GMS Racing NCTS Race Preview: Bristol Motor Speedway

Race Information

– Round: NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race no. 20 of 23 (Playoffs Round of 8)

– Track Location: Bristol Motor Speedway – Bristol, Tennessee

– Race Name: UNOH 200 Presented by Ohio Logistics

Broadcast: Thursday, September 14th at 8:00 PM ET live on FS1 (TV), MRN (Radio), and Sirius XM NASCAR Channel 90

– Team Entrants:

Grant Enfinger, No. 23 Champion Power Equipment Chevrolet Silverado RST

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Bristol Motor Speedway Stats

– NCTS Starts: 6; Poles: 1 (2020); Best finish: 2nd (2021); Top 5s: 4; Top 10s: 6; Laps led: 57

2023 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Season Stats

– Starts: 19; Wins: 3 (Kansas I, WWT Raceway, Milwaukee); Poles: 1 (Milwaukee); Stage wins: 3; Top 5s: 7; Top 10s: 10; Laps led: 232; Current points position: 3rd

 

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– Chassis History/Info: Enfinger and the No. 23 team will compete with GMS Racing chassis no. 357 at Bristol on Thursday night. This chassis, which was the newest built by GMS Fabrication, only has one race on its rep sheet. The race? Milwaukee, where he used it to dominate just a few weeks ago. Winning the pole, both stages, and the race win making it a clean sweep, this Silverado RST is a beast, toting 95 laps led out front.

Bristol Strength: One of the series’ best short track racers, Enfinger has had Bristol circled on his calendar all year long. He says that a win here would be crucial for the entire team, because it gives them the most time to prepare for Phoenix. Out of all current NCTS drivers with multiple starts in “Thunder Valley”, Grant holds the best average finish of 5.2, as well as the best average start of 6.2. Though he hasn’t won before at the track yet, he’s come very close – finishing second in 2021 and fourth in 2017 and 2022.

Hensley at Bristol: Jeff Hensley has been coming to Bristol for a long time, calling his first race in 1987. Since 2004, he has made 18 total Truck Series starts at the short track, visiting victory lane once before with Mike Skinner in 2005 on top of his pole with Enfinger in 2020. Hensley’s trucks have led 303 laps and finished in the top-10 10 times, with five of those finishes also being top-five results. Jeff has also called 29 NASCAR Xfinity Series races at BMS, with highlights that include a pole award in 1991 and a runner up finish the following year. His Xfinity Series cars have led 122 laps and finished in the top-10 eight times, including three top-five finishes.

GMS Racing at Bristol: As a whole, GMS Racing as an organization has been very successful at Bristol Motor Speedway. With four Truck Series wins (including 2016 with Ben Kennedy, 2018 with Johnny Sauter, 2019 with Brett Moffitt, and 2020 with Sam Mayer), one ARCA win (2020 with Sam Mayer), and two ARCA East Series wins (sweeping 2019 with Sam Mayer), the team has always been one of the top contenders at “The World’s Fastest Half Mile”.

– #FearTheFinger Playoffs Profile: Grant Enfinger enters the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Playoffs “Round of 8” seeded third in the points standings. Hoisting three wins this season at Kansas Speedway, World Wide Technology Raceway, and the Milwaukee Mile, on top of three stage wins, his total playoffs points count is 24, tied for second highest in the series. Due to a tight points battle, he enters the round only two points above the cutline. The good news for him: he’s ran well in the past at all three of the tracks in this round, and looks to earn his second birth in the Championship 4 at Phoenix.

– From The Drivers Seat: How much pressure, if any, are you putting on yourself in the Round of 8? Which race is going to be the most important to shine in?

“Obviously this Round of 8 is tough, and we have three very different tracks in this round. Our GMS team puts a lot into every race, but we’ve put everything we have into Bristol. It’ll be important to have speed, but it’s just as important to have a truck that you can drive hard every lap. Everything happens so fast at Bristol so you have to be on your game all race long. GMS Racing has had a lot of success at Bristol in the past, and we are hoping to add to that on Thursday.”

– From The Pit Box (Jeff Hensley): What’s going to be the main focus for you as you approach these next three races from a strategy perspective?

“Well, for us the easiest way to get to Phoenix is to win, obviously. That’s always been our main emphasis. I mean yeah, you can point your way in because there’s four spots and only three races, so you’ll only have the three winners, but we want to win. Bristol this weekend, track position will be everything, so we need to go there and be fast. If we can win Bristol, that’ll be a game changer for us through to Phoenix. If we can do that, then we can be even more aggressive at Talladega and Homestead. You’ve got to be aggressive at all three of these racetracks, because winning is the main goal, but you have to be aware of if you can get stage points and good finishes. I’d rather win Bristol though because that way, you don’t have to worry about anything.”

 

Rajah Caruth, No. 24 Wendell Scott Foundation Chevrolet Silverado RST

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Bristol Motor Speedway Stats

– Rajah Caruth will compete in his first NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Bristol on Friday night.

– NCTS Starts: 1; Best start: 14th (2022); Best finish: 34th (2022)

– ARCA Starts: 2; Best start: 7th (twice); Best finish: 4th (2022); Top 5s: 1; Top 10s: 2

2023 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Season Stats

– Starts: 19; Best start: 3rd (Nashville); Best finish: 6th (Darlington); Top 10s: 2; Laps led: 1; Current points position: 17th

 

 About the Wendell Scott Foundation: Founded in 2011, The Wendell Scott Foundation, Inc. is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization inspired by Wendell Scott, Sr. and provides services such as job-skill training, STEM education opportunities, mentoring, and other supportive services to at-risk, underserved youth between the ages of 8-18 years in Danville, Virginia and surrounding areas.

The Foundation’s mission of using educational attainment to end racial disparities in education and health is vital in addressing economic inequality and improving future success in African-American communities. For more information, please visit www.wendellscott.org.

Chassis History/Info: Caruth and the No. 24 team will race with GMS chassis no. 302 at Bristol. Rajah has driven this truck on three separate occasions this season – Darlington Raceway, Nashville Superspeedway, and Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park. He’s gotten both of his top-10 finishes racing this chassis, and had a shot to make it three for three at Nashville before mechanical gremlins sat him out early. “302” has only raced at Bristol once before, back in 2018 with Justin Haley, who finished sixth with it. Sheldon Creed has one pole (Texas Motor Speedway in 2020) and one race win (Darlington II in 2021) with this truck.

Kansas Recap: Rajah Caruth gelled well at Kansas in both races this season, showing large amounts of speed in May and September. Last week, he had speed all race long, earning points in stage two with an eighth place finish. Staying on the lead lap all night in a race that saw many trucks go at least one lap down, Rajah was in position to earn his third top-10 finish of the season. However, it was not meant to be, as he got spun on a late race caution, sustaining damage that hindered his finish. The No. 24 team was able to repair it as best as they could, and Rajah was able to rally back to cross the line in 12th place.

Bristol Experience: Caruth has raced at Bristol three times before, including a Truck Series start from last year, which was cut short following an early crash on lap 40 that resulted in a 34th place finish. He has also competed in two ARCA Menards Series races at BMS, qualifying seventh both times. In 2021, Rajah finished sixth in the ARCA race, and last year, he improved two spots to finish fourth.

– Walter at Bristol: This historic half mile might just be Chad Walter’s best track on the schedule. Walter has made 11 starts as a Crew Chief in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Bristol, winning twice. His first victory at this track was back in 2006, when he had Kyle Busch as his driver, and he was able to win again with Justin Allgaier in 2010, adding to the total of three top-fives and five top-10 finishes. He has led the team in two Truck Series starts at Bristol, both with GMS Racing drivers, in 2020 where he finished seventh with Tyler Ankrum and 2021 where he finished 12th with Doug Coby.

– Wendell Scott at Bristol: NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, Wendell Scott, who’s foundation bares his name on Caruth’s No. 24 Chevrolet, raced at Bristol Motor Speedway 20 times during his NASCAR Cup Series career. Scott drove his way to five top-10 results in ten seasons of racing at BMS, finishing as high as fifth place in 1965. Always known as a tough competitor, Scott was his best on the short tracks.

Double Duty: For the third time in a row, rookie Rajah Caruth will compete in two races in one weekend. After the CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race comes to a close, Rajah plans to stay around an extra night to drive the No. 44 Chevrolet Camaro entry for Alpha Prime Racing in Friday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race. He looks to run a total of 500 grueling laps around Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend, the most consecutive laps in his career.

From The Driver’s Seat: Has anyone given you any advice for preparing for a double duty weekend at a physically-demanding track like Bristol?

“Double duty shouldn’t be too much of a challenge this weekend. I prepare just as diligently as I would for any other race weekend, and having had a few doubleheaders under my belt certainly helps. This weekend at Bristol, I feel a really good opportunity is in place for us at a track that both myself and Chad have a great track record at.”

 

Daniel Dye, No. 43 Champion Container Chevrolet Silverado RST

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Kansas Speedway Stats

– Daniel Dye will make his first NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series start at Bristol on Thursday

– ARCA Starts: 2; Best start: 3rd (2021); Best finish: 5th (2022); Top 5s: 1; Top 10s: 1

– CARS Tour Pro Late Model Starts: 1; Best start: 14th (2020); Best finish: 4th (2020); Top 5s: 1; Top 10s: 1

2023 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Season Stats

– Starts: 19; Best start: 5th (Milwaukee); Best finish: 11th (Gateway); Laps led: 5; Current points position: 18th

 

 About Champion Container Corporation: Founded in 1968, Champion Container has evolved into the premier general line packaging container distributor in the Northeast. From our seven strategically based locations we provide packaging container solutions to our valued domestic and international customers.

We serve a diverse customer base in the chemical, flavors and fragrances, paint, cosmetic, food, agricultural, and pharmaceutical industries. Small, medium, and Fortune 500 companies rely on Champion to deliver quality and service at a competitive price. Our strength, “just in time” shipments, is the value added provided through our own fleet of trucks and significant investment in inventory.

Our knowledgeable sales representatives and customer service associates have the expertise required to provide packaging guidance and solutions for the most unique and demanding projects. Companies rely on us to be their technical source in the ever-changing packaging container landscape. For more information, please visit www.championcontainer.com.

Chassis History/Info: Dye and the No. 43 team will compete with GMS Racing chassis no. 343 at Bristol on Thursday. Daniel has only raced this chassis three times this season, and has finished in 19th both times with it at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Darlington Raceway. Those are the only two races that the chassis has on its build sheet, so it will make its first race in Thunder Valley this weekend.

Kansas Recap: For the most part, Daniel and the No. 43 team put together a pretty solid outing last weekend in Kansas. Staying on the lead lap throughout the race, Dye was in position to have a top-15 finish before the final pit stop of the evening, where he was caught speeding and had to serve a pass-through penalty under the green. He was credited with a 23rd place finish due to that setback, but the speed was there.

Bristol Experience: Dye has raced three times at Bristol Motor Speedway before, including two ARCA Menards Series races with GMS Racing and one CARS Tour Pro Late Model race when he was only 16 years old. In his lone CARS Tour start here, Dye finished in fourth place at the prestigious 2020 Short Track US Nationals race. In his first ARCA start, he raced inside the top-five for a considerable amount of the race before a flat tire relegated him to a 12th place finish. Last year in ARCA, Daniel finished in fifth place, one spot behind his future teammate, Caruth.

– Bainbridge at Bristol: No. 43 Crew Chief, Blake Bainbridge, has made two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Bristol Motor Speedway, finishing a best of sixth place in 2005 with Jeremy Mayfield at the helm. His most recent race held in Thunder Valley was back in 2020, where he coached Taylor Gray to a seventh place finish in the ARCA Menards Series race. Blake also has called two ARCA Menards Series East races, and in 2019, he finished second here with Ty Gibbs as his driver.

– News on the Horizon: Following the news that GMS Racing would be coming to a close at the season finale in Phoenix, many fans have questioned where the team’s drivers may end up. Dye has hinted that he has a ride secured for the 2024 season, and also has some other exciting plans to be announced soon regarding this year.

From the Driver’s Seat: You’ve had the chance to race at Bristol a few times in the past, so do you like this track? What do you think is going to be the most important goal for you on Thursday night?

“I like Bristol for the most part, for sure. Having two ARCA races under my belt is going to be helpful, I also ran fourth there in a Super Late Model as well a couple years ago, so I’ve got quite a few laps around that joint. Just looking forward to getting there with Champion Container on board. It’s their last race with us for this year, and it’s been a pleasure having them at the racetrack. I think one of the most important things will be track position. You hear that about a lot of places on our schedule, but Bristol is so tiny and fast, so we have to make sure that we can turn well enough to get under guys and pass them, but we also have to qualify good and maintain our track position.”

GMS Racing PR