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Tracking the Trucks: Grant Enfinger Snags Last-Lap Victory in Atlanta

Frontstretch’s Truck Series content is presented by American Trucks

In a Nutshell: Grant Enfinger scored his second victory in four races when he took the checkered flag 0.215 seconds ahead of Austin Hill Saturday afternoon (June 6) at Atlanta Motor Speedway. A lap 129 caution for Chase Elliott spinning erased a more than four-second lead Hill had built over the field and set up the overtime finish. Enfinger got a strong restart, which set up the pass and the win.

Rookie Christian Eckes, who sat on the pole, ended up third, followed by Todd Gilliland. Rookie Zane Smith rounded out the top five with his third straight top 10.

Race Rundown:

Johnny Sauter Disqualified

When post-race inspection finished, Enfinger’s victory was confirmed, but Johnny Sauter’s 17th-place run was disqualified. The No. 13 Ford was found in violation of Section 20.16.2.f of the 2020 NASCAR Rule Book with unapproved modifications to its tires.

NASCAR did not specify exactly what the issue was with the tire.

The disqualification dropped Sauter to a 40th-place finish. He also lost six spots in the point standings and is now eighth. He will not face further penalties.

In addition to Sauter’s issue, Eckes’ No. 18 Toyota and Timmy Hill’s No. 56 Chevrolet were each found with one loose lugnut.

Christian Eckes Matches Career-Best Finish

After drawing the pole for Atlanta, Eckes led the field to the green flag alongside Tyler Ankrum. Despite both drivers making their first laps on the mile-and-a-half oval when the green flag flew, the pair made a clean start.

Eckes held onto the top spot for 11 laps before giving it up to Kyle Busch. Eckes took it back on the restart on lap 16 before once again relinquishing it to Busch. And though he never sniffed the lead again, the driver of the No. 18 Toyota raced inside the top five and top 10 for much of the day before settling in for a third-place finish.

“We were really fast on short runs,” Eckes said after the race. “I felt like we could run with the best of them for about three or four laps, and then for whatever reason, we just weren’t good past that. Finally, this is a result we can build on – the 22nd, 23rd and 14th place finishes to start the year definitely hurt, but we finally got it turned around a little bit, and we can build on it. Hopefully, be two spots better at Homestead.”

For the No. 18 team, it’s a much-needed turnaround for a 2020 season that hadn’t started off well at all. A 22nd-place finish in the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway led to a 23rd-place run at Las Vegas Motor Speedway before the series took its hiatus in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. A 14th-place run at Charlotte Motor Speedway was a step in the right direction for Eckes but not the kind the team was looking for.

“We kind of had a ‘coming to Jesus’ moment in the conference room this past week just trying to figure out what we could do better,” Eckes explained. “I feel like we’ve done that and we can finally start trending some finishes together. It will be big for momentum, and that’s definitely what this sport it all about. To finish third means a lot, and it’s definitely a lot harder with a 40-car field now. Third would probably be fifth or sixth in a normal race. I’m really happy to finish here and just looking forward to the next race.”

The career-best run matches a pair of third-place finishes at Las Vegas and Homestead-Miami Speedway last season. He currently sits sixth in the driver standings after four races this season.

Quick Hits:

  • Coming into the 2020 season, Enfinger had just two career wins, and he’s already doubled that number just four races in. Last year’s regular-season champion entered this year determined to show he should have made it deeper into the playoffs.
  • Despite the heartbreaking runner-up finish, Hill remains the only driver to have finished inside the top 10 in all four races during the 2020 season. Sauter and Sheldon Creed were a part of that group until the Atlanta checkered flag flew. Sauter was disqualified and credited with a 40th-place finish while Creed ended up 12th.
  • Back-to-back speeding penalties took a potentially race-winning Busch out of contention for the win after he had led 37 laps. He ended up 21st, one lap down.

  • Can we just take a moment and appreciate this four-wide pass?

  • In case you missed it during the week, Chase Elliott revealed exactly where the $100,000 bounty he won at Charlotte Motor Speedway went.

Rookie Report

2020 Rookie of the Year Candidates

Tate Fogleman – No. 02 Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet
Raphael Lessard – No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota
Spencer Davis – No. 11 Spencer Davis Motorsports Toyota
Zane Smith – No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet
Tanner Gray – No. 15 DGR-Crosley Ford
Christian Eckes – No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota
Derek Kraus – No. 19 McAnally-Hilgemann Racing Toyota
Ty Majeski – No. 45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet

Number of Rookies in the Race: 8

Number of Rookies finishing in the Top 10: 3; Christian Eckes, finished third; Zane Smith, finished fifth; Derek Kraus, finished seventh

Rookie of the Race: Eckes

Points Update: Austin Hill maintains his spot atop the standings by a 21-point margin over Zane Smith, who moved up one position. Grant Enfinger’s victory propelled him up four spots to third. Brett Moffitt and Ben Rhodes round out the top five. Christian Eckes moves up two spots to sixth, followed by Sheldon Creed. Johnny Sauter’s disqualification dropped him six positions to eighth. Derek Kraus and Todd Gilliland, both up three spots this week, round out the top 10.

Series-regular winners this season: Grant Enfinger (Daytona, Atlanta)

Tweetable:

Up Next: The Truck Series heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway next Saturday evening, June 13, for the Baptist Health 200. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate or SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90.

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About Beth Lunkenheimer

Beth Lunkenheimer
Content Director Beth heads up management of our 30-person staff, acting as Tom’s main assistant with technology and personnel while working as Frontstretch’s Truck Series expert. The author of Truckin’ Thursdays and the coordinator of the site’s pre and post-race coverage, she also runs a periodic charity column that spotlights when NASCAR gives back. A childhood transplant to Texas, Beth is a 15-year writing veteran who has contributed content to BRANDT and Athlon Sports, among other outlets.