Despite a bundle of late-race cautions in the final 20 laps on Friday night at Martinsville, Grant Enfinger, who was in a must-win situation, held off his ThorSport teammate Ben Rhodes to claim his spot in the Championship 4 by winning the NASCAR Hall of Fame 200.
“It was tough; we knew we were going to have to take our gloves off and fight for this one,” Enfinger said after celebrating with his team. “It’s been an up and down season for us, but we tended to peak when we needed to. And now I feel really good about our chances at Phoenix.”
No Trucks were sent to the rear following prerace inspection and Sheldon Creed was on the pole based on the metric system. Stages of 50-50-100 made up the 200-lap event.
Stage 1: Lap 1 – Lap 50
When the green flag flew, the battle for the lead was between GMS drivers Sheldon Creed and Zane Smith with Creed taking the lead on Lap 12 and leading through the early portions of the race. Three cautions would slow the first stage. The first yellow came on Lap 14 with a major stack up on the frontstretch. Tanner Gray was spun after contact from the No. 02 of Tate Fogleman. Others involved included Ray Ciccarelli, Danny Bohn, Trevor Bayne and Codie Rohrbaugh.
During the pit stops, Bayne was penalized for removing equipment while Rohrbaugh was penalized for pitting too soon.
Another yellow flew on Lap 49 when the No. 44 of Natalie Decker was bumped from behind by the No. 3 of Jordan Anderson. From there, a 19 lap green-flag run occurred before Clay Greenfield in the No. 68 spun in Turn 3, bringing out a late-stage yellow and ending the first stage under caution. Sheldon Creed took the stage victory with Crafton, Sauter, Zane Smith, Rhodes, Moffitt, Eckes, Enfinger, Lessard, and Friesen completing the Top 10 stage finishers.
Stage 2: Lap 59 – Lap 100
A lot of action was seen throughout Stage 2 including problems for Austin Hill in the No. 16. Hill, who recently announced his return to Hattori Racing in 2021, began experiencing engine-related issues as his truck began shutting off and on.
Meanwhile, two drivers had tire issues. On Lap 72, Parker Kligerman in the No. 75, had a left-front tire go down after contact with Austin Hill, while the race leader, Sheldon Creed, experienced a left-rear flat.
Fortunately for Kligerman and Creed, both drivers caught a break a few laps later when the No. 68 of Greenfield would once again bring the caution out in Turn 3. During the caution, problems continued to get worse for Hill as the team attempted to diagnose his engine problem. The issue was found during a Lap 90 caution, as it was reported that Hill had a dead cylinder.
Unfortunately for the Georgia native, the truck quit running on Lap 117 and he was credited with a 35th place finish which ended any chance of making it to the Championship 4.
The stage would restart with two to go on Lap 98 and featured exciting action as Stewart Friesen in the No. 52 picked up his first stage win of the 2020 season. Crafton, Enfinger, Lessard, Moffitt, Ankrum, Eckes, Sauter, Hocevar, and Rhodes were the Top 10.
it was at this very moment, we would see Enfinger’s first glimpse at the lead, as the No. 98 team used a different pit strategy during the stage break, staying out to assume the lead for the Stage 3 restart.
Stage 3: Lap 112 – Lap 200
As in most cases, Stage 3 saw the most action and the most yellows with six yellows flown through the remaining 88 laps.
It would seem as though once a restart took place, another yellow would ensue which created a couple of harrowing moments for Enfinger who was trying to race his way in for a Championship 4 spot. On a Lap 161 restart, his teammate Johnny Sauter spun his tires and fell back to 18th with Enfinger right on his back bumper. Enfinger wrestled the lead away but was once again involved in a caution with 25 to go when Sheldon Creed, who was battling with Enfinger, got spun in Turn 4 after contact by the No. 98 truck.
Things weren’t looking so great for Enfinger with the restart that came with 10 to go, as he restarted in the fourth position with some stronger trucks in front of him, including Raphael Lessard and Brett Moffitt. But the Alabaman caught a lucky break just one lap later when the No. 4 of Lessard wrecked in Turn 2 with contact from the No. 99 of Rhodes after Rhodes was caught from behind by the No. 23 of Moffitt.
Following the yellow, the restart came with two laps to go with Enfinger and Rhodes making up the front row and both needing a victory to advance to the Championship 4. As fate would have it, Enfinger fended off Rhodes and got his fourth win of the year.
Rhodes, unfortunately, finished second and would miss out on making the Championship 4 by just one position.
“We had a shot, but first off, congrats to Grant they worked their butts off all year,” Rhodes said of his teammate. “They have three wins, this is their fourth, they deserve it. We were racing as hard as we can. Didn’t have the speed we needed but we hung around and my team had good strategy all day long. It’s just unfortunate.”
There were 11 cautions for 82 laps and 16 lead changes among nine different leaders.
Those racing for the championship include Sheldon Creed, Brett Moffitt, Grant Enfinger and Zane Smith. The driver who has the has the best finish of these four contenders next week at Phoenix International Raceway will win the Truck Series championship.
Official Results following the NASCAR Hall of Fame 200 at Martinsville Speedway.
- Grant Enfinger, led 49 laps
- Ben Rhodes, led one lap
- Zane Smith, led 20 laps
- Christian Eckes
- Matt Crafton, led six laps
- Stewart Friesen, won Stage 2, led five laps
- Danny Bohn
- Sheldon Creed, won Stage 1, led 65 laps
- Austin Wayne Self
- Derek Kraus
- Trevor Bayne
- Tyler Ankrum
- Carson Hocevar, led five laps
- Timmy Hill
- Spencer Boyd
- Dawson Cram
- Brandon Jones
- Sam Mayer, OUT, Crash
- Jordan Anderson, 1 lap down
- Raphael Lessard, 1 lap down
- Clay Greenfield, 2 laps down
- B.J. McLeod, 2 laps down
- Johnny Sauter, 3 laps down
- Parker Kligerman, 4 laps down
- Ray Ciccarelli, 4 laps down
- Norm Benning, 4 laps down
- Natalie Decker, 5 laps down
- Brett Moffitt, OUT, Crash
- Jennifer Jo Cobb, 26 laps down
- Ryan Truex, 31 laps down
- Tanner Gray, OUT, Damage Vehicle Policy
- Todd Gilliland, OUT, Overheating
- Spencer Davis, OUT, Brakes
- Codie Rohrbaugh, OUT, Overheating
- Austin Hill, OUT, Engine
- Tate Fogleman, OUT, Crash
- Josh Reaume, OUT, Transmission
Up Next: The NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series will head to their final race of the season to decide a champion at Phoenix International Raceway on Friday, Nov. 6 live on FOX Sports 1 and MRN Radio.