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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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Results, point standings after Truck race at Las Vegas

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Austin Hill won Friday night’s Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for his second win of 2020.

He beat Sheldon Creed for the victory.

The top five was completed by Tanner Gray, Stewart Friesen and Chandler Smith.

IndyCar driver Conor Daly finished 18th and Travis Pastrana was 21st.

Click here for the race results.

Point Standings

With his win, Austin Hill is the first driver to advance to the second round of the playoffs.

Todd Gilliland is last in the playoff standings with 2,050 points. He is 13 points behind Ben Rhodes.

Click here for the standings.

Austin Hill wins Las Vegas Truck race

Austin Hill
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Austin Hill won Friday night’s Truck Series playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, leading the final 39 laps to score the victory.

Hill took the lead on a restart and held off charges from Sheldon Creed over the final 20 laps.

Creed’s progress was slowed with 11 laps to go when he got loose and scraped the wall in Turn 1. He was never able to get close enough to Hill to make a challenge.

Creed dominated the early portion of the race, leading 89 laps before he struggled to get going on the final restart and briefly fell to seventh.

The win is the second of the year for Hill. He’s the first playoff driver to win in the postseason and it come after he finished 25th at Bristol.

“We didn’t have the best truck tonight by no means,” Hill told FS1. “Pit crew did a hell of job on that last pit stop getting me into the position I needed to. I just had to go out there and get it. … Sheldon was definitely way faster than me. … I was probably looking in my mirror more than I was our front. I knew he was better than we were.”

The top five was completed by Tanner Gray, Stewart Friesen and Chandler Smith.

More: Race results and point standings

STAGE 1 WINNER: Sheldon Creed

STAGE 2 WINNER: Sheldon Creed

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Tanner Gray, Stewart Friesen and Chandler Smith all matched their best results of the season … While he was the first driver to finish one lap down, IndyCar driver Conor Daly placed 18th in his first career Truck Series start … Travis Pastrana placed 21st in his second start of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Rachael Lessard finished 20th after he had to pit early in the race following contact with the wall … Ben Rhodes finished 23rd after he spun from contact with Stewart Friesen and hit the inside wall on Lap 84 … Jordan Anderson’s engine expired on the ensuing restart. He finished 32nd.

NOTABLE: Natalie Decker, who was not medically cleared to compete Friday night, was treated and released from the infield care center.

WHAT’S NEXT: Race at Talladega Superspeedway, 1 p.m. ET Oct. 3 on FS1

 

Natalie Decker not medically cleared for Las Vegas Truck race

Natalie Decker
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NASCAR announced right before Friday night’s Truck Series race that Natalie Decker hadn’t been medically cleared to compete.

No details were provided about the issue that prevented Decker from being cleared. During the final stage of the race, NASCAR announced she had been treated and released from the infield medical center.

The Niece Motorsports driver would have started 23rd. Due to her No. 44 truck having cleared inspection and having been placed on the starting grid she was credited with a last-place finish.

Decker has made 11 starts this year. She missed the June 28 race at Pocono after she was hospitalized due to bile duct complications related to her gallbladder removal in December.

Brandon Brown hopes to shed underdog role in Xfinity playoffs

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Brandon Brown knows the odds are against him advancing beyond the first round of the Xfinity playoffs.

“If I went out and we did a survey and we asked 1,000 NASCAR fans to create a playoff bracket, I guarantee that 90 to 99 percent of them have me getting eliminated in the first round,” he told NBC Sports.

But that’s not stopping him.

Brown is in the Xfinity playoffs for the first time, earning the final spot last weekend with his family-run team. He enters Saturday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) last in the 12-driver field. Brown has 2,000 points and is 10 points behind Ross Chastain, who holds the final transfer spot, entering the first round.

MORE: Saturday’s Xfinity race start time, lineup, forecast

Regardless where he is in the standings, Brown still met the team’s preseason goal of making the playoffs.

“It’s hard to put it into words,” the 27-year-old said of making the playoffs. “It’s so exciting and so thrilling. We’re just happy. Life is good. We’re seeing the fruits of our labor.”

Much of the Xfinity playoff focus will be on Chase Briscoe, who enters with a series-high seven wins. Or Austin Cindric, who won the regular-season title. Or Justin Allgaier, who has won three of the last seven races and could be the favorite if he makes it to the championship race at Phoenix Raceway.

Brown, who is in his second full season in the series, has four consecutive top-20 finishes going into this weekend. He knows the challenge he faces.

He said a key for this weekend is to have no mistakes, be running at the end and try to take advantage of any mistakes other playoff drivers have.

Then, he’ll look to Talladega. He’ll have an upgraded Earnhardt Childress Racing engine for that race, the team spending the extra money for the engine upgrade.

“I go into that track with confidence,” he said. “I need to go out there and make it happen, go win and make an name and go ahead and punch my ticket.”

While Brown knows most look at him as the underdog of these playoffs, he hopes to drop that title someday.

“The goal will be to get rid of that underdog title and to build that program that is going to be looked on as a powerhouse of the NASCAR Xfinity Series,” he said. “I enjoy the ride (as underdog), but now I’m ready to advance past it.”

Points entering Xfinity playoffs 

2,050 – Chase Briscoe

2,050 – Austin Cindric

2,033 – Justin Allgaier

2,025 – Noah Gragson

2,020 – Brandon Jones

2,018 – Justin Haley

2,014 – Harrison Burton

2,010 – Ross Chastain

2,002 – Ryan Sieg

2,002 – Michael Annett

2,001 – Riley Herbst

2,000 – Brandon Brown

First Round races

Sept. 26 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

Oct. 3 – Talladega Superspeedway (4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

Oct. 10 – Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC)