The ARCA Racing Series championship slipped from Grant Enfinger’s grasp a year ago, but this season the Huntersville resident used the lessons learned to claim the 2015 title and provide GMS Racing with its first-ever championship.
“We had five races out of the 20 last year that were just devastating,” said Enfinger, a Fairhope, Ala., native and the first-ever ARCA champion from that state. “As good as we were the whole (2014) season, we just didn’t have enough to overcome that.
“We had quite a few issues this year as well, but we were able to rebound from them. That was the biggest difference ... We never made a bad situation worse. Most of the time we were able to take a bad circumstance and make it better.”
Enfinger needed only to start the season finale at Kansas to secure the championship. However, to claim the owner’s title he had to finish within 10 positions of Cunningham Motorsports’ Kyle Weatherman. Enfinger succeeded, placing third in the season finale while Weatherman took second.
Enfinger also won the series’ first three races this season for the second straight year.
With six victories, 13 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes, three poles and 792 laps led in 20 races, Enfinger also walked off with the pole, lap leader, Fast Track and Lightning Challenge awards and the manufacturer’s championship for Chevrolet.
“As big as it is career-wise and as big as it is for everybody at the team, it means just as much to me on a personal level because I’ve dedicated a lot of my life to this stuff and it’s good to see it paying off,” said Enfinger, who moved to North Carolina after acquiring a marketing degree from the University of South Alabama. “It definitely hasn’t been easy.”
The 30-year-old Enfinger began his racing career at age 11, competing in go-karts in Alabama. He moved into Legend cars four years later, collecting more than 50 victories and the Alabama Pro Legends division state title twice. He then honed his driving talent on the short tracks in super late models. He’s competed in the Snowball Derby eight consecutive years and has finished second twice in the prestigious short-track event.
In NASCAR, Enfinger has competed in six Camping World Truck Series races with his best finish of 12th coming three times, once in 2011 at Talladega and twice in 2012 at Daytona and Las Vegas. He also attempted to qualify for the Sprint Cup Series season finale at Homestead in 2011. It’s been ARCA, however, where he has enjoyed his most success since transitioning from the super late model ranks. In 91 races, he’s earned 14 victories, 45 top-five and 64 top-10 finishes, and led 2,398 laps.
Crew chief Jeff Stankiewicz said it was Enfinger’s knowledge of his race car that has played a key role in his success. Enfinger is a full-time mechanic at GMS Racing when he’s not competing, often working a 12-hour day at the Statesville shop which has about 60 employees.
“He knows every mechanical aspect (of that race car),” Stankiewicz said. “Some drivers that don’t understand, they just have to trust their crew chief is telling them the right thing. When I talk to Grant he knows exactly what I’m talking about and he gives me his information, his opinion and we’re able to go back and forth and come up with the best educated decision together.
“Also, when Grant is racing … he’s always in-tune with what he is doing and what his surroundings are, which is pretty big. He amazed me a couple of times this year (with what he knew during a race).”
Enfinger’s 2016 plans have yet to be solidified, but he hopes it includes a move into one of NASCAR’s top three series.
“We would love to see him graduate into one of our trucks,” team manager Nic Moncher said. “That’s kind of our goal right now, but we’re also open to running him back in the ARCA Series. Our whole thing is we want to keep him in something. We don’t want to push him to the sidelines or let somebody else grab him because he’s such a huge asset to the team from a driving standpoint, from a mechanic standpoint, from a coaching standpoint.”
Kenseth to make Truck Series debut
Mooresville resident Ross Kenseth is scheduled to make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut at Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 31. The son of 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Matt Kenseth will drive a Toyota fielded by Hattori Racing Enterprises, which will attempt to make its truck series debut.
The 22-year-old Kenseth made his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut at Chicagoland Speedway in June, qualifying second and finishing sixth. He won his first ARCA race earlier this year at Michigan International Speedway in only his third start in that series.
GoPro Motorplex sets food drive
GoPro Motorplex’s food drive to benefit the Mooresville Soup Kitchen is scheduled for Nov. 9-23. During this time, anyone donating five nonperishable food items can rent a kart at the Mooresville track for $15, a $10 deduction from the regular price. Last year, GoPro Motorplex donated more than 2,745 pounds of food to the Mooresville Soup Kitchen.
Spooktacular at Concord Speedway
Concord Speedway officials have slated the track’s annual Spooktacular for Oct. 31-Nov. 1.
On Oct. 31, the gates will open at 9 a.m. with practice and qualifying for Bandoleros and Legends. The 100-lap Mini Cup Brooks Davis Memorial will be held and the 2015 championship trophies will be presented to the top-five finishers in each Bandolero and Legend division. There also will be a best-looking car contest. Free hot dogs, chips and drinks will go to everyone purchasing a pit pass.
On Nov. 1, the gates open at 11 a.m. The feature races for Beginner Bandits, Bandits, Outlaws, Young Lions, Open Legends and Karts begin at noon. Pit passes each day are $25 for adults and $15 for those ages 15 and under. The Legend entry fee is $40 and the Bandolero entry fee is $20.
LFR Chassis Secures First Championship
With Doug Coby’s victory at Thompson, Conn., Speedway in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s season finale, LFR Chassis secured its first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Manufacturer title. It’s the Mooresville-based company’s first full season of modified racing. In Coby’s first year using a LFR Chassis modified, the three-time champion produced seven victories, earned six poles and led 830 laps in 15-point races.
Hemric Wins All American 400
Kannapolis native Daniel Hemric led for 71 laps to emerge victorious in the All American 400 pro late model race earlier this month at Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tenn.
Two years ago Hemric finished second to Chase Elliott in the 300-lap race that has been a prestigious staple in the racing community for more than three decades. The 24-year-old Hemric finished 2.3 seconds ahead of Bubba Pollard with Mooresville’s John Hunter Nemechek claiming third. Hemric is in his first full-time season in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series. Entering the Talladega truck race, Hemric was fifth in the standings.
Deb Williams is a freelance writer: email@example.com.