Grant Enfinger managed to survive the cautions and beat Corey Heim by 4.358. Enfinger led a race-high 65 of 134 laps in Saturday night’s Heart of America 200 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway, a race highlighted by seven cautions for 40 of those laps.
“It was a huge night for us,” said Enfinger, who earned his eighth career win. “From the drop of the green flag, we had a really, really good Chevy Silverado. Just started out really tight.
“Once [crew chief] Jeff [Hensley] made one adjustment on it,” Enfinger added, “I felt like from that point forward, we were potentially the best truck out there.”
Corey Heim was left on the back foot after a late caution gave Enfinger a tire advantage and Heim was left to battle Zane Smith to barely secure second.
“I think that last caution put a hole in our strategy a little bit,” Heim said. “If we had that last run go green and we had the same tires as the 23 [of Enfinger], I thought we could beat him straight up. As soon as we got that last caution and we were on uneven tires, I knew it was going to be all track position. I got hung up trying to block the 38 [of Zane Smith] and kind of took a step back from there and lost track position.”
“We’ve been working really hard on our mile-and-a-half program and we have already taken a big leap in a short period of time,” Heim summed up his strong result.
As for Zane Smith, he was critical of the racing that led to the cautions.
“There were a lot of people out there who shouldn’t have been out there,” he said. “But, the pit crew did a fantastic job of always getting us track position. Just couldn’t really choose the right lane there, and that final restart, just probably should have protected the bottom a little bit better. Just didn’t think he was going to be able to clear me while we were wide-open.”
“It is what it is,” he summed up his race: “Kind of gave it to the No. 23 there.”
Stewart Friesen and Ross Chastain rounded out the top five for Chevrolet. Kyle Busch won the first stage, and Ty Majeski won the second stage. Busch suffered a flat tire at the end of the second stage.
As for the cautions, the most notable set came when Ty Majeski and Rajah Caruth got together on the frontstretch on lap 72 when Caruth threw a late block, which damaged Majeski and took Caruth out of the race, ending a promising top-five run for both trucks.
“It was really close, and we had a long way to go,” Caruth said after seeing the replay. “I was trying to cover the top, and he just kind of hooked me there. Good to know. I didn’t double-move or anything. I picked the top there, and he just took me.”
The biggest wreck of the race happened in the ensuing restart. Chase Purdy, Dean Thompson, Christian Eckes, Carson Hocevar, and Matt DiBenedetto were all collected by a spinning Eckes and Dibenedetto as the field scattered into the first turn.
“Just aggression I guess,” Eckes said. He added that DiBenedetto “blocked a little late and got loose, and I tried to go high, and I might have caught his rear quarter panel.”
Toni Breidinger finished fifteenth on her Truck Series driving for TRICON Garage, the highest series debut by a female driver since Hailie Deegan finished sixteenth in her Truck Series debut at Daytona. Breidinger managed to keep the truck out of trouble and have a solid day after moving up from ARCA.
“There was so much to take away,” Breidinger said. “There was so much thrown on me that I haven’t got to experience before – just the aero, and being in dirty air. I feel like you experience that in ARCA, but in Trucks its amplified a million times.”
“That was a whole new experience. I feel like everyone is really good out here,” he said. “I could feel everyone side-drafting me. Nobody gives an inch. There’s a massive learning curve, but I finished a clean race and it was pretty solid in my Victoria’s Secret Tundra.”
The CRAFTSMAN Truck Series returns for the Buckle Up South Carolina 200, scheduled Friday at Darlington Raceway (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Race – Heart Of America 200
Kansas City, Kansas
Saturday, May 6, 2023
1. (11) Grant Enfinger, Chevrolet, 134.
2. (12) Corey Heim, Toyota, 134.
3. (7) Zane Smith, Ford, 134.
4. (14) Stewart Friesen, Toyota, 134.
5. (17) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 134.
6. (6) Nick Sanchez #, Chevrolet, 134.
7. (2) Kyle Busch(i), Chevrolet, 134.
8. (4) Jake Garcia #, Chevrolet, 134.
9. (19) Taylor Gray #, Toyota, 134.
10. (23) Tyler Ankrum, Toyota, 134.
11. (21) Matt Crafton, Ford, 134.
12. (16) Hailie Deegan, Ford, 134.
13. (10) Daniel Dye #, Chevrolet, 133.
14. (28) Bret Holmes #, Chevrolet, 133.
15. (24) Toni Breidinger, Toyota, 133.
16. (5) Ben Rhodes, Ford, 133.
17. (34) Lawless Alan, Chevrolet, 133.
18. (8) Tanner Gray, Toyota, 133.
19. (27) Johnny Sauter, Ford, 133.
20. (26) Brennan Poole(i), Toyota, 133.
21. (31) Nick Leitz, Chevrolet, 133.
22. (30) Tyler Hill, Toyota, 132.
23. (32) Justin Carroll, Toyota, 132.
24. (29) Josh Reaume, Ford, 132.
25. (9) Ty Majeski, Ford, 131.
26. (36) Spencer Boyd, Chevrolet, 131.
27. (33) Mason Maggio, Ford, 131.
28. (25) Kris Wright, Chevrolet, Accident, 91.
29. (18) Matt DiBenedetto, Chevrolet, DVP, 81.
30. (1) Christian Eckes, Chevrolet, Accident, 78.
31. (20) Carson Hocevar, Chevrolet, Accident, 78.
32. (22) Dean Thompson, Toyota, Accident, 78.
33. (3) Chase Purdy, Chevrolet, Accident, 78.
34. (13) Rajah Caruth #, Chevrolet, Accident, 72.
35. (15) Colby Howard, Chevrolet, Accident, 55.
36. (35) Tim Viens, Toyota, Transmission, 2.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 101.005 mph.
Time of Race: 1 Hrs, 59 Mins, 24 Secs. Margin of Victory: 4.358 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 7 for 40 laps.
Lead Changes: 15 among 9 drivers.
Lap Leaders: C. Eckes 1-6;B. Rhodes 7-23;K. Busch(i) 24;Z. Smith 25-29;K. Busch(i) 30-39;G. Enfinger 40-50;T. Majeski 51-55;C. Heim 56;T. Majeski 57-63;G. Enfinger 64-85;S. Friesen 86;C. Heim 87-94;T. Gray 95-97;Z. Smith 98;C. Heim 99-102;G. Enfinger 103-134.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Grant Enfinger 3 times for 65 laps; Ben Rhodes 1 time for 17 laps; Corey Heim 3 times for 13 laps; Ty Majeski 2 times for 12 laps; Kyle Busch(i) 2 times for 11 laps; Christian Eckes 1 time for 6 laps; Zane Smith 2 times for 6 laps; Tanner Gray 1 time for 3 laps; Stewart Friesen 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 51,99,38,23,4,24,16,11,42,13
Stage #2 Top Ten: 98,23,11,24,38,19,16,4,52,5
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