In a green-white-checkered race to the finish line, Chase Briscoe was able to fend off his ThorSport Racing teammate Grant Enfinger for the win in a last-lap thriller at Eldora Speedway. It was the closest finish at Eldora for the Truck Series with a margin of victory of .038 seconds.
After a series of late race cautions near the end, Briscoe, with fresher tires than race leader Logan Seavey, was able to restart up front alongside his teammate Grant Enfinger. Both of them battled side-by-side all the way to the checkered flag after the restart and even banged the wall at the finish.
“It means so much,” Briscoe said. “You know, I think Eldora, just in general, means a lot to people, but when you grow up with Sprint car roots and Sprint car backgrounds; I mean this place is our Daytona for dirt guys. So to be able to win this race, this is so special. There was one race that I wanted to win, it would definitely be this one. So it’s kind of surreal to me. Two years ago or three years ago, whenever (Christopher) Bell won, I came over (victory lane) here and was standing here, pumped that he won. We went to Waffle House later and maybe we’ll do that again tonight. Just unbelievable.”
“Thank you so much to these Ford guys for allowing me to come do this,” he said. “The ThorSport guys worked their tails off. I hate how I had to race the (Grant Enfinger) 98. We definitely roughed him up a little bit and this is not how I race, but part of it, I guess. Just thankful for the opportunity. It’ll probably be the only truck race I’m going to do this year. It’s good to end on a good note.”
Earlier in the day, there were five heat races including a last chance qualifier to set the 32 truck field. Last weeks winner, Ben Rhodes, and Todd Gilliland set the front row after winning the first two heat races.
Stage 1 was 40 laps and there were only three incidents that occurred. One on Lap 9 for 2016 Champion Johnny Sauter who spun around in Turn 2 and went a lap down. On Lap 20, Justin Fontaine in the No. 45 spun out and brought out the second caution, giving Sauter his lap back. Then the final incident in the first stage came on Lap 27, when Stewart Friesen was spun by Chris Windom with other trucks involved as well including Sheldon Creed and Cody Coughlin.
Kentucky winner, Ben Rhodes was able to win the first stage. The race was restarted on Lap 41 and went to lap 90 for Stage 2. On lap 45, Rhodes smacked the wall hard and had to come down pit road, eventually ending his night. He would ultimately finish 29th.
Then a little foreshadowing occurred for what the end of the race might be, as Briscoe held off teammate Enfinger for the stage win.
The final stage took place with 59 laps to go.
Briscoe and Enfinger made pit stops for fresh tires and were sent to the back of the field. During the early stages of the final stage, this saw dirt standout star, Logan Seavey, lead for a total of 53 laps until a late race caution came with 21 to go. This saw Tyler Dippel and Austin Self make contact in the turns, thus bunching the field up once more.
Seavey tried all he could to hold off the hard-charging Enfinger and Briscoe, but the late race cautions continued to hurt him as he had no tires. There were two more cautions near the end with less than five to go.
In the end, there was a green-white-checkered overtime finish. Enfinger and Briscoe pulled away from the rest of the field. The other 30 drivers had to watch a thrilling finish between Briscoe and Enfinger which ended by a .038 seconds margin with Briscoe as the winner.
Friesen, Matt Crafton and Noah Gragson rounded out the top five finishers in the Sixth Annual Eldora Dirt Derby.
It was Briscoe’s first win in the Truck Series since his victory at Homestead-Miami last year for the Brad Keselowski Racing team. This was his second career Truck Series win.
Briscoe led three times for 54 laps with seven lead changes among five drivers. There were nine cautions for 41 laps.
Sauter, who finished 16th, continues to lead the standings by 32 points over Gragson.