Veteran Grant Enfinger earned his first win in two seasons in the Daytona International Speedway 2020 season-opener last week and shows up at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for Friday’s NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race the STRAT 200 (9 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) looking to avenge a tough championship exit the last time he raced at Las Vegas’s 1.5-miler.
Enfinger’s No. 98 ThorSport Racing Ford suffered an engine problem only six laps into the race eliminating the regular season champion from contending for the title. He comes to this week’s 600th NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series race feeling back on his game and up for the challenge thanks to the victory boost last weekend.
He edged Jordan Anderson by .010-second in the closest truck series race in Daytona history teeing off what looks to be a thrilling 2020 season.
“It’s pretty special, the hundredth win for Ford in the Truck Series, 25th anniversary for Duke and Rhonda Thorson, special day for my wife here and I, so just all around just a special race,” Enfinger said after his win at Daytona. “Almost meant to be, I guess. It almost has to be at these speedways for them to work out, and just thankful.”
His teammates Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter certainly represent big threats to his Las Vegas chances. Crafton is coming off his third championship season and despite leading the most laps (132) among series regulars at Las Vegas, he has never won a race here. The 2016 series champion Sauter won here in 2009 and is third in the rankings after Daytona, only 14 behind Enfinger.
All of these veterans will be tested by a crop of young rookie talent including Christian Eckes and Raphael Lessard, who are driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Eckes won the pole position and finished third in his only start at Las Vegas last Fall.
Austin Hill, a 2020 championship contender who won the September Playoff race at Las Vegas, is coming off a sixth-place finish in Daytona and is second in the championship, trailing Enfinger by only 11 points.
Natalie Decker became the highest-finishing female driver in series history at Daytona with a fifth-place finish and is also looking to make a title run for the same Niece Motorsports team that fielded a truck for Ross Chastain in 2019, when he won three races and finished runner-up in the championship.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!