(TOLEDO, Ohio - July 17, 2012) - More so than many competitors in the ARCA Racing Series, Grant Enfinger knows how to come close without wrapping up a drive to Victory Lane.
In his first 40 career starts, Enfinger (top, No. 36 Breland Homes Dodge) has led nearly 300 laps in all and earned 16 top-five finishes. Of those top-fives, he has finished third nine times, and his runner-up finish in Friday's Prairie Meadows 200 was his fourth such result. Enfinger has never won, but remained appreciative and optimistic after Friday's 202 laps.
"We put a whole lot of effort into this and I appreciate Mike Allgaier for letting us do this," said Enfinger, who made his third start of the year but first in an Allgaier Motorsports entry. "I feel like we had a really, really good race car. We struggled on short runs. We struggled in sheer speed in practice and in the race. The first five or 10 laps, we didn't have the overall grip to run like we needed. But this team really showed what it's made of and made up a lot of ground in the long run. I appreciate (crew chief) Kelly Kovski making some great calls and doing everything he could on the box to help us seal the deal. We just came up a bit short."
Boat Happy with Strong Finish in ARCA Debut: Alex Bowman was not the only Arizonan making waves in the Prairie Meadows 200. Two spots behind the winner from Tucson was Phoenix's Chad Boat (No. 98 Curb Records/Celebrity Fight Night Chevrolet), who finished third in his ARCA Racing Series debut.
"Any time you begin in a series, you expect to just go out there and complete all the laps," said the 20-year-old. "You try to get a strong finish, so we'll take the third, definitely, for our first run. We've been running in the K&N Pro Series East, which is a similar car, but obviously there's more horsepower here and it's a little bit heavier. We'll take the third. It's definitely a good showing and shows what our team is capable of, and we'll go on to (Lucas Oil Raceway)."
Indeed, Boat plans to enter the July 27 Messina Wildlife Animal Stopper 200 at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. He spent a portion of his childhood in Indianapolis while his father, Billy Boat, competed in the Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series. The elder Boat, now 46, won the USAC Western States Midget championship in 1995 before embarking on 75 career starts in the IndyCar Series. Billy Boat won one race, at Texas in 1998, and finished a career-high fourth in points in 2001. In 1998, he won the pole for the 82nd Indianapolis 500 just miles away from the spot where his son will make his next ARCA Racing Series start.
"I had to make it through this race to go there as well, and it's unscathed, so we'll go up to Lucas Oil and try to put on a good show," said Chad Boat, pictured with his father. "I ran a USAC Midget there. I love that track and I spent some time in Indy racing USAC. It's kind of like going home, where I see my old friends from the open-wheel ranks. It'll be fun, for sure."
Six Match or Make Career Highs: Outside of Grant Enfinger and Chad Boat, four other drivers earned or tied career-best finishes Friday at Iowa Speedway.
Clay Rogers (No. 42 Beard Oil Chevrolet) has made 13 ARCA Racing Series starts since 2003, but until Friday had only finished in the top five one time - at Rockingham in 2009. He finished fourth Friday after leading six laps in the first half of the race.
Ryan Reed finished ninth for the second time in his career, edging by one position Mason Mitchell.
Mitchell (No. 6 J&S Ag Services/Make-A-Wish Foundation Chevrolet) earned a top-10 in his first career start, a special moment for the West Des Moines, Iowa driver competing at his home track. He will make his second ARCA start in the Messina Wildlife Animal Stopper 200 at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis on Friday, July 27.
Michael Leavine scored his first top-15 in six career starts, finishing 15th in the No. 95 WRL General Contractors Ford.
Basham the Hard Charger for Second Time in Three Races: Darrell Basham (No. 34 Darrell Basham Racing Chevrolet) qualified 32nd for Friday's Prairie Meadows 200; he was the final driver to qualify on speed, meaning that he did not have to use a provisional to start.
Basham improved 10 spots by the checkered flag, coming home 22nd. His 10-spot gain was more than any other driver in the field who raced with a CGS Imaging decal. Therefore, Basham won the CGS Imaging Hard Charger Award for Friday's race, his second such award in the last three races; he also won at Winchester. Now, Basham is tied for third with Chris Buescher in the year-long standings. Buster Graham leads Will Kimmel above Basham and Buescher.