• Sat. Apr 1st, 2023

Grant Enfinger wins Truck playoff opener at IRP

ByMichael Manny

Jul 30, 2022
Enfinger celebrates at IRP

Ty Majeski led a career-high 71 laps, but GMS Racing No. 23 Grant Enfinger edged out Zane Smith and Ben Rhodes in overtime to earn his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory since 2020 in the TSport 200 at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.

The win guarantees Enfinger a spot in the Round of 8 in his first playoff run since his four-win 2020 campaign.

“We’ve been working so hard because we’ve been sucking,” Enfinger said to Fox Sports after the race. “It hurts to say it but we have had a terrible season to this point. But we had a great No. 23 Champion Power Equipment Chevrolet all day.”

Kyle Busch Motorsports’ John Hunter Nemechek led the field in the overtime restart, after spinning out Taylor Gray with two to go. With seven to go, nearly all of the leaders pit to get fresh tires while Nemechek stayed out.

Front Row Motorsports’ Zane Smith quickly passed Nemechek on the restart, before Enfinger surged from fourth to first on fresh tires to take the victory.

“Sometimes you’re the bug and sometimes you’re the windshield, and we were the bug tonight,” Nemechek said to Fox Sports after the race. “I made a mistake early on and spun myself, and then we had a restart there at the end on old tires. Everybody had fresher tires, I tried driving down in the bottom of three underneath the 17 and just kept sliding and accidentally got into his left rear.”

Nemechek got his weekend off to a hot start earlier in the day by winning the pole. He went on to lead the first 64 laps, weathering two cautions to win stage 1.

Nemechek’s KBM teammate Chandler Smith won the race off pit road, leading the next six laps. The race would not stay green for long however, as Blake Lothian’s No. 43 truck stopped on the track, bringing out the third of nine cautions for cause.

Niece Motorsports’ Carson Hocevar would take the lead starting Lap 71, holding it for the next 34 times around. Enfinger patiently battled with Hocevar for several laps, before finally making a pass for the lead on lap 105.

Just one lap later, Nemechek, who had dominated Stage 1, spun in Turn 2.

Majeski, who is one of the four playoff drivers without a win, took the lead for the first time lap 117, and would win Stage 2 just two laps later. Stage 2 ended with a Dean Thompson spin in Turn 2 just before Majeski crossed the line.

Late in the stage, Chandler and Zane Smith made contact at the wall, with both trucks suffering significant damage. Zane rallied to finish third, but Chandler finished 18th, ending his hopes of winning both the ARCA and truck race.

Besides one lap, Majeski would lead from the 117 to 188th lap.

Enfinger led the second-least amount of laps among playoff drivers in the regular season, but he was able to grab it from Majeski with 11 to go. Majeski had built a sizable cushion between him and Enfinger, but he lost his momentum after getting caught up in lap traffic.

In the middle of all the playoff drivers, Colby Howard was running in the top 10, potentially on his way to his best finish of the season. Attempting to get around him on lap 190, Hocevar made contact with Howard, sending him into the frontstretch wall. Howard was visibly angry, climbing out of his car and making a frustrated gesture towards Hocevar once he came around before the restart.

Nemechek decided to stay out on old tires when several of the leaders, including Enfinger, pitted with seven to go. On the final regulation restart, Nemechek made contact with Gray.

Nemechek began overtime in the lead, but fell back on old tires.

Enfinger made a run with fresh tires and was able to take the lead and pull away for the win.

Among all the playoff drivers, Layne Riggs, making his first career truck series start, finished seventh.

The series is off next week before they travel to Richmond Raceway for the Worldwide Express 250 for Carrier Appreciation Aug. 13. The race begins at 8:00 EST, with coverage on Fox Sports 1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.


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