Brooklyn, MI – Ross Kenseth said he came to Michigan International Speedway for one thing Friday: “learn to win.” Mission accomplished.
Kenseth, 22, making his third career ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards start, won Friday’s Corrigan Oil 200, winning at the two-mile speedway by 2.1 seconds over Frank Kimmel. Kenseth led 51 laps in taking the win in the No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet. He took the lead from Grant Enfinger on lap 87 of the 100 lap race.
“I felt like unless something weird happened, we pretty much had it,” Kenseth said. “I started backing way off and saving fuel there. I felt we were good on gas. We had a heck of a battle with Grant; hats off to him for racing me clean. He did everything he could to keep me back there. We got along side of him. That’s pretty much what we needed.
“It feels great. I thought we had one of the cars to beat all weekend.”
Kimmel finished second, Austin Wayne Self third and Tom Hessert fourth in the Corrigan Oil 200, the ninth race on the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards schedule. Matt Kurzejewski was fifth. Josh Williams finished sixth, David Levine seventh and Enfinger eighth, the last car on the lead lap. Sarah Cornett-Ching finished ninth and Bo LeMastus 10th.
Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell was rained out Friday morning and ARCA started the field based on Thursday’s practice speeds. That put Kimmel in first and Kenseth second. Kenseth immediately grabbed the lead on the first lap and led the first 37 laps of the race before a light rain hit the track and ARCA officials threw the caution flag.
Most of the cars near the front of the field went to pit road, except for Kurzejewski, who stayed on the track and led the next nine laps. Enfinger took the lead when the field went back to green and led until lap 86. His 40 laps led included both yellow and green flag runs.
Kenseth took the lead under the green flag on lap 87.
“I moved to the bottom there to get away from him and it helped my front end a lot,” Kenseth said. “He started to block the bottom. I think he thought I was going to go to the yellow line in one and I half way got there then went to the outside. I got a huge run off of two and, if he didn’t lift, we were both going to wreck. It was a lot of fun.”
Enfinger had to pit inside of 10 laps to go for Sunoco fuel, but still finished eighth and will leave Michigan with the ARCA Racing Series point lead over Hessert and Williams.
Self, in the No. 98 AM Technical Solutions-Pirate Energy Chevrolet, was on a different pit strategy than other cars, pitting under some of the caution flags.
“We started seventh and drove a little bit at the beginning of the race with a tight race car,” Self said. “Fortunately we were able get some of the cautions to work on the car. We knew with fuel we were able to do things a bit different. We didn’t have to worry about fuel mileage. We were able to dig, dig and dig.”
Kimmel, in the No. 25 Ansell-Menards Toyota, tied his season-best finish of second.
“It was crazy out there with the rain delays on the race track,” Kimmel said. “I was saving fuel every time so I thought I had as much chance as anyone to make it to the end. We ran as hard as we could. The 52 just had everyone else covered today.”
Kenseth said he was not concerned about running out of fuel.
“I thought we were fine on gas,” he said. “Donnie (Richeson, crew chief) seemed a little nervous about it. I think he was worried just to worry. I wasn’t too concerned. I was running wide open.
“I thought I learned a lot today. I had a lot of fun out there. The re-starts were real challenging. I had a couple moments there where we were kind of on the edge of wrecking. Being back in traffic in re-starts, I learned a lot about timing. It just gives me a little more confidence going into next week knowing I can run on these big tracks.”
Kenseth will make his NASCAR Xfinity debut next week at Chicagoland.
“I have a big week ahead of me. Today went as planned. Hopefully we can keep this rolling for the next week and a half.”
The ARCA Racing Series will be part of the weekend festivities in Joliet, Ill., racing Saturday, June 20, in the SCOTT 150 at Chicagoland Speedway. The race will air live on Fox Sports 2.
-ARCA Racing Series Press Release & Photo