(SALEM, Ind.) – Grant Enfinger made ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards history Sunday afternoon, winning his third race to start the 2014 season, becoming just the second driver in series history to do so.
“The stars are just lining up for us,” Enfinger said. “It’s pretty unbelievable.”
After leading the first 100 laps of the Federated Auto Parts 200 presented by Crunch’N Nutter at Salem, Enfinger moved back to the front late in the race and took the lead when Ken Schrader hit the wall in turn one on the last re-start. Schrader was leading when the re-start began with Enfinger in second.
“I wanted the chance to drag race him to the finish,” Enfinger said. “I think he just blew a right front there. That’s what happened. It was a lot of fun racing up front against him.”
Spencer Gallagher finished second, Frank Kimmel third and Cunningham Motorsports drivers Austin Wayne Self (fourth) and Tom Hessert (fifth) rounded out the top five.
Josh Williams, making his season debut in the No. 6 Southwest Florida Cable Construction Ford, finished sixth, just in front of Mason Mitchell in the Thermal Technology Services Ford. Schrader ended up eighth with Cody Coughlin ninth in the Jegs.com Toyota. Kyle Weatherman finished 10th.
Gallagher was happy with his best finish of the season and tying his career-best in the No. 23 Allegiant Travel Chevrolet.
“I love this place,” Gallagher said. “It is such an exciting track. I am happy with how we finished.”
Kimmel’s team worked late Saturday to make repairs to his car after he hit the wall in qualifyingSaturday. The No. 44 Ansell-Menards Toyota had to start at the back of the field, but was eventually able to make his way to the front.
“I’m sure we passed more cars than anybody,” Kimmel said.
Self, in winning the SCOTT Rookie of the Race, pleased a throng of about 50 family members who made the trek to Salem from the French Lick, Indiana area.
“I think I gained a tenth of a second every time they cheered,” Self said of his Hoosier Scale Dodge.
Hessert, in the No. 77 Caregard-AxiomWarranty.com Dodge, earned a top five finish despite going a lap down twice.
“We did what we could,” he said. “It’s a little bit frustrating because we know we could have been better. We know what we have to do when we come back here in the fall.”
Enfinger grabbed the lead out of the gate, sailing past polesitter Justin Boston. He built a huge early lead and led for the first 104 laps until Mitchell grabbed the top spot and he immediately pulled away from the rest of the field until a caution flew on lap 124 for debris.
After a series of cautions and restarts, Schrader finally grabbed the lead. He and Enfinger raced tight for several laps until Karl Weber spun on lap 191, putting out the caution. That came just after Weatherman and Schrader got together, damaging Schrader’s right front corner. He stayed on the track rather than pit and hit the wall after his tire finally went down.
“I wanted to get one more,” said Schrader, referencing his last win at Salem in 1999.
Enfinger, meanwhile, took the lead and held off Gallagher to win his third consecutive ARCA Racing Series race. He is just the second driver in series history to win the first three ARCA races of the season and first since Ramo Stott accomplished the feat in 1970.
“I can’t think Howard and Paula Bixman enough for giving me such great cars and allowing me to do this,” Enfinger said. “We have such great equipment. The cars are so good right now and Kelly Kovski made some great calls about the car.
“We were not very good out of the trailer,” he continued. “We cut our first practice short and kind of had to just sit back and re-group and give us a chance to think about it. He had a list of changes and I had a list of changes. It just came together. I was shocked at how well we qualified.”
Enfinger now heads to Talladega with a chance to win the first four races of the season – something that has not happened in the 62-year history of the series.
“That’s going to be tough,” Enfinger said. “You just never know what is going to happen at Talladega. But, we have a great plate program and I know we’ll be fast.”
|ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards|
|Federated Auto Parts 200 presented by Crunch ‘N Nutter|
|Salem Speedway, Salem Indiana, 4-27-14|
|1||2||90||Grant Enfinger/Fairhope AL||202||Running|
|2||12||23||Spencer Gallagher/Las Vegas NV||202||Running|
|3||18||44||Frank Kimmel/Clarksville IN||202||Running|
|4||7||22||Austin Wayne Self/Austin TX||202||Running|
|5||5||77||Tom Hessert/Cherry Hill NJ||202||Running|
|6||13||6||Josh Williams/Port Charlotte NC||202||Running|
|7||4||98||Mason Mitchell/W. Des Moines IA||202||Running|
|8||6||52||Ken Schrader/Fenton MO||202||Running|
|9||15||55||Cody Coughlin/Delaware OH||201||Running|
|10||14||99||Kyle Weatherman/Wentzville MO||201||Running|
|11||17||2||Thomas Praytor/Mobile AL||201||Running|
|12||11||17||Kyle Benjamin/Easley SC||201||Running|
|13||10||46||Brian Finney/Merritt Island FL||200||Running|
|14||16||3||Karl Weber/Ambia IN||195||Running|
|15||1||25||Justin Boston/Baltimore MD||177||Running|
|16||8||10||Blake Hillard/Owensboro KY||157||Suspnsn|
|17||20||18||Bill Catania/Westfield NY||124||Oil Leak|
|18||9||68||Michael Lira/Port Orange FL||87||Accident|
|19||19||11||Ryan Heavner/Lincolnton NC||86||Accident|
|20||21||73||Dale Shearer/Alhambra IL||79||Vibration|
|21||3||15||John Wes Townley/Watkinsville GA||77||Accident|
|22||22||69||Mark Meunier/Louisville KY||10||Brakes|
|23||28||48||Darrell Basham/Henryville IN||3||Transmssn|
|24||23||80||Barry Layne/Mims FL||2||Transmssn|
|25||25||66||Frank Kimmel II/Clarksville IN||1||Handling|
|26||27||97||Tim Viens/Daytona Beach FL||1||Electrical|
|27||29||06||James Swanson/Clarksboro NJ||1||Handling|
|28||24||0||Wayne Peterson/Pulaski TN||1||Handling|
|29||26||40||Chris Bailey Jr./South Park PA||1||Handling|
|Menards Pole Award Presented by Ansell: Justin Boston 17.405 (114.795 mph)|
|Margin of Victory: 0.320 seconds|
|Time of Race: 1:36:60|
|Lap Leaders: Enfinger 1-104, 201-202 (106); Mitchell 105-146 (42); Schrader 147-200 (54)|