(LONG POND, Pa.) – Tim George Jr. passed Grant Enfinger on a Lap 57 restart at Pocono Raceway, making a move to the front just in time to win the Pocono ARCA 200, which was shortened to 59 laps from 80 scheduled as a result of inclement weather.
The win is George’s first in 50 career starts in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, and the fourth in seven races in 2011 for Richard Childress Racing.
Just after George drove the No. 31 RCR Development Chevrolet around Enfinger’s right side in Turn 1, heavy fog appeared for the second time over Pocono Raceway’s 2.5-mile triangle, and ARCA Racing Series officials made the decision to call the second red flag of the race. 47 minutes and 54 seconds later, with the fog just as intense, series officials decided to end the race and display the checkered flag.
George, surrounded by his Richard Childress Racing teammates while parked on pit road, was declared the winner.
“Whenever you’re battling the elements, position is key,” said George, of New York, N.Y. “I feel like in a race like this especially, you need to have speed and luck. Today, we had both. (Crew chief) Gere (Kennon) and the guys on pit lane got us really great position and that ECR (Earnhardt Childress Racing engines) and Chevy power was just awesome off the corners. Position is key, so being up front is obviously where you want to be, especially when it’s bad weather.”
George’s win was his third top-five finish in the last four races. His previous best finish was third at Talladega in April 2010.
Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell winner Brennan Poole (No. 25 Lacy Green/Scott Dobrin RE/MAX Toyota) sped away over the first five laps, building his lead to 1.565 seconds. He and second starter Ty Dillon (No. 41 Richard Childress Racing Development Chevrolet) began to lap slower traffic – the Nos. 75 and 06 cars of Benny Chastain and Steve Fox, respectively – on the first turn of the sixth lap, and that helped Dillon reel in Poole’s advantage.
Dillon passed Poole over the Turn 2 tunnel on Lap 8, helped by Poole driving loose into the previous turn. Poole returned to the point one lap later, passing Dillon through the final of the track’s three turns. Chris Buescher (No. 17 Roulo Brothers Racing Ford), Frank Kimmel (No. 44 Ansell/Menards Ford), and Enfinger (No. 36 BeasleyAllen.com/Allgaier Motorsports Dodge) filled out the top five. George drove sixth.
With the rest of the top 10 unchanged behind them, Poole began to pull away again, extending his lead to 0.909 second by Lap 14. Dillon swiftly moved inside Poole on the next lap, but Poole kept a 0.015-second advantage. The next lap, the two caught Maryeve Dufault’s No. 12 Dodge off of Turn 3. With Poole caught behind her, Dillon used Dufault as a pick and passed Poole on the inside to assume the lead again.
Poole, however, passed Dillon over the tunnel on Lap 18. Soon after, George Cushman crashed against the outside wall, bringing out the race’s first caution. Behind the two leaders, little had changed inside the top 10, except for Hal Martin’s fall after breaking his oil line.
The leaders drove to pit road to close Lap 19, and Buescher emerged as the leader after taking four tires and fuel. Dillon trailed in second, with his teammate George in third. Poole fell back to fourth after a 23-second pit stop in which his Venturini Motorsports crew experienced some trouble with the car’s right front.
With light rain falling and fog present, the caution period extended over the next 12 laps, and initially, ARCA officials decided to drop the green flag on Lap 32. After restarts to begin Laps 32 and 33 were waved off, officials instructed drivers to drive down pit road to close Lap 35, and a red flag was issued after 54 minutes and 43 seconds of green and yellow action. With another clear sky expected, officials urged drivers to stay in their cars.
A short time later, officials brought the field back to the yellow flag, moving them from pit road within a minute. The field began racing to start Lap 38, going green just five minutes after the end of the red flag period.
Buescher led the two Childress cars, and though Dillon looked to have a run inside him in the first turn of Lap 39, Buescher stayed out front. Poole moved past George for third two laps later, closing to within 0.326 second of Buescher after 41 laps. Dillon found himself caught in traffic on the short chute between Turns 2 and 3 on Lap 43. He was passed by Poole and George, sending Poole into second place behind Buescher. Poole, then nearly a full second behind, closed to within 0.02 second in three laps, and passed Buescher to start Lap 47. Poole built a 2.435-second lead by Lap 50, but Brent Cross stalled on the infield access road as the leaders closed Lap 51, bringing out another caution flag.
The leaders pitted soon after, closing Lap 53. Enfinger surged into the lead after taking just two tires on the pit stop, leading George and Buescher off of pit road. On the Lap 57 restart, George passed on the outside for the lead and Buescher followed, leaving Enfinger third just as more fog settled over Pocono Raceway. ARCA officials called for the yellow flag immediately, making George the leader of Lap 57. The ultimate red flag was displayed two laps later.
Buescher finished second and Enfinger ended the race third. Dillon and Poole, the two main contenders at the beginning of the race, finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Chad McCumbee (No. 1 ModSpace Ford) finished sixth after starting 12th. Chad Hackenbracht (No. 58 CGH Motorsports Chevrolet), Kimmel, Tom Hessert (No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet), and Matt Merrell (No. 32 Champion Oil Dodge) rounded out the top 10, in that order.
In all, five drivers led laps. Buescher led 27, just more than Poole, who led 23. Enfinger, Dillon, and George each led three.
The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards returns to action Friday, June 17 in the RainEater Wiper Blades 200 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich. The event is scheduled as the eighth of 19 on the 2011 ARCA Racing Series schedule.
Practice begins at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 16, and will last for 90 minutes. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell begins at 10 a.m. Friday, and the 100-lap, 200-mile race will air live on SPEED at 5 p.m. ARCARacing.com will feature live timing and scoring coverage of all events.
The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards features 19 events at 16 tracks on its 2011 schedule. The series has crowned an ARCA national champion each year since its inaugural season in 1953, and has toured over 200 race tracks in 28 states since its inception. The series tests the abilities of drivers and race teams over the most diverse schedule of stock car racing events in the world, annually visiting tracks ranging from 0.4 mile to 2.66 miles in length, on both paved and dirt surfaces as well as a left- and right-turn road course.
Founded by John Marcum in 1953 in Toledo, Ohio, the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) is recognized among the leading sanctioning bodies in the country. Closing in on completing its sixth decade after hundreds of thousands of miles of racing, ARCA administers over 100 race events each season in two professional touring series and local weekly events.