When Legacy Motor Club announced Noah Gragson was out for this weekend’s race at Sonoma, many were surprised at the announcement of his replacement, Grant Enfinger. Enfinger is one of the better drivers in NASCAR’s Craftsman Truck Series, and he has carved a nice career for himself in that series.
But how did he get here? How close did he comes to making a Cup Series start years ago? Here is Grant Enfinger’s ride to the Cup Series.
2008-2011: Late Start in ARCA
In a day and age where most stock car drivers are beginning in ARCA in their later teens, Enfinger did not make his first ARCA Menards Series start until the age of 23. He ran four ARCA races in 2008, failing to finish all four. He did make a splash on the short track scene that year winning the Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway and finishing second in the Snowball Derby.
Enfinger would return to ARCA competition in 2009 for seven races primarily as an owner-driver. He would impress finishing all of his races with five top-10 finishes.
His best finish was second, which came twice. He would lead 35 laps and finish second to Parker Kligerman at Kentucky Speedway. The other second place finish for Enfinger came at Chicagoland Speedway where he would finish less than a car length behind Justin Lofton.
2010 was a similar story with five more top-10s in seven races with a best finish of third for Enfinger. He would also make his first career Truck Series start at Talladega, finishing 22nd. In 2011, at the age of 26, Enfinger finally raced his first full-time ARCA Season.
In 2011, Enfinger ran his first full-time season in ARCA for Justin Allgaier’s dad, Mike. Enfinger would finish fourth in the points with 14 top-10s and seven top-5s. Unfortunately, Enfinger was not able to get to Victory Lane despite multiple close calls.
He led the most laps at Berlin after winning his first career pole, but would finish third. At Toledo, he would be edged by eventual series champion Ty Dillon. Enfinger impressed enough that he invited to make the jump all the way up to the Cup Series.
2011-2013: Cup Series Dreams Dashed, but a Resurgence in ARCA.
Later in 2011, it was announced that Enfinger would attempt select Cup Series races for new car owner George Sinica. Enfinger would attempt the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2011, and between 10-15 races in 2012 according to Deb Williams of Racin’ Today.
At Homestead, Enfinger was 48th out of 48 cars on qualifying day, and he failed to make the show. That offseason, Enfinger parted ways with Sinica, and Enfinger had to start over.
In 2012, Enfinger would make select starts in the Truck Series and the ARCA Menards Series for multiple teams. He led his first lap in the Truck Series at Las Vegas running for Brad Keselowski. In 2013, at the age of 28, Enfinger finally had his breakthrough.
Running eight races in 2013 in ARCA for Howard Bixman, Enfinger finally won his first career ARCA race at Mobile leading 165 laps. He was not done yet as he won his second career race at Iowa Speedway later that year.
In 2014, Enfinger moved back up to ARCA full-time. Finally, he began to taste some of the success that eluded him in early years.
2014-2015: ARCA Menards Series Champion
In 2014, Enfinger was back in ARCA competition full-time. He won each of the first three races of the season, leading the most laps in all three. Partway through the season, Enfinger moved to race for Maurey Gallagher, and Enfinger continued to succeed.
He would win six races that season, but two DNFs in the final two races of the season dashed any hopes of a championship. Still, he would finish second in the points, by far his best professional racing season.
In 2015, he picked up right where he left off, once again winning each of the first three races. However, he cleaned up some of the inconsistencies from the previous season with only two DNFs. Winning three of four races late in the season was enough for Enfinger to pull away from Austin Wayne Self to win the championship by an astounding 425 points.
Seven years after making his ARCA debut, Enfinger was now a champion. As a result, a promotion awaited him.
2016-2023: Move to the Truck Series
Enfinger would move up to the Truck Series with Gallagher in 2016, running eight races. Despite not running a Truck Series race in four years, Enfinger won the pole for the season opener at Daytona. He would finish 20th, but he would quietly run well in his limited schedule recording four top-10s in his next five starts.
At Talladega, Enfinger broke through leading 45 of 94 laps and winning over teammate Spencer Gallagher. It was Enfinger’s first Truck Series win, and it came at the age of 31. He moved up to full-time Truck Series competition with country music record company executive Mike Curb.
Enfinger ran four full-time seasons for Curb, bringing Enfinger some career stability that had not been there previously. He would win his second career race in 2018 at Las Vegas, and qualified for the playoffs in 2018 and 2019.
In 2020, Enfinger would have his best season yet winning four races and qualifying for the Championship Four. He would qualify on the pole for the Championship race at Phoenix, but he would finish a disappointing 13th, the lowest of all Championship Four drivers.
2021 was a difficult year for Enfinger as, despite the previous year’s performance, he was relegated to a part-time schedule with Curb. After missing the second race of the season at the Daytona Road Course, Enfinger filled out the rest of his schedule driving part-time for Curb and Codie Rohrbaugh. Because of missing that one race, however, Enfinger missed the Playoffs for the first time since 2017.
Maury Gallagher once again helped Enfinger out, giving Enfinger a full-time ride for 2022 with GMS, where the two still run together to this day. They have won three races together.
In 2023, Legacy Motor Club, a team Gallagher co-runs with Jimmie Johnson, needed a substitute for Sonoma. They picked Enfinger to run his first Cup Series race.
Fifteen years after his first career ARCA race, and 12 years after his first Cup Series attempt. Enfinger will finally get the chance to race at NASCAR’s top level. One thing is for sure, he definitely earned it.