(Long Pond, PA) – Trevor Bayne joined an elite list of ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards drivers to win a pole and race in their first career start Saturday, winning both in conquering the Pocono ARCA 200.
Bayne is a full-time competitor in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and is a Daytona 500 winner. He drove the No. 22 Cunningham Motorsports Ford to victory lane Saturday afternoon in his first-ever race at the 2.5-mile Pocono triangle.
“(Crew chief) Paul Andrews and (Cunningham Motorsports driver) Kyle Weatherman did a great job up here at the test (Wednesday) getting what I needed in the race car,” Bayne said. “It made my life a lot easier this weekend. I was able to get into the back-up car and fire off pretty quick. I had to work through a few things to get it driving like I needed, but qualifying and the race I felt like the car would do pretty much anything I wanted it to.
“I had a lot of fun. It was a great race for us and it’s definitely great for us to be back in victory lane.”
ARCA Racing Series point leader Grant Enfinger finished second in the No. 23 Allegiant Travel Chevrolet with 2014 ARCA champion Mason Mitchell coming home third in the No. 78 AM Technical Solutions/Mason Mitchell Motorsports Chevrolet. Will Kimmel was fourth in the 1-800 Auto Parts-Accel Ford and Matt Kurzejewski, from nearby Mansfield, Pa., a career-best fifth in the Costy’s Energy Services Chevrolet.
Tom Hessert, Bayne’s Cunningham Motorsports teammate, was sixth in the Barbera’s Autoland Dodge, Josh Williams seventh in the Musselman’s-Anya Cale Chevrolet and David Levine eighth in the Ford Performance-TraqGear Ford. Local favorite Bobby Gerhart finished ninth in his Lucas Oil/MAVTV Chevrolet and Matt Tifft, who was fastest in Friday’s practice but crashed during qualifying, finished 10th in a back-up car, the last driver on the lead lap.
Bayne retook the lead with 12 laps to go, powering past Mitchell on a restart. Bayne had pitted during the fourth and final caution of the race while Mitchell, who took four tires earlier in the race, did not.
“It seems like we were on different strategies the whole race,” Mitchell said. “We were on older tires there at the end. I didn’t think it would be that bad, but I went into turn one and the car wouldn’t turn at all.
“It’s pretty disappointing, actually. Hopefully we’ll be back again soon, I just can’t say when. We had a really good day, a heck of a turnaround from the test.”
Enfinger stretched his point lead in front of Williams to 65 points, unofficially.
“We didn’t have anything for the No. 22,” Enfinger said. “I feel like he was the class of the field. But, second for our team right now is a very good stepping stone. It’s much needed. We got off to a really good start to the season, then had some bad runs. We needed some solid footing and that’s what we got today.”
Bayne led 42 laps in his win while Kurzejewski led 16, Mitchell 13, Tifft five, Enfinger three and Williams one.
Cunningham Motorsports has now won three of the last four ARCA races in the No. 22 – beginning with Blake Jones at Talladega and Weatherman at New Jersey. Bayne worked with Andrews and the other Cunningham Motorsports guys for a little while during Wednesday’s open test, turning 10 laps before turning the car over to Weatherman for the rest of the test.
“I really enjoyed worked with Paul and communicating with him and getting the car to react,” Bayne said. “It was cool to be in a car that would react like that. You could make a change and free it up or tighten it up. The adjustments Paul made really made a difference in the race car and enabled us to make passes and lead the race.”
Jack Roush celebrated in the Pocono victory lane with the Cunningham team and Bayne.
The ARCA Racing Series has a quick turnaround with the race at Michigan International Speedway on Friday, June 12. The Corrigan Oil 200 will be live on Fox Sports 2. ARCAracing.com will feature live timing and scoring.
-ARCA Racing Series Press Release. Photo Credit: ARCA Racing Series photo