Race Weekend Central

Tracking the Trucks: Grant Enfinger Smokes the Field at Milwaukee

After competing in the ARCA Menards Series race earlier in the afternoon to gain more track time, Grant Enfinger had a complete and utter clean sweep in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series’ return to the Milwaukee Mile by winning the pole, leading the most laps and sweeping the stages en route to his third win of the season.

See also
Grant Enfinger Advances to Round of 8 With Milwaukee Win

The win locks Enfinger into the Round of 8, joining Ty Majeski as the only two drivers to do so by virtue of wins. Enfinger’s win also comes days after his team, GMS Racing, announced that it would be ceasing operations at the end of the 2023 season.

“I don’t want to hear anybody asking if we’re going to lay down again,” Enfinger told FS1 in victory lane. “If anything, it adds clarity. None of these guys, including me, have a job next year. I feel like we proved we deserve one.”

In another interesting stat, the Milwaukee win was Enfinger’s 10th career Truck Series win. All 10 of his wins have come at 10 different tracks.

Top Truckers at Milwaukee Mile Speedway

Winner, Polesitter, Stage 1 and 2 Winner, and Most Laps Led (95 of 175): Enfinger
Rookie of the Race: Jake Garcia

Top Storylines of the Race

  • Several drivers who competed in the ARCA race a few hours prior also competed in the truck race. Most notably, Sean Hingorani made his Truck Series debut in Hattori Racing Enterprises’ No. 61 truck. He finished 23rd.
  • Dexter Bean revived BlackJack Racing, his own race team, to attempt to make the field in his self-owned No. 21. Bean competed in the last truck race at Milwaukee in 2009, where he finished 17th. Unfortunately, Bean was the sole driver that failed to qualify for the race. This marks his third straight race across the Xfinity and Truck Series where he has failed to qualify; he hasn’t started a premier series race since the Xfinity race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2021.
  • Greg Van Alst continued his streak of bad luck in NASCAR premier series races. While he finally didn’t finish dead last, his race ended early after a hung throttle sent him careening into Brad Perez, with both trucks sustaining heavy damage from the outside wall. Van Alst now has four DNFs in four starts across the Xfinity and Truck Series. After pulling out of full-time ARCA competition due to sponsorship and financial woes despite his win at Daytona International Speedway, Van Alst is looking for some stroke of good luck this season while finishing out the season with Young’s Motorsports.
  • Derek Kraus made his second start of the season (first since Daytona), this time driving Spire Motorsports’ No. 7. He ended up finishing eighth after finding himself as high as second in the closing laps.

The Winning Move

While Enfinger was the dominant truck of the day, he certainly had to earn it.

After a variety of pit strategies shuffled up the field, Enfinger found himself outside the top 10 on the penultimate restart. With several drivers ahead on older tires than Enfinger, he sliced his way up into the top five on the final restart. After methodically picking off drivers one at a time, he found himself with just one driver standing in his way of a third win: Carson Hocevar.

Hocevar was one of the drivers who played some strategy to stay up front late in the race and looked to be in position to hold off the No. 23 to gain his fourth win of the year. After Enfinger hounded Hocevar’s rear bumper for several laps, he finally made his move with 17 laps to go, taking the lead for good.

Hocevar didn’t let Enfinger scoot away, though. He sent his No. 42 deep into turn 3 and made contact with Enfinger, but both drivers managed to keep it straight. Enfinger ultimately had too much speed for Hocevar to contend with, and Hocevar finished 1.5 seconds behind Enfinger at the checkered flag.

Championship Rundown

What seemed to be a tame day for the playoff racers came unraveled toward the end of the race. Following a battle with William Sawalich that saw the rookie crash into the outside wall, Ben Rhodes was penalized for speeding on pit road under the ensuing caution and had to restart at the tail end of the field, ending his chances for a good day.

Immediately on the following restart, Nick Sanchez squeezed Corey Heim into the outside wall in turn 2. Heim then turned Sanchez into the outside wall in turn 3. As much as it looked like retaliation, it could have also been labeled a racing incident with several trucks ahead of the two on varying strategies.

While some playoff drivers’ races fell apart at the end of the race, Matt DiBenedetto could not seem to ever get his race going. After qualifying 23rd, DiBenedetto fell back early and went as far as two laps down. He was never able to catch cautions that could allow him to get his laps back, and ended up finishing a disappointing 27th, two laps behind Enfinger.

Enfinger and Majeski are locked into the Round of 8 on wins, while Heim and Christian Eckes have clinched spots in the next round based on points. Here’s what the playoff battle looks like behind these four drivers heading into the final race of the round at Kansas Speedway. Hocevar can clinch after stage one, while DiBenedetto might need some help if he wants to advance.

Rookie Report

After a quiet day, Jake Garcia sneaked into the top 10 late in the going, finishing a solid ninth. The top 10 result is his first since Nashville Superspeedway in June. The finish earns him Rookie of the Race.

No. 1 – William Sawalich (26th)
No. 2 – Nick Sanchez (24th)
No. 17 – Taylor Gray (13th)
No. 20 – Greg Van Alst (34th)
No. 24 – Rajah Caruth (14th)
No. 30 – Brad Perez (35th)
No. 32 – Bret Holmes (19th)
No. 33 – Derek Lemke (31st)
No. 35 – Jake Garcia (ninth)
No. 43 – Daniel Dye (28th)
No. 61 – Sean Hingorani (23rd)
No. 66 – Conner Jones (18th)

One Thought About This Race

Majeski’s championship hopes could be in serious trouble.

Despite being fastest in practice, trouble struck the No. 98 team before qualifying, as it failed pre-qualifying inspection multiple times — so many times, in fact, that the truck didn’t even clear inspection once until the morning of the race.

NASCAR ruled that the No. 98 had a ‘technical infraction.’ While it’s unclear what the specific infraction is, reports say that it has to do with a tire issue. This can be corroborated by the fact that NASCAR confiscated a right-rear tire from the No. 98 and will send it back to the R&D center for further assessment.

As a result, Majeski’s crew chief Joe Shear Jr. was ejected from the track. Majeski was forced to start at the rear of the field and serve a pass-through penalty on the first lap of the race. This didn’t seem to hamper Majeski, as he ended up rebounding for a seventh-place finish.

But with NASCAR really cracking down on tampering with fuel, tires, and engines, could the No. 98 team face a serious penalty? If that’s the case then ThorSport Racing needs to sit back and reflect: Why would you take a chance on bending the rules when you’re already locked into the next round of the playoffs?

NASCAR has really stepped up its penalties on the Cup Series side, and while we haven’t seen any real egregious penalties in the Xfinity or Truck Series, this could be the first time a driver gets the hammer thrown at them. NASCAR has made it clear that tires are not to be messed with. And it could cost the No. 98 team dearly.

See also
Carson Hocevar Comes Up Short at Milwaukee, Throws Shade at the No. 98 Team

Hocevar was one driver in support of the confiscation and any incoming penalties.

While Majeski likely won’t lose his playoff guarantee to the Round of 8, NASCAR could hit the team with a playoff points penalty that will put the No. 98 team behind the 8-ball in any subsequent rounds of the playoffs, which could cost the team a shot at a championship.

And that would be a shame, too, because Majeski has put together a solid season. To walk away without a championship by virtue of his team breaking the rules would be incredibly unfathomable.

Paint Scheme of the Race

Zane Smith had a relatively quiet day compared to other playoff drivers, coming home a respectable 12th.

His paint scheme on the other hand was quite loud — visually, at least.

Birch Gold returned aboard Smith’s No. 38, and it should be no surprise that gold was plastered all over the truck. The fake shine of the gold all over the truck alone made this the paint scheme of the race, but then you add in the chrome numbers and this is a paint scheme as good as gold.

Talkin’ Truckers

“[No.] 98 finally got their superpower taken away and now we can all race again.” – Hocevar with some fiery words after Majeski’s inspection issues. He elaborated more:

“We weren’t really that great today.” – Majeski on his top-10 finish:

“It’s tough to run with these guys that run every week.” – Kraus finishes eighth in his home race:

Van Alst and Perez give their vantage points of the accident that took both of them out of the race:

Stay Tuned!

Hearts will be broken in the Heartland.

The Craftsman Truck Series has yet another off week before returning to Kansas Speedway for the final race in the round of 10. Two drivers will face elimination from championship contention following the event. John Hunter Nemechek won the playoff race last year, while Enfinger coincidentally won the spring race earlier this season.

The Kansas Lottery 200 will take place on Friday, Sept. 8, with coverage set to begin on FS1 at 9 p.m. ET. MRN will have the radio broadcast on SiriusXM NASCAR.

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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