Enfinger Returns to Gulf Coast, Poised to Battle ARCA Starsadmin
Enfinger Returns to Gulf Coast, Poised to Battle ARCA Stars in Pensacola 200 Presented by Inspectra Thermal Solutions
By Chuck Corder
Grant Enfinger grew up a 45-minute drive west on I-10 from the front gates of Five Flags Speedway.
The close proximity made it easy for the Fairhope, Ala., native to become a familiar face and a fan favorite at the famed half-mile asphalt oval.
Enfinger’s decorated Late Model years at Five Flags and short tracks across the southeast paved the way for a career arc that seems to still be peaking.
The NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series driver, Enfinger will be back at Five Flags on Saturday as the ARCA Menards Series East returns to Pensacola’s high banks for the Pensacola 200 presented by Inspectra Thermal Solutions.
“The biggest thing I want to do these days is to come home and race,” said the 35-year-old now living in Kannapolis, N.C. “I really appreciate the opportunity from Chad Bryant Racing, and it’s great to have Champion Power Equipment and Breland Homes onboard. It should be a great short-track race, so we need to have a great crowd and keep this series coming back to Pensacola every year.”
The green flag drops at 7 p.m. Saturday with the ARCA cars set to be joined by the Faith Chapel Outlaws and The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen. Pit gates open at 10 a.m. for hauler parking. General admission tickets are $25 and admission for children ages 11-and-under is $10.
The Pensacola 200 will mark the first time Enfinger has raced at Five Flags since the 2016 Snowball Derby where he finished seventh – one of seven top-eight finishes he has charted in short-track racing’s most precious crown jewel.
He owns two career runners-up in the Derby (2008, 2013) and even sat on the pole of the sport’s pinnacle race.
“I’m still bummed I haven’t been able to win one of those,” Enfinger said of the Derby. “The Snowball Derby is near and dear to my heart. I definitely haven’t given up on the dream of bringing the Tom Dawson Trophy home.”
This weekend, he’d settle for another ARCA Menards Series victory to go with the 16 he racked up in the mid-2010s. In back-to-back seasons, Enfinger won six ARCA races each and parlayed that prolific success into a series championship in 2015.
A year later, he made the leap to his current gig – driving a ThorSport Racing Ford in NASCAR’s truck series. Enfinger owns three truck wins this season and currently sits in the thick of a tightly contested battle as the playoffs move to Kansas on Oct. 17.
“Overall, it has been a good year,” he said. “It has been up and down a little bit at times. But we’re definitely still in the mix. If we can run to our potential, we’ll be fine. But it’s not gonna be easy.”
A rare off weekend in the trucks’ schedule allowed Enfinger to return to his stomping grounds and team up with Chad Bryant Racing again.
The Pensacola 200 was set to kick off the 2020 season back in March. The novel coronavirus put the brakes on not only those plans but the first two months of the season. Track officials made sure the revised schedule had an ARCA date.
Enfinger said because of his NASCAR trucks schedule, there would have been no chance for him to compete in March at Five Flags. The postponement kept alive the possibility that he could race before his family, friends, and adoring fans who still fondly remember his Late Model glory days.
“This is, literally, the only off weekend I’ve had in the truck in the last two months,” he said. “We were fortunate, the one off week happened to fall at an opportune time.
“Any excuse I can find to return to the Gulf Coast and race, I’m usually jumping up and down for that. I grew up racing at Five Flags, so I’m extremely excited about coming home to the ARCA race at Five Flags Speedway.”