MARNE, Mich. – official series release – ARCA photo —
The field chased Grant Enfinger all day Saturday at Berlin Raceway and never could quite catch him.
Enfinger won the Menards Pole Award, led 198 of 200 laps and widened his point lead in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards by winning the Federated Auto Parts 200 at Berlin Raceway.
“I feel like we had the best car out there, bar none,” Enfinger said. “It didn’t matter if it was a short run or long run. When we needed to save tires the car would still go fast. I didn’t feel like I was abusing it that bad. You always fall off here. You are always sliding, but we slid less than everybody else.”
Mason Mitchell was credited with leading lap 21 and Josh Williams lap 151 – both on restarts – but Enfinger led every other lap in capturing his fourth win of the season and 12th career ARCA victory.
Venturini Motorsports teammates Mitchell — in the No. 55 J&S AG Services Toyota — and Frank Kimmel — in the No. 25 Ansell-Menards Toyota — were second and third, with Brian Keselowski fourth in the No. 29 Schoch Construction Co. Ford.
Austin Wayne Self’s No. 98 AM Technical Solutions-Pirate Energy Ford rounded out the top five, while Josh Williams, in sixth place, was the final car on the lead lap in the No. 6 Musselman’s Apple Sauce-SW Florida Cable Construction Chevrolet.
Unofficially, Enfinger has built a 225 point lead over Self with five races remaining on the 2015 ARCA Racing Series season.
Enfinger, who had the fastest car in both practice sessions, led the first 20 laps, then laps 22-150 before being credited in leading laps 152-200 for the win. At various points during the race, he had built up leads of six to eight seconds.
In victory lane, Enfinger compared the No. 23 Allegiant Travel Chevrolet to the one he had at Elko Speedway in 2014 when he led 211 of 250 laps for the win.
“It’s the best car we’ve had in a long time,” he said. “You don’t hit it that good that often. Jeff Stankiewicz and everybody at GMS Racing did a great job. We hit the balance about perfect. I don’t know if you can hit it much better.”
Enfinger said the his GMS Racing team has been close on several occasions since winning the first three races of the season, but just hasn’t closed the deal.
“I put us in a bad spot once or twice this year and it cost us,” he said. “Some of it was just racing stuff and some of it I should have done better. We can’t have any catastrophic failures. We’ve had cars that can contend for wins all year. We got it tonight and I have to thank everybody at GMS Racing.
“The good Lord has been looking down on us the past couple of weeks. We had some things go our way to make it through the wreck last week at Pocono. We’ve had really, really good racecars all year, it just didn’t work out some of the time.”
Mitchell, owner of the No. 98 car, was driving for Venturini Motorsports for the first time and finished second.
“I think in the really long run, we were clicking off times faster, but he had that big lead,” Mitchell said. “This place is about track position and getting out front. We had a good hot rod tonight. Venturini Motorsports and (crew chief) Jeff McClure gave me a good car. I wish we could have won. I really wanted to win this one bad. I wish I could do that last restart again. I didn’t get going the best.”
Kimmel, who has three previous wins at Berlin, also made a run at the win for the Venturini’s.
“We had a really good car all night,” he said. “We were just a little, little bit off from what Grant had. I really felt 2-3-4 were all right together. I was able to keep Grant in my sights most of the time.”
Keselowski was racing in his second ARCA race in the last month. It’s a track he had won twice at in his career.
“Racing at Berlin is fun,” he said. “It’s a driver’s race track. That’s the great part. Fourth isn’t horrible. It’s not where we want to be, obviously. We want to be over there in victory lane, but I’m pretty sure Grant had them covered today.”
The race saw four cautions for 30 laps. The last caution came out on lap 190 when Tom Hessert and a lapped car came together. Hessert entered the race tied with Self for second in the overall driver point standings, but finished 14th.
SCOTT Rookie challenger Kyle Weatherman was seventh in the No. 22 Cunningham Motorsports-Crosley Brands Ford while Blake Jones was eighth, Hunter Baize ninth in his ARCA debut and A.J. Fike 10th.
CREDIT: ARCA Racing Series