Phoenix Raceway CRAFTSMAN 150 Race Preview
Grant Enfinger, No. 23 Champion Power Equipment Chevrolet Silverado RST
Phoenix Raceway Stats
– NCTS Starts: 6; Poles: 1 (2020); Best finish: 4th (2018); Top 5s: 2; Top 10s: 3; Laps led: 12
2023 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Season Stats
– Starts: 22; Wins: 3 (Kansas I, WWT Raceway, Milwaukee); Poles: 1 (Milwaukee); Stage wins: 3; Top-5s: 9; Top-10s: 12; Laps led: 232; Current points position: Tied for 1st
– About Champion Power Equipment: Since 2003, Champion Power Equipment has earned a reputation for designing and producing the market’s finest power equipment. From our original headquarters in Santa Fe Springs, California, Champion has expanded its North American footprint to include facilities in Jackson, Tennessee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Toronto Canada. Today, Champion’s product line has expanded to include portable generators, home standby generators, inverter generators, engines, winches and log splitters. With over 2.5 million generators sold in North America, Champion is a market leader in the power equipment field. Visit ChampionPowerEquipment.com for more information.
– Chassis History/Info: Enfinger and the No. 23 team will compete with GMS Racing chassis no. 357 at Phoenix Raceway. This chassis made its debut at the Milwaukee Mile back in August, where it qualified on the pole and was driven to the race win. Its second, and most recent start came at Bristol Motor Speedway, where Grant rallied to a third place finish. It is the newest truck in the GMS stable, and entering the season finale, this chassis has an average finish of 2.0.
– We Were GMS: Friday night’s Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix Raceway marks the final start for GMS Racing. Founded in 2012 by Maury Gallagher, and directed by Mike Beam and Ron Booth at the helm, it’s been an incredible journey throughout the years. A true powerhouse organization, GMS has accounted for a total of 71 race victories (one in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, 45 in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series, 15 in the ARCA Menards Series, nine in the ARCA Menards Series East, and one in the ARCA Menards Series West), 42 pole positions (28 in the Truck Series, seven in ARCA, four in ARCA East, and three in ARCA West), 260 top-fives and 465 top-10 finishes in nearly 1,000 combined starts. GMS Racing was a five-time championship-winning team, conquering the 2015 ARCA Menards Series title, 2016 and 2020 NASCAR Truck Series championships, as well as the 2019 and 2020 ARCA Menards Series East championships, delivered by Grant Enfinger, Johnny Sauter, Sheldon Creed, and Sam Mayer, respectively. This may be the end of the road for the storied organization, but its history will continue through its successor, LEGACY MOTOR CLUB™, in the NASCAR Cup Series.
– Powering Champions: Friday will naturally also mark the end of GMS Racing’s longstanding partnership with Champion Power Equipment. Originating as a product-based partnership in 2015, the brand saw immediate success in their first primary sponsored race in the ARCA Menards Series season finale at Kansas Speedway, where Enfinger flew their colors all the way to the championship stage. In the years since, Champion has grown their partnership immensely with Enfinger, and has quickly become an iconic driver-sponsor combination in the Truck Series. When Grant rejoined GMS Racing in 2022, Champion came with him, and has proudly been stamped as the primary sponsor on his No. 23 Chevrolet in every race except for four over the past two seasons. As the team’s personnel look back on the years, we will miss the fun, vibrant days of activating with race fans in the campgrounds, sitting around the campfire while enjoying team dinners, and all of the countless great times we have had. To Dennis, Marty, Nancy, Todd, Marion, and the entire employee base that has been a part of this incredible partnership, we thank you and wish the absolute best for your future in the sport.
– GMS Racing at Phoenix: GMS Racing has won two CRAFTSMAN Truck Series races at Phoenix Raceway, winning first in 2017 with Johnny Sauter and then in 2020 with Sheldon Creed in the championship race. Its drivers have secured seven top-five finishes in the Truck Series, and 15 top-10 results.
– Enfinger at Phoenix: Grant has two top-five finishes at Phoenix Raceway including a fourth-place finish in 2018 and a fifth-place finish in 2019. Last year, he came home with a sixth-place result, nabbing his third top-10 at the 1.0-mile track. He owns one pole award, which was by virtue of the metric starting data in the 2020 season finale.
– Hensley at Phoenix: Jeff Hensley will make his 20th-career Truck Series start as a crew chief at Phoenix this coming week. Highlights at this track for Hensley include two poles (2007 with Mike Skinner and 2020 with Enfinger), five top-fives, and nine top-10 finishes. He has finished third here two times in the NCTS race, first in 2006 with Skinner and second in 2011 with Ron Hornaday. Hensley also made three NASCAR Xfinity Series starts here from 1999-2001.
– Run it Back: Grant Enfinger will embark on his second appearance in the Championship 4 for the Truck Series. His first appearance in the championship fight was in 2020, which notably came while he was competing against three GMS Racing drivers for the series title. Paired with Jeff Hensley, the duo were on their way to what appeared to be a runner-up finish to Brett Moffitt, until a late-race caution came out and split the strategies amongst the four competitors. The decision was made to stay out and bank on track position, but ultimately it was Sheldon Creed, who pitted, that stole the title. A tough defeat for Enfinger and Hensley, they have returned to fight once again, and will look back on the experience as motivation. Regardless of how the race will play out, the No. 23 team has had a season to be proud of.
– History Can Be Made For Hensley: Jeff Hensley has the opportunity to make NASCAR history with a unique stat line should he win the title on Friday night. The crew chief has the ability to hold the record for the longest gap between championship celebrations across the three NASCAR national series at 33 years apart. Hensley won the 1990 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship with Chuck Bown, and began his career as a crew chief in 1987. He made the transition over to the Truck Series in 2004, and is still searching for his first title in that series.
– Good Omen?: For those who relish in unique stats, Enfinger’s 10 NCTS race wins have all came on different racetracks (Talladega Superspeedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Daytona International Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Richmond Raceway, Martinsville Speedway, Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, Kansas Speedway, World Wide Technology Raceway, and the Milwaukee Mile). He has yet to win at Phoenix Raceway throughout his veteran career, so could we witness another new addition to the trophy case?
– Baby on Board: Congratulations to Grant and his wife, Michelle, who welcomed their second child last week, adding Caroline Page to their family. The Enfingers now have a baby sister to play with their son Carson, who is two years old.
– #FearTheFinger Championship 4 Profile: Grant Enfinger and Jeff Hensley have led the No. 23 GMS Racing team to a season highlighted by three race wins at Kansas Speedway, World Wide Technology Raceway, and the Milwaukee Mile, the latest of which was won from the pole. Their nine top-fives rank fourth in the series, and 2023 has arguably been one of Enfinger’s best seasons yet. He will look to put the ‘Champion’ in Champion Power Equipment by winning his first-career Truck Series championship on Friday.
– GE Appearances: Fans attending the CRAFTSMAN 150 will have three opportunities to meet Grant Enfinger at Phoenix Raceway.
Team Chevy Stage Q&A Session | Friday, Nov. 3rd: All three GMS Racing drivers will visit the Team Chevy stage in the Phoenix Raceway fan zone behind the grandstands for a Q&A session from 11:30 AM to 11:45 AM local time.
NCTS Driver Autograph Session | Friday, Nov. 3rd: Grant will sign autographs along with several Truck Series drivers in the Phoenix Raceway infield fan zone from 1:30 PM to 2:00 PM local time.
Championship 4 Q&A Session | Friday, Nov. 3rd: Enfinger will partake in a Q&A session with the three other Championship 4 contenders in the Phoenix Raceway infield fan zone from 2:00 PM to 2:15 PM local time.
– Sweet Home Alabama: Should he win the CRAFTSMAN Truck Series championship on Friday night, one of Enfinger’s favorite songs of all time, Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd will blast on the track’s PA system for all of the fans to enjoy. A natural choice for the pride of Fairhope, Alabama, this is the song of his home state!
– From the Driver’s Seat: Now that you’ve made it to Phoenix, what is it going to take to win the championship on Friday night?
“I’d say the biggest thing for our group is just don’t beat ourselves. We have had great trucks all year and there’s been winning speed at a good amount of races. I feel like even though we might not have been the best truck at Gateway, we were a top-three truck at the end of it, and when we turned around to Milwaukee, I feel that no question we had the best truck out there. Gateway and Milwaukee aren’t exactly like Phoenix, but there are some characteristics there that translate well between the three. We’re taking the same truck that we ran with at Milwaukee, and I don’t think that there’s been too much of a change in the truck package and from the racetrack as a whole to where we know what to expect. It’ll be the same tire, and our guys have been preparing so much for this race. I’m going into this weekend with the mentality of we need to win this race to secure the deal. And I am confident in our team that we will have a Champion Power Equipment Chevy that can contend on Friday night.”
How special would it be to send GMS Racing off by delivering them a championship in the team’s last race?
“That is certainly what everybody desires. I know for Jeff and I personally, we both feel like we owe a lot to Maury and Spencer Gallagher, Mike Beam, and Ron Booth. They have been a big part of my career and gave me my first big break in the ARCA Series back in 2014. But not only that, they’ve given so much to the series as a whole. They’ve been so good and have helped so many drivers, teams, and crew chiefs along the way and it would be very special to get them one last championship in their final race. We want to send them off the right way for sure, but at the end of the day the guys that we are racing against want it too. I feel like we are in a position with our organization and the speed of our trucks that if we do everything right, I think we can beat the other three guys at their best. That’s been our focus to control everything we can control on our end. Now if we stumble some and show up with a top-five truck, we might need some help. But that’s not the mentality we’re going into it with.”
– From the Pit Box (Jeff Hensley): Here we are three years later with another chance at a championship with Grant. What has the preparation been like in the shop, and have you felt any pressure?
“I don’t put any extra pressure on this week. It’s just another race, I mean really if you think about it. We’ve run 22 to get to this point, and Phoenix is the 23rd. You have to treat it like it’s a normal race because you’re going to try to do the best you can every week anyway. Phoenix is a track that we’ve been okay at in the past, not great, but the thing about the way the championship is set up now is that you’re just racing against three other guys; you’re not necessarily racing against the whole field. I think the last couple of times that we’ve raced there, we’ve been somewhere around the top-five, so we’re not bad. I hope we can be a little bit better there this time though. This is the truck that we won Milwaukee with, so it’s a good piece, and we’ve learned some stuff at Gateway and Milwaukee to hopefully be prepped for Phoenix. If we can just put it all together out there I think we can be decent and have a good run. We’ve got to capitalize and not make any stupid mistakes and see what happened.”
What lessons did you take away from the race in 2020 that you can use to your advantage in this fight?
“I think this time we have to listen to what I’m saying on the pit box and come and get four tires.” He jokes. “New tires mean something there, so we just have to recognize the situation and come get them when you need them. I think anything over 10 or 12 laps on them, you’ve got to get new tires; if not, you’re going to be in trouble. As far as learning, we were pretty good that night but we didn’t execute like we should have, and consequently we didn’t win it. I thought we had a good shot at it up until that point, but hopefully we don’t make any of those mistakes again.
– Round: NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race no. 23 of 23 (Playoffs Championship 4)
– Track Location: Phoenix Raceway – Avondale, Arizona
– Race Name: CRAFTSMAN 150
– Broadcast: Friday, November 3rd at 10:00 PM ET live on FS1 (TV), MRN (Radio), and Sirius XM NASCAR Channel 90