After taking the lead just past the halfway mark, Grant Enfinger would take the lead from Dylan Kwaniewski and never look back as the Alabama native held the field off in a late race restart to take home the victory in the Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona International Speedway. It marks Enfinger’s third career victory.
“This is pretty special,” Enfinger commented. “To get this, Iowa and Mobile last year means the world to me. appreciate everybody at team BCR. We have some great sponsors and great partners. It doesn’t get much better than this.”
Enfinger is hoping to go for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards Championship this year.
“I think we’re going to be ready for this thing,” he commented. “This team is awesome and we don’t have a lot of resources but we’re the little team that could.”
ARCA’s winningest driver Frank Kimmel finished second for the third time at Daytona International Speedway after trying to make a run on Enfinger in the closing laps.
“We overachieved a lot today,” Kimmel said. “We didn’t have the speed today. I tried to back up to Clay but couldn’t get a run there. ARCA has to do something with these rules; they’re really hurting us.”
Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell finished third for his career best finish.
“All I was thinking about on that last restart was if Frank pulled out, I was coming with him,” Campbell said. “We were lucky and fortunately for me, the leaders slowed down enough that I could start in second gear. The previous restarts I was in third, and that’s not ideal. I was able to hang with Frank on that last one. I had a great spotter, Tab Boyd, keeping me calm up there. It’s hard to have enough patience to stay in line and not make a move.”
ARCA regular Tom Hessert finished fourth, followed by Tyler Reddick. Reddick was looking to get experience driving for Cunningham Motorsports as he looks to make some Camping World Truck Series starts this year for Brad Keselowski Racing.
Eight-time Daytona winner Bobby Gerhart finished sixth after contact with the wall early, followed by Mason Mitchell, Terry Jones, Chase Elliott and Sean Corr. Last year’s winner John Wes Townley finished 11th while pole sitter Kwasniewski finished 14th.
The big one would happen early in the event on lap 15 when Buster Graham would go around as a result of possible contact from behind, collecting 14 others.
“I think it was the 9 (Elliott) car that spun me,” Graham said. “I can’t tell by the replay if someone got into him. My brakes were working – Grant’s were working – I don’t know if his were working. It’s too early to be getting aggressive. He did the same thing at Road America to Ty Dillon – I guess his brakes went out there, too. He has a lot to learn. It’s a shame. We had a good car and it’s tore up now. You have to have some patience in these things. I could see if it was the last lap, last turn – but that was too early for that.”
Elliott, meanwhile, said that he didn’t touch Graham.
“I didn’t feel like I got him – didn’t feel like I was even close,” Elliott commented. “I think he was tight and probably got a little too much wheel in it and went around.”
Notables that were collected include last year’s rookie of the year Justin Boston, Camping World Truck Series standout Jeb Burton and second generation driver Will Kimmel.
“It’s a shame,” Kimmel said. “We came down to here to race and we got a bunch of kids down here for the first time that are bumping like days of thunder and don’t know what they’re doing. Finally got up to them out of turn four and someone got into me there.”
“It’s just a product of the racing here,” Boston commented. “It’s been a really good off-season and to come here and run – ARCA set us back after a good time in qualifying. We were just trying to bide our time and something happened up front and I got hit by Will there.”
“It’s pretty disappointing,” Burton said. “These guys worked pretty hard. It’s a shame man. Some of those guys don’t need to be out there but that’s part of it. Hopefully we will get a better run in the truck next week.”
Following the race, a confrontation took place in the garage between Buster Graham’s Roulo Brothers team and Chase Elliott’s Hendrick Motorsports team.
The next race for the ARCA Racing Series is on March 22nd at Mobile International Speedway.