By: Ashley McCubbin
With just three top-10 finishes through seven races in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, it’s safe to say that things haven’t totally gone to plan for Grant Enfinger. Fortunately, there’s optimism heading into Kansas Speedway, which he shared with NEWS FROM THE PITS.
What are your thoughts going into the next Truck Series event at Kansas Speedway?
Overall, I’m pretty excited about Kansas. Normally we like to keep racing every week, but we needed this break these past couple weeks to regroup and get stuff cleaned up at our end. Overall, we’ve been lacking a little bit. We just haven’t been executing to our standards of what we want to do, and our regroup has allowed us to see what we’ve been doing right, and what we’ve been doing wrong. So I’m pumped up about Kansas. We finished stronger there last year. We didn’t have the best race truck at the beginning, so we have a solid direction on what we need going back there.
What’s the biggest challenge of Kansas Speedway compared to other intermediate tracks?
A lot of the intermediate tracks we go to with all the series, especially the truck series, it’s about restarts and track position. You don’t see a lot of green flag passes. That’s just kind of the era that we’re in with the rules that NASCAR gives us to work with. But Kansas is like one of those places that if someone is trying to block your air, you can run from the bottom all the way to the wall. As a driver, you like places like that. There are a lot of places we go that – like the last mile and a half that we were at with Texas (Motor Speedway) – you can’t take air away like that so track position is critical. It’s hard to get around people so you need to be a lot faster than people to get around them.
Kansas isn’t that way. It’s a place that you can run any groove there, as long as your truck is handling well. You have to have speed – but you have to have drivability in your truck. There’s a lot of tire fall off there – not as bad as like where we’re going the following week with Darlington – but still to where we’re a second and a half off at the end of a run. We like that change. You want to see some comers and goers. You want to be able to pass guys. So as far as mile and halves, I feel like Kansas is one of the better ones that we go to.
How would you grade your season so far?
I wouldn’t say we’re failing, but we’re not excelling. There’s things that I feel like between our team and organization has done well this year, but overall, we have had very few clean races for us. I don’t think myself or Jeff (Hensley) or anyone – we’ve each made some small mistakes that we don’t usually make. It’s cost us more than it usually costs us. So I think overall our potential is there. I think after last year, I was a little bit worried because I feel if we hit everything perfect, we didn’t have all the pieces of the puzzle to win races. This year, it’s a little bit of a different challenge. I feel we have all the pieces of the puzzle at our disposal. We just haven’t really executed to our standard. So I think we have to get back to basics for us, and I got to do my part on the track.
Just overall, we have to operate a little cleaner. I feel like the dirt race a few weeks ago went really well for us. I feel like it was one of those weeks that we had a fifth-place truck, ran decent all night, finished fifth – it was one of those races, but there’s three or four of those, we’ve done the opposite of that. We had a good truck and didn’t show it, or maybe I made a mistake on a restart and it costs us track position and we haven’t been quite good enough to get it back. What gets me and why I’m feeling optimistic about everything is we have the tools and parts and pieces here to win races. as a driver, you kind of weigh it on your shoulders and as a team, you want the ability that hey if I do my job, I have the ability to have those results.
I feel optimistic about going to Kansas. I really feel good about these next five in a row that we’re going to. Just ready to get back to the track. I was ready for a bit of a break there, and now I’m ready to get back to the track.
There’s a lot of questions on whether we’re going to see another dirt race in the future, and at Bristol. Is that something that you’d like to see the series continue to have?
In my opinion, the truck series needs to for sure continue to go to the dirt. I think it’s what it made our series special ever since they first put a truck on the track at Eldora, there was always a level of excitement there and a little electricity around that race. It was always something special and I feel like it has lost its luster a little bit. Not to say that it wasn’t an awesome idea – I feel like the first year was awesome to put dirt on Bristol. I think that was a great move. I don’t think we need to continue to do that. I think we need to go to a true dirt track. I think we left a great one in Eldora. I think there’s some other great ones out there.
I don’t think Knoxville was supported enough to justify going back there, but I feel like DuQoin or Eldora or something like that is something the truck needs to experiment with and go to. If we have a diverse series – running dirt tracks, short tracks, big tracks – we’re going to North Wilksboro this year. I think the dirt track is part of that blue collar roots of the truck series and I think we need to continue to go to a dirt track.
What track are you most excited to get to in the rest of the season?
That’s easy – North Wilksboro. That’s a place that’s been on my bucket list. I’m just excited NASCAR is going back there. I think it’s awesome that they haven’t paved that place. We’re going to see tire strategies, comers and goers, and tire fall-off like the fans have ever seen before. I’m extremely excited about that one. I’ve never been to North Wilksboro or Milwaukee. There’s so much history and so much has been done in Wilksboro by our heroes. I think it’s awesome that they’ve rehabbed that place and I went up there a month or so ago and they did just a phenomenal job in keeping true to the history, but well enough to have a Cup Series race and Truck Series race there. I think I’m going to be as excited to drive on that as I am to just be a race fan that weekend. That was an easy question there.
I’ll throw one more on you. Which track do you wish was on the schedule that currently is not?
I think the Truck Series has a history of having really well received races in markets that we’re not with the Cup cars. I think we’re with the Cup cars for 16 or 17 races out of the season. I feel like tracks like Mosport (Canadian Tire Motorsports Park) and Gateway before there was a Cup date, Eldora – tracks that the communities received our races and I feel like we brought a more blue collar fan base out. I feel like we need to go to Pennsacola, Florida – I think 5 Flags Speedway would host a heck of a truck race there, and I think it would be supported like probably as good or better than any short track in the country. That’s a place that would put on a great show. I think it’d be a great race – not just a fall in the leader track unfortunately.
As much as I love Martinsville, it has turned into a track position race, and you don’t have to worry about that at Pennsacola. It’s going to be a lot of tire wear, you’re going to be able to move around a little bit – so I think that’s a track they need to look at for adding to the schedule.
Categories: Feature, Interview, NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series
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