Race Weekend Central

Grant Enfinger Details Ending of GMS & Adjusting to CR7 Motorsports

Last year, Grant Enfinger was a controversial caution away from winning the Craftsman Truck Series championship with a team that was shutting down.

Despite his then-team GMS Racing’s announcement that it was ending its Truck program, Enfinger and the squad made it to the Championship 4 and finished runner-up in the standings. He may have even won the championship had Corey Heim not paid back Carson Hocevar to bring out the yellow flag.

But Enfinger was not a free agent for long.

The 10-time Truck Series winner quickly found a home at CR7 Motorsports, a team owned by Codie Rohrbaugh that Enfinger made nine starts for back in 2021 when ThorSport Racing had him splitting a truck with Christian Eckes. Despite racing for two different teams that season, Enfinger would’ve made the playoffs on points had he not missed a race early in the year due to not having a ride.

Enfinger reunited with Jeff Stankiewicz this year at the No. 9 truck. Stankiewicz was previously Enfinger’s crew chief for six of his ARCA Menards Series wins and his first career Truck win before spending the past few years with Sheldon Creed. Through the first six races, Enfinger has two top 10s and sits ninth in the standings.

Frontstretch caught up with Enfinger at Bristol Motor Speedway in March to discuss the final days at GMS and getting reacquainted with CR7 and Stankiewicz. Watch or read the interview below.

Michael Massie, Frontstretch: You’re [ninth] in points right now. How do you feel about the start of the season so far?

Grant Enfinger: Honestly, from a team standpoint, I feel really, really good. We have the right people in place. We have the right resources. There’s still some minor little kinks we’re working out at the shop, but overall I’m very, very happy.

We didn’t get the results we wanted at Daytona, didn’t really have the truck we wanted at Daytona. But we go the next week to Atlanta and had a truck that could win the race and contended for a win and just had a tire issue at the end that kind of took us out of contention there.

And then Vegas, we ended up ninth, which is probably what we deserved. We were a top-five truck at times and we were a 15th-place truck at times. So overall, that’s the three races that we have to take feedback from so far, but feel good about where we are as a team. We definitely are capable of good results and I feel like what we need right now is to kind of hammer out some top fives and be in contention for wins.

Massie: You come back to CR7. You were with them three years ago for a couple races. How’s the relationship going? Are there growing pains, or are you guys picking up where you left off?

Enfinger: The relationship is great. It’s always been great with with myself and Codie [Rohrbaugh, owner] and really the entire Grant County Mulch family. So that that relationship has always been there, and it’s just continued on.

Yeah, I would say there are some growing pains in the shop, just because we’ve changed so much. There’s so many good people that they had that are still there, and so many good people that we’ve brought in to try to elevate the team.

So it’s definitely not the same team that I drove for a few years ago, but it’s a lot of the same guys. And yeah, our relationship is the same. It’s just gotten stronger.

Massie: What’s Codie Rohrbaugh like? We don’t know a lot about him.

Enfinger: They take an incredible amount of pride in their racing. They’re all about racing, except when it comes to hunting season. And today evidently is the opening day of Turkey hunting — I’m not a hunter. Everybody in the family up there hunts.

So anyway, this is prime time for them, but how much they care about racing, they’re going to be here tonight, cheering us on as well. So just as a whole, just a good, wholesome family, Christian, guys that we can see eye-to-eye with and agree with on a personal standpoint and a racing standpoint.

Massie: You reunited with crew chief Jeff Stankiewicz. You won a bunch of races in ARCA with him, won your first truck race with him. What’s it like getting back with him all these years later?

Enfinger: Me and Jeff have continued our relationship when I wasn’t driving for him. So we were in communication. We talked to each other at each track. We talked, texted and called each other. So our relationship has picked up right where it left off.

But there are certain communication differences from — I haven’t driven one of his trucks in seven years. So my lingo has maybe changed a little bit, his has as well. And we both I feel like have gotten better at our craft.

There’s just little differences and little details that I feel like we’ve worked out. But man, I feel like we’re on the same page now. I feel like we’ve pretty well been on the same page. But there has been some growing differences, and we’ve just been learning about each other. The biggest thing is I truly believe in him as a crew chief. I believe in him as a leader of this team. And that’s gone really, really well.

Massie: Last year, GMS’ truck program shuts down. What was it like at the end there with you chasing the championship while the truck program is also shutting down?

Enfinger: I think all year, last year, there was a lot of noise going around in GMS Racing. There were rumors and then they come out and handled things great, in my opinion, and gave us all a heads-up that, ‘Hey, we are shutting the program down. We’re giving y’all a heads-up or giving the guys a good severance package.’

They handled things the right way. But yeah, that was at the beginning of the playoffs that we found out for sure that we’re not gonna have a team next year. So yeah, it’s a distraction for sure. But our guys did great last year and didn’t let the noise affect the trucks we were bringing to the track, didn’t let it affect our performance.

But yeah, as a driver, it’s obviously stressful. You don’t know when that next opportunity is coming. And, there are a lot of conversations held. A lot of behind-the-scenes conversations that I’m usually not involved in, I was involved in last year.

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Obviously, coming to CR7 Motorsports and doing everything with Michael, Sheldon and Codie Rohrbaugh and the whole Grant County Mulch family and the Champion relationship and the Chevrolet relationship, just bringing all that together and making it make sense for everybody and us being able to have the performance where we wanted it was a lot. And it was a lot going on while we were racing last year.

So yeah, to have that behind us and to where we’re just working now, and I think everybody’s pulling the rope in the same direction, it’s pretty gratifying to see the progress that we’ve made in the short amount of time that we’ve been doing it. But I’m very glad those distractions are behind us and we’re just focused on racing and winning right now.

Massie: How soon after you find out that news are you on the phone, making making calls, things like that? Right away?

Enfinger: There was noise before that. So I had been approached from other teams prior to that and I had been in communication with the management there at GMS Racing and with Maury [Gallagher, GMS owner] about all that stuff. So none of it was a complete surprise.

It was disappointing, but I would say there was just a lot of stuff going on to where I don’t think it caught anybody all the way off guard. It’s still disappointing news, it’s news you don’t want to hear, it’s news you don’t want your guys to hear, but it’d be hard for me to believe that it caught anybody by complete surprise.

So yeah, there was conversations going on from very early in the year last year, I feel like, to all the way to the end of the year when we got everything finalized. It was a lot of stress at the end of the day, but as a racecar driver and as anybody that’s in this racing industry, it’s part of life.

There’s always noise, always distractions, whether it’s a team shutting down, or whatever drama is going on at the current time. There is just always stuff going on, and I feel like, for the most part, we did a great job of not letting that help or hurt or distract at all on our performance. And at the same time, I’m very glad those days are behind me and [I can] focus on the task at hand CR7 Motorsports.

Massie: You had some really good showings in your CR7 starts in 2021. Is that what made you want to come back to this team, knowing that you guys really showed some promise together?

Enfinger: No, that wasn’t it at all. Actually, it was the relationship that I had with Codie and his family and the fact that I truly believed he wanted to build this team into something that I envisioned would be successful too.

I didn’t want to race for the team that I raced for in 2021. I wanted things to progress and to be where we could legitimately contend for championships and not squeak out a win every once in a while. To be contending for wins week in and week out.

And we’re a long way away from accomplishing that goal right now, as we sit and talk today, at Bristol, the fourth race of the season. But I truly believe we’re on that path and everybody is focused on achieving that goal.

Massie: That year, you missed one race, but you were in position on points to make the playoffs. But the rule about missing a race wouldn’t let you get in. Is that a rule that you think NASCAR could revisit? Or do you think that’s a good rule?

Enfinger: I don’t know. I mean, at the end of the day, I don’t think they care too much about my input on all that stuff. The rule is in place for a reason, right? Like, you don’t want somebody to win a race early on and skip a few races. That’s why that’s in there.

I do think that they give waivers like they’re going out of style if it’s something that benefits them or their people or whatever. And yeah, I definitely think that that was worthy of a waiver, for sure. I don’t necessarily think that they should change the rule by any means, because I think the rule is in place for a good reason.

About the author

Michael Massie is a writer for Frontstretch. Massie, a Richmond, Va. native, has been a NASCAR superfan since childhood, when he frequented races at Richmond International Raceway. Massie is a lover of short track racing and travels around to the ones in his region. Outside of motorsports, the Virginia Tech grad can be seen cheering on his beloved Hokies.

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