EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

4 pedal to the metal questions for Grant Enfinger

Grant Enfinger joins Trey Campbell. Photo via: Wiki Commons

I was lucky enough to sit down and talk to one of the Premier NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series drivers, Grant Enfinger. We talked about Friday's race at Martinsville and what some of the keys are to survive this tough track. We also talked about his week at Texas and what position that puts him in going forward into the rest of the season. Grant has been one of my favorites to watch ever since I have watched him in the old ARCA Series so it was good to talk to him on the phone.

SportsMap: I am joined here today by one of the premier NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series Drivers Mr. Grant Enfinger. Thank you so much for joining me.

Grant Enfinger: Yeah! Thanks for having me.

SM: So can you talk a little bit about your race at Texas and what happened with your truck? I understand you had some engine issues? What exactly went wrong there?

GE: Yeah It was definitely an unfortunate event there. When we unloaded the truck we weren't where we needed to be. But my crew-chief Jeff Hensley and the guys worked hard to get this #98 Champion Power Tools Ford F-150 where it needed to be, and we were battling for seventh and eight and the engine started missing for about a half a lap and it just blew up all of [a] sudden. It was just unfortunate that it had to happen in a critical race and it kind of put our backs behind the walls for Martinsville. But we got a good group of guys and I think we will have a good shot at it.

SM: So you mentioned you guys are going to Martinsville this week where we see a lot of beating and banging and you'll be contending against your teammates Ben Rhodes and Matt Crafton for the final spot in the championship. Will you be racing those guys any different knowing how much is on the line?

GE: Well for us, it's a little bit different you know. Me and Ben are in a position that we have to win so us at ThorSport have quite our work cut out for us each weekend. We aren't all in the spot we want to be in. It would be much better if we all had a points cushion going into this but none of us have that. So obliviously we don't want to put our teammates in a bad spot but when it comes down to it at Martinsville on that last restart, anything goes. So hopefully we have a Champion Fire Equipment Ford F-150 that is good enough to stay up front and not have to worry too much about it.

SM: So with this year being as strange as it is, NASCAR has had to make a lot of changes from the Choose Rule to there being no practice and qualifying. Which rule change has been the most difficult to adjust to?

GE: There have definitely been a lot of changes for this year especially there being no fans or limited amounts of fans and that's really going to have a big effect on our sport. Plus, the sponsors can't come down into the garage area and be around the team so it's been different. But I think the biggest change performance wise has been losing practice and qualifying. I don't feel like it effects the cup guys too much or the top dozen in the Xfinity Series cause of the cup technology. But for us, we are still racing and there is a lot of old school type of guesses. We don't have it down to an exact science and my crew chief Jeff Hensely kind of has to go with his gut on some of the setups, but I feel like we have done okay for the most part.

SM: So looking forward to 2021, what are some of the plans for the Truck Series next season? Will we be seeing anything new with the truck rules package or with the schedule?

GE: I think for the most part our rules package will pretty much stay the same. Of course, NASCAR is never scared to change anything last minute but that seems to be the direction we are going. As far as the schedule, I know that we are going to some new tracks next year. Our schedule hasn't been confirmed, but from what I'm hearing, we will be going to some new places so it should be an interesting season next year.

You can hear the interview in its entirety below.

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Yuli Gurriel had a monster night at the plate Friday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

Although they lost the series 2-1, the Astros ended their road trip with a nice win over the Yankees to head home on a positive note. On Friday, they welcomed in the Toronto Blue Jays and former teammate George Springer, currently on the IL, to start a three-game series and long homestand. They had an excellent night at the plate, along with a strong start from Jose Urquidy, cruising past the Blue Jays to take the opener.

Final Score: Astros 10, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 17-15, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (3-2)

Losing Pitcher: Ross Stripling (0-2)

Jays strike first, then Houston responds and never looks back

It first appeared that Urquidy may be in for a long night, giving up two solo home runs early in Friday's game, one to Bo Bichette in the top of the first with one out to put Toronto up 1-0, then another to Danny Jansen in the top of the third. However, Urquidy would lock-in, and his offense would back him up strongly.

Houston ended up sending nine batters to the plate in the bottom of the second, getting two runs on a homer by Carlos Correa, then later loading the bases to set up an RBI walk by Alex Bregman. In the bottom of the fifth, with a one-run lead at 3-2, Yuli Gurriel expanded the lead to three runs on a two-run shot.

Gurriel went on to have a fantastic night, going 4-for-4 at the plate with 4 RBI. His third of those came in the bottom of the seventh, extending the lead again with an RBI single to make it 6-2. Kyle Tucker made it a five-run game that same inning with an RBI double, then more insurance came in the bottom of the eighth. They reached double-digits that inning, with Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, and Yuli Gurriel, his fourth of the night, all getting an RBI to make it 10-2.

Urquidy finishes seven, then Emanuel finishes it off

Those gave Urquidy plenty of support, though he would bounce back after the two early homers and have a nice night on the mound. He allowed just two other hits, working around both, en route to a seven-inning two-run performance to earn him the win. His final line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2 HR, 84 P.

He likely could have gone longer, but Dusty Baker turned the ball over to Kent Emanuel to wrap things up with the significant lead. He did so, despite allowing a two-run home run to former-Astro Teoscor Hernandez in the top of the ninth to make the score 10-4. The win kept the Astros above .500 and two games back of the A's, who sit atop the AL West standings.

Up Next: The middle game of this series will be a 6:10 PM start Saturday night. The pitching matchup will be Steven Matz (4-2, 4.78 ERA) for Toronto and the electric Cristian Javier (3-0, 1.75 ERA) for Houston.

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