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Grant Enfinger earns first career Truck Series win at Talladega

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TALLADEGA, Ala. – Grant Enfinger had a happy homecoming Saturday afternoon.

The Fairhope, Alabama, native earned his first career Camping World Truck Series win at Talladega Superspeedway in the fred’s 250. Enfinger held off his GMS Racing teammate, Spencer Gallagher, on the final restart with two laps to go.

In addition to driving the No. 24 on a limited basis for GMS, Enfinger also works in the shop during the week. In seven starts this year, Enfinger has earned five top-10 finishes. In his first start with the team, Enfinger won the pole for the season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway.

Saturday was also the first time GMS Racing earned a 1-2 finish.

“It’s unbelievable,” Enfinger said in victory lane. “This is a brand new truck, it was on the tubing rack a few weeks ago and (crew chief) Jeff Stankiewicz, Trevor Pollard, all these guys behind us built it, and it was a rocket ship. Best truck out there. Made my job easier.”

MORE: Results and statistics from the fred’s 250

MORE: William Byron remains point leader

Enfinger qualified second and quickly took the lead at the start of the 250-mile event. He led five times for a race-high 45 laps. Enfinger held off Gallagher, Timothy Peters, as well as his other GMS Racing teammates – Ben Kennedy and Johnny Sauter – on three restarts inside the final 10 laps.

“I struggle to think of a racer with a reputation more sterling than Grant’s,” Gallagher said of Enfinger. “To use a baseball analogy, he is the true five-tool player. He is a great team player, he’s in the shop every day working on his own stuff, he is extraordinarily talented with a wrench in his hand and even more so with a wheel in his hand.

“At GMS, something we try to do is provide opportunities to people who deserve it, and there isn’t anybody I can think of more deserving of the opportunity and this win, than Grant Enfinger.”

Talladega was the first elimination race in the inaugural Chase and cut the field from eight drivers to six.

William Byron, Christopher Bell, Timothy Peters, Matt Crafton, Ben Kennedy, and Johnny Sauter advanced. John Hunter Nemechek and Daniel Hemric were eliminated.

Nemechek saw his day, and championship chances, come to an end when the engine in his No. 8 blew on Lap 15. Hemric was involved in multiple incidents during the race and finished 11th with a wounded truck.

HOW ENFINGER WON: He led 23 of the final 24 laps.

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Spencer Gallagher earned his seventh top-10 finish of the season with a second-place effort, which is also his best finish in three starts at Talladega … Timothy Peters finished third in his quest for three consecutive wins at Talladega … Rico Abreu earned his second top-five finish of the season with a fourth-place result.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Matt Crafton blew an engine and finished 22nd … Ben Rhodes was involved in a wreck on Lap 61 and suffered his fourth DNF of the season with a 24th-place finish … Cole Custer finished 29th after starting on the pole … John Hunter Nemechek finished last, 32nd, and was eliminated from the Chase.

NOTABLE: GMS Racing earned their fourth win of the season at Talladega Superspeedway. The organization also advanced two trucks, Ben Kennedy and Johnny Sauter, into the second round of the Chase.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “The effort was second-to-none. I can’t thank all of these Brad Keselowski Racing guys for doing everything they could to salvage the best day we could with what we had. We were just part of a lot of very unfortunate situations there that we couldn’t avoid or couldn’t miss. One you can probably rebound. Two you can rebound from, but the third one definitely put us in a bad situation.” — Daniel Hemric after being eliminated from the Chase.

WHAT’S NEXT: The first race in the second round of the Truck Chase begins at Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 29 in the Alpha Energy Solutions 200.

Follow @KellyCrandall

NASCAR America: Chase Elliott ‘biggest surprise’ of Cup playoffs

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Only two drivers are safely in the third round of the NASCAR Cup playoffs. Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski secured spots through their wins at Charlotte and Talladega.

That leaves six spots to be decided Sunday at Kansas Speedway.

NASCAR America analysts Parker Kligerman and Kyle Petty broke down the drivers competing for spots. Both of them agreed that Chase Elliott, who has finished in second in three of the five playoff races, has a great chance to make it all the way to the championship race in Miami.

“If Talladega had played out, he was either going to be in victory lane or in the top two or three,” Petty said. “When you look at that, he has had the most solid playoffs of any driver out there. We keep talking about the big three: Larson, Busch and Truex. This guy is a sleeper. But he’s my No. 4.”

Said Kligerman: “He’s been the biggest surprise. That 24 team has been incredible through the playoffs. One thing I’ve noticed about that team, just speaking to (crew chief) Alan Gustafson, speaking to Chase, it’s almost as if they want that first win more than they care about the playoffs.”

Watch the above video for more on the playoff drivers.

Friday’s NASCAR Cup, Xfinity schedule at Kansas Speedway

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Things get started today for the pivotal weekend at Kansas Speedway.

The NASCAR Cup Series will have its elimination race in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400, where four of the 12 remaining playoff drivers will not advance to the Round of 8.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series begins its Round of 8 with Saturday’s Kansas 300.

But it all begins today, as Cup has its first practice (the other two are Saturday) and qualifying, while the Xfinity Series will have its two practice sessions.

Here’s how today’s schedule shapes up:

(All times are Eastern)

10:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. — Cup garage open

12 – 8:30 p.m. — Xfinity garage open

1 – 2:25 p.m. — First Cup practice (NBCSN, Motor Racing Network)

2:30 – 3:25 p.m. First Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)

5 – 5:55 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (NBCSN)

6:15 p.m. – Cup qualifying (multi-vehicle, 3 rounds) (NBCSN, MRN)

NASCAR: Will Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch advance in playoffs?

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The last two drivers to win NASCAR Cup titles are in precarious positions ahead of the Round of 12 elimination race at Kansas Speedway.

Kyle Busch, the 2015 champion, is outside the top eight in ninth. He sits seven points behind defending champion Jimmie Johnson.

NASCAR America analysts Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman debated who they think had the best chance to advance to the Third round after Sunday.

Petty put his money behind Busch, who has finished in the top five in each of his last five starts at the 1.5-mile track.

“He’s one of the big three: Truex, Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson,” Petty said. “I don’t see where these (last) two races (Charlotte, Talladega) have changed anything. The one thing Kyle Busch brings into Kansas City … he brings speed. These guys have had speed all year-long.”

Johnson on the other hand has produced only four top fives all season and just one since he won at Dover in June.

But Kligerman explained why he thinks the seven-time champion will prevail on Sunday.

“Jimmie Johnson knows how to pass and that is what has become evident throughout this season,” Kligerman said. “No, they have not had the fastest cars at Hendrick Motorsports. No, they have not qualified well. They’ve actually been sort of abysmal at qualifying of late.

“… He has three wins this year. Two of those he started at the back.”

Watch the video for more.

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN: Daniel Hemric, Daniel Suarez’ racing roots

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America begins at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN and continues to preview the Round of 12 elimination race at Kansas Speedway.

Carolyn Manno hosts with Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman from Stamford, Connecticut.

On the show:

  • We’ll debate which past Cup Series champion will advance to the Round of 8. Defending champion Jimmie Johnson currently leads 2015 champ Kyle Busch by only seven points for the final transfer spot. Who has the edge going into Kansas this Sunday? This elimination race will be a heated competition just to finish above the cut line. Log on to NBCSports.com/NASCARVote and weigh in!
  • Xfinity Series playoff driver Daniel Hemric calls into the show to talk about his chances of advancing to the championship four in Miami. He’ll also describe his experience being one of the four drivers to participate in the recent tire test at the Charlotte Motor Speedway “Roval.”
  • We take a look at the Daniel Suarez’s Racing Roots and discuss his transition from Xfinity Series champion to Monster Energy Cup Series rookie.
  • Parker Kligerman hops into the iRacing simulator to preview Sunday’s elimination race at Kansas, as well as the Formula 1 race in Austin, Texas.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, you can also watch it via the online stream at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.