Grant Enfinger rides strong Eldora debut to top five spot in points

Russell LaBounty/NKP

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

ROSSBURG, Ohio — Grant Enfinger parlayed a quiet night amid the bedlam around him to tally a sorely needed top five at Eldora Speedway and leap up the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings.

While it was his second-straight year coming to Eldora, this season was Enfinger’s first shot at running the race.

“This was my first time being behind the driver’s seat here at Eldora,” Enfinger told Kickin’ the Tires. “I was spotting last year.”

After a subpar showing in qualifying and a third-place finish in Qualifying Race 1, Enfinger took the green flag for the Eldora Dirt Derby in 11th. It was in the midst of those first laps that the Mobile, Alabama native made a decision that would lead him to a good finish.

Stick to the bottom.

“Everybody went to the bottom in the beginning while we were kind of in the middle, so I went to the bottom and it seemed to be pretty good,” Enfinger said. “When everybody else started to move up the track, I needed to go somewhere where they weren’t, so I kept going on the bottom and it worked for us.

“I could maintain up top, but couldn’t gain. That’s probably a lot more me in the driver’s seat than it is this truck, but we had a great Toyota Tundra today and yesterday. It was just a matter of me figuring this whole thing out.”

Riding the bottom lane, Enfinger stayed out of the trouble that befell many of his competitors and ascended through the field. The 32-year-old climbed to ninth in the opening 40-lap stage. By the end of Stage 2, he was up to sixth.

Over the final 60-lap stint Enfinger contended on a consistent basis, rising as high as third and challenging the leaders on a string of late restarts that gave his machine the first hint of damage on the night.

“We had a couple chances there toward the end with about 15 to go,” Enfinger said. We got pushed around a little bit, so I pushed back and ended up damaging our right front a little bit. But we had a good enough truck to overcome that.”

Though his attempts at the leaders ultimately proved unsuccessful, Enfinger held on to tally a fourth-place finish – his fifth top five in the last six races. As a result of his success and issues for playoff bubble drivers Ben Rhodes and Ryan Truex, Enfinger moved into fifth in the championship standings, 20 points clear of eighth-place Truex for the final current position in the eight-driver Truck Series playoffs.

The end goal for Enfinger moving forward is simple – win to get into the playoffs. But even he couldn’t help but acknowledge the importance of a good run in Eldora given his position in the point standings.

“Every race is a big race for us, but this helps,” Enfinger said. “Our goal is to win a race and lock is unto the playoffs, but we also have to play it smart. We got caught up in a mess last week in Kentucky, so we needed a good, solid night.

“I feel like we had a contending truck. Matt (Crafton) was the best truck at the end when it counted, but we were pretty good all day. I’m really happy, thankful to have Champion Power Equipment on board today. We’ve got about five races left with those guys, so hopefully we can get them in victory lane.”

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