Grant Enfinger Has Positioned Himself as the Cinderella Story of the NASCAR Truck Series Playoffs
Grant Enfinger won his first race in nearly two years Friday in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series return to the Indianapolis Raceway Park short track and has positioned himself as the potential Cinderella of the Truck Series in 2022.
Enfinger, 37, is a 10-year veteran of the Truck Series with just one race in NASCAR’s top two series. The Alabama native finished 36th after an early wreck in the 2021 Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He also attempted to run the 2011 Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway but did not qualify.
Grant Enfinger found a home in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Otherwise, Enfinger has been one of the Truck Series mainstays since he won the 2016 Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway while, fittingly, driving a GMS Racing truck on a part-time basis.
That victory led him to a full-time job driving the No. 98 truck for ThorSport Racing in 2017. Enfinger did not win and finished 11th in the points standings that first year, but he took the No. 98 truck to Victory Lane a year later in the playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He narrowly missed the Championship 4 that season but still won the pole award and finished second in the season finale at Homestead.
Enfinger won the regular-season title in 2019 and reached the Championship 4 in 2020. He started the championship race from the pole because of his win the week before at Martinsville Speedway but ultimately finished 13th in the season-finale at Phoenix Raceway.
That success did not carry over to 2021, as his full-time status dissolved into a part-time deal in which he had to share the truck with 20-year-old Christian Eckes. Eckes won at Las Vegas late in the season while Enfinger pieced together a schedule between ThorSport and CR7 Motorsports.
Enfinger went winless in 2021 but signed back with GMS Racing to pilot the No. 23 truck for the 2022 campaign.
Unfortunately, better results didn’t come. He managed three top-fives through the first 14 races of the season, but GMS then made a crew chief change and brought Enfinger’s former crew chief Jeff Hensley back to the top of his pit box.
The team entered the Truck Series playoffs ninth in the points standings as the Truck Series prepared to race at IRP for the first time since 2011. For perspective, David Starr, now 53, finished third in a race won by now-41-year-old Timothy Peters in that truck race at IRP 11 years ago, while Eckes, now full-time in the No. 98 truck, was merely 10 years old.
Enfinger had not posted a top-five finish since a second-place result in May at Charlotte. Still, he survived several late-race restarts and passed the two championship favorites, John Hunter Nemechek and Zane Smith, in overtime to claim the victory and a spot in the second round of the playoffs.
The remaining schedule sets up well for Enfinger
The win ensures Enfinger will still be eligible to reach the Championship 4 when the series visits Bristol Motor Speedway for the first of three races in the Round of 8. That is where the driver who lost his full-time job a year ago could become the underdog favorite of the Truck Series.
Enfinger has finished inside the top 10 in each of his five previous races on the concrete surface at Bristol, including three top-fives. The series then heads to Talladega, where he has the win from 2016 and has led 96 laps in his eight visits to the superspeedway. In fact, two of his first three career wins were at superspeedways, as he triumphed in the 2020 season opener at Daytona International Speedway.
A win at either Bristol or Talladega would clinch his spot in the Championship 4, and he has three top-10s, a runner-up finish, and a pole award at Homestead if he does not win at the first two tracks in the Round of 8.
A year after it looked as if Enfinger’s competitive NASCAR career might have ended, the veteran has flipped the script and could be primed to claim one of the most surprising NASCAR championships in recent memory.
All stats courtesy of Racing Reference
Like Sportscasting on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter @sportscasting19 and subscribe to our YouTube channel.