By David Morgan, Associate Editor
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – ThorSport Racing came to Daytona locked and loaded with five bullets aimed toward a victory in the season opener. By the time all was said and done, they were left with just two, as Grant Enfinger and Matt Crafton both delivered top-five finishes on the night.
Surviving a marathon crashfest that featured 11 cautions and stretched the race into two overtime periods, Enfinger and Crafton, both of whom had never won at Daytona, seemed to be in the catbird seat to finally break through and capture that elusive victory at the World Center of Racing after rebounding from issues earlier in the event.
However, even the best laid plans can go awry in restrictor plate racing and the two weren’t able to stick together in the draft, leaving Enfinger to face off with eventual winner Austin Hill, finishing second, while Crafton fell back and had to fight his way back to fifth place in the closing lap.
“It was a crazy night,” Enfinger recounted. “Daytona gets like that sometimes. The Xfinity race last year was like this. Man, I don’t guess it was a full moon, but it sure acted like it. Carnage everywhere.
“To do what we did, going two laps down, getting everything fixed, I’m proud of our guys. The truck we brought here had good speed. We really did everything right I think and were able to salvage a good finish. Now the real season starts next week at Atlanta.”
Enfinger’s runner-up finish marks his best finish ever at Daytona, besting a sixth-place finish from last year, while Crafton is now 0-for-19 in his starts at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.
Despite the disappointment of not being able to bring home the trophy, both drivers were glad to be able to survive the carnage and move onto next week with their trucks still relatively in one piece.
“All in all, we finished top-five. Didn’t end upside down or crashed. As aggravating as it is, we’ll get out of here with a bunch of points and go to Atlanta, my favorite race track,” Crafton said.