Through the chaos of 11 cautions, trucks beating and banging, and 82 of the 200 scheduled laps ran under caution, Grant Enfinger prevailed to earn his fourth win of the 2020 season and lock in his spot to the Championship 4.
It was time to set the field for the Championship 4 in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Friday night. GMS Racing and ThorSport Racing duked it out as the teams combined for seven of the final eight spots in the playoffs.
GMS took command early as Zane Smith led, followed by Sheldon Creed, who clinched a spot in the Championship 4 last Sunday at Texas.
Creed took the lead on lap 12 just before the first caution came out for a multi-truck incident involving Trevor Bayne, Tate Fogelman and Ray Ciccarelli.
Following the restart, Creed cruised away from the field, pulling out to a nearly seven-second lead.
ThorSport made their presence felt as Matt Crafton and Ben Rhodes split the GMS teammates of Creed and Smith. Johnny Sauter, while not in the playoffs, made his way into the top three by the end of the stage.
Creed went on to win the stage after a caution came out for an incident involving Jordan Anderson and Natalie Decker. All playoff drivers earned stage points except for Tyler Ankrum and Austin Hill. Hill struggled with a tire that was potentially going down.
At the start of stage two, Creed continued to lead. Hill was a lap down and reported to his team that the motor was cutting out of his No. 16 Hattori Racing Toyota. Hill got into Parker Kligerman in turn one and Kligerman cut a tire. A few laps later, Creed suffered a left-rear flat tire and pitted. The caution came on the next lap as Clay Greenfield spun.
The GMS versus ThorSport battle begun on the stage two restart as Sauter gave the bump to Smith to take the lead. Smith was shuffled back to 14th.
As Creed was battling to be the first truck a lap down, he spun Tanner Gray in turn four to bring out the caution. Todd Gilliland collected damage as he slammed the outside wall trying to avoid Gray.
With two to go in the second stage, Stewart Friesen took advantage of Crafton, who was on old tires, to make a power move on the outside and win his first stage of 2020. Smith, Creed and Hill failed to earn points in the stage.
During an early caution in the final stage involving Carson Hocevar, Hill’s engine gave out and he was done for the day, eliminating him from competing for a championship at Phoenix.
The late-race intensity ensued as ThorSport began pacing the field. Grant Enfinger and Sauter led for a combined 53 laps before another caution brought out by Gray. Meanwhile, Crafton struggled with his truck and fell outside the top 10.
On the following restart, Hocevar washed up the track and took Sauter with him. Both faded outside the top 10 and Sauter cut a tire, putting him three laps down.
With 25 laps to go, Enfinger, who was fighting for championship hopes, battled the GMS Chevys of Creed and Brett Moffitt for the lead. After making contact with Creed off of turn two, Moffitt dove down to make it three-wide entering turn three, and there was no room for Enfinger in the GMS sandwich, which caused him to turn Creed and bring out another caution.
Cautions kept breeding cautions, allowing for chaos to ensue on the restart with 10 to go.
Enfinger was fighting hard to take the lead, which led to contact between the leaders. Eventually, the contact became too much as Rhodes turned Raphael Lessard, causing a chain-reaction and collecting Moffitt. Friesen also collected damage in the incident.
There was a green-white-checkered restart to close out the race. Teammates Enfinger and Rhodes led the field to the green and both needed a win to advance. Enfinger cleared Rhodes and Rhodes got caught up with Christian Eckes to pull away and earn the victory, clinching his spot in the Championship 4.
Joining Enfinger in the battle for the championship at Phoenix next Friday are GMS teammates Sheldon Creed, Brett Moffitt and Zane Smith.
Danny Bohn scored a career-high seventh-place finish to cap off a wild night at Martinsville.