BROOKLYN, Mich. — Report by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Photo via Ross Kenseth/Twitter —
Look out boys and girls, there’s a new Kenseth in town.
Nearly nine years after his father Matt took his most recent NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory at the lightning-fast Michigan International Speedway, Ross Kenseth etched his name in motorsports history — stretching his fuel a remarkable 62 laps to win Friday’s ARCA Racing Series Corrigan Oil 200 at MIS.
The win is the younger Kenseth’s first ARCA victory in just his third career series start, and marks the second win of the season for Ken Schrader Racing after Schrader took the team to victory lane at Salem Speedway back in April.
The event was also the fifth-straight ARCA event to have a first-time series winner in 2015 (
Kenseth expressed his thanks in victory lane that looming weather held off long enough for his team to unlock the winning strategy, after making their lone pit stop under the race’s first caution (coincidentally for light mist in turn four).
“I’m just happy it went back [green-flag] racing,” Kenseth grinned. “I was real worried after we took four [tires] that they were going to call it under yellow, but everyone did a great job. It was a lot of fun today.”
Though Kenseth had to pedal his car over the final laps, he was far cooler under pressure than his crew chief Donnie Richeson.
“I think Donnie was more concerned [about the car running out of fuel] than I was,” Kenseth laughed. “I felt like we were alright. I just needed five or six laps to get a rhythm going. Grant did a great job racing me, and taking my line away, but we finally got by him and that was enough.”
“I’m just happy to be here [in Victory Lane] — it’s been about a year and a half since I’ve gotten a win in anything — but I’m extremely happy to do my job for this team today. They deserve this.”
Ten-time series champion Frank Kimmel started from the pole after qualifying was rained out earlier in the day, but Kenseth immediately jumped out to the point in his Federated Auto Parts No. 52 Chevrolet and built a lead of nearly two seconds in the opening 10 laps. As the No. 52 paced the way out front, problems arose early for the Cunningham Motorsports entry of Blake Jones, who cut down a right front tire and pounded the wall in turn three on lap 18.
Despite the heavy contact, Jones was able to limp his machine to pit road and did not draw a yellow flag — allowing to extend his lead to more than seven seconds by the time the first caution flew at lap 37 for slight precipitation around the race track.
The yellow allowed Matt Kurzejewski to stay out in his Brian Keselowski-owned No. 54, hoping for enough moisture to fall that he could claim the victory when the race became official at halfway. The moisture never came hard enough, however, and despite leading nine laps under yellow Kurzejewski ultimately came down pit road and handed the lead to Enfinger for the restart at lap 49.
The caution would fly twice more, once for the stalled car of Cody Coughlin (broken fuel pump) on lap 50 and again at lap 62 when Thomas Praytor came to rest in turn one with a fuel issue, before the biggest hit of the day came on lap 69. Bobby Hamilton Jr. lost a right front tire and pounded the outside wall in turn two, scattering debris and bringing out the fourth caution of the race as he limped to the pit lane.
The restart at lap 74 would be the game-changer for Kenseth, who would blast around Hessert for second before giving chase to Enfinger in the closing stages. Kenseth would muster a huge run up the outside to take the lead on the backstretch with 14 laps to go, and both he and Enfinger immediately went into fuel conservation mode.
Enfinger would run dry with seven laps remaining, falling to eighth at the checkered flag, but Kenseth would nurse his machine all the way to the checkered flag to pick up the biggest win of his young career.
The win makes Matt and Ross Kenseth the fifth father-son pairing to win at Michigan across all series, joining Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jr., Bob and Brad Keselowski, Bobby and Davey Allison and Rusty and Steve Wallace in that exclusive club.
All told, Kenseth led 51 laps on his way to the victory, which was special as well for his champion father after the checkered flag.
“It was pretty cool,” Matt Kenseth smiled. “It doesn’t work me up that much but I was really glad he won. He did a great job.”
“Ross has been working really hard, especially the last year, to try and get some opportunities. He gets to drive the Dollar General Toyota [in the NASCAR XFINITY Series] next weekend, so this is a great weekend and a momentum-builder for him heading into Chicagoland.”
Behind Kenseth, Kimmel managed to bring home his Ansell-Menards/Venturini Motorsports Toyota home in the runner-up spot, but came up 2.123 seconds shy of scoring his 81st career ARCA win and fourth at Michigan.
Austin Wayne Self finished third in his first race in a Chevrolet for Mason Mitchell Motorsports, and Tom Hessert was fourth in a Dodge for Cunningham Motorsports.
Kurzejewski battled his way back to fifth at the checkered flag after numerous mid-race pit stops for fuel and adjustments onboard his Chevrolet.
Josh Williams finished sixth and David Levine was the highest-placing Ford driver at the finish in seventh.
Enfinger was scored eighth at the end of 200 miles, the final driver on the lead lap after leading 40 laps on the day, and saw his points lead unofficially cut to 55 markers over Williams heading to the series’ halfway point next weekend in Joliet, Ill.
The ARCA Racing Series resumes on June 20 with the SCOTT 150 from Chicagoland Speedway (7 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 2).
RESULTS: ARCA Racing Series; Corrigan Oil 200; Michigan International Speedway; June 12, 2015
- Ross Kenseth
- Frank Kimmel
- Austin Wayne Self
- Tom Hessert
- Matt Kurzejewski
- Josh Williams
- David Levine
- Grant Enfinger
- Sarah Cornett-Ching
- Bo Lemastus
- James Swanson
- Mike Buckley
- Rick Clifton
- Cody Coughlin
- Blake Jones
- Will Kimmel
- Thomas Praytor
- Cole Powell
- Bobby Hamilton Jr.
- Tom O’Leary IV
- David Sear
- Con Nicolopoulos
- Josh White
- Kevin Hinckle
- Richard Altman
- Chris Bailey Jr.
- Wayne Peterson