It’s hard to believe it was just two years ago that Grant Enfinger was celebrating his first career win in victory lane at Mobile International Speedway. Saturday, the Fairhope, Ala. native celebrated his third straight win at Mobile and 10th victory overall in ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards competition.
“I have so many people here today, watching this,” Enfinger said. “It’s unbelievable. It seems like it took forever to get the first one.”
Enfinger, in the No. 23 Snap Track-DSLD Homes-Allegiant Travel Chevrolet, widened his series point lead with his second straight win. It’s the second year in a row he’s started the season with victories at Daytona and Mobile. He started the race second and led on four different occasions for 161 laps, dominating the 205-lap race, which went five laps beyond the scheduled 200 after a green-white-checkered finish.
Brandon Jones was second in the No. 25 Ansell-Menards Toyota and Josh Williams third in his family-owned and operated No. 6 Southwest Florida Cable Construction Chevrolet. Austin Wayne Self, in the AM Technical Solutions Ford, was fourth, ahead of Kyle Weatherman in fifth in the No. 22 Cunningham Motorsports Dodge. Matt Tifft finished sixth in the Federated Auto Parts No. 52 Chevrolet, Thomas Praytor a career-best seventh in the DK-LOK Ford and Michael Lira eighth in the Gary Yeomans No. 58 Ford.
Dominic Ursetta, in his ARCA debut in the No. 55 Mosquito Patch-Arvada Excavating-PDS Toyota, finished ninth. Brian Finney, driving the Finney Racing-Bob Steele Chevrolet, finished 10th.
Enfinger led the first 54 laps, then pitted, giving up the lead to Tom Hessert for three laps. Praytor was credited with leading lap 58 before Enfinger got to the front again, leading for 40 laps. Enfinger took the lead for good on lap 145 after falling outside the top three during a green flag run.
“I felt like we had the class of the field for 50 laps, but we had to hold on after that,” Enfinger said. “At one point, we sort of fell back a little bit. But, the cautions played out the way we needed it to. (Crew chief) Jeff Stankiewicz pulled us in to pit road at the right times.”
The 11th and final caution flew on lap 198 when Finney and rookie Ronnie Osmer came together, which set up the green-white-checkered finish. Enfinger got out in front quickly with Williams and Jones swapping the second and third spot. Williams said he felt he could have gotten to Enfinger because he had fresher tires.
“We had fresher tires than Grant,” Williams said. “The No. 25 got into us a bit. I don’t know. I’ve been taught to race clean. I never touched him all day. We should have been in victory lane right now.”
Williams is a career-high second in the ARCA Racing Series point standings after two races of the season.
Jones said he tried to maintain his line to get to the leader.
“We struggled in three and four a little bit and he struggled a bit in one and two,” Jones said. “I thought if I could maintain that I could get there. Grant is a great driver.”
One of the 11 cautions flew for Will Kimmel, driver of the No. 69 Kimmel Racing Ford. In a rare type of incident, Kimmel’s car went airborne off turn one and sailed down the hill, into and over a concrete barrier. Kimmel walked away from the accident unhurt. His car came to rest about two football fields away from the track.
The incident caused a 10-minute red flag as crews worked to put the concrete barrier back in place. The race took one hour and 56 minutes to complete.
Because Friday’s Menards Pole Qualifying was rained out, Self started on the pole as the driver of the No. 98 defending championship team. He drove one of the new composite body cars, the first ARCA race in which the cars raced.
“It was great to get to drive the new composite body,” Self said. “We had a really, really good race car. The guys did a great job working on it and to get a top five finish is good. I think we have a car that could have given Grant a run for that jukebox. We’re definitely going to have a lot of momentum going to Nashville.”
Self was referring to the jukebox trophy, sometimes called the coolest trophy in motorsports. Enfinger now has three of them.
“It’s going back to the shop for now,” Enfinger said. “I’m not sure who is going to claim it. All I know is there are a lot of people that mean a lot to me that are here today. It’s a pretty great feeling.”
– ARCA Racing Series Press Release & Photo