SPARTA, Ky. — Recap by Race Chaser Online Correspondent Kyle Magda — HHP/Gregg Ellman photo — Brennan Poole spun out in practice and qualified eighth, but eventually grabbed the lead and slowly inched away from the field to grab his sixth career ARCA Racing Series victory at Kentucky Speedway on Friday night.
Poole filled in for John Wes Townley in the No. 15 Zaxby’s Toyota and picked up his first win in 2014.
“These guys did it,” Poole said in his post-race interview. “I think God gave me some angels tonight. He was pushing this baby because we were struggling in practice.”
Townley was in New Hampshire for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event and due to the scheduling conflict decided to skip the race at Kentucky. The Georgia driver’s ARCA season was halted at Pocono last month after a concussion in a qualifying accident for the ModSpace 125 sidelined him. He then missed the next three races, which took him out of championship contention, before returning at Madison.
Poole drove the No. 15 Toyota at Berlin, the week after Townley’s accident, and wheeled the car to a third-place finish. He also serves as a driver coach and spotter for Venturini Motorsports, but gets behind the wheel whenever he can.
“I just want to thank Zaxby’s. They supported me all year,” Poole said. “They’ve really believed in me, as much as they believe in John Wes. It’s been an honor to race with them and help John Wes out and I feel so blessed.”
Matt Tifft finished second in the No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet and point leader Mason Mitchell had a solid night to come home third in his Musselman’s-Wildlife Foundation of Florida-TTS Ford.
Two of Poole’s Venturini teammates, Cody Coughlin (fourth) and Daniel Suarez (fifth) also had strong runs, with Suarez, a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR Toyota Mexico Series competitor leading the most laps on the night, at 39 circuits out front.
“There are a lot of fast cars,” Suarez said of ARCA. “I’m very happy to have all of this learning process for this series.”
Suarez ran the race to gain additional experience in preparation for his full-time ride with Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2015 and Kentucky is on their schedule twice. ARRIS sponsored the No. 66 effort for Suarez Friday night.
Coughlin’s fourth place effort was his best career ARCA finish.
The battle for the championship also became a little clearer, because while Mitchell finished third, Grant Enfinger suffered engine problems and was relegated him to a 30th-place finish.
“It’s unfortunate he had issues,” Mitchell said. “I like to race guys hard to the end, but stuff happens. It’s part of racing.”
“It’s really disappointing for everybody at GMS Racing,” Enfinger said from the garage. “We’ve been close to the title all year long. Just really unfortunate.”
Mitchell leaves Kentucky with a 200-point lead over Enfinger. The two have been locked in a tight points battle all season; Enfinger’s year got off to a bang with three straight victories to open the season, while Mitchell has been consistent and has only two did-not-finishes (DNFs) on the year.
“We can’t relax at all,” Mitchell said of heading into the season finale. “We just got to keep on digging hard and try to get a win at Kansas.”
Will Kimmel finished sixth, Justin Allison came home seventh, and Kyle Weatherman was eighth in his superspeedway debut for Roulo Brothers Racing . Polesitter Justin Boston, who led six laps, and Tom Hessert rounded out the top ten. Four-time race winner Frank Kimmel was 11th.
Louisville native and hometown favorite Ben Rhodes finished 27th despite leading 26 laps on the night. He was charging through the field after pitting for tires late in the race when he hit the wall, thwarting his shot at the win.
The ZLOOP 150 took 1 hour and 15 minutes to finish, and the average speed was 119.940 mph. There were four cautions for 25 laps. Nineteen cars finished on the lead lap.
The ARCA Racing Series now heads to the Kansas Speedway for the ARCA 98.9 on October 3rd, where a first-time ARCA champion will be crowned.