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Mitchell, Enfinger Take Good Old-Fashioned Championship ARCA Points Battle
Posted by: newsla on Aug 21, 2014 - 06:16 AM
Mitchell, Enfinger Take Good Old-Fashioned Championship ARCA Points Battle To Madison Short Track

It's a good old-fashioned championship play-off points battle coming right down to the wire. In fact Mason Mitchell and Grant Enfinger have been flip-flopping the lead back and forth for most of the season.


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With just five races left in ARCA's 62nd season, it will literally come down to who finishes ahead of who headed to Madison Int'l Speedway this weekend for the Herr's Live Life With Flavor 200. Mitchell leads Enfinger by just 25 points, or just five positions on the track.

"It's definitely on our minds a lot more than it was a few months ago," Enfinger said. "We're in the hunt; if we just keep doing what we're already doing, I feel like everything will work out."

Mitchell took the trick last Sunday on the Springfield mile dirt, finishing second to Enfinger's third. While neither driver claims to be a dirt track expert, Mitchell was satisfied with his runner-up run at Springfield, which says a lot considering Mitchell has five runner-up finishes in 2014.

"I haven't been too excited about all these second place finishes...they're all short of our goal of winning," Mitchell said. "But I felt satisfied with a second at Springfield. I don't have a lot of dirt track experience. I'll take that one."

Ironically, Enfinger was saying pretty-much the same thing regarding his third place finish at Springfield.

"It turned out a lot better than my two previous dirt experiences. I was a little disappointed that I couldn't give "Pickle" (crew chief Ryan London) any feedback. I figured no feedback was better than giving false feedback, so I left it up to Pickle. Spencer (Gallagher) ran every well in the car there last year, so I knew GMS (Racing) had a good set-up for the dirt, so I left it completely to them, and it seemed to work out good. I'm excited about our chances going to DuQuoin."

If Mitchell one-upped Enfinger on the Springfield mile dirt, he may also be one step ahead going to Madison.

"Leaving Springfield, we drove straight to Madison and tested there," Mitchell said. "Had a really productive test. I wasn't happy about our seventh place finish there last year. I'm feeling much better going in this year."

If the championship chase was not prevalent on Mitchell's mind earlier this season, you can bet it is now.

"I'd be lying if I said we're not thinking about it," said Mitchell. "We're all thinking about it, and it does add some pressure. The good thing is that the championship picture is so well defined. There's no more guessing. We've got to go in these last five races, and get the maximum amount of points. It comes down to this...we've got to finish ahead of the 90 (Enfinger); there's no more to it. The championship is our ultimate goal."

Like most drivers who seek to earn a living racing stock cars, the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards can effectively serve that role...training and preparing drivers to get to that next level.

"I'd say most of us aspire to race fulltime in NASCAR, and I'd say ARCA's one of, if not the best place, to get the experience you need to get there," Enfinger said. "Racing on the big tracks, the short tracks, and even the road courses and dirt tracks...I can't think of a better training ground. I really haven't done any road course racing to speak of, and the dirts new too, but I like learning new things...I enjoyed the road course.

"If I'm fortunate enough to make it to NASCAR, I would much rather go there as the ARCA champion than not. This championship is extremely important to me."

For both Mitchell and Enfinger, the 2014 season has brought its share of twists and turns.
For Mitchell, it was the start-up of a brand new team this year...his own team, which can always complicate the picture. Despite the new start-up, Mitchell has answered with supreme performance through the first 15 races, including his career-first win at Chicagoland Speedway.

For Enfinger, it was a mid-season switch from Team BCR to GMS Racing that through a monkey wrench in the deal. In addition to Enfinger's sponsors he brings - Casite and Motor Honey - he gets to be part of a well-oiled, well-established Allegiant Travel-sponsored team. The team also fields trucks in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, which tends to stretch the crew.

"My guys are in Bristol for the truck race. I'm here in the shop working on our Madison car," Enfinger added.

If there is an even playing field headed to Madison, it's in the amount of track time each driver has in race competition on the half-mile Madison oval. Each driver has one start at Madison, Enfinger finished 14th in 2011, the last car on the lead lap compared to Mitchell's seventh place finish there last year, one lap down.

"I definitely feel like we have a head start going to Madison this year," Mitchell said.

"At this point, I'm really focused on what we need to accomplish. I'll stick close to my guys...we have a job to do, and we plan to get the job done. It's pretty intense...it's an interesting battle, not only for me and Grant, but for everyone to watch."

ARCA's seventh trip to Madison Int'l Speedway
The ARCA Racing Series stretches out over five decades at Madison Int'l Speedway, having first raced there in July of 1970 - two-time ARCA champion Ramo Stott earned the victory. Tom Bowsher won the ARCA race at Madison in May of 1971, and Bruce Gould is in the history books as the 1973 ARCA victor. However, nearly 40 years would elapse before the ARCA Racing Series would return to Madison in 2011.

Film Star Blake Rayne to perform
Blake Rayne, star of the film "The Identical" opening in theaters nationwide on September 5, will be performing a pre-race concert in conjunction with the autograph session as well as singing the national anthem prior to the Herr's Live Life with Flavor 200.

Madison's ARCA race to be broadcast on CBS Sports Network
The Herr's Live Life with Flavor 200 will also be the third ARCA Racing Series race that will be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network in 2014. CBS Sports Network ARCA racing coverage at Madison will be live at 2:00 p.m. local Central time.

Weekend schedule/On-track autograph session
Practice for the ARCA Racing Series at Madison is scheduled for Saturday, August 23 from 1-1:45 p.m., followed by a final practice from 2:15-3. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell is at 4:30.

Raceday Sunday gets started with an on-track autograph session from Noon - 1 p.m., followed by pre-race ceremonies and driver introductions at 1:30. The 200-lap Herr's Live Life with Flavor 200 at Madison begins at 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon, August 24. The race will also feature live timing and scoring at ARCAracing.com.

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