DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In a three-wide thriller right to the finish line, Grant Enfinger edged out Jordan Anderson to win Friday night’s NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
Driving for Truck Series powerhouse ThorSport Racing, Enfinger led four times for a race-high 41 laps and took the lead for good with four laps left, just before the dreaded Big One gobbled up the pack.
After contact between Todd Gilliland and Tate Fogleman sparked a 14-truck melee in the first turn, Enfinger lined up as the leader for an overtime restart, with Ross Chastain as his pusher on the inside.
In contrast, defending race winner Austin Hill gridded up outside of Enfinger with help from Toyota stablemate Derek Kraus, but the outside lane dissolved on the first lap of overtime, allowing Enfinger to pull ahead coming to the white flag as Zane Smith snaked through the pack to lead the top groove.
Heading into turn one on the final lap, Chastain started to dart high in an attempt to slingshot to the race lead, but nearly spun out when Enfinger threw a block up the banking to defend the position.
That shot his Niece Motorsports entry back through the pack, while Anderson snuck through behind Enfinger to grab the runner-up position coming onto the backstretch for the final time.
From there, Anderson worked with Enfinger to keep their pairing clear of the pack until the exit of turn four, when the owner/driver jumped high coming into the tri-oval and side-drafted Enfinger to stall out the momentum of the No. 98 Ford F-150.
Anderson moved toward the wall in an effort to escape, but Enfinger countered with a perfectly-timed door slam that broke Anderson’s run coming to the finish line and allowed him to edge ahead.
The margin of victory at the checkered flag was .01 seconds, the closest ever in the Truck Series’ 21-year history of racing at Daytona, with Enfinger collecting the spoils following his third-career win.
Friday night broke a 28-race drought for the Alabama veteran, who won last year’s regular-season title.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said Enfinger in victory lane. “It’s the 100th win for Ford in the series – unbelievable for them. God blessed us with a great opportunity to come out here and pull it off tonight.
“The biggest thing is we had a really good F-150 to (win) with. I made a mistake there with about 20 to go and got hung up there in the sucker hole. I pulled up in front of Ben (Rhodes) too late, and it was either going to wreck me or put me in the middle, and that’s what happened,” Enfinger added. “It got to be about four or five laps to go, and it was time to go.
“We were able to get up in the third groove and make some stuff happen and get the lead just before that last big wreck.”
The race went six laps beyond its scheduled distance, ending after 106 tours of the 2.5-mile oval, but it was the last lap that wrote both the storybook – and heartbreaking – headlines.
While an elated Enfinger celebrated in victory lane, Anderson stood with nearly as big a smile on pit road following a second-place finish, the first top five for him in 102 Truck Series starts.
The smile didn’t mean he wasn’t wondering what could have been, however.
“Grant, what are you doing door-slamming me, man?” Anderson said with a laugh as he watched the replay of the final scramble to the finish. “I came here in 2015 and emptied my bank account to try to come down here and run. To be in a position to even go for a win at Daytona, man … I’m a kid that just wanted to go racing from South Carolina.
“I thought we set him up good. We tried to follow Ross (Chastain) there and push him. I know he got loose, and I got up on Grant’s bumper there in (turn) four and got a good run,” Anderson added. “It was like NASCAR Thunder 2003 all over again. I’m like, ‘God, I can do this!’ And I pushed him out of the way, and I thought we had it.
“So close, man! This is – Daytona, we almost won!”
Codie Rohrbaugh nearly snookered both Enfinger and Rohrbaugh with a full head of steam on the bottom coming to the stripe, but ran out of time and finished third, .07 seconds adrift of the win.
Derek Kraus rallied from losing a wheel weight in the first stage and losing a lap to finish fourth, with Natalie Decker crossing fifth and earning the highest finish by a woman in Truck Series history.
Hill dropped to sixth after restarting on the front row to kick off overtime, with Johnny Sauter seventh and Chastain hanging on for eighth at the flag. Sheldon Creed and Jason White completed the top 10.
In addition to the lap-98 Big One, a second dramatic accident marred the opening stage after Ty Majeski got upside down in turn one on the 16th rotation. Majeski was uninjured in the spectacular incident.
To view complete race results, advance to the next page.