Race Weekend Central

Tracking the Trucks: Grant Enfinger Wins Gateway After Zane Smith, Ty Majeski Crash

Grant Enfinger won his second race of the 2023 Craftsman Truck Series season at World Wide Technology Raceway, holding off Christian Eckes on an overtime restart.

Enfinger led 65 laps, the most of anyone in the race, which was mostly thanks to a different strategy he and his No. 23 team utilized over about half the field. After staying out to win stage one, he found himself leading in the middle of the final stage before a caution for a spin from Chris Hacker allowed him to pit one more time without losing the time he would have lost under green flag conditions.

After that, Enfinger worked his way up to third, and it looked like he would finish between third and fifth until he was vaulted to the lead when Ty Majeski made contact with Zane Smith while fighting for the lead, wrecking both drivers.

With the win, Enfinger also takes home $50,000 courtesy of the Triple Truck Challenge. Ben Rhodes won the first race of “The Trip” at Charlotte Motor Speedway. On top of the excitement of winning the race and $50,000, Enfinger revealed to FOX Sports 1 in his post-race interview that he and his wife Michelle are expecting another baby. Congratulations to the Enfinger family.

Eckes finished second, followed by Stewart Friesen in third. Carson Hocevar finished fourth, and Chase Purdy gained a much-needed top five.

See also
Grant Enfinger Scores Truck Series Win at Gateway

Top Storylines of the Race

  • ARCA Menards Series driver Jesse Love made his Truck Series debut, his first of three scheduled starts with TRICON Garage. However, instead of driving the No. 1 all-star truck like he was scheduled to, Love ended up driving the No. 11, filling in for series points leader Corey Heim, who was unable to race due to an undisclosed illness. Toni Breidinger stepped into the No. 1 truck on short notice in Love’s place. TRICON is currently working to obtain a playoff waiver for Heim.
  • Stephen Mallozzi made his third career start and second of the season driving Reaume Brothers Racing’s second truck, the No. 34. The start didn’t come easy for Mallozzi, as he sold his car to acquire the funding necessary to make another start. In doing so, Mallozzi is now approved to run at any track of any length, hopefully expanding opportunities for him to make more starts in the series. However, his truck stalled on pit road early on in the race, and Mallozzi was all but forced to just ride around the rest of the race.
  • Conner Jones’ struggles in a truck continued, as he crashed in turn 1 on lap 66 and failed to finish for his second straight start. Along with an 18th at Martinsville Speedway, Jones is not getting as much experience as he has hoped in a truck.
  • Hailie Deegan tallied up another DNF in her 2023 season after crashing in turn 3 on lap 86, just 20 laps after teammate Jones’ crash. After being released from the infield care center, she was unable to be reached for comment.
  • On a day where temperatures reached around 120 degrees inside the truck (at least according to Hacker’s temperature gauge from his FOX Sports 1 onboard camera), several drivers were seen sitting next to their truck immediately after the race looking to catch their breath, including Hocevar and Purdy.
  • The race only featured just four different leaders on the day: Enfinger led four times for 65 laps (winning stage one), Majeski led four times for 55 laps, Smith led three times for 32 laps and Friesen led once for 10 laps (winning stage two).

The Winning Move

Following a caution for a spin by Lawless Alan, the restart with six to go saw Smith and Majeski battling for the lead off of turn two. But heading into turn three, Majeski washed up the hill and hit Smith, causing both trucks to crash hard into the outside wall, ending Majeski’s day.

Enfinger, who was running third at the time, suddenly found himself the leader, and ended up holding off Eckes on the overtime restart to give himself his first multi-win season since 2020.

See also
Gateway Truck Win Slips Away from Zane Smith, Ty Majeski After Late Collision

Championship Rundown

Enfinger’s win means that no one new locks themselves in, and with four races left and six drivers locked in, there’s still a possibility that the playoff field could consist of just regular season winners.

Amazingly, Heim maintains the points lead despite missing the race, albeit by just one point over Majeski. Majeski would have taken the point lead if it weren’t for his tangle with Smith. Smith meanwhile, lost third in points to Enfinger.

The recurring issues for Majeski and Smith the last few weeks, along with Heim’s absence from the race, have allowed several drivers to close in for the points lead. The top six in points are all separated by just 36 points.

Back at the cutline, Matt DiBenedetto holds just a seven-point cushion over Tanner Gray. Actually, just as the top six are separated by just 36 points, the bottom four drivers currently in the playoffs, along with 11th-place Gray and 12th-place Nick Sanchez, are separated by just 30 points. While it could be all for naught if more drivers find victory lane, there is currently no room for error for anyone from sixth through 12th.

Rookie Report

It’s easy to give Rookie of the Race to the highest finishing rookie, who in this case, was Sanchez in eighth. However, Rookie of the Race is going to Daniel Dye this week. Dye finished ninth in stage two, earning some much needed stage points, and spent a good portion of stage three battling with teammate Enfinger for the lead. A poor final pit stop relegated him to 11th, but it should not take away from the stellar day he had.

An honorable mention goes to Love for his ninth-place finish in his scheduled debut and unscheduled fill-in for Heim. Love was in the top five late in the race before slipping to ninth.

No. 1 – Toni Breidinger (24th)
No. 2 – Nick Sanchez (eighth)
No. 11 – Jesse Love (ninth)
No. 17 – Taylor Gray (13th)
No. 24 – Rajah Caruth (15th)
No. 32 – Bret Holmes (14th)
No. 34 – Stephen Mallozzi (31st)
No. 35 – Jake Garcia (10th)
No. 43 – Daniel Dye (11th)
No. 66 – Conner Jones (33rd)

One Thought About This Race

On more than one occasion, restarts were very disorganized, particularly on the bottom. It was widely expected that the top was the preferred lane on the restart, but anyone on the bottom got away without penalty.

The most egregious restart was at the end of stage one, when Enfinger, DiBenedetto and Jack Wood stayed out, and on the restart, Wood, who restarted behind DiBenedetto, held up the inside lane. Purdy and pretty much the entire inside lane tried to move out to go around him, and Wood would not let that happen.

The problem? Everyone changed lanes before reaching the start-finish line.

No penalties were issued. But it happened again on the stage two restart, when Purdy took a look inside of Eckes before even reaching the line. He eventually got passed by Friesen for position but was not penalized. There were at least one or two other instances where a driver changed lanes before making it to the line, but no penalties were issued.

So what’s the deal here? We’ve seen countless times that changing lanes before reaching the start-finish line is a no-no. Hell, 20 years ago, in 2003, in this very series, it cost Ted Musgrave a championship. So why was there no penalties issued to somebody? Anybody?

It seems rather inconsistent from the sanctioning body, who always seems to review restarts that are deemed all clear but doesn’t seem to bat an eye to restarts where drivers actually commit restart violations.

Paint Scheme of the Race

Welcome to the sport, GK Racing.

On May 29, it was announced that Truck Series veteran Clay Greenfield, along with wife Tandra, would return to the sport to form a new team called GK Racing.

The Greenfields make up 50% of the team ownership. Jordan and Theresa Kiss make up the other 50%. The Kiss family owns and operates Backyard Blues Pools, which has sponsored Greenfield since 2020.

The team unloaded the No. 95 Toyota on Friday, and its bright yellow and blue scheme that had previously adorned Greenfield’s former No. 84 continued to adorn this truck — and boy did it shine.

The best part of the paint scheme? The decklid looks like a pool: something that everyone in the stands probably wanted to jump into on a hot Saturday afternoon.

Unfortunately for Greenfield and GK, the truck didn’t even make it a lap. A crash involving Greenfield, Holmes and Caruth ended Greenfield’s day before lap one was complete.

Where to Next?

We’re off to the Music City for a chance to win a guitar.

The Truck Series will have two weeks off to rest and recharge before heading to Nashville Superspeedway. Ryan Preece is the only driver to win a Truck race at the track since it returned to the schedule in 2021, but the race is the last in the Triple Truck Challenge, meaning Preece will not have a chance to three-peat.

Speaking of the Triple Truck Challenge, another $50,000 is on the line, except for Enfinger and Rhodes, who will have a shot at $150,000 in Lebanon.

Coverage for the Rackley Roofing 200 begins at 8 p.m. ET on Friday, June 23, on FOX Sports 1.

About the author

Anthony Damcott joined Frontstretch in March 2022. Currently, he is an editor and co-authors Fire on Fridays (Fridays); he is also the primary Truck Series reporter/writer. A proud West Virginia Wesleyan College alum from Akron, Ohio, Anthony is now a grad student. He is a theatre actor and fight-choreographer-in-training in his free time. He is a loyal fan of the Cincinnati Reds and Carolina Panthers, still hopeful for a championship at some point in his lifetime.

You can keep up with Anthony by following @AnthonyDamcott on Twitter.

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Some smart Cup owner needs to sign Zane Smith and get him in a good Xfinity car. He turns 24 next week.

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