Grant Enfinger was given the key to his hometown of Fairhope, Ala. prior to Saturday’s ARCA Mobile 200 at Mobile International Speedway. He might be working on the key to the Mobile International Speedway next.
Enfinger made it two victories in a row Saturday, dominating the ARCA Mobile 200 at the half-mile track. He won his second consecutive ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards race with an almost flawless race, leading nearly from start to finish.
“We had a really good car,” Enfinger said amidst a throng of supporters in Victory Lane. “I can’t say enough about everybody who helps us do this. We’ve just got a lot of good people working together right now. It’s a pretty special feeling.”
Enfinger, in the Motor Honey-Casite Ford, survived a series of restarts over the final 50 laps to win the race, which went 204 laps. He finished ahead of SCOTT Rookie Challenge winner Kyle Benjamin, Mason Mitchell and Anderson Bowen. Frank Kimmel finished fifth, his 33rd straight top 10 finish in the Ansell-Menards Toyota.
Benjamin, in his first race with the Roulo Brothers Racing, held off Mitchell for second. Mitchell, in the No. 98 Thermal Technology Services Ford, used an alternate pit strategy that gave him fresher tires at the end of the race. It almost paid off.
“I felt like we had a top three car; we were just as fast as the 17 there at the end, but he got in front of us,” Mitchell said. “We had to do something to win the race. That’s what we came here to do.”
Bowen, in the Cunningham Motorsports Dodge, was fourth. He battled back after early problems sent him to the back of the field. He called it a great weekend for the team before heading out to race in the Rattler 250 super late model race later Saturday.
“I feel like we should have been anywhere from first to third,” Bowen said. “I used my car up way too much in the middle of the race trying to get back the positions that we lost.”
Matt Tifft, in the Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet, was sixth in what turned out to be an eventful and impressive weekend. His team had to change motors after Friday’s practice and he spun out in qualifying. He started at the back of the field but found the right combination late in the race and moved up.
“We were really struggling at first,” Tifft said. “We kept coming down pit road and making adjustments to the car. I kept plugging away. On the last couple of restarts, we were able to capitalize on some of the things that went on and were able to sneak our way up through there.”
The rest of the top 10 included Spencer Gallagher in the Allegiant Travel Chevrolet in seventh, Zaxby’s Toyota driver John Wes Townley in eighth, Michael Lira in the Gary Yeomans Ford in ninth and Tom Hessert in the Cunningham Motorsports Caregard-AxiomWarranty.com Dodge in 10th.
Hometown favorite Thomas Praytor was 11th in his Nudraulix Ford with rookies Austin Wayne Self, Cody Coughlin, Brian Finney and Dustin Knowles rounding out the top 15.
Menards Pole award winner Justin Boston finished in 20th after his car had a rear-end issue early in the race. He led the first 13 laps, until Enfinger took over the lead and stayed in front for 185 of the next 191 laps. Seventy of those laps were run under 11 cautions for the 1 hour and 46 minute race. Gallagher, Mitchell and Kimmel also led at least one lap.
Kimmel started in the 13th spot but had his car up front most of the day. He was as high as second at one point, but had a couple of rough moments during the last few restarts that wrecked his front fender.
“This is what we do,” Kimmel said. “I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t finish a little higher. Nobody had anything for Grant, though, what a great day he had.”
Benjamin, 16, finished second for the second straight year.
“We just need that one position,” he said. “I thought we could have gotten closer to him, but this is his house; he’s just so strong here.”
Enfinger has now started the season with two straight victories, the first ARCA Racing Series driver to do so in more than a decade.
“What an awesome way to start the year,” Enfinger said. “Daytona is always a crapshoot, but coming here we had a heck of car.”
Enfinger is on a roll with Team BCR. Since winning at Mobile in 2013, he’s won at Iowa, Daytona and now Mobile once again.
“I think we just had to get the monkey off of our back,” Enfinger said. “It’s one of those racing deals. We’re getting a few of those close races back now that we weren’t able to win before.”
Team owner Howard Bixman said the car performed great.
“The car handled well all day,” Bixman said. “There were no big issues with it being tight or loose. And, Grant was perfect on the restarts. I think that’s where we won it today.”