LONG POND, Pa. — Ahead of Saturday’s regular-season finale at Pocono Raceway, two spots remained in the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs. Zane Smith, Chandler Smith, Ben Rhodes, John Hunter Nemechek and Stewart Friesen already clinched with wins while Christian Eckes, Ty Majeski and Carson Hocevar all clinched with points.
However, Truck Series veterans Grant Enfinger and Matt Crafton still needed to clinch during Saturday’s race at Pocono. A new winner could have potentially knocked either out, but Smith won his second race of the season and Enfinger and Crafton both advanced to the playoffs.
Enfinger started Saturday’s CRC Brakleen 150 with issues before the race even started. His truck had trouble firing on pit road and he later pitted with radio issues. Enfinger perservered for a 17th place finish to secure the No. 9 seed in the 10-truck playoff field.
“We did what we had to do,” Enfinger said. “We actually had a pretty good truck after we got going in the third stage, then the longer we ran, the more the front tires went away on it.”
In 16 races this season, Enfinger has three top fives and seven top-10 finishes. Notably, Enfinger finished third in consecutive races at Darlington and Kansas and finished second at Charlotte. However, he’s finished outside the top 10 in each of his last three races.
“We get to hit the reset button and go to IRP (Indianapolis Raceway Park) next week with a shot to win a championship,” Enfinger said. “We got to do what we all know we can do. That is, go out there with the speed that we can build and go fight for wins, go fight for stage wins. We’ve got a beautiful second chance starting next week.”
Matt Crafton finished 15th after a slow pit stop in the middle of the race dropped him to mid-pack. Crafton crawled up a few positions and remained above the cutline to secure the final playoff spot.
“There was definitely a little bit of pressure,” Crafton said. “It was such a hard season. It was absolutely the crappiest year that I’ve had to date that I can remember in the Truck Series. We would have one good race and then the next three or four would be terrible.
“We were beating ourselves way too many times this year, and now, I think we’ve got the problem under control.”
Crafton beat out Derek Kraus by 17 points for the final playoff position. Kraus needed a strong day and help from Crafton to clinch a spot or he needed to win the race.
“I knew it would be tough to gain 19 points on [Crafton],” Kraus said. “We were able to gain quite a bit throughout the last five, six races, but 19 points one day would be tough and at the end of the day, we weren’t able to do it.”
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs start Friday, July 29 at Indianapolis Raceway Park. The race is scheduled for 9 p.m. ET on FS1.
Richmond Raceway and Kansas Speedway complete the Round of 10 races. Bristol Motor Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway are in the Round of 8, setting up the championship race at Phoenix Raceway.