(DUQUOIN, IL – September 7, 2015) – Chalk up another victory in 2015 for Grant Enfinger.
The Fairhope, Ala. native used a pass on the first green-white-checkered lap to get by Kyle Weatherman to earn his fifth win of 2015 and keep him in the driver’s seat to be the 2015 series champion. Weatherman led laps 88-103 at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds before he slipped and went just high enough for Enfinger to slide past him on the backstretch, and hold him off for the victory.
“It worked out,” Enfinger said after winning the Southern Illinois 100 presented by Federated Car Care Monday. “A lot of times it doesn’t but, this time it did.”
The series point leader won each of the first three races and two of the last three. This one might have been the least likely of his wins, even after taking the Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell and leading the first 15 laps of the race. His car became extremely hot, he said, causing a couple of unscheduled pit stops.
“We got way, way too hot,” Enfinger said. “Hats off to Ilmor (makers of the ARCA Ilmor 396). Evidently, they’ve built a bullet-proof engine because it stayed together even when the water temperature gauge passed itself. That’s hot. We lost a lot of water, but, fortunately, the caution came out when we needed it to for us to get it topped off with water and all the guys did great for not letting us lose a lap. Having a car this good made it possible.”
The race had seven cautions, the last coming on lap 98. Weatherman restarted first and Enfinger third. Enfinger took advantage of the leader when Weatherman went slightly high in turns one and two, and Enfinger grabbed the lead. Weatherman, in the No. 22 Crosley Brands Dodge, was frustrated with finishing second although he widened his lead in the Calypso Lemonades Short Track Challenge standings and led the most laps – 32.
“Honestly this is the second race we’ve lost under this caution deal,” Weatherman said. “The cautions keep falling wrong for us. But, that’s a part of racing. I honestly think me and Grant had one of the better cars all weekend. It’s just unfortunate that I gave it away there at the end.”
Springfield dirt winner A.J. Fike finished sixth, Frank Kimmel seventh in his historic 500th career start, Justin Boston eighth, Ryan Unzicker ninth and Kelly Kovski 10th. Fifteen cars finished on the lead lap, including Will Kimmel in 14th. Kimmel led 26 laps.
Hessert was third in the No. 77 Barbera’s Autoland Dodge. He led 18 laps and was up front most of the day.
“It was a tough day,” Hessert said. “The race track stayed together well in three and four, but getting into one was a handful. All in all, not a bad day. We seemed to run pretty well at these dirt tracks. It would be nice to win one.”
Schrader, in the No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet, called the track “treacherous” at times.
“We came home fifth and in one piece,” Schrader said. “The highest we were all day were the last two laps. We’ll take it.”
Josh Williams ran as high as second and in the top five most of the day. He eventually finished fourth.
“We had a pretty fast race car all day,” said Williams, the runner-up in the point standings and driver of the No. 6 Musselman’s Applesauce Chevy. “You can’t run up top. I got caught racing up there on that restart and you can’t get through like that. It’s alright. We’ll move on to the next one.”
The race took 1 hour and 31 minutes to complete. Enfinger’s margin of victory was .761 seconds. He leaves DuQuoin with a 180-point lead in the driver point standings.
The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards races next at Salem Speedway on Sept. 19.