MOBILE, Ala. - Grant Enfinger spent six years and 45 races trying to get to victory lane in the ARCA Racing Series. All it took, he found out on Saturday, was a little home cooking as he finally broke through, winning at his home track in the ARCA Mobile 200.
Enfinger has lofty goals, still hoping to someday compete in the Sprint Cup Series. He thought he would race there last season, signing on as Sinica Motorsports' first driver, but that team fell apart before the season even started.
As a result, Enfinger spent last season racing a variety of different cars, including three starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The most important thing, Enfinger has always said, is winning in the ARCA and Camping World Truck Series. That's the quickest path to Cup, winning on the biggest stages in stock car racing.
He finally accomplished stage one of that plan on Monday, winning in the ARCA car at Mobile. Stage two is winning the championship, a goal he announced he would strive for prior to Saturday's race. After finishing deep in the field at Daytona, the victory at Mobile moves him all the way up to sixth, 280 points behind co-leaders Frank Kimmel and Mason Mingus.
Perhaps winning a few more races and the championship will get the 28-year-old back to where he thought he was last year - on the verge of joining one of NASCAR's top-three touring series full-time.
Non-televised short track races some of ARCA's best
It's a shame that most of ARCA's televised races are at NASCAR companion events because the Series truly shines at short tracks like Mobile, Elko and Salem. The deal to air races at tracks like Daytona, Talladega and Michigan make a lot of sense - and I'm grateful for to see the Series have a TV presence - but it's just not indicative of what ARCA truly has to offer the motorsports world.
Saturday's race was highlighted by a fantastic side-by-side duel for the lead between Enfinger and Kyle Benjamin - a 15-year-old hot shoe making his first start in the ARCA Racing Series. The lead was exchanged four times during the final 40 laps and was exactly the kind of racing that NASCAR fans are unrealistically demanding out of NASCAR downforce parades.
But let's get back to Benjamin, the real breakout star of Saturday's race. You won't hear much about him nationally until he's allowed to compete at larger speedway tracks but this is a name that should be at the top of everyone's under-16 top prospects list.
For two years in a row, he dominated the Super Late Model portion of the World Series of Asphalt at New Smyrna Speedway during Daytona Speedweeks. He's also picked up major victories at Indianapolis Raceway Park and Watermelon Capital Speedway during the span.
For all of his ARCA starts this season, he will compete for Venturini Motorsports, ARCA's top team in the same car that won the Daytona season-opener with driver John Wes Townley. He'll make his ARCA TV debut on Sept. 7 at Iowa Speedway.
The ARCA Racing Series' next event is at The Salem Speedway on Apr. 28, also untelevised, before returning to TV (SPEED) on May 3 at Talladega Superspeedway.