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 Popular with the People: Grant 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."
Team BCR Dominates: 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.
World's Coolest Trophy: In addition to the honor of the victory, Enfinger received the coolest trophy in motorsports when a full-size 42 inch ARCA-Mobile-branded Crosley iJuke® Deluxe Jukebox was wheeled to Victory Lane for the celebration.
Kids Rule at Mobile: They didn't win but they got as close as you can get when 15-year-old drivers Kyle Benjamin and Anderson Bowen finished second and third respectively in each driver's career-first ARCA start. Benjamin, in the No. 15 The Truth Band-Venturini Motorsports Chevrolet, became the highest finishing 15-year-old in series history with his second place finish. Additionally, he officially became the youngest driver to ever start an ARCA race. The Easley, South Carolina rookie, who led 26 laps, won't turn 16 until November. Bowen, who drove the No. 22 Cunningham Motorsports Dodge, will turn 16 in October. Benjamin and Bowen are separated by 63 years from the oldest driver in the field - 77-year-old James Hylton.
Benjamin Earns SCOTT® Rookie Challenge of the Race: Kyle Benjamin, by virtue of his runner-up run, earned the SCOTT® Rookie Challenge at Mobile. He follows Kyle Larson in the honor - Larson earning the award for his recent second place finish at Daytona in mid-February. Benjamin is also expected to compete in the season-opening 7-Up 150 ARCA CRA Super Series/ARCA Midwest Tour race event at Toledo Speedway on April 20.
Mighty Mason Mingus on the March: Brentwood Tennessee high school student Mason Mingus was impressive all weekend in the No. 32 Diamond Equipment-811 Call Before You Dig Toyota for Win Tron Racing. It started when Mingus earned the Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell on Friday, and finished fourth on Saturday. The combination of the two scenarios puts the SCOTT® Rookie contender unofficially atop the ARCA Racing Series championship points standings, tied with Frank Kimmel with 420 points each.
Career-Best Finishes for Seven Among Top-10: Among the top-10 finishers in Saturday's ARCA Mobile 200, seven drivers earned career-best finishes including winner Grant Enfinger, Kyle Benjamin (second), Anderson Bowen (third), Mason Mingus (fourth), Justin Boston (sixth), Nick Tucker (seventh), and Taylor Ferns (10th).
Roll Tide: AJ McCarron, the two-time, back-to-back national championship quarterback for the University of Alabama Crimson Tide, was the Grand Marshal for the ARCA Mobile 200 and was clearly the most popular player in the house when he was introduced to give the command to start engines.
105 to 110: Grant Enfinger's victory was the first in ARCA history for the 105-inch wheelbase chassis, which competes with the longstanding 110-inch wheelbase car, prevalent in ARCA competition for decades. The 2013 season marks the third consecutive season during which the 105-inch wheelbase car has been eligible in ARCA competition. Mason Mingus, who finished fourth, was also utilizing a 105-inch wheelbase car. His pole qualifying run the day before was also a first for the 105-inch car on an oval track.
CGS Imaging Hard Charger Award to Rookie Forrister: Rookie Korbin Forrister, in a second Kimmel Racing entry, earned his career-first CGS Imaging Hard Charger Award for advancing the most positions during the race. The Cedartown, Georgia driver started 24th in the No. 69 Drink Responsibly Fuzzy Vodka Ford, and finished 15th, a career-best finish for the ARCA newcomer.
Cody Lane Wins Highest Altitude Honors: Cody Lane, a rookie out of Port Richey, Florida, may have set the all-time unofficial altitude record in ARCA Racing Series history after taking a wild ride off turn three early on in the 200 lap race. Considering that Mobile Int'l Speedway has no walls around the turns and backstretch, a thrill can easily turn into a spill. Lane, with no way to stop, catapulted off of turn three when the high banked corner acted as a launching pad, which shot his No. 3 Blackjack Media Group Ford high into the sky before it landed, ultimately coming to stop a couple hundred yards from the track. The machine had to be fished out of the trees, which eventually greet drivers who end up that far from the track. Although the car took a hit, Lane was not injured.
Long Pause in Prep for Salem Short Track: ARCA Racing Series teams should have plenty of time to get their houses in order in time for the next event on tour - the 93rd running of the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 at Salem Speedway Sunday, April 28. If Grant Enfinger had the home field advantage at Mobile, Frank Kimmel may very well have it at Salem. The nine-time champion, who grew up in nearby Clarksville, Indiana, has won a record nine times at Salem over the years, reaching back to April of 1998.