Veteran Enfinger holds off rookie Cindric in ARCA thriller at Pocono
LONG POND, Pa. (June 3, 2016) – ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards veteran Grant Enfinger held off a hard-charging, hungry rookie to win Friday’s hard-fought General Tire #AnywhereIsPossible200 at Pocono Raceway.
Despite being in the fuel conversation mode over the last 20 laps, Enfinger had to go as hard as he could over the final three laps to hold off Austin Cindric who had been chopping off as much as a half-second per lap over the final 10.
“We didn’t have the car to do it with…we made so many wholesale changes to the car over the week to get here,” Enfinger said. “We were losing fuel pressure with 20 to go…it never hiccupped but we had already made our bed. We pushed ourselves into a fuel mileage situation, so we took advantage of it.”
Enfinger, in the No. 23 Holmes II Excavation Chevrolet, changed four General Tires just once during the race on lap 30, then topped off with fuel on lap 37. From there, Enfinger, who led the final 17 laps, stretched his tires and gas tank to go the 80-lap/200-mile distance.
“We went nearly 50 laps on the General Tires today. We weren’t necessarily expecting to do that, but the General Tires held up great and got us to victory lane.”
Cindric, in the No. 99 PIRTEK Ford, was on a completely different pit strategy, taking four tires and a full load of Sunoco gas on lap 50 to go the distance. Cindric, in only his third ARCA Racing Series start, was also consistently the fastest car on track all day, and showed it in a big way when he got within inches of Enfinger’s rear bumper in turns two and three on the final lap.
“Without a doubt, he was saving fuel,” Cindric said. “We had the fastest car all week. Really wanted to get to victory lane but congratulations to Grant.”
Cindric admitted that once he got to Enfinger’s bumper on the last lap, he thought about moving him.
“Of course I thought about it…every driver thinks about it…but I’m here to prove I’m a good driver, not wreck people. But it was the first thing that came to mind when we came out of turn two. I have no idea how Grant made it (on fuel), but he did a great job.”
Enfinger said afterwards he wasn’t worried about Cindric getting to him, and if he did, he was ready to make his car as wide as possible.
“Austin’s a clean driver…I wasn’t worried about a bump,” Enfinger said. “We were conserving fuel over the last 20 laps. Obviously when he showed up about 10 lengths behind with three to go, we had to give it all we had. We were prepared to make it very difficult to pass us coming to the line, if need be.”
Cindric was about a length away under the checkered flag in second.
Brandon Jones, in the No. 8 Messina Wild Life-Menards Chevrolet, battled from a lap down to finish third.
“We got above the blend line too soon coming out of the pits the first time, and had to do a drive-through,” Jones said.
Despite the penalty, Jones kept himself up front and got the Free Pass under caution to get back on the lead lap. Jones, who pitted at the same time as Cindric, was nearly five seconds behind Cindric at the final stripe.
Both Cindric and Jones were making their career-first Pocono starts. Jones debuted with the new Ranier Racing with MDM team.
“Ranier Racing with MDM was showing a lot of speed all week in this car,” Jones said. “We plan to run some more ARCA races. The General Tires were flawless all day…I’m looking forward to getting back with that tire.”
Rookie Dalton Sargeant finished fourth in the No. 55 Toyota Racing Development-Windows 10 Toyota with rookie Brady Boswell in fifth in the No. 98 Mason Mitchell Motorsports Chevrolet.
Kyle Benjamin, Justin Haley, William Byron, Myatt Snider and ARCA point leader Chase Briscoe completed the top-10, respectively.
The General Tire #AnywhereIsPossible200 also marked the debut of ARCA composite bodied cars on superspeedways.
“Obviously, there were some big unknowns with the composite bodies,” Enfinger said. “We have a lot to learn about the cars on speedways and today was a great step in that direction. We learned last year’s set-up with the steel cars doesn’t work on the composites. We struggled all week but worked really hard and made some good gains. We were two- and three-side during the race. My initial impression is that the car gripped-up really good.”
Five drivers traded the lead nine times over the duration, including rookie standout Myatt Snider who led four times for 33 laps in the No. 22 Original Louisiana Hot Sauce Ford. However, Snider, on a different fuel strategy, had to pit for a late-race splash of gas to get him to the finish, and never got back to challenge. Cindric led three times for 17 laps. Benjamin led 10 laps. Byron led three.
Next up for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards is the Corrigan Oil 200 at Michigan Int’l Speedway Friday, June 10.
ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards
General Tire #AnywhereIsPossible200 at Pocono Raceway
FIN NO DRIVER/HOMETOWN LAPS STATUS
1 23 Grant Enfinger/Fairhope AL 80 Running
2 99 Austin Cindric/Mooresville NC 80 Running
3 8 Brandon Jones/Atlanta GA 80 Running
4 55 Dalton Sargeant/Boca Raton FL 80 Running
5 98 Brady Boswell/Watkinsville GA 80 Running
6 28 Kyle Benjamin/Easley SC 80 Running
7 74 Justin Haley/Winamac IN 80 Running
8 15 William Byron/Charlotte NC 80 Running
9 22 Myatt Snider/Charlotte NC 80 Running
10 77 Chase Briscoe/Mitchell IN 80 Running
11 6 Josh Williams/Port Charlotte FL 79 Running
12 38 Ryan Reed/Bakersfield CA 79 Running
13 52 Matt Kurzejewski/Mansfield PA 79 Running
14 32 Shane Lee/Newton NC 79 Running
15 25 Tom Hessert/Cherry Hill NJ 79 Running
16 5 Bobby Gerhart/Lebanon PA 79 Running
17 42 Bo LeMastus/Louisville KY 79 Running
18 58 Kyle Weatherman/Wentzville MO 79 Running
19 05 John Wes Townley/Athens GA 79 Running
20 9 Thomas Praytor/Mobile AL 79 Running
21 10 Ed Pompa/Ballston Spa NY 78 Running
22 07 Brian Kaltreider/Orangeville PA 77 Running
23 20 Tom Berte/New Berlin WI 75 Out
24 13 George Cushman/Waterville NY 75 Out
25 48 Brad Smith/Shelby Township MI 74 Running
26 2 Ray Ciccarelli/Ellicott City MD 70 Running
27 14 Dustin Knowles/Moody AL 50 Out
28 34 Mike Basham/Henryville IN 38 Out
29 69 Will Kimmel/Sellersburg IN 32 Out
30 78 Noah Gragson/Las Vegas NV 29 Running
31 00 Dale Matchett/Cherry Hill NJ 19 Out
32 06 Don Thompson/Carlisle PA 19 Out
33 64 Steve Fox/Hawley PA 18 Out
34 11 Chris Bailey/South Park PA 3 Out
35 27 Dick Doheny/Ballston Spa NY 1 Out
36 0 Con Nicolopolous/Columbus MI DNS
37 Wayne Peterson/Pulaski TN DNS
Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell: Qualifying rained out
Margin of Victory: .187 seconds
Time of Race: 1:32:22
Lap Leaders: Austin Cindric 1-8, 10-14, 27-30 (17); Myatt Snider 9, 15-26, 31-38, 49-60 (33);
Kyle Benjamin 39-48 (10); William Byron 61-63 (3); Grant Enfinger 64-80 (17)
Fastest Lap of the Race: Austin Cindric 171.756
-ARCA Racing Series Press Release & Photo