By David Morgan, Associate Editor
BROWNSBURG, Ind. – The 2022 edition of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs started on the right foot for Grant Enfinger and GMS Racing, as he scored the victory in Friday night’s TSport 200 at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
With the win, Enfinger automatically advances to the second round of the Playoffs, allowing him and the team to be able to look further down the road and prepare for the tracks in the crucial Round of 8, which will determine which drivers will be racing for the championship at season’s end.
“We’re finally moving forward,” Enfinger said. “These are the first laps we’ve led since Atlanta or something. Terrible offseason. Not because of these guys behind me, but we’ve just been off a little bit as an organization.
“Can’t say enough to Mike Beam, Maury Gallagher, Ron Booth, everybody at GMS fabrication and everybody on this 23 team. We’ve been working so hard because we’ve been sucking. It hurts to say it, but we have had a terrible season to this point.
“We had a great Champion Power Equipment Chevrolet all day. It felt like every time we got the lead, a caution would come out and it’d put [Jeff] Hensley in a bad spot. I knew from experience to just trust his gut…. It’s a pretty special night. Very, very thankful.”
Enfinger showed speed throughout the race, staging a thrilling battle with Carson Hocevar in the first half of the race and then running down Ty Majeski with the laps winding down to take over the lead before the caution flag flew with nine laps to go in regulation.
Electing to make the trek down pit road for fresh tires under the caution, Enfinger relinquished the lead, but as is often the case on short tracks in the Truck Series, more caution flags lie ahead.
Climbing back up the leaderboard on each restart, Enfinger ran fourth when the green flag flew on the final restart, diving to the bottom of the track in Turn 1 and coming out the other side in prime position to retake the lead when Zane Smith and John Hunter Nemechek tangled, putting Nemechek in the wall.
When the field stormed into Turn 3, Enfinger pulled even with Smith, making the winning pass for the lead as the white flag flew. From there, it was all Enfinger as he pulled away to take the win.
Defending series champion Ben Rhodes finished the night in second place, having made some bold moves of his own to make his way through traffic, with Zane Smith coming home in third. Stewart Friesen finished fourth, followed by Corey Heim in fifth to give the Playoff drivers a clean sweep of the top-five.
“We drove through the whole field tonight multiple times,” Rhodes said. “I really hate that we had that penalty. I still don’t know what happened. I felt like I was holding my speed correctly. There are some really big bumps at the start finish line, which is the section that we got the penalty in – so I ‘m thinking maybe the bumps got me going faster that I thought I did or that the light showed.
“We came up through the field multiple times and circumstances kind of worked out in Grant’s (Enfinger) favor those last two restarts. He certainly had a truck to win, but I think our Dan-O’s Toyota Tundra was a lot faster than his truck. It’s a shame because I wanted to win the TSPORT 200 for my race team. This is their big event, and I just couldn’t get it done. I just need a few more laps and I know we could have got this Toyota Tundra into victory lane.”
The remainder of the top-10 went to Tyler Ankrum, Layne Riggs, Ty Majeski, Matt Crafton, and John Hunter Nemechek.
After the race there were some flared tempers, namely between Nemechek and the No. 17 team of Taylor Gray after Nemechek spun Gray from the lead with two laps to go in regulation, dropping Gray to 22nd on the final rundown.
“Those were private, but it is what it is,” Nemechek said of the post-race discussion. “I had a really fast Yahoo Toyota Tundra TRD Pro tonight. Sometimes you are the bug and sometimes you are the windshield. We were the bug tonight.”
Next up for the Truck Series will be the Worldwide Express 250 for Carrier Appreciation at Richmond Raceway on August 13.