RICHMOND, Va. – After Ben Rhodes punted Grant Enfinger out of the lead to open the final stage of Thursday night’s ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway, Enfinger thought his chance at the win might be gone.
He had to pit with a left-rear tire rub and ended up a lap
But Enfinger put his head down, dug deep on fresh rubber late in the race, and ultimately passed another of his ThorSport Racing teammates – Matt Crafton – to score his third win of the season.
Enfinger clawed back from well outside the top 10, getting the free pass prior to the night’s final restart with 68 to go, and raced his way through traffic on fresher rubber than many of the leaders before getting the job done in the end.
He snuck into the top five inside of 50 to go and wrested second away with 24 laps left from Brett Moffitt before setting his sights on, and tracking down, Crafton at the head of the pack.
Finally, as Crafton was held up by Norm Benning exiting turn four coming to seven to go, Enfinger was able to get the momentum he needed to duck through the middle and ultimately pass Crafton on the inside at lap 244.
From there, Enfinger drove off to a 1.033-second victory at the three-quarter-mile, D-shaped oval for the fifth win of his NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series career.
It was Enfinger’s first time back in victory lane since winning two of the first four races of the year.
“This is definitely a special night for us,” Enfinger said. “It’s been a rough couple of months, but we’re blessed to have some great partners that have stuck behind us. … Even though the year started off really good, it’s been rocky lately. I’m thankful to Duke and Rhonda Thorson and everyone at ThorSport Racing that works on these trucks. We catch some flak sometimes, but tonight we had three trucks that legitimately could have won this race and I’m proud of that.
“I pretty much did the same thing (to Matt) that Ben did to me,” Enfinger added. “It seemed like he really wanted to be on the bottom, but we rolled the center really well. That was our advantage.”
On a night that only featured four cautions – including the two stage breaks – the final yellow came on lap 174 for a spinning Austin Wayne Self and then ran uninterrupted for the final 68-lap run to the finish.
Crafton did all he could to hang on at the front after passing Brett Moffitt with 32 to go to assume the point, but simply didn’t have the steam to run his teammate back down after being passed in traffic.
“Junior made the right pit call there; we weren’t going to win it off pit road,” Crafton noted. “Lapped traffic … they have a right to be out there like we do, but it’s aggravating sometimes when they don’t choose a lane. All in all, though, Grant had a little better truck than we did and ended up getting it.”
Ben Rhodes, who led a race-high 66 laps, came home third as part of a sweep of the top three spots by ThorSport Racing – the first time one team has accomplished that feat in the history of the Truck Series.
Rhodes also had a message for his winning teammate after the race, as well.
“He ought to be thanking me, because that contact set him up to win the race,” Rhodes grinned. “I think that was just hard short track racing. Grant’s a fierce competitor.”
Moffitt faded to fourth and Tyler Ankrum, one of the bubble drivers on the playoff grid entering the regular-season finale, completed the top five. Codie Rohrbaugh was sixth, the last truck on the lead lap.
Ankrum and Todd Gilliland, who came home 17th, secured the final two playoff spots that were available on points in the 10-driver postseason field with their runs Thursday night.
Derek Kraus was trying to bump his way into the playoffs, but struggled in the final two thirds of the race with his truck hitting the splitter and finished four laps down in 23rd.
The NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series playoffs begin Sept. 17 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
To view complete race results, advance to the next page.