Final Dirt Race at DuQuoin Fairgrounds Shows Both Cunningham Teams Racing’s Highs and Lows

Cunningham Motorsports

DuQuoin, IL – (September 5, 2016) –   All race teams know that it is critical to keep their engines from overheating, but it is especially tough when running dirt shows.  Throughout the entire day at the General Tire Grabber 100 at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds dirt on Sunday overheating was an issue.  For points leader, Chase Briscoe and teammate Grant Enfinger the Illinois dirt would be an obstacle to try to overcome.

Chase Briscoe – During the lone one hour practice, the Mitchell, Indiana native battled the dirt…more than the handling of his No. 77 Big Tine Ford. The damp dirt was collecting on the air intake, blocking the radiator from getting needed air for cooling.  The result was temps in his Ilmor engine were higher than crew chief, Chad Bryant wanted to see.  In spite of the overheating issues, Briscoe posted the top speed in the practice….after following Enfinger for a few laps and getting a few helpful pointers from him.

After qualifying 4th, Briscoe grabbed 3rd before the overheating engine began plaguing him again.  With the engine temperatures above the recommended levels and water spraying out of the overflow, Briscoe needed to get his car into the pits.  With the first yellow of the night flying on lap 12 when Briscoe spun out of turn 4, Briscoe brought his Ford to the attention of the pit crew…where they hooked the engine up to the cool down unit.  Losing two laps in the pits, Briscoe restarted 17th.

Bryant was concerned that the overheating had caused damage to the engine.  But, after taking it easy on the motor for the next 15 laps with no more temperature spikes, driver and crew chief decided it was time to see what they had left.  By halfway in the 100 lap event, Briscoe had worked his way up to 9th. He was working by the leader to get back on the lead lap, when the caution came out on lap 67.  With Briscoe in the lucky dog position, he would once again be on the lead lap…restarting at the tail of the longest line.

This set up a display of Briscoe’s ‘never give up’ attitude.  With 7 cars on the lead lap when the green flag flew, Briscoe set his sights on not only getting a good finish, but winning the race.  One by one he picked off positions, taking 3rd with 9 laps to go.

As the white flag flew, the top 3 cars of Tom Hessert, Ken Schrader and Briscoe, got bunched up close together as they tried to get by a lapped car.  The white flag flew for the final time just as the three made their way to turn 3 on the final circuit.  With the green and white flags shown together on the restart, followed by one lap of racing before the checkered flag flew, Briscoe had his hands full battling with Schrader, Kelly Kovski and Hessert.  He crossed the start/finish line in a photo finish with Kovski for 2nd, before ARCA officials penalized him back to the 4th spot.. saying that he jumped the final restart.

After experiencing a perfect example of the highs and lows of racing, Briscoe commented, “Our race showed what it takes to win championships.  We could have easily given up early in the race when we overheated, but we continued to fight and get back in a position to contend for the win.  This shows what perseverance and our ‘never give up’ attitudes can accomplish.”   With the 4th place finish, Briscoe continues to lead the championship battle, unofficially, by 505 points, with four races remaining.

Grant Enfinger – The 2015 ARCA Racing Series champion would be the 9th driver this season to pilot the No. 22 Ford for the Cunningham organization.  During most of the practice session Enfinger sat atop the speed charts.  That is, until he showed his teammate, Chase Briscoe his line around the 1-mile dirt track.  As the red flag signaled the end of practice, Enfinger was second.   In qualifying he grabbed his 6th ARCA Series pole.

When the green flag dropped, Schrader jumped to the lead before Enfinger took control on lap 3.  During the first caution on lap 12, crew chief Paul Andrews called his veteran in to the pits so the crew could clean the dirt off of the grill, since his engine was running slightly warm.  After restarting 3rd, Enfinger quickly retook the point, pulling to a 15 car length lead.  The ‘overheating gremlin’ started hitting the No. 22, as the temperatures climbed and the overflow started spewing.

Hoping for a caution so they could pit under yellow conditions, the team chose to stay out and pushed the engine.  When the temperature gauge was no longer registering a temperature, Andrews told Enfinger to bring it to pit road on lap 48.  After leaving the engine hooked up to the cool down unit, Enfinger couldn’t get it to fire.  As the crew pushed the car down pit road, in an attempt to get it to restart, Enfinger told Andrews that is wasn’t going to start.

After leading 39 laps, to boost his career laps-led figure to 2436 laps, Enfinger’s crew pushed him off of pit road….relegating him to the 17th spot. After his disappointing finish, Enfinger said, “Cunningham Motorsports brought a fast race car tonight to DuQuoin, but we overheated and had to call it a day early.  Thanks to everyone involved.”

Next Race – With two more races in this three race/eleven day stretch, the teams will unload next at Salem Speedway on Saturday, September 10.  The 100th ARCA race at Salem Speedway is a one-day race event with practices scheduled from 12:30-1:15 and 1:45-2:30 EST.  Menards Pole Qualifying will follow at 4:00, with 200 laps of racing taking the green flag at 8:00.  American Sports Network (ASN) will have live coverage of the race and will provide live streaming at americansportsnet.com.

Briscoe’s teammate will be fellow Hoosier, 10-time ARCA Racing Series champion, Frank Kimmel, who will drive the No. 22.  Kimmel is making his 504th start at his home track.  In his career, he has 80 victories and has lead over 11,000 laps.

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