TOLEDO OH (11-1-09) – If the world didn’t know who Grant Enfinger was when he first showed up on tour in 2008, you better believe it knows who he is now.
In seven starts in 2009, in his own no. 83 BeasleyAllen.com sponsored Ford Fusion, Enfinger checked off four top-five finishes among a couple of near wins at Kentucky and Chicagoland, where he finished second. Third place finishes at Talladega and Kansas, and a seventh at Rockingham served notice that this guy’s the real deal.
“I’m fairly satisfied,” said Enfinger. “Our performance probably exceeded the expectations of the guys who helped us at Beasley Allen. We’re still searching for a little more. I’m disappointed with didn’t pull off the win, but overall, I’m satisfied.”
Enfinger first got the attention of the troops at Talladega where he steered the BeasleyAllen.com Ford to third in final running order behind ’09 champ Justin Lofton and ’99 champ Bill Baird. Not too shabby.
Then Enfinger proved he was no one-race wonder when he led 35 laps at Kentucky, giving up the lead only in the final corner of the final lap to Parker Kligerman. Up to that point, Enfinger and Kligerman wowed the live SPEED TV audience with an ongoing bumper-to-bumper, door-to-door dual over the last 30 laps. Even National Speed Sport News publisher emeritus Chris Economaki commented in his weekly column that it was the best stock car race he had witnessed all year. It was, indeed, that good.
“We are a very low budget team, just stringing parts and pieces of this car together to try and make it work, and a finish like this really means a lot,” said Enfinger right after the race at Kentucky.
Even though the car belongs to Enfinger, many of the pieces and parts that ultimately make it go are rented and/or borrowed.
“We rented some shocks; actually a couple of team let us borrow them. Rick Crawford from Circle Bar Racing let us borrow some gears. Other guys let us use their sway bars and springs. Everything we borrowed, we had to give back.”
Enfinger also gets a lot of good advice from his good buddy David Ragan, both fellow Alabamians.
“David (Ragan) comes to the shop all the time. I’ve always leaned on him for advice about tracks I’ve never been to, and the business side of things. Rick Crawford’s from Mobile; we’ve known each other for ever, so I lean on him for advice all the time too.”
Enfinger, who sets up shop these days in the Mooresville, North Carolina area, has been back home this week in Alabama working on a late model.
“I’m gonna run in the Snowball Derby (December 6), so I’m getting the car ready. Josh and George Braggs field the car for me so I’m down here getting things ready.
“Other than that, I’ve been working on the Daytona car getting ready for the ARCA test (December 18, 19, 20). We’re prepping for the test but everything’s kind of up in the air right now.
“I’ve got some options. Some guys approached us, but nothing solid that’s for sure. My goal would be to run the full season in ARCA with my own team, but nothing’s far enough along to say that. I’m not sure I’m ready to be anywhere else. I really like the ARCA series, and I think it’s where I need to focus right now.”
In just over a half-dozen starts this year, Enfinger taught himself a lot.
“I definitely learned a lot. I don’t think there’s a better series out there that can prepare drivers for the next level. This was the first year I could actually race. The biggest thing I learned was that, as a driver, I have a lot more to gain. And as a team, there’s a lot more to be learned, and this is the place to do it. This was my first year on bigger tracks, and I need to do a lot more of that before we try and step up.”
From a team standpoint, Enfinger never really had the luxury of working with the same people from race to race.
“We didn’t ever have the same pit crew, didn’t have the same spotter either. That said, I didn’t really expect to come here and contend for wins. But it probably didn’t surprise me as much as it did Beasley Allen, which they are the reason we ever got this opportunity to begin with. They knew what we were up against here. I’m sure they were expecting some possible top-10s on a good weekend, but didn’t expect to contend for wins.”
And with all the borrowed pieces, parts and people, that’s exactly what Enfinger did every time he sat the in the car.
“I’m going to Talladega this weekend. Gunna shake as many hands as I can – try and get some direction for next year.”