Race Weekend Central

Grant Enfinger Back in Victory Lane in Truck Return to IRP

In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ return to Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, it was GMS Racing’s Grant Enfinger who emerged from the chaos of an overtime restart to claim his first win of 2022 in the TSport 200 Friday, July 29.

It was the gutsy call to pit from the lead on lap 194 from crew chief Jeff Hensley that put Enfinger back in the pack with fresh tires to start the first of two NASCAR overtimes. In one lap, he cracked the top five.

Restarting from row two in the second overtime, Enfinger had to pass an aggressive Zane Smith, who himself had to muscle past John Hunter Nemechek, to claim his first win of 2022, the eighth of his career and his first since October 2020.

After entering the playoffs seeded ninth, Enfinger leaves IRP locked into the second round of the postseason.

“We’re finally moving forward at all,” Enfinger told FOX from Victory Lane on the frontstretch. “This is the first laps we’ve led since Atlanta [in March] or something … we’ve just been off a little bit as an organization … it hurts to say it, but we’ve had a terrible season to this point … felt like every time we got the lead a caution would come out. It put Hensley in a bad spot, [but] I knew from experience to just trust his gut.”

Ben Rhodes, also on fresh tires, edged out Smith for second place, with Stewart Friesen and Corey Heim completing the top five.

Tyler Ankrum scored his best result of the season in sixth, while Layne Riggs came home with a seventh-place run in his first Truck Series start.

Ty Majeski, Matt Crafton and Nemechek rounded out the top 10.

Nemechek started from pole and led every lap to win the first stage, his fourth of the season, but he had to hold off his young teammate Chandler Smith to do so. 

The first caution of the evening came out early for Josh Reaume and Spencer Boyd’s fiery crash while battling at the back of the field. Reaume looped his No. 33 again 10 laps later, but the stage otherwise went caution-free. 

Crafton was, as FOX’s Vince Welch described, “on the struggle bus” early. While the other 10 playoff competitors locked out nine of the top 10 positions, the three-time series champion faded outside the top 20, and not even an early pit stop for tires and adjustments could bring the No. 88 toward the front by the green-and-white checkers on lap 60. 

A slide job into turn 1 gave Hocevar the race lead on the lap 71 restart, but the fast No. 23 Chevy of Enfinger soon closed in. From lap 84 to 105, the two championship contenders battled side by side, until Enfinger was finally able to make a clean move to take the race lead. 

But Nemechek’s spin off of lapped Kris Wright while battling Chandler Smith for third brought out the caution. Enfinger and Hocevar came to pit road while other contenders, including Rhodes and Smith, stayed out. 

The restart went full IRP crazy. Majeski took the lead on fresh tires and ran away with the stage two win, but it was Smith vs. Smith for fourth place, and it soon got physical. On lap 119 Zane drove deep into turn one, slid up into Chandler and carried both of them into the outside wall.

Majeski started stage three strong, pulling out a lead over Enfinger, Friesen and Nemechek. 

On lap 148, Niece Motorsports’ Lawless Alan got turned sideways in the middle of a four-wide battle down the backstretch. Alan’s No. 45 Chevy hit hard against the bare concrete on the backstretch and came to a stop at the entrance to pit road, bringing out the yellow flag once again.

A strong move from Majeski on the restart put the No. 66 Thorsport Racing Toyota back to the front, and he opened a gap of about two seconds on second-place Enfinger. 

With 11 laps to go, Enfinger came out of nowhere, closing the gap in traffic and sweeping around Majeski for the lead. 

Two laps later, it looked all for naught, as Hocevar retaliated against a bump and run by sending Colby Howard nose first into the Turn 1 wall . 

The caution split the leaders on strategy. While Enfinger, Rhodes, Friesen and others took tires, Nemechek and Taylor Gray stayed out.

On the first overtime restart, 17-year-old Gray got the jump on leader Nemechek, clearing him on the exit of turn 2. Nemechek drove it deep into turn three, spinning Gray’s No. 17 in front of the field. 

Speaking to FOX’s Josh Sims after the race, Nemechek chose not to explain his post-race conversations with the No. 17 team, saying “those [conversations] were private … it is what it is. Had a really fast Yahoo Toyota Tundra TRD Pro tonight, but sometimes you’re the bug, and sometimes you’re the windshield, and we were the bug tonight … I tried driving down in the bottom of [turn] three underneath the [No.] 17, and just kept sliding … tried to stay off of him. That team has their opinion and I have my opinion.”

With Enfinger locked in, seven spots in the Round of 10 are still up for grabs as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs continue Saturday, Aug. 13, at Richmond Raceway.

2022 Truck Series IRP Results

About the author

Jack Swansey primarily covers open-wheel racing for Frontstretch and co-hosts The Pit Straight Podcast, but you can also catch him writing about NASCAR, sports cars, and anything else with four wheels and a motor. Originally from North Carolina and now residing in Los Angeles, he joined the site as Sunday news writer midway through 2022 and is an avid collector (some would say hoarder) of die-cast cars.

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