Mason Mitchell wins ARCA finale; Enfinger takes championship
Mason Mitchell passed teammate John Wes Townley for the win Friday in a 10-lap shootout at the Full Throttle S’loonshine 98.9 at Kansas Speedway Friday night.
Meanwhile, Alabama native Grant Enfinger captured his first ARCA Racing Series championship by rolling off of pit road from the fifth position.
"We worked a lot of really dumb hours in the beginning of the year to try to get caught up and get to the point where we were," Enfinger said. "Them guys didn’t have to do that. Everybody has a life outside of the shop and all. The hours were getting a little ridiculous, but we were able to kind of get where we needed to be about halfway through the season, and then everything kind of started falling in place.
"A heck of a year. Pretty incredible."
Among other drivers with reason to celebrate were Kyle Weatherman, who secured the 2015 ARCA Racing Series SCOTT Rookie of the Year award, and Sarah Cornett-Ching, who became the highest ARCA Racing Series points finisher for a female rookie, in seventh. Kerry Scherer won the Bill France Four Crown, Daniel Kurzejewski won the Hoosier Superspeedway Challenge, Kyle Weatherman won the Calypso Lemonades Short Track Challenge, and Chevrolet won the Manufacturer Championship. GMS Racing won the owner’s championship.
Daniel Suarez led the field away for 99 laps around the 1.5-mile oval in Kansas City, Kansas, but lost the lead on a Lap-16 restart to Ryan Reed in the No. 38 Lira Motorsports Ford, who had worked his way up from 12th on the grid.
Weatherman, who started at the back of the field, was closing on Reed for the lead on Lap 26 when the second caution of the night flew as Brandon Jones blew a tire and hit the wall.
Most of the leaders chose to pit under caution, but Will Kimmel and Josh Williams stayed out and led the field back to green, while Reed was busted for speeding and Suarez had to come back in to repair damage from hitting a tire on pit road.
The third caution flew just moments later, however, as the No. 6 Chevrolet driven by Williams also blew a tire. Williams had been sitting second in the points heading into the night, and lost that position to Austin Wayne Self.
Consequently, even more pit strategy unfolded with several drivers taking fuel only, while Kimmel had a slow right front tire change, costing him positions. Kimmel would bring his car into the garage with a motor issue just a few laps later.
Mitchell, driving the No. 78 Mason Mitchell Motorsports Chevrolet, led the field back to green on Lap 48, and held the top spot for 20 laps until another right front tire failure — this time for Suarez — brought the caution out again.
Most of the field came to pit under the subsequent caution, but Mitchell stayed out to retain the lead.
However, when the green flew again with 24 to go, Townley was able to power by Mitchell for the top spot. He held that lead until the caution flew again with 15 laps to go.
That set up for a 10-lap shootout where teammates Townley and Mitchell banged fenders several times until Mitchell finally made the final pass for the lead.
"We really didn’t have too many intentions of coming down pit road after that point," Mitchell said. "We were getting pretty good mileage, and fast car. Clean air is obviously king, everybody knows that, and we got out front and never looked back."
Weatherman, Enfinger, Reed and Townley rounded out the top five.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.