Springfield Contenders Hit with Rash of Mechanical Problemsby Kyle Pokrefky August 25, 2015 0 comments
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — ‘Survival of the fittest’ was a common theme surrounding the Allen Crowe 100 at Illinois State Fairgrounds on Sunday as several big names were snakebitten by mechanical gremlins.
Grant Enfinger, driver of the No. 23 Triple K Construction Chevrolet, entered the mile-long clay oval in Illinois’s capital as the championship leader by 225 points – nearly a full race ahead of second-place – yet will exit the first of two dirt races for the ARCA Racing Series with his championship lead damaged.
By virtue of qualifying being rained out, Enfinger started on the pole for Sunday’s 100-lap race and held the lead for the first eight laps before his car shut off by itself under caution.
Enfinger went on to lose several laps to the leaders as his GMS Racing crew scrambled to remedy the situation.
As the Fairhope, Ala. native explained to The Fourth Turn, he had no indication in the day’s shortened practice session that he was to expect any electrical issues later on.
“We just had an electrical connection come loose is all it was,” Enfinger said. “A lot of vibration – a lot of stuff that’s not normally on an asphalt track, and I know it’s not expected dirt-wise [as well], and it bit us a little bit. We didn’t have any problems in practice or anything, but it bit us in the race there.”
Relegated to a 20th-place finish, Enfinger lost ground in the points standings heading into the fourth-to-last race of the season. Enfinger heads into DuQuoin State Fairgrounds unofficially with a 150-point gap to second.
“We’ll do the best we can to rebound, we’ve got four races to make up the little bit of points that we lost,” Hopefully, we can keep coming back with really fast race cars. Everybody in the shop did a really good job with this one, this is probably the best car that I’ve had a dirt track.”
Venturini Motorsports’s Frank Kimmel and Matt Tifft entered the Allen Crowe 100 as favorites to collect the trophy; after all, the VMS organization headed into the dirt race having won the previous two runnings of the event, winning with Brennan Poole in 2013 and with Kevin Swindell last year.
Tifft, the pilot of the team’s No. 55 machine, experienced fuel pump issues the same lap that Enfinger encountered his issues. Tifft’s car was to slow first as he was the cause for the caution brought out on Lap 8.
The Hinckley, Ohio native’s crew tried all they could to fix the car, yet various attempts to send the car out onto the track at speed were thwarted by it stalling out – sometimes shortly after leaving the pit lane. After bringing out several cautions, the team decided to retire the car. Tifft was credited with a 28th-place finish – 85 laps off of the lead.
Kimmel, a eight-time winner of the Allen Crowe 100, ran well throughout the race before his engine went up in smoke with less than 20 laps to go – the culprit for the malfunction being a dropped cylinder.
Kimmel continued on in the race (even after being black flagged with less than 10 laps to go) and came home with a 13th-place finish on the lead lap.
“I’m not really sure what happened there at the end,” Kimmel stated of his run. “The engine seemed to start missing on the backstretch and by the time we came out of turn four the car was smoking really bad as we crossed the line. Seemed like we dropped a valve or broke a piston.
“Whatever it was I felt like I could continue – water and oil temps were fine. Frustrating for sure but we did the best to finish the race.”
While Kimmel’s No. 25 Venturini entry was able to gain on Enfinger’s No. 23 entry in the owners standings, both teams lost ground to the No. 22 Cunningham Motorsports entry of Kyle Weatherman, who has assumed the lead of the owners championship battle.
Photo Credit: Kyle Pokrefky/The Fourth Turn