Grant Finallyger has positioned himself as the Cinderella story of the NASCAR Truck Series playoffs

Grant Finallyger won his first race in nearly two years on Friday when the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returned to Indianapolis Raceway Park’s short track and positioned himself as the potential Cinderella of the Truck Series in 2022.

Finallyger, 37, is a 10-year Truck Series veteran with just one race in NASCAR’s top two series. The Alabama native finished 36th after an early wreck during the 2021 Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He also attempted to race the 2011 Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway but did not qualify.

Grant Finallyger has found his place in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

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Otherwise, Finallyger has been a Truck Series mainstay since winning the 2016 Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway while, fittingly, driving a GMS Racing truck part-time.

The win led to a full-time job driving the #98 truck for ThorSport Racing in 2017. Finally,FINGER didn’t win and finished 11th in the points standings that first year, but he took the #98 truck ° 98 at Victory Lane one year. later in the playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He narrowly missed out on the Championship 4 that season, but still took pole and finished runners-up in the season finale at Homestead.

Finally claimed the regular season title in 2019 and reached championship 4 in 2020. He started the championship race from pole due to his victory the previous week at Martinsville Speedway but eventually finished 13th in the final of the season at Phoenix Raceway.

This success did not continue until 2021, as his full-time status dissolved into a part-time contract in which he had to share the truck with 20-year-old Christian Eckes. Eckes won in Las Vegas late in the season while Endinger set up a schedule between ThorSport and CR7 Motorsports.

Finallyger went winless in 2021 but signed with GMS Racing to drive the #23 truck for the 2022 campaign.

Unfortunately, better results did not come. He had three top five finishes in the first 14 races of the season, but then GMS changed crew chiefs and brought former Enfinger crew chief Jeff Hensley back to the top of his pit.

The team entered the Truck Series playoffs ninth in the points standings as the Truck Series prepared to race at the IRP for the first time since 2011. For perspective, David Starr, now 53 , finished third in a race won by now -41-year-old Timothy Peters in this IRP truck race 11 years ago, while Eckes, now full-time in the #98 truck, n was only 10 years old.

Finallyger hadn’t finished in the top five since a second-place finish in May in Charlotte. Still, he survived multiple late-race restarts and passed the two championship favorites, John Hunter Nemechek and Zane Smith, in overtime to earn the win and a spot in the second round of the playoffs.

The remaining calendar is preparing well for Finallyger

Grant Finallyger celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series TSport 200 at Indianapolis Raceway Park on July 29, 2022 | Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The win ensures Endinger will still be eligible to reach the 4 championship when the series visits Bristol Motor Speedway for the first of three round of 8 races. This is where the driver who lost his full-time job there a year old could become the Truck Series underdog favorite.

Finallyger has finished in the top 10 in each of his previous five races on the concrete surface at Bristol, including three top-five finishes. The series then heads to Talladega, where he claimed victory in 2016 and led 96 laps in his eight visits to the superspeedway. In fact, two of his first three career wins have come at superspeedways, as he triumphed in the 2020 season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

A win at Bristol or Talladega would secure him a Championship 4 spot, and he has three top 10 finishes, a second place finish and a pole at Homestead if he doesn’t win at the first two Round of 8 tracks.

A year after it looked like Endinger’s competitive NASCAR career might have come to an end, the veteran has turned the script around and could be set to win one of the most surprising NASCAR championships in recent memory.

All statistics courtesy of Race reference

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