Coming out of the gate strong can be huge towards team morale and setting the tone for a season. For NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie Grant Enfinger, things have started off real well.
“I feel overall it has gone well,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “We’ve shown speed at both (Daytona and Atlanta) so far.”
The Fairhope, Alabama native kicked the year off by winning the pole for the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway. The race, however, didn’t go as planned for Enfinger, as he was one of the many drivers caught up in one of the event’s big wrecks.
He was able to rebound a week later at Atlanta Motor Speedway, qualifying fourth, running solidly throughout the 200-mile race en route to finishing fifth. The race at Atlanta also gave Enfinger the first chance to try out the 20-minute caution clock, which worked to the benefit of the No. 33 team. It worked in their favor at Atlanta, as he stated they were able to use the caution to make improvements on their truck.
The caution clock wasn’t the only thing that Enfinger had to grow used to.
“There’s been a big learning curve for me,” he said. “It’s been a little while since I’ve been in the truck on an intermediate track, so it took a little bit for me to get used to the way the air plays havoc on things, but was able to come back and finish strong. Overall, I feel it’s been a success.”
There will certainly be more challenges for Enfinger as the season progresses. However, those should be easier to handle with teammate and veteran Johnny Sauter to lean on. Sauter joined the organization this season after spending the last several years at ThorSport Racing.
“It’s good to have someone that’s been around for so long and been there, done that so to speak,” he said. “I will defiantly lean on him when it comes to some of these places that we’re going to. It’s always good to get another driver’s input, especially before you go to a new track.”
The relationship built with Sauter, along with their third teammate, Spencer Gallagher, is going to be beneficial to GMS Racing doing well this year.
“(It’s) really good to have good two teammates, and all three of us are getting along here at GMS Racing,” Enfinger said. “I feel like, for the most part, our crew chiefs are on the same page. So if one driver or one team finds something, that information should be transferable.”
Even with the month long break between races all hope is on the early season momentum carrying forward to Martinsville Speedway on April 2.
“I’m really looking forward to getting to a short track. That’s kind of where I cut my teeth racing. It’s a little more in the driver’s hands,” said Enfinger. “We have a great aero package doing our bodies at GMS Racing, and great engines provided by ECR, but Martinsville is one of those places where that stuff doesn’t matter.
“It’s all about mechanical grip, and the driver’s ability, and their ability to communicate with the crew chief there. I love the short tracks and am definitely looking forward to getting there.”
With the solid start to the season, it seems Enfinger is well on his way to working towards his goal, which is to win a race, qualify for the Chase, and challenge for the championship.
“We have a great group of guys,” he said. “I feel the 33 bunch here is a good as anybody in the garage. So I feel like it’s definitely possible.”
However there has been some uncertainty floating around the garage as to whether Enfinger and GMS will be able to run the full season, as they announced. Enfinger is not worried about what could happen though.
“I haven’t been told I am not going somewhere yet so hopefully that stays the course. I feel like as strong as we’ve unloaded this year that I’d think that everything is going in that direction,” he said. “All that I can really say is Mike Beam had me fill out all the paperwork for Rookie of the Year and said that I’d be running for it.
“We’ll have to wait and see, I guess, but I’m excited for any chance that I get to get behind the wheel of one of these GMS Racing Chevys.”
With uncertainty in the air, there’s only thing that Enfinger is focused on, and that is getting the job done behind the wheel.
“I’ve been waiting for a long time to get this opportunity, and very thankful that I have the opportunity that I do here at GMS Racing,” he said. “It’s my first year in the Truck Series, but I’ve been racing forever, and I do have a lot of experience in a lot of other divisions.
“Like I said, I’m happy to get the chance and definitely hell-bent on making the most of it.”
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