After an overtime restart, Grant Enfinger narrowly won in a photo-finish against Jordan Anderson coming to the line. The two drivers beat and banged off one another until the checkered flag flew at Daytona International Speedway. However, in what was the closest Truck Series race in history, the Alabama native, Enfinger, broke a two-year drought dating back to Las Vegas.
“It would have been a good story for Jordan to win, but it was a better story for us,” Enfinger said to MRN Radio. “He gave us some good shoves there and I knew he was going to try and make a move and he did. I wasn’t confident the bottom line was going to carry or not, but I was 100% confident in my spotter Chris Lambert as he talked me through there good. I gave some shoves and tried to block his momentum, and get off of him and I kind of stalled him to eventually beat him back to the line. Just an unbelievable Ford F-150 we had here, 100th win for Ford in the Truck Series, the 25th anniversary for Duke and Rhonda Thorson. God has blessed me with an incredible opportunity and maybe this season is the year for us.”
Tonight’s race at Daytona was the season opener for the NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series. Though race fans would have to wait a little while after the scheduled start time as a small rain shower moved through the area delaying the start of the race by more than half an hour.
Stages were broken into 20/20/60 laps to make up the 100-lap race and rookie Riley Herbst was on the pole.
Stage 1: Lap 1- Lap 20
It appeared Stage 1 was going to be calm and collected with no incidents. However, a big incident occurred with five to go, as the No. 45 of Ty Majeski’s truck went upside down on its roof going into Turn 1 causing a red flag. Based on a replay, the No. 38 of Todd Gilliland made slight contact with the No. 12 of Tate Fogleman who then bumped into the No. 22 of Austin Wayne Self, while the two collected Majeski’s truck which made him flip. This incident would cause a seven-minute and 59 seconds red flag.
A one-lap dash would set up a restart in Stage 1. Pole sitter Herbst took the stage win, while Tyler Ankrum, Christian Eckes, Brett Moffitt, Johnny Sauter, Stewart Friesen, Austin Hill, Grant Enfinger, Raphael Lessard and Todd Gilliland completed the top-10 for Stage 1.
Stage 2: Lap 25- Lap 40
There were no incidents in this stage as it went green the whole way. However, the No. 21 of Zane Smith had a window net down and was black flagged, and had to come down pit road to fix his issue. Then on Lap 35, the No. 9 of Codie Rohrbaugh got turned coming to pit road but saved the truck from crashing and no caution was thrown.
Enfinger would wind up winning the second stage as Ben Rhodes, Ankrum, Hill, Herbst, Lessard, Friesen, Sauter and Sheldon Creed were the top-10 finishers in Stage 2.
Stage 3: Lap 45- Lap 104
There was a 20 lap green flag run taking place from Lap 45 to Lap 65. In fact, a few laps after lap 65, several drivers were thinking about making their last pit stop of the night in the coming laps. But a caution slowed the pace when the No. 00 of Angela Ruch spun in Turn 3 and caused a multi-vehicle wreck. Fogleman, Bryan Dauzat, Eckes, Smith and Brennan Poole were among the ones involved in the incident.
A restart came with 25 to go and things were shaping up for another exciting finish at Daytona, especially in the Truck Series. The Trucks were racing hard all night and some drivers were making big risky moves in hopes of winning the race or pulling off the upset. In fact, in the first time around it looked like there was going to be a photo-finish as the trucks were three wide several rows back. As normally happens with Daytona late in the race, a caution came out for a big wreck in Turns 1 and 2.
The No. 99 of Ben Rhodes got loose and almost took out race winner Enfinger in the process, but instead took out several other drivers including, Ankrum, Tanner Gray, Sauter, Herbst, Crafton, Gilliland, Friesen, Gus Dean, Jesse Little, Korbin Forrister and Eckes to name a few.
Eventually, this put some drivers who had been riding around in the back the whole race up front at the end with a shot to win.
The caution set up an overtime restart on Lap 104, just four laps past the advertised distance. On the white flag, the No. 40 of Ross Chastain had a huge run on Enfinger but Enfinger blocked and Chastain got shuffled out of the draft. The racing wasn’t done yet. This set up an unique opportunity for fan favorite and a potential upset, Jordan Anderson, who was running second with a head of momentum.
Eagerly trying to find a way and time his moment to make the move, Anderson pulled out just a few feet from the finish line to try to pass Enfinger. Enfinger saw Anderson on the outside and the two bounced off one another, but in the end, it was the Alabama native Enfinger who took home the checkered flag just inches ahead of Anderson.
“We had a good Ford F-150 last year,” Enfinger added to MRN Radio. “We could push pretty good, but we couldn’t lead. We tried to make improvements for Talladega, but we were terrible there. The guys at ThorSport Racing cut everything off of here. The roof, the chassis, everything in sight and we came back with a really good piece, and that was the difference. I fell into the sucker hole with 20 laps to go and I thought I lost my opportunity. Then I thought they were going to wreck, so I tried to get to an escape root to the bottom and they didn’t wreck. When it was time to go, I shot to the outside and was able to avoid that mayhem.”
The win was Enfinger’s third win of his career and his first since Las Vegas in 2018, breaking a two-year win drought. He led four times for 41 laps and picked up six playoff points en route to victory.
As Anderson watched the replay on pit road and his excitement was evident.
“Grant, Grant, what are you doing door-slamming me man? 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) 4 and got a good run. 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.”
There were five cautions for 26 laps including one red flag along with 15 lead changes among seven different drivers.
- Grant Enfinger, led 41 laps, won Stage 2
- Jordan Anderson
- Codie Rohrbaugh
- Derek Kraus
- Natalie Decker
- Austin Hill, led 11 laps
- Johnny Sauter
- Ross Chastain
- Sheldon Creed, led two laps
- Jason White
- Zane Smith
- Riley Herbst, led 21 laps
- Brett Moffitt
- Cory Roper
- Matt Crafton
- Todd Gilliland
- Brennan Poole
- Korbin Forrister
- Spencer Boyd, one lap down
- Raphael Lessard, one lap down
- Stewart Friesen, one lap down, led 13 laps
- Christian Eckes, one lap down, Stage 1 winner
- Tanner Gray, OUT, Accident
- Jesse Little, OUT, Accident
- Ben Rhodes, OUT, Accident, led 17 laps
- Gus Dean, OUT, Accident
- Tyler Ankrum, OUT, Accident
- Angela Ruch, OUT, Accident
- Bryan Dauzat, OUT, Accident
- Tate Fogleman, OUT, Accident
- Austin Wayne Self, OUT, Accident
- Ty Majeski, OUT, Accident