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For the first time since 2009, the stars of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series took to the Milwaukee Mile for the Clean Harbors 175, and it was veteran driver Grant Enfinger who was able to grab a pivotal win to lock himself into the Round of 8.
Enfinger absolutely dominated the event, starting on the pole and leading 95 of 175 laps. It wasn’t always easy for Enfinger though, as he had to drive back through the field a few times due to strategy plays by other teams on pit road. Each time, Enfinger showed he truly had the best truck in the field. He also swept the stages, grabbing more playoff points for his efforts.
“I don’t ever want to hear anybody ask if we’re gonna lay down again,” Enfinger told FS1. “(Crew Chief) Jeff Hensley has been focused the whole year, there’s been distractions going on all year long. If anything, that’s clear to me, is none of these guys have a job next year, including me.
“But we deserve one … I don’t know if we had a dominant truck, but we had a winning truck.”
Enfinger was referring to the announcement made earlier this week that GMS Racing would be shutting it’s program down at year’s end.
Carson Hocevar had a shot to win late by staying out when most of the leaders came in, and he held on for second after getting passed by Enfinger with 17 laps to go.
“The No. 23 was pretty good,” Hocevar said. “I thought I was better in [turns] 1 and 2, he was better in 3 and 4, we kind of evened out. Obviously the tire advantage was going to help, but I think it was just clean air … we have a truck that we can keep and continue with, just needed a little less laps.”
Heim had a little dust up with fellow playoff driver Nick Sanchez late in the race. Sanchez appeared to squeeze Heim into the fence off turn 2, and in the next set of corners, contact between the two sent Sanchez backward into the outside wall.
Sanchez now finds himself only three points above the cut line for the Round of 8. Below him, is former champion Ben Rhodes. Above him is Crafton, who is only 9 points above the cut line. And in addition to Enfinger, both Heim and Eckes advanced to the Round of 8 on points.
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Playoffs will continue at Kansas Speedway on Friday, Sept. 8. Coverage begins at 9:00 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
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