In a dramatic three-wide, fender-banging finish to open the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series season, Grant Enfinger won Friday night’s 21st annual NextEra Energy 250 at Daytona International Speedway in “NASCAR Overtime.”
A multi-car incident on Lap 98 of the scheduled 100-lap/250-mile race caused an extended caution period that forced the race beyond the scheduled distance. The restart came on Lap 105 to start a two-lap overtime.
On the final lap, it came down to Enfinger, Jordan Anderson and Codie Rohrbaugh. Approaching the finish, Enfinger’s No. 98 Champion/Curb Records Ford was in the middle, sandwiched between Anderson (No. 3 K-Seal/Bommarito.com Chevrolet) and Rohrbaugh (No. 9 GCM/CR7 Motorsports Chevrolet), with Enfinger and Anderson doing as much rubbing as racing.
It was close – Enfinger edged Anderson by only 0.010 seconds, giving Ford their 100th victory in NASCAR Gander Trucks competition. Third-place Rohrbaugh finished 0.070 back. Derek Kraus and Natalie Decker rounded out the top five. With the fifth-place finish, Decker becomes the highest-finishing woman in series history.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Enfinger said. “The biggest thing is we had a really good Ford F-150 to do it with. God has blessed us with a great opportunity to come out here and we were able to pull it off tonight. ”
Overtime was not a surprise. The popular NASCAR Gander Trucks are typically raucous at Daytona. A reminder of that appeared quickly on Lap 16, when nine trucks were involved in a Turn 1 incident that sent rookie Ty Majeski’s No. 45 Plan B Sales Chevrolet flipping and landing on its roof. Majeski’s machine skidded down the track before coming to a halt. During the ensuing red-flag period, safety workers got the truck right-side up and Majeski emerged unscathed.
“[Being upside down] is obviously not a very good feeling,” Majeski said. “But I’m not hurt … just my pride.”
There was one practice Friday for the 62nd annual DAYTONA 500, set for Sunday at 2:30 p.m. (TV–FOX; Radio–MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.) William Byron (No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet) led the session with a lap of 204.587 mph; he was one of 23 drivers to exceed 200 mph. The fourth and final DAYTONA 500 practice is set for 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
The DAYTONA 500 opens the season for the NASCAR Cup Series, America’s premier form of motorsports. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 47 Kroger Chevrolet) will start on the pole. On Thursday night, Byron and 2015 DAYTONA 500 champion Joey Logano won the two Bluegreen Vacations Duel At DAYTONA qualifying races that established the starting grid for “The Great American Race.”
The NASCAR Xfinity Series opens its season on Saturday (2:30 p.m.) with the NASCAR Racing Experience 300. Two practices for that race were held Friday. Noah Gragson (No. 9 Bass Pro Shops/BRCC Chevrolet) led the first practice with a best lap of 190.621. Caesar Bacarella (No. 90 Maxim/Alpha Prime Regimen Chevrolet) topped the second session at 186.293. Qualifying for the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 will be Saturday at 11 a.m.
Tickets for the 50th annual DAYTONA Supercross on March 7 and all other Daytona International Speedway events can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat, and by downloading Daytona International Speedway’s mobile app, for the latest Speedway news throughout the season.