least winning that race is debatable. Regardless though, this possible award should be the awakening for everybody that it is time to start taking this teams seriously.

Enfinger and company have proven themselves and should be among the favorites for the 2019 Gander Outdoors Truck Series Championship.

EMAIL MITCHELL AT mitchell.breuer@popularspeed.com

TWITTER: @MitchellB66

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Trucks

ASHLEY ASKS…… Grant Enfinger

With one win and seven top-five’s, Grant Enfinger put together a consistent campaign to finish fifth in the year-end NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings. The driver of the No. 98 Champion Power Equipment, Curb Records, and Protect the Harvest Ford F-150 for ThorSport Racing recently talked about his season and more with POPULAR SPEED.

POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts on the season?

GRANT ENFINGER: I definitely feel like we made a lot of gains from a team standpoint as a whole, along with myself with my crew chief Jeff Hensley. I felt like everybody made good gains. Overall, it was a solid season. Not going to say we’re satisfied until we’re a dominant truck week-in-week-out, but we had a handful races that we could’ve won, should’ve won, but only got it done one time, so that’s not good enough but a huge improvement from where we were in 2017.

We had a lot more speed, could still use a little more at some places, but we gained a lot of speed. I felt like we had a pretty strong mile-and-a-half program by the end of the year. So overall, just our group as a whole and the move to Ford Performance has really elevated our entire team. Not satisfied with the results, but satisfied with the results.

PS: What do you feel your team could’ve done to be even stronger?

GRANT: I think there’s no one thing big issue or no one big thing that we need to get better at. I think it’s more about little details everywhere. Overall, we had a pretty solid consistent year leading into the playoffs. Then in the playoffs, we had good speed, but were less consistent as we didn’t get the results that we needed to at a few of the races – some of that due to circumstances out of our control, but some of that we could’ve done better on the track. So I think we just need to clean up a little bit in a lot of the areas and I think that’s all we’re lacking.

We started out at Canada (Canadian Tire Motorsports Park) and had a little mechanical issue, and then I ran off the track; you know, little setbacks here and there can cost you a good bit of points. So really we just need to clean up what we got and then start taking that and building from there.

PS: How are plans looking for 2019 for you?

GRANT: Everything is looking good. I feel like for the most part everybody is happy. I feel like Duke and Rhonda Thorson at ThorSport are happy. I feel like everybody is pushing forward to do this again next year, but nothing is finalized or set in stone, but that’s the direction it’s looking towards.

PS: That’s good to hear. Now say you’re able to return next year and the same goes as you would hope, what would it mean to you to win the championship?

GRANT: I mean, that’s obviously the goal and one that we won’t be happy until that happens. On top of that, we want to have a dominant year. Obviously, everybody’s goal is to win the championship, but we’d like to end up with four or five wins at the end of the season with a championship, and just be a threat at every race track. Right now, I feel when we unload, we’re going to be a top-five or six truck at any given track we go to.

There were handful of times that we’ve hit it and been a truck capable of winning. I think if we look back this time next year, we’ll be happy if we can show up every time and be in contention and actually bring home four or five wins. That’s what it will take for us to be happy, and that’s what everybody is working towards. Like I said, all those little things – that we’re working right now; we’re polishing and buffering on what we got and not doing wholesale changes in one department.

LOGAN WHITTON | NKP

PS: If you were in charge of NASCAR for one day, what is one change you would make to improve the sport?

GRANT: I guess everybody has their opinions, but I would take away a lot of the downforce we have and give us more horsepower. In the Truck Series especially, we’re running wide open at all these mile-and-a-halves that we got to. I feel like it provides for better racing and it’s not about drafting and momentum, but rather mechanical and set-up. That’s one of the big changes that we’d make is maybe take the splitter off, cut the spoiler in half, and give us 150 to 200 more horsepower.

PS: What is one track you wish was on the schedule that isn’t?

GRANT: Honestly, I feel like I’d like to go to Du Quoin or the Springfield mile that ARCA goes to. We’re already running Eldora in the truck series, and we already have to dedicate a truck to that and pretty much destroy it when you go to Eldora which is unfortunate because the racing is great and I love racing there. But maybe if we had Du Quoin or Springfield before then, you could take the truck there and not have a high of likelihood of doing damage and then take the truck to Eldora. I think as far as a race, it would be a little more cost effective than the racing we do because like I said, all these teams have to dedicate a truck to the dirt race anyway. I think it’d be smart to just add another one in there.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Trucks

OBSERVATIONS: World of Westgate 200

Expect the unexpected. It’s the motto you normally hear while making your way through the city of Las Vegas, but right now could also describe the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs. Two races in, and the brackets for most people are probably busted.

For the second time this year, the Las Vegas Motor Speedway put on a thrilling race for the trucks, with passing throughout including battles that took us four-wide, at once five-wide. There was always a battle to watch, with everyone under a blanket for a top-10 at one point due to how much the trucks punch a hole in the air. It’s easy to see why some fans call the lowest of the three premiere series the one with the best competition.

As the battles broke out at the front of the field at the end, Grant Enfinger sliced and diced his way through the field with four Goodyear tires to the front, making a three-wide pass to take the top spot. He then held off the field in three ensuing late-race restarts to score the victory.

The victory is the shot in the arm that ThorSport Racing also needed. The focus most of the year has been on GMS Racing and Kyle Busch Motorsports, but Friday night saw ThorSport place all four trucks in the top-six positions. 

When the playoffs began, Justin Haley and Enfinger were two of the competitors most picked to possibly fail to make it to the next round based solely on performance. With wins in the first two races, though, they have locked themselves into the Round of 6 heading into Talladega Superspeedway. 

On the flip side, teams that have been surging to the front and stealing the headlines are struggling.

Brett Moffitt was leading in the late stages, but running out of gas costing him valuable points at the end.

Noah Gragson was fast through the first half of the race, but once again this season failed to put the finish together on the final tally. Contact in the late stages resulted in a flat tire, bringing him down pit road en route to placing 18th. That’s his second bad race in a row to start the playoffs after the incident with teammate Todd Gilliland coming to the checkered at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

The driver in the worst rut right now, though, has to be Stewart Frisen. A lot of people expected the Canadian to be the next one to break through with a victory. Instead, he may be one of the drivers eliminated when the dust settles at Talladega as he currently sits last of the eight playoff drivers. After struggling at CTMP with a mid-race spin, he spun three different times on Friday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway en route to finishing 17th.

All roads will now lead us to Talladega, where it’ll be interesting to see what happens. Can the drivers struggling turn it around? Will the usual suspects be up front? Will someone nobody expected fail to make the second round? What will happen with the big one looming? Unfortunately, thanks to a strung out schedule that nobody will ever understand, we have to wait 28 days to answer these questions.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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News

Grant Enfinger Gets Breakthrough NASCAR Truck Series win at Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS – It took three overtimes for Grant Enfinger to get his first victory of the season, with a win that represented a giant leap in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs.

In the second race of the postseason, Enfinger went from eighth in the Playoff standings to a guaranteed berth in the second round when he held off charging Johnny Sauter in the third overtime to win the World of Westgate 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway by .142 seconds.

Brett Moffitt led the field to the green flag in all three overtimes, coming within 200 feet of winning in the second extra period before a multicar wreck caused the 11th caution and forced NASCAR to red-flag the race on Lap 138.

When Moffit came to the final restart, his No. 16 Toyota failed to pick up fuel, and Enfinger, who restarted second, surged into the lead. Having to work his way around Moffitt’s sputtering truck, Sauter fell back and ran out of time in a race that went 10 laps beyond its scheduled distance of 134 laps.

The second straight Playoff race produced a first-time winner this season, with Justin Haley having triumphed Aug. 26 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. With berths in the second round secure, Enfinger and Haley can race stress-free in the Oct. 13 cutoff at Talladega Superspeedway, Enfinger’s home track.

“There’s only two of us comfortable going into Talladega, and I’m one of those two,” said Enfinger, who knew he had a strong No. 98 ThorSport Racing Ford entering the race. “It’s kind of the culmination of the whole year.

“We’ve put together the pieces needed to win a race individually but not as a whole as a group. The truck was great – we had the best truck out there.”

Sauter might take issue with assertion. His No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet improved throughout the event, but Sauter’s Achilles heel was the restarts.

“My restarts absolutely sucked tonight-just awful,” Sauter said. From first to second gear, it was terrible. The 16 (Moffitt ran out of gas, and I had to snake around that, and we just lost a little bit of momentum.

“We’ve just got a little work to do. Obviously, we had the fastest truck the last half of the race.”

Sauter, at least, goes into Talladega with the series lead, 17 points ahead of pole winner Noah Gragson, who overcame a cut tire and a commitment line violation to finish 18th. With the Playoff field set to be trimmed from eight drivers to six after Talladega, Ben Rhodes (fourth Friday) and Stewart Friesen (17th after three spins) are the two drivers on the outside, but both are within close range of fifth-place finisher Matt Crafton, who is fifth in the standings.

Haley took advantage of the late restarts to finish third ahead of Rhodes and Crafton. Moffitt came home 11th after his truck finally picked up fuel on the next-to-last lap.
Enfinger’s win came after crew chief Jeff Hensley opted for a no-tire call following Enfinger’s victory in the second stage. An opportune caution on Lap 100 gave Enfinger a chance to gain a tire advantage, and he used the fresh rubber to charge through the field.

Enfinger’s spotter, ThorSport general manager David Pepper, picked up the victory in his 500th race.

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Trucks

Playoff Picture – Camping World Truck Series

When the checkered flag flies at the end of Thursday’s Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway, it will mark the beginning of the playoffs. However, the regular season isn’t over yet, with a lot of drivers still having a lot to fight for.

Johnny Sauter

Sauter currently owns a 56-point advantage over Noah Gragson, meaning he is your 2018 regular season champion. That will translate into an additional 15 playoff points, boasting another department where the veteran already leads.

Nonetheless, a victory, or at the very least a stage win would be still significant for the No. 23 team as it would give them even more of an edge.

Noah Gragson

As noted above, Gragson cannot take the points lead from Sauter. So with one championship out of the picture, and only one win and 12 playoff points,increasing those numbers would help his chances at a different title.

Brett Moffitt 

Hot off a win, a repeat performance could allow him to enter the playoffs with the most playoff points. Other than that, Moffitt sits pretty heading into this week.

Justin Haley, Ben Rhodes

Haley and Rhodes are both locked in virtue of wins and have nothing to lose. For the two young drivers, Thursday should be all about winning stages and the race.

Grant Enfinger, Stewart Friesen

Both own a significant points advantage over Matt Crafton and zero wins. While Friesen (+39 over Crafton) doesn’t hold quite the safety net Enfinger does (+53), it would still take a lot to put him in any danger of missing the post-season. Their biggest concern should be getting their first win of 2018. 

Matt Crafton

Out of the top-eight drivers, Crafton is in the most danger. Fortunately for the two-time champion, no one outside the cutoff can pass him in points. The only thing that would kick him out would be a new winner (excluding Friesen and Enfinger).

Also worth noting, the 42-year-old has never won a race at Bristol.

Spoilers

So, who could knock out Crafton? The obvious would be Todd Gilliland.

While Gilliland has yet to be victorious, he drives for one of the best teams in the sport, Kyle Busch Motorsports. His team has also been heading in the right direction, with four finishes of seventh or better in the last six races.

His last visit to the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile” also resulted in a K&N Pro Series East win earlier this year.

Other possibilities?

A look into Bristol history shows that last first-time winner came in 2016 when Ben Kennedy won with GMS Racing, a team that has been one of the best this season. An organization that also has two drivers, Cody Coughlin and Dalton Sargeant, looking for their first wins.

EMAIL MITCHELL AT mitchell.breuer@popularspeed.com

TWITTER: @MitchellB66

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Trucks

OBSERVATIONS: Eldora Dirt Derby

NASCAR’s annual Wednesday night trip to get dirty has been special so far as the 2018 edition of the Eldora Dirt Derby for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series did not disappoint.

Beginning right with the qualifying heats, to the final laps of the main event, you can’t deny being entertained by the action on-track as drivers ran as high as the wall, to as low as they could go and through the middle trying to make up ground. How about four-wide for the lead on a late-race restart inside of the final 10 laps?

With trucks in every groove imaginable, it’s understandable that passing was at a premium as drivers found themselves stuck in traffic unable to make a line work at times during the event. Indeed, this made the strategy of not pitting at the start of the final stage a perfect opportunity. However, a driver that chose to make his way down – Chase Briscoe – ultimately snagged the checkered flag. Therefore, with the right handling truck and ability behind the wheel, you could make it happen.

That said, the finish was everything as ThorSport Racing teammates Briscoe, and Grant Enfinger remained side-by-side through the final lap, bouncing off each other, right until the checkered flag. That type of racing is what stock cars were bred on, and if fans could get that every week, there’d be no complaints ever.

I get what Briscoe meant in victory lane in apologizing for the contact with Enfinger due to being teammates and such, saying that’s “not how he races,” but he didn’t have anything be sorry for. He followed the fundamentals of racing in rubbing, but he didn’t wreck Enfinger and ruin his race. As they said in Days of Thunder, “He didn’t hit you, he didn’t nudge you, he rubbed you, and son, rubbin’ is racing.”

For ThorSport, this race is their most impressive of the season with three trucks in the top-four as Matt Crafton finished fourth. It also marks their second straight win after Ben Rhodes picked up the win at Kentucky. While GMS Racing was the dominant force the first half of the year, could ThorSport be finding the momentum at the right time as we head towards the playoffs? 

If it wasn’t for a late-race caution, though, the series could’ve easily had their first series winner as Logan Seavey was impressive in his series debut, leading 53 laps before fading back to eighth on the final pair of restarts. He is currently being dubbed as one of the top prospects, and we’ve seen what dirt talent can accomplish via Christopher Bell and Kyle Larson. Don’t be surprised if he isn’t running full-time, or at least most of the races next season. 

While the night was filled with excitement and a lot of great takeaways, there is one issue that needs to be addressed – the Last Chance Qualifier. It’s fair that 25 trucks qualify through the five heat races, leaving the rest for the shootout. Though only having two transfer from that with the rest of the field set by owner points defeats the purpose. If you’re going to run an event and you want drivers to put it on the edge, make it worth something by having five trucks qualify, leaving only two spots up to provisionals. Could you imagine the moves that would be made out of desperation? Just look back to the first year with Norm Benning.  

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Trucks

Enfinger Back With ThorSport Racing

2015 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards Champion Grant Enfinger will be back with ThorSport Racing in 2018, behind the wheel of the No. 98 Champion Power Equipment/Curb Record Ford F-150.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be back with ThorSport Racing for the 2018 season, and also to be back with Ford,” said Grant Enfinger. “A good bit of my earlier years in the ARCA Series were with Ford, and with their support we were able to go to victory lane quite a few times. I’ve always maintained a good relationship with those guys, and I feel that we can translate that into success in the Truck Series. I’m very thankful for the opportunity that Duke and Rhonda Thorson have allowed for us this year, and last. I know we can build on what we had last year, and make them proud by seeing their trucks in victory lane a lot this year.”

In his first year of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition, the 33-year-old scored 15 top-10 finishes, while leading a total of 41 laps. 

“This is a great opportunity for Grant (Enfinger), Jeff (Hensley), and the entire No. 98 team, to build on the success we started in 2017,” said David Pepper, General Manager of ThorSport Racing. “We look forward to having everyone back to compete for race wins and a championship title in 2018. As our driver line-up starts to take shape for the upcoming season, everyone at ThorSport Racing is working hard to get our Ford F-150’s built to compete at the top level of the series.”

ThorSport Racing also confirmed that Jeff Hensley will once again call the shots for Enfinger. 

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Categories
Trucks

Enfinger Could Be Sleeper Title Contender

The battle to earn a spot in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs is shaping up to create a competitive and dramatic end to the regular season.

With only eight spots available, many trucks capable of contending for the title will be left out.

Rookie Grant Enfinger currently sits ninth in the Playoff picture, nine points behind eighth-place Ryan Truex.

Enfinger had another impressive run in the UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway, placing fourth and earning his ninth top-10 finish of 2017.

The ThorSport Racing driver has quietly excelled this year. He has finished inside the top-five in six of the last nine races with a pair of season-best third-place finishes at Dover and Texas.

His consistency hasn’t made many headlines, but if he continues performing at this pace, the focus will soon be on him.

With just two events remaining before the Truck Series Playoffs begin at New Hampshire, Enfinger will need two strong runs in Canada and Chicago if he hopes to compete for the championship.

He will make his first career start at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in the Chevrolet Silverado 250. While he made three road course starts in the ARCA Racing Series, this will be the most important of his career.

The 32-year-old competed at Chicagoland last season and finished sixth, showing that if he needs to run well there to earn his title bid, it’s possible.

If Enfinger makes it in, his strength this season will make him a major threat for the championship.

While he will be behind in the playoff points column, the format often favors an underdog, and he could fill that role.

The key for the No. 98 team will be making it through the first two rounds as everything resets at Homestead-Miami for the Championship 4. Once there, all that matters is running well and topping the other three challengers to take home the title, and Enfinger is proving capable of accomplishing the feat.

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.