RICHMOND, Va. — Grant Enfinger bounced back from a tire rub that dropped him well back in the field and rallied to win the NASCAR truck race at Richmond Raceway on Thursday night.
Enfinger took the lead with seven laps to go, passing reigning champion Matt Crafton for his third victory of the season. Crafton held on for second, and Ben Rhodes finished third.
Enfinger matched Sheldon Creed for the most victories among series regulars this season in the last race to determine the final two spots in the playoffs that begin next weekend.
Those berths went to Todd Gilliland and Tyler Ankrum, who used a late pit strategy call to finish fifth.
Crafton, who ended a 67-race winless drought in late July at Kansas, became a factor only at the end and seemed headed for victory before Enfinger caught him in lapped traffic. It was an ending that featured a largely different group of drivers than those who dominated.
After a caution on Lap 174, most of the leaders stayed out, and got burned because of it.
Austin Hill, who had clinched the regular-season championship earlier in the race, was running second, just behind Rhodes, but was passed quickly by David Ragan and Brett Moffitt, and Moffitt kept on surging, grabbing the lead from Rhodes on Lap 186.
Crafton also joined the fray, climbing to second followed by Ankrum, who was fighting for that playoff berth, and Enfinger, who’d gone a lap down after a tire rub earlier.
The parade of cars on new tires left those on older tires hoping for a caution, and time to do something on them, but it never materialized. The final restart came with 68 laps to go.
Rookie Zane Smith won the first stage, which was dominated by pole sitter Hill until a late caution. Hill and most of the leaders stayed on the track when the yellow flew, but Smith pitted and was able to track Hill down before the 70th lap went on the scoreboard.
Rhodes won the second stage after passing Enfinger with 20 laps to go. Enfinger had grabbed the lead from Smith 10 laps earlier, and his night took a bad turn shortly after the restart for the third stage. Running second, a tire rub sent him to the pits.
It was the series’ first visit to Richmond since 2005 and only two drivers — Crafton and Johnny Sauter — had ever raced on the 0.75-mile oval. But familiarity did Sauter no favors as he went to pit road early and emerged two laps down. He finished 27th.