Mikey Kile had seen this race before. Six days ago, in fact, at Pocono. This time, the driver of the No. 25 Sears Auto Center/DieHard Toyota came up on the other side of the tale, winning the Racing for Wildlife 200 along the way.
Kile led the final 26 of 100 laps at Michigan International Speedway for his first career victory in the ARCA Racing Series Presented by RE/MAX and Menards, reversing the fortune - or misfortune - he had experienced in the hills of Pennsylvania just one race prior. The victory came in what was just Kile's 16th start in the series.
The 27-year-old from Louisiana was quick to thank his Venturini Motorsports crew, who worked diligently to prepare the car that had led 67 of 80 laps at Pocono, only to finish second when unlucky timing on a series of pit stops had its way.
"These guys got home at 3 in the morning on Sunday, and worked so hard to turn the motor around, just to have it ready to leave on Tuesday morning," Kile said. "I wanted to get this win for these guys more than anything. I'm speechless."
Craig Goess started from the pole and dominated, moving his No. 81 Greenville Toyota of N.C. Toyota to a lead of more than one second within two laps and over six seconds by the time the first of two caution flags came out on the race's 27th lap, the result of a blown front right tire on the No. 99 Ford of Josh Richards.
Goess continued to lead through the middle stages of the race and saw his advantage exceed four seconds. When he pitted on Lap 75, Kile assumed the lead. Goess, with his seemingly insurmountable lead, figured to retake the lead when Kile would later be forced to pit, but he could not predict Chase Mattioli's spinning of the No. 17 Ford off of Turn 4 on the race's 77th lap.
Kile was allowed to pit under the yellow flag just laps later, held the lead as the race restarted after 82 laps, and simply drove away from the field, winning by a margin of 4.637 seconds.
Almost unbelievably, the race had taken on a tone incredibly similar to the event of a week ago, but with the major players and their roles switched.
"The caution came out and I knew (Goess) pitted. Last week, when the caution came out, we didn't need it," Kile said. "This week, I said, 'Is that good or bad?' I heard, 'Man, it's like Christmas.' So I knew we'd be in good shape. We pitted, and then I saw the 81 starting on the tail end of the lead lap, right in front of us.
"I knew (Goess) and I were the class of the field, so with him there, I just raced my own race and hoped like heck we didn't get a caution at the end."
Joey Coulter made his No. 16 Rip It Energy Fuel/Darrell Gwynn Foundation Chevrolet one of just five cars on the lead lap for the last restart, and his strategy paid off with a second-place finish, the fourth of his career.
"My crew chief made some great calls and we got better on every stop. The last stop was the best the car felt all day," said Coulter, who celebrated his 20th birthday earlier in the week and also finished second at Toledo Speedway two races ago.
Patrick Sheltra continued his run of consistency, finishing third and nailing down his eighth consecutive top-10 finish to start the season. Sheltra remains the ARCA Racing Series points leader, a distinction he will carry to the series' next race at Iowa Speedway on July 10.
"We ended up third, and that's what we need to keep doing for the points lead here. We'll top-10 and top-five them to death, and the wins will come," said the driver of the No. 60 Recycling Services/Ferguson Pipe Toyota.
Justin Marks finished fourth to maintain the second position in the standings, and two-time Michigan winner Frank Kimmel was fifth.
Goess ended the race in sixth, followed by Michigan resident Chad Finley, Tim George Jr., Bryan Silas, and Robb Brent, also of Michigan.
The ARCA Racing Series Presented by RE/MAX and Menards returns to action Saturday, July 10 at Iowa Speedway, with live television coverage provided by SPEED at 9 p.m. Eastern. Live audio coverage will be available via the ARCA Racing Network on ARCARacing.com.
The ARCA Racing Series Presented by RE/MAX and Menards features 20 events at 17 tracks on its 2010 schedule. The series has crowned an ARCA national champion each year since its inaugural season in 1953, and has toured over 200 racetracks 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 left- and right-turn street and road courses.
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.
Official Results, ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards
Michigan Int'l Speedway, Racing For Wildlife 200 (6-11-10)
Brooklyn, Mich., (AP) _ The official finish for Friday's Racing For Wildlife 200 at Michigan Int'l Speedway for ARCA Racing Series stock cars with starting position in parenthesis, driver, hometown, type of car, laps completed, and reason out of race, if any:
1. (2) Mikey Kile, Westlake, La., Toyota, 100; 2. (8) Joey Coulter, Miami Springs, Fla., Chevrolet, 100; 3. (3) Patrick Sheltra, Indiantown, Fla., Toyota, 100; 4. (12) Justin Marks, Rocklin, Calif., Toyota, 100; 5. (9) Frank Kimmel, Clarksville, Ind., Ford, 100; 6. (1) Craig Goess, Greenville, N.C., Toyota, 100; 7. (18) Chad Finley, Lansing, Mich., Chevrolet, 99; 8. (14) Tim George, Jr., New York, N.Y., Chevrolet, 99; 9. (10) Bryan Silas, Stuart, Fla., Ford, 99; 10. (19) Robb Brent, Shelby Township, Mich., Dodge, 99; 11. (6) Dakoda Armstrong, New Castle, Ind., Dodge, 99; 12. (5) Nelson, Piquet, Brasilia, Brazil, Toyota, 99; 13. (27) Alli Owens, Daytona Beach, Fla., Chevrolet, 99; 14. (16) Bobby Gerhart, Lebanon, Pa., Chevrolet, 99; 15. (13) Tom Hessert, Cherry Hill, N.J., Dodge, 98; 16. (22) Michael Simko, Clarkston, Mich., Chevrolet, 98; 17. (15) Chad McCumbee, Supply, N.C., Ford, 98; 18. (21) Sean Corr, Goshen, N.Y., Ford, 97; 19. (28) Nick Igdalsky, Long Pond, Pa., Ford, 95; 20. (23) Chad Hackenbracht, New Philadelphia, Ohio, Chevrolet, 95; 21. (24) Jerick Johnson, Faribault, Minn., Chevrolet, 94; 22. (30) Frank Wilson, Belmont, W.V., Chevrolet, 94; 23. (26) Chase Mattioli, Long Pond, Pa., Ford, 93; 24. (34) Brad Smith, Shelby Township, Mich., Ford, 92; 25. (33) Darrell Basham Henryville, Ind., Chevrolet, 92; 26. (25) Tony Palumbo, Frankfort, Ill., Ford, 91; 27. (29) Kent Schenkel, Huntington, Ind., Dodge, 91; 28. (38) Rick Clifton, Circleville, Ohio, Chevrolet, 90; 29. (20) Brent Brevak, Ashland, Wis., Dodge, 84; 30. (36) James Hylton, Inman, S.C., Ford, 83; 31. (35) Rob Jones, Bowie, Md., Chevrolet, 80; 32. (40) Jason Basham, Henryville, Ind., Chevrolet, 77, wheel bearing; 33. (7) Steve Arpin, Fort Frances, Ont., Chevrolet, 68, overheating; 34. (4) Clay Rogers, Troutman, N.C., Chevrolet, 67, clutch; 35. (17) Grant Enfinger, Fairhope, Ala., Ford, 53, alternator; 36. (11) Josh Richards, Shinnston, W.V., Ford, 25, accident; 37. (31) Terry Jones, Amherstburg, Ont., Dodge, 22, engine; 38. (37) Dennis Strickland, Carleton, Mich., Ford, 17, engine; 39. (32) Mark Gibson, Winder, Ga., Dodge, 4, handling; 40. (41) Mike Buckley, Ann Arbor, Mich., Ford, 3, battery; 41. (39) Larry Meadors, Louisville, Ky., Chevrolet, 1, handling.
Time of race: 1 hour, 21 minutes, 51 seconds; Margin of victory: 4.637 seconds; Lap leaders: Goess 1-74, Kile 75-100.
Top-10 ARCA Racing Series Points, after Michigan Int'l Speedway (6-11-10)
1) Patrick Sheltra 1885; 2) Justin Marks 1850; 3) Mikey Kile 1810; 4) Craig Goess 1750; 5) Frank Kimmel 1720; 6) Tom Hessert 1655; 7) Dakoda Armstrong 1645; 8) Steve Arpin 1630; 9) Tim George, Jr. 1585; 10) Robb Brent 1555.