Only one thing prevented a formidable challenge to ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards driver Grant Enfinger at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway Saturday night.

 

No, it wasn’t the fact that he had never raced at Nashville before. He was top-five in practice. No, it wasn’t having to start at the rear for missing qualifying inspection. He made short work of the field in coming to the lead by lap 79. No it wasn’t having to go toe-to-toe with the best rising stars in the game. He left the kids in the dust off the final restart.

 

It was the trophy. As Enfinger hoisted the famous Nashville award in the air, a Gibson Les Paul guitar, someone in the crowd asked him to play a few notes. He nervously laughed and explained he’s never played a guitar and didn’t know how.

 

“It’s the coolest trophy I’ve ever got,” Enfinger said looking at the trophy later as he caught up with Speed51.com. “It will be even cooler when I learn how to play it.”

 

If Enfinger learns to play the guitar the way he’s played the ARCA Racing Series races in 2015, he might just have a career in country music when he hangs up the helmet. His victory marked his 11th in his last 30 ARCA starts and, for the second consecutive year, has won the first three races to start the season.

 

Enfinger’s formidability was foremost on everyone’s mind throughout the day. Even after young Kyle Weatherman shattered the track record in qualifying, he paused halfway through his media quotes and said “Grant Enfinger…He’ll be tough.”

 

Weatherman would lead the first 71 laps after Enfinger had to start at the rear. Enfinger’s team had discovered some rear suspension damage at the end of practice and had missed pre-qualifying inspection while the team fixed the machine. Twice in the first 5 laps, Enfinger nearly got wrecked trying to get through very slow traffic. But once he entered the top-10 by lap 20, he rode and waited for the first caution to catch him up.

 

Enfinger took the lead shortly after the first set of pit stops for the leaders on lap 72 and began to set a dominating pace. Dodging numerous lapped cars proved to be the most excitement Enfinger would face most of the evening. Josh Williams passed Enfinger briefly after taking four tires versus Enfinger’s two on the first pit stop. But once Williams had to take two on the final stop and Enfinger took his four, it was pretty much over.

 

Matt Tifft, still looking for his first ARCA victory after a number of strong top-fives, chased Enfinger to the end, but could never get closer than a few carlengths. Austin Wayne Self was third with Brandon Jones completing a last-lap pass on Weatherman for fourth.

 

“This is an incredible track with an incredible history,” said Enfinger as he reflected on his victory. “It was new to me, but I feel as though it’s right up my alley. I love these fast half-mile tracks. It took us a while to get it right in practice; we had to make a lot more changes than we wanted to. Then he had something break in the rear at the end of practice. But crew chief Jeff Stankiewicz got everyone to rally and got us moving in the right direction. And as a result we had an absolutely incredible race.”

 

“Lapped cars were honestly probably the biggest struggle in the race. The 6 car [Williams] got up there and passed us for a bit. The 52 [Tifft] car made me push it a lot harder than I had wanted to. If we had gotten a caution there at the end, I may have used up too much of my tires. But I had to to stay in front of him.”

 

Tifft for his part continues to look for his first ARCA win, but happily took a strong second place finish in what was also his first Nashville visit.

 

“There was one moment there when lapped traffic took us like 6-wide,” said Tifft, “and that was about the best chance I had. We were close then because I was at his bumper. But he’d run a tenth faster then I’d run a tenth faster. We were dead even, but eventually he’d drive away. With 10 laps to go, I just ran out of car.”

 

“The first 140 laps around here we were just thinking ‘Okay, can we please have more tires to put on this car’, but once we got down to it – man, this place was just so much fun. Truly one of the most fun tracks I’ve been to.”

 

Enfinger’s next challenge, in between guitar lessons, will be to try to become the first driver in ARCA Racing Series history to win the first four races of the season. He’ll go for that record on April 26th at Salem, an event he is the defending winner of.

 

-By Tim Quievryn, Speed51.com Southeast Editor/TheThirdTurn.com – Twitter: @thethirdturn

-Photo credit: Speed51.com

 

ARCA Troop Aid 200 Results

(powered by 51's Third Turn)
Fin St # Driver Make Laps Led Status Pts
1
223Grant EnfingerChevy20090running235
2
552Matt TifftToyota2000running220
3
1398Austin Wayne SelfFord2007running220
4
825Brandon Jones Toyota2000running210
5
122Kyle WeathermanFord20071running215
6
959David LevineFord2000running200
7
66Josh WilliamsChevy20032running200
8
355Clay GreenfieldToyota1990running190
9
458Michael LiraFord1980running185
10
149Thomas PraytorFord1970running180
11
122Sarah Cornett-ChingChevy1970running175
12
1897Bobby Hamilton, Jr.Dodge1970running170
13
1168Brian FinneyChevy1960running165
14
1042Bo LeMastusDodge1960running160
15
1714Ryan HeavnerChevy1960running155
16
1606James SwansonDodge1950running150
17
2240Richie AltmanDodge1890running145
18
155Clair ZimmermanFord1890running140
19
777Tom Hessert, IIIFord1880running135
20
2448Brad SmithFord1810running130
21
2003Kevin RutherfordChevy1740running125
22
2110Rick CliftonFord1320running120
23
1927A.J. FikeFord670crash115
24
2381Kevin Campbell Chevy370crash110
25
2769Will KimmelFord120transmission105
26
280Tim ViensFord110engine100
27
2980Chris Bailey, Jr.Ford50brakes95
28
253Josh White Chevy30rear end90
29
2600Wayne PetersonFord10clutch85
30
3095Jordan WilliamsDodge00engine80

 

Enfinger Strings ARCA Field Along at Nashville Fairgrounds