Race Weekend Central

Tracking the Trucks: Grant Enfinger Leads ThorSport 1-2-3 Finish at Richmond

In a Nutshell: Grant Enfinger scored his third win of the 2020 season when he raced down and passed teammate Matt Crafton in the closing laps of the ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway Thursday night (Sept. 10).

“This win gives us a lot of momentum heading into the playoffs,” Enfinger said. “We needed it. It’s been a rough past month and a half to two months. We just been a little off on speed but haven’t been terrible. It felt great to not only find some speed tonight but to have ThorSport Racing (finish) one-two-three is also awesome.”

Enfinger recovered from going a lap down earlier in the race after contact with teammate Ben Rhodes caused a significant tire rub. Rhodes ended up third, while Zane Smith and Sheldon Creed rounded out the top-five finishers.

Race Rundown:

Playoff Field Set, Austin Hill Snags Regular Season Championship

When the checkered flag flew over Richmond Thursday night, the 2020 Truck Series playoff field was set. But before the race ended, Austin Hill clinched the regular season championship and the 15 bonus points that come along with it.

Creed, with three victories and five stage wins, will lead the way headed into the playoffs. Just four points back, Zane Smith and Hill are tied. Enfinger and Brett Moffitt round out the top five.

Rhodes is seeded sixth, followed by ThorSport Racing teammate Crafton. Rookie Christian Eckes sits eight, 21 points behind the leader.

Todd Gilliland and Tyler Ankrum, who had to wait until the checkered flag flew at Richmond to know whether they would race for a championship this season, sit ninth and 10th, respectively. The pair, separated by a single point, are currently below the cut line for the Round of 8 but have three races to make their way into the top eight.

Meanwhile, Derek Kraus, who entered Richmond with a realistic shot at making the playoffs, struggled throughout.

“We kind of knew right away. The first two laps it took off fine. I was able to roll the top really well,” Kraus explained. “I think I was passing for fourth or something, and then all of a sudden, it just started laying on the splitter and hitting the race track really hard. It kind of threw out the parachute after that, and just kind of went to the back. It was just on the splitter really hard, and I couldn’t do anything about it.

“I hope something broke in the front to cause it to do what it was doing. It was on the splitter the whole race, nothing they did kept it off of it or made it any better. We are thinking something broke. My NAPA Toyota guys never gave up on it. They tried their best to do what they could do, but something was probably broke.”

He ended up 23rd and missed the playoff field by 13 points.

Johnny Sauter Falls Flat Again

The story of Johnny Sauter‘s 2020 is almost comical at this point… Three of his teammates are will race for the championship, while he’s gone nowhere most of the season.

Within the first 10 laps, he was forced down pit road for an unscheduled pit stop for what he thought was a tire going down.

The problems didn’t improve with the new right side tires either as Sauter struggled throughout the race. Needless to say, he wasn’t at all pleased with the truck or the problems he faced.

When the checkered flag flew, three of his teammates celebrated a 1-2-3 finish while Sauter ended up 27th, eight laps down. It’s his third straight finish outside the top 25, and barring some major improvements over the next seven races, 2020 will go down as Sauter’s worst since he started racing in the series full time in 2009.

Quick Hits:

  • Though it was 15 years apart, Jeff Hensley has won back-to-back races at Richmond. He was atop the pit box for Mike Skinner’s winning effort in 2005 and led Grant Enfinger’s team to their third win of the season.
  • ThorSport Racing teammates Grant Enfinger, Matt Crafton and Ben Rhodes took the checkered flag 1-2-3 at Richmond, making the organization the first in the history of the Truck Series to accomplish the feat. All three drivers will compete in the playoffs and try to bring the team its fourth championship.
  • Before the race even began, Trevor Bayne found himself on pit road with problems getting the truck fired and then a brake issue. After starting at the rear of the field and struggling with his brakes throughout, he ended up 29th, 11 laps down. Since his return to racing last weekend at Darlington Raceway, it’s the second time mechanical issues have plagued Bayne’s effort. He replaced Ty Majeski in the No. 45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet this week and is expected to compete for the organization again at Bristol next weekend.

  • After taking a couple weekends off to regroup as a team, Codie Rohrbaugh entered Richmond with high hopes of a strong run. He did just that with a sixth-place finish, his second top 10 this season and a career-best on a non-superspeedway track. Rohrbaugh finished third in the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway in February.
  • It’s too little, too late for the playoffs, but Stewart Friesen posted his fifth straight top 10 with a 10th-place run at Richmond. But perhaps what’s more important than the results is that, especially in the last two races, Friesen has shown the speed to run closer to the front of the field than he has most of the year. It’s a glimmer of hope for a team that’s essentially built itself back up from scratch this season.

Rookie Report

2020 Rookie of the Year Candidates

Tate Fogleman – No. 02 Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet
Raphael Lessard – No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota
Spencer Davis – No. 11 Spencer Davis Motorsports Toyota
Zane Smith – No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet
Tanner Gray – No. 15 DGR-Crosley Ford
Christian Eckes – No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota
Derek Kraus – No. 19 McAnally-Hilgemann Racing Toyota
Ty Majeski – No. 45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet

Number of Rookies in Race: 6

Number of Rookies finishing in the Top 10: 0

Rookie of the Race: Zane Smith, finished 11th

Points Update: The playoff field is set and 10 drivers will fight through Bristol Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway to make the Round of 8.

Derek Kraus leads the rest of the field and is 64 markers ahead of fellow rookie Raphael Lessard. Stewart Friesen sits 13th, followed by Tanner Gray, and Johnny Sauter rounds out the top 15 in the standings.

Series-regular winners this season: Grant Enfinger (Daytona, Atlanta, Richmond), Sheldon Creed (Kentucky, Daytona road course, Gateway), Austin Hill (Kansas 1), Matt Crafton (Kansas 2), Zane Smith (Michigan, Dover), Ben Rhodes (Darlington)



Up Next: The Truck Series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway next Thursday night for the first race in the Round of 10. Coverage for the UNOH 200 presented by Ohio Logistics begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate or SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90.

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