By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Stage 2 was a chaotic mess in Thursday’s Buckle Up Your Truck 225 at Kentucky Speedway and it bit NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series points leader Grant Enfinger on Lap 65.
On a late stage restart, the pole sitter restarted on the inside as race leader Brandon Jones, who had worked his way up to the front after starting 27th, chose the top groove as the field took the green flag.
Enfinger’s teammate Matt Crafton pushed Jones to get the strong advantage, but it didn’t stop Enfinger of quickly catching the Xfinity Series regular for the race lead.
Then heading into Turn 3, Enfinger gained tremendous ground and was attempting a slide job on Jones before his No. 98 Ford F-150 lost control on the non-traction compound and got into the side of Jones No. 51 Toyota Tundra.
This sent both drivers into the wall, resulting Jones’ truck engulfing in flames as drivers tried to avoid both wounded trucks, including Jones’ teammate Harrison Burton, who got by unscathed. Crafton would head on to win his third stage victory of 2019.
Once the carnage mellowed down, their accident meant neither driver would see the finish of the 150-lap race. Both were okay and gave their thoughts about their race ending early before going their separate paths.
Enfinger admitted fault for getting loose and not clearing Jones as Thursday’s crash marked his first DNF since Phoenix in November 2017, 36 races ago.
“I just screwed up,” said Enfinger. “I lost a little bit on that restart and then I got a big suck down the back straightaway going into Turn 3. I got separated enough, I felt like to clear him and go ahead and slide up there, and just didn’t all the way clear him.
“Then I just lost my air and wreck it. That’s all on me, trying to make something happen and it didn’t panned out.”
Jones has shifted his Truck Series focus to ISM Raceway in November, his last scheduled race with Kyle Busch Motorsports. However, he felt that Enfinger didn’t have momentum of clearing him to pull off the slide job and was warned over the radio about his run in advance.
“I heard the run on my radio and what he had on me. We’re so competitive up on the front row that to do slide jobs, you really got to have a good truck to do it. I don’t think he had enough momentum and it ended in an unfortunate way.”
While Jones will run Friday’s Xfinity Series race at Kentucky, Enfinger’s next race will be Pocono Raceway for the running of the Gander Outdoors 150 July 27. Although he lost some of his once 52-point championship lead, he still has three races to defend his points lead and if he stays on top after the Corrigan Oil 200 at Michigan International Speedway August 10, he’ll be the regular season champion.