The 2014 ARCA Racing Series season kicked off on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway and at the end of the 80-lap Lucas Oil 200 presented by MAVTV American Real it was the 29-year-old Grant Enfinger that earned the win at Daytona. Enfinger started second in his Team BCR No. 90 Ford and was up in the top five all race long to secure the win.
"It doesn't get much better than this," Enfinger said in victory lane. "We're on limited resources in a little shop that Howard Bixman owns in Mooresville but man we're like the little engine that could, we got a lot of heart."
The win is the third in Enfinger's ARCA career. Daytona was his 52nd career start in the series. His first two wins came for Team BCR last season at Mobile and Iowa but Daytona is by far his biggest achievement yet. The driver from Fairhope, Alabama only competed in eight of the 21 ARCA races last year because of the teams lack of funding.
Enfinger was pushed to the win by 10-time series champion Frank Kimmel who finished second but said he did not have a strong enough car to challenge Enfinger. Kimmel is driving for Win-Tron Racing this season after winning the 2013 ARCA championship for ThorSport Racing.
The 51st ARCA Racing Series event at Daytona began with 18-year-old Dylan Kwasniewski on the pole. He was able to control the beginning of the race as things went single file up front. On lap 6 eight-time Daytona ARCA winner Bobby Gerhart got into the outside wall in Turn 1. He had to start from the back after his qualifying time was disallowed.
The front runners were still single file up front with Kwasniewski in the lead, Enfinger second, followed by Buster Graham, Chase Elliott and Mason Mitchell as the cars completed lap 12. When the field came off Turn 4 on lap 13 a 15-car accident was started when Graham lost control of his No. 99 Roulo Brothers Racing Ford with Chase Elliott right on his back bumper.
Graham spun to the inside and then back across the track where Mark Thompson slammed into him. From there other cars smashed into each other in the melee. Justin Boston, Jeb Burton, Justin Allison, Will Kimmel, Cole Powell, Scotty Hubler, and Benny Gordon all sustained heavy damage that ended their races. Also collected with some damage in the accident were Sean Corr, Kody Weisner, Mario Gosselin, Tom Buzze, Terry Jones, and Bobby Grewohl.
In the pits Graham's crew was not happy with Elliott's and showed that displeasure by having words and exchanging a few shoves until some officials calmed things down. Chase Elliott was adamant that he did not make contact with Graham to spin him and said it was just the air off the rear of his car that caused it. Graham saw it a different way thinking there was certainly contact. After watching multiple replays it was still tough to tell which it was.
Under the lengthy caution for clean up most of the cars pitted on lap 20. The race would go back green on lap 25 with Maryeve Dufault and Thomas Praytor in the lead after they stayed out. The first car off pit road and lining up third was Chase Elliott with Mason Mitchell fourth, Kwasniewski fifth and Enfinger sixth.
Praytor had transmission issues on the restart and Kwasniewski and Enfinger took advantage and went right to the lead. Before the lap was completed the second caution flew when Matt Kurzejewski spun in Turn 3 and collected Leilani Munter.
The race restarted on lap 31 and on lap 32 Enfinger took his first lead of the race by passing Kwasniewski. The lead only lasted until lap 34 when Kwasniewski got a good run and passed Enfinger back in Turn 1. The lead changed again on lap 44 when Enfinger was able to make the move. Shortly after Kwasniewski tried to make a move on the high side but did not get by and then he did not get back to the low line before getting caught out of the draft and he dropped out of the top 10.
The third caution would fly on lap 67 when Kody Weisner spun into the Turn 3 grass with a flat tire. The restart was delayed on lap 71 when Ed Pompa blew his engine while catching the field after receiving the free pass. The race went back green on lap 74 with seven laps to go.
Chase Elliott was the biggest loser on the restart and dropped back in the outside line. From there up front things looked easy for Enfinger as he led a single file line behind him mostly until the final lap when some drivers tried to make moves but nothing substantial that was a threat to Enfinger's lead.
The top five across the line were Grant Enfinger, Frank Kimmel, Clay Campbell, Tom Hessert, and Tyler Reddick. Bobby Gerhart was sixth, Mason Mitchell seventh, Terry Jones eighth, Chase Elliott ninth, and Sean Corr tenth. Other notables in the field were John Wes Townley in 11th, Bryan Silas 12th, Dylan Kwasniewski 14th, Maryeve Dufault 18th, and Spencer Gallagher 20th. Gallagher drove a car that Scott Sheldon qualified after Gallagher's car was sent home after a qualifying violation for using a mechanical lowering device.
The next race on the ARCA Racing Series schedule is on March 22nd at Mobile International Speedway.
- Grant Enfinger Wins Prairie Meadows 150 ARCA Racing Series Race at Iowa Speedway Saturday Night
- Dylan Kwasniewski Earns Pole for ARCA Racing Series Race at Daytona International Speedway
- Corey LaJoie Makes It Three for Four in the ARCA Racing Series in 2013 with Win at Kentucky
- ARCA Racing Series Race at Kentucky Postponed to Saturday Due to Rain
- Ken Schrader Wins ARCA Racing Series Southern Illinois 100 at the DuQuion State Fairgrounds
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