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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.

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NASCAR America: Steve Letarte on challenges of avoiding speeding penalites

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NBC Sports analysts Steve Letarte joined the NASCAR on NBC podcast this week. One of the topics the former crew chief discussed is the challenge of avoiding speeding penalties on pit road. Letarte said the introduction of digital dashboards has made it even harder.

Watch the video to hear his thoughts.

NASCAR America: Comparing severity of Harvick, Keselowski and Allmendinger penalties

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NASCAR handed out two crew chief suspensions in the Cup this week following the race weekend in Phoenix while another was upheld on appeal.

Brad Keselowski‘s crew chief, Paul Wolfe, was suspended three races and the team was docked 35 driver and owners points for failing weights and measurements in post-race inspection.

Kevin Harvick‘s crew chief, Rodney Childers, was suspended one race and the team docked 10 driver and owner points for an unapproved track bar slider assembly.

The penalties for AJ Allmendinger‘s team, including the suspension of crew chief Randall Burnett, was upheld after an appeal.

The NASCAR America crew debates which team is hurt the most by their penalties.

 

Mario Andretti tries out, approves of Charlotte Motor Speedway road course

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We now have two positive reviews of the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course.

Following AJ Allmendinger‘s comments back in January, IndyCar legend Mario Andretti has shared his thoughts on the 2.4-mile circuit that will likely host a NASCAR Cup race in fall 2018.

As a guest of the track and the NASCAR Racing Experience, the 77-year-old driver piloted two cars – a 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder Hybrid and a 2017 Cadillac CTS-V. Andretti maxed out at 177 mph in the Porsche.

“It’s very difficult sometimes to really create a road course where you can ‘stretch your legs’ inside an oval,” Andretti said in a press release. “From that standpoint, I think they did a good job by giving it rhythm by putting some banking to the hairpin corners – which obviously invites some overtaking. It’s wide enough that you can choose a line. You’re not really trapped. … It’s got a multiple-line (groove) that you can choose from, depending on the capability of the car.”

The “roval” circuit would use most of the 1.5-mile oval NASCAR already competes on.

Allmendinger took part in a data test on the road course in mid-January and later said it “was a lot of fun.”

Earlier this month, Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO Marcus Smith said the track “learned a lot” from the test.

“We have done a lot to engineer a world-class road course that would include the ‘roval,'” Smith told NBC Sports, adding that “several truckloads of crash walls and catchfence” were being transported in for installation.

The Cup Series has two road courses on it schedule, at Sonoma Raceway in California and Watkins Glen International in New York.

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Drivers unhurt in crash of Furniture Row Racing hauler near Las Vegas Motor Speedway

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The drivers of the Furniture Row Racing hauler carrying Erik Jones’ No. 77 Toyota were uninjured Thursday in a hit-and-run accident 15 miles north of Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Travis Watts, who was behind the wheel, and David Shano were traveling from Phoenix Raceway to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, when their tractor-trailer rig was struck shortly after midnight on Interstate 15, according to a team release. The team said a car carrying two occupants pulled off the shoulder and back onto the highway directly in front of the truck, causing front-end damage to the tractor.

The team said there was no damage to the trailer or its interior, which was carrying Jones’ cars.

“We’re all very relieved no one was injured in the incident,” team president Joe Garone said. “There was substantial damage to the tractor, but everything in the trailer was checked out thoroughly and is OK. We’ve rented a tractor and the No. 77 hauler is on schedule to arrive at Auto Club Speedway later (Thursday).”

The team rented a replacement tractor at a Rush Truck Centers in North Las Vegas.

According to the team, the Nevada Highway Patrol apprehended and arrested the occupants of the car. The team is working to supply police with a video dash cam from the No. 77 tractor.