The intensity was raised like only a penultimate playoff race at Martinsville Speedway can provide as Grant Enfinger, driver of the No. 98 for ThorSport Racing, grabbed his spot in the Championship 4 of the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series with a hard-fought victory in the NASCAR Hall of Fame 200 at Martinsville Speedway.
Enfinger earned his win surviving two restarts in a frantic final 10 laps of the NASCAR Hall of Fame 200, with his No. 98 Ford crossing under the checkered flag with a .803-second margin of victory. He led 49 of the 200 laps in the playoff race. It was his first win at historic Martinsville and his sixth in Gander Trucks competition. It his Enfinger’s fourth win of the Gander Truck season, and now he will race for a championship.
“We knew we were going to have to take the gloves off and fight for this one,” said Enfinger. “We came in here with our back against the wall.”
Pole-starter Sheldon Creed, driver of the No. 2 for GMS Racing, and teammate Brett Moffitt, driver of the No. 23, had already clinched Championship 4 berths with wins earlier in the Playoffs’ Round of 8. Enfinger and Zane Smith, driver of the No. 21 for GMS Racing, claimed the remaining two berths in Friday night’s NASCAR Hall of Fame 200.
“My first trip to Martinsville was everything I expected and more,” said Smith. “I had to play it safe all night. My team never gave up and that’s why we’re here.”
With eight laps remaining, three of the front-running trucks spun in a big chain-reaction crash that involved Ben Rhodes, Raphael Lessard and sidelined Moffitt. Rhodes was able to continue and rejoined the field in second place right behind his teammate Enfinger.
The field was then set for the final two-lap sprint to the finish. Rhodes had to line up directly in front of Christian Eckes with his championship hopes on the line – one week after the two had an incident at Texas Motor Speedway followed by post-race confrontation in the garage. Rhodes and Eckes had contact, but Rhodes was just not able to catch and pass Enfinger, who led 49 laps overall.
Rhodes held onto second in his Thorsport No. 99 Ford, with Smith in third, Eckes fourth and Matt Crafton completing the top five. Reigning series champion Crafton and Rhodes each failed to advance to the Championship 4.
Hill, the series’ regular-season champion, entered the race with a 27-point cushion above the postseason cutline, but reported a faltering engine on his No. 16 for Hattori Racing Enterprises midway through the second stage. Hill’s truck was sidelined after completing 117 laps, leaving him with a 35th-place finish and out of the the playoffs. Tyler Ankrum was also eliminated from title contention.
Creed, Moffitt, Enfinger and Smith will race for the Gander Trucks championship in the Lucas Oil 150 series finale at Phoenix Raceway on Friday at 8:00 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Martinsville Speedway PR