Sam Mayer Wins ARCA 200; Pokrant Takes Sportsmen; Day Wins Outlaws; By Chuck Corderadmin
Mayer Passes Enfinger Late to Capture Pensacola 200, Second Straight ARCA Menards Series East Title
By Chuck Corder
Sam Mayer left Five Flags Speedway after last year’s Pensacola 200, scratching his head and spitting nails at a disappointing finish that was beyond his control.
The Wisconsin driver returned to the famed half-mile asphalt oval this weekend eyeing two goals.
The 17-year-old Mayer sought not only a better performance, but a chance to lock up back-to-back ARCA Menards Series East titles.
Mission accomplished on both fronts.
Mayer led twice Sunday at Pensacola’s banks for only, but it was nifty maneuvering around then-leader Grant Enfinger on Lap 188 that earned him the win in the ARCA Menards Series Pensacola 200 presented by Inspectra Thermal Solutions.
Mayer’s ninth trip to an ARCA Victory Lane this season secured him the ARCA East crown for the second consecutive season. Five Flags regular Corey Heim finished second and Ty Gibbs came home third.
“I don’t know what to say,” Mayer said. “It’s just an amazing opportunity to run in the ARCA series. I’m glad we were able to get this season in and win two championships. You can’t hang your head about that.
“We had to work for this one for sure.”
Mayer had mechanical issues in last year’s running of the Pensacola 200 and finished a distant 15th.
In his second trip at Five Flags, Mayer suffered no such catastrophes against a 19-car field and kept pace in the top-five while Enfinger led much of the race.
Enfinger – the Fairhope, Ala., native and current NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series – was the fast qualifier (17.461) and led for the first 136 laps before Mayer took his first lead of the day.
But Enfinger, the 2015 ARCA overall champion, stayed on Mayer’s bumper and he reclaimed the lead around the 150-lap mark.
“It’s good to be home for sure,” said Enfinger, who finished fifth. “It has been awhile since I competed here. We had a good hot rod, but these guys are good out here.”
When the race restarted with 35 laps left, Enfinger failed to shake loose of Gibbs, Heim and Mayer as the leaders were nose-to-tail.
“We struggled in the beginning,” Heim said. “But my crew chief made good adjustments throughout the day. We dialed it in at the end there.”
As Heim moved under Gibbs for second, Mayer saw his chance to pounce and exploded past those two toward the back of Enfinger’s bumper.
After sitting second for about a dozen laps, Mayer got Enfinger loose to move back into clean air. Mayer didn’t cruise home, though.
A caution with Lap 198 forced a green-white-checkered flag finish. Gibbs made a move toward the lead on the restart and it appeared Joe Gibbs’ grandson would get the job done at Five Flags.
Mayer wasn’t about to go quietly into the afternoon, though. He stuck the nose of his No. 21 back ahead of his opponent’s No. 18 and roared to a car-length lead as the white flag waved wildly.
Mayer held off a valiant charge from Heim on the last half-mile and claimed the sweep he so desperately wanted.
Faith Chapel Outlaws
Jay Jay Day finally got himself one.
After a regular season of mechanical miseries and frustrations in the Faith Chapel Outlaws series, Jay Jay Day found Victory Lane for the first time Sunday at Five Flags Speedway.
“This team, I tell you, they were the opposite of giving up,” the Theodore, Ala., driver said. “We wanted to come here today and perform well. We had a really good racecar and we learned a lot for the Derby. There are still things to work on.”
With local divisions crowning their track champions last month, the Outlaws raced a non-points feature as the undercard to the ARCA Menards Series Pensacola 200 presented by Inspectra Thermal Solutions.
Day won the pole in qualifying and led all 20 laps en route to a flag-to-flag win.
Conner Sutton finished second and Kevin Chase rounded out the podium for a race that only had those three cars.
“I wish we could’ve had a bigger field for everybody in the stands,” Day said. “I had blast. It’s good to get out front and learn what your car has in clean air.”
The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen
Jim Pokrant went into the Night of Champions last month needing only a few points to claim his first track championship.
Things didn’t go as planned that Saturday night in September, as Chad Robinson secured The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen track crown.
But that didn’t deter Pokrant on Sunday as the Sportsmen shared the stage at Five Flags Speedway with the ARCA Menards Series and the Pensacola 200 presented by Inspectra Thermal Solutions.
Pokrant took the lead on Lap 13 from B.J. Leytham and never looked back in the 25-lap feature en route to his first win in two seasons in The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen class.
“I’m tired, but that was helluva race,” Pokrant said. “This helps make up a little bit for not winning the championship “There are some things that bothered me about that, but we’ll get it done next year.”