IRVINGTON, Ala. – There must be something to that home field advantage thing.
In just two ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards race events at Mobile Int’l Speedway, only the locals have emerged victorious.
It started last year when hometown Mobile, Alabama favorite Cale Gale won the inaugural ARCA Mobile 200. One year later, local Fairhope, Alabama favorite Grant Enfinger repeated the feat Saturday afternoon by winning the second annual ARCA Mobile 200.
In a thrilling late-race duel with 15-year-old rookie Kyle Benjamin, Enfinger finally cleared the ‘kid’, and drove away to a margin of victory of nearly two and a half seconds when the checkered flag fell. Despite the never-ending pressure from Benjamin, Enfinger still led 165 of the 200 laps to earn his career-first ARCA Racing Series victory.
Enfinger’s win was eminently popular with the hometown crowd, and equally popular with his colleagues. Enfinger had a steady stream of drivers, car owners, crew chiefs and crew members who lined up alongside fans, family and friends in Victory Lane to congratulate the very well-liked winner.
“If we had to finish second to anyone today, I could not think of a better guy than Grant Enfinger,” said Kevin Reed, crew chief for Kyle Benjamin.
Enfinger had been so close to Victory Lane so many times before, including second place finishes at Kentucky, Chicagoland, and just last year at Iowa; and third place finishes at Kansas three times, Toledo, Pocono, Berlin, Texas, Iowa, Chicagoland and Talladega.
“I knew we were going to get here, I just didn’t think it would take this long,” Enfinger said in Victory Lane.
Some of the loudest cheers came when he donned a University of Alabama Crimson Tide ball cap.
“I’ve wanted to win for so long,” he said. “To do it in front of the home crowd is something special. A lot of these people, family and friends, can’t come up north when we race. This is something special.”
In addition to Enfinger’s first win, the victory was also the first for car owner Howard Bixman and crew chief Kelly Kovski in ARCA competition. Kovski was Enfinger’s crew chief when Enfinger finished fourth in ARCA national championship points under the Allgaier Motorsports banner in 2011.
Kovski has long been employed with Hoosier Tire Midwest, a company owned by the 2008 ARCA national championship car owner Mike Allgaier.