Grant Enfinger earned his second consecutive ARCA Series season-opening race, dominating en route to victory in Saturday’s Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona International Speedway.
Enfinger led at the halfway point of the 80-lap race around the 2.5-mile high-banked racetrack.
“It’s an incredible feeling,” Enfinger told FoxSports1 after the race. “A few weeks ago there was a lot of uncertainty. I didn’t know when I was going to get back in a car. … I can’t say enough about GMS racing and this opportunity they gave me. We’re going to savor this one for a while.“
Xfinity Series rookie Daniel Suarez, who will compete for Joe Gibbs Racing, finished a strong second.
“A few days ago, I was thinking where do I need to be have to be to win this race and normally that would be second place,” Suarez said. “Ten laps to go, I said, ‘Well, here we are, second place, let’s try to win this thing.’
“I was trying to pass the 23 car in the last couple laps, but I just didn’t know how to make that pass. I’m not sure exactly what I did, but I’m happy with a second place.”
Outside pole-sitter Cody Coughlin, 19, finished fourth in his first-ever race at Daytona.
“We had a lot of fun in my first time at Daytona,” Coughlin said. “To come away with a top-five finish is cool. We were up front all day and could taste the victory, so it’s a little bit bittersweet in that aspect. We had a wicked fast Toyota today, I learned a lot and next time we’ll get the checkers.”
ARCA veteran and 10-time series champion Frank Kimmel once again fell short of his bid to finally win at Daytona.
Kimmel, who has earned 80 ARCA wins in his career, finished fifth, adding to the three-runner-up finishes he’s had in career starts at DIS.
A pit road problem cost Kimmel the win. He was leading the race just short of halfway when he came in to pit.
The connector part of the fuel can came loose, dumping the entire contents of the fuel on the gasman and on the ground.
Kimmel had to come back around to take another can, dropping him from the lead to 34th position.
Wrecks were few and far between, but one must be noted.
On Lap 54, Leilani Munter bounced off the left rear of Blake Jones, sending her into Terry Jones and then bounced off and into Buster Graham and Bobby Gerhart.
Gerhart needed assistance to get to the ambulance. It seemed he was pretty shaken up, but he said he was fine after being discharged. Gerhart finished 39th.
“The tape will tell it all,” Gerhart said. “I’m not pointing any fingers or placing any blame. There’s not a lot of room for error when you’re three-wide. Everybody was just at the right place at the wrong time.”
J.J. Pack appeared to run over debris from the five-car wreck that punctured the fuel line on his car, leading to a spectacular fire. Pack was uninjured.
* Mark Thompson, who at 63 became the oldest driver to ever win a pole in DIS history (in Friday’s qualifying), finished 14th.
* Former NASCAR Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series driver Bobby Hamilton Jr. finished 26th in his first race of any series in nearly four seasons. It also was Hamilton’s first race in an ARCA car since 1999.
* Vancouver, B.C. native Sarah Cornett-Ching made her Daytona debut, ultimately finishing 31st out of the 40-car field. She fell behind in the first two laps, and was forced to pit to fix a motor issue.
Competing in the first of what she hopes to be at least 10 races on the ARCA circuit this season, Cornett-Ching came back on the track
* Martinsville Speedway president Clay Campbell qualified fifth, but suffered overheating problems that left him with a 35th place finish.
1 Grant Enfinger
2 Daniel Suarez
3 Brett Hudson
4 Cody Coughlin
5 Frank Kimmel
6 Mason Mitchell
7 Matt Kurzejewski
8 Scott Sheldon
9 Josh Williams
10 Will Kimmel
11 Tom Hessert
12 Daniel Hemric
13 Austin Hill
14 Mark Thompson
15 Austin Wayne Self
16 David Levine
17 Blake Jones
18 Tyler Audie
19 Terry Jones
20 Cole Powell
21 Patrick Staropoli
22 Brad Smith
23 Bo LeMastus
24 Thomas Praytor
25 Karl Weber
26 Bobby Hamilton Jr.
27 Bill Catania
28 Barry Fitzgerald
29 Sean Corr
30 Ed Pompa
31 Sarah Cornett-Ching
32 Roger Carter
33 John Lowinski-Loh
34 Garrett Smithley
35 Clay Campbell
36 J.J. Pack
37 Buster Graham
38 Leilani Munter
39 Bobby Gerhart
40 James Swanson