KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) Grant Enfinger had the ARCA Racing Series championship in hand the moment the green flag waved on the season finale Friday at Kansas Speedway.
Only after the race concluded, with Enfinger third for his 12th top-five finish of the year, did the Alabama driver let himself bask in the accomplishment.
''We worked a lot of really dumb hours in the beginning of the year to try to get caught up and get to the point where we were,'' Enfinger said. ''Them guys didn't have to do that. Everybody has a life outside of the shop and all. The hours were getting a little ridiculous, but we were able to kind of get where we needed to be about halfway through the season, and then everything kind of started falling in place.
''A heck of a year. Pretty incredible.''
Enfinger had six victories this season and took a 320-point lead into the race.
Mason Mitchell won the race for his second victory of the year. He took the lead from teammate John Wes Townley with seven laps to go and held off Rookie of the Year Kyle Weatherman.
Mitchell, who led a race-high 29 laps, went to the pits during the 28th lap and stayed on the track the rest of the way. He said the choice, which seemed like a bit of a gamble, wasn't a difficult one.
''We really didn't have too many intentions of coming down pit road after that point,'' Mitchell said. ''We were getting pretty good mileage, and fast car. Clean air is obviously king, everybody knows that, and we got out front and never looked back.''
While Mitchell enjoyed his victory, Enfinger soaked in a championship, even enjoying the champagne.
''I'm more of a PBR guy,'' Enfinger said, ''but overall it was tasting good tonight.''
Enfinger said he thought the car was fast enough to win Friday had he driven it more aggressively on restarts. That same speed differentiated his car throughout the season, he explained before the race.
''I feel we've been competitive everywhere we've gone this season,'' Enfinger said. ''We've had a chance to win or lead laps every race, it seems.''
Despite the success his team ultimately achieved, however, Enfinger noted the season has not been strictly smooth sailing.
''It's been somewhat of a roller-coaster year,'' Enfinger said. ''We started the season with three straight wins and followed that up with three wrecks. That's just how the season has gone.
''The biggest thing is this year we've been able to pick ourselves up,'' Enfinger added. ''We had the ability to deal with most of the issues that came up. Sometimes there were little things that turned into big problems, but we were able to recover.''