DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Grant Enfinger stood on pit road Friday night after the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series season opener at Daytona Int’l Speedway, looked around and marveled at what he saw.
“I don’t guess it was a full moon, but man, it sure acted like it was,” Enfinger chuckled. “There was carnage and craziness everywhere tonight.”
The Alabama native’s assessment was absolutely accurate.
On a night when only nine of the 32 starters made it to the checkered flag, a race-record 11 cautions for 55 yellow-flag laps marred the proceedings, but also allowed Enfinger to rally from two laps down for a runner-up finish in the NextEra Energy Resources 250.
Enfinger was collected in the Big One at lap 54, sparked when a slowing Jordan Anderson was turned into the pack by Sheldon Creed, and sustained damage that would likely have taken him out of contention on a normal race night.
This wasn’t a normal race night, however, and the carnage kept piling up and collecting more trucks.
As caution flags kept waving, Enfinger worked closer and closer back to the front.
He got his first lap back after an incident between Timothy Peters and Clay Greenfield on the backstretch slowed the pace with seven to go, then picked up the lead lap again when a multi-truck accident with a lap and a half left sent the event into its first of two overtimes.
Enfinger worked his way through traffic during the opening overtime attempt, then lined up sixth for the second shot at overtime and quickly found his ThorSport Racing teammate Matt Crafton in the draft.
Together, the duo attempted to work together to draft up and pass leader Austin Hill for the win, but Hill through a huge block down the backstretch coming to the white flag that ultimately broke Crafton and Enfinger’s momentum and prevented them from completing their charge.
Enfinger ultimately hung Crafton on the outside just before the final lap, slipping down to the bottom behind Hill and chasing the Hattori Racing Enterprises No. 16 Toyota all the way back to the finish line.
After the race, Enfinger went through his gameplan and noted there wasn’t much more he could do.
“I gave Crafton a good shove right after the green flag through turns one and two, and Austin had too big of a lead at that point,” recalled Enfinger. “I thought, ‘perfect, we’re going to end up one and two right here,’ but he (Hill) just threw some major blocks that got Crafton checked up. If I would have bumped him again, it would have wrecked us.
“To be honest, I feel like that was probably our best opportunity to make something happen. I had another good run coming to the white – I had a really good shove – but my gut feeling was that once I tried to sneak out there, he would just fill the gap. I tried to give him a good shove and just didn’t have anybody lined up behind me there coming out of turn four to challenge.”
Even though he didn’t get the win, Enfinger was pleased to leave Daytona with a positive points day as he kicks off his quest for a Truck Series championship.
“To do what we did, go two laps down and get everything fixed … I’m proud of our guys, proud of the truck we brought here and proud of the speed we had,” Enfinger said. “We really did everything right all night, I think, and salvaged a good finish.
“The real season starts next week in Atlanta, and we’re ready for it.”