Craig Goess assumed the lead from Mikey Kile on a series of late pit stops in the Messina Wildlife Animal Stopper 200, and held the point on the race's final restart to grab his first victory in the ARCA Racing Series Presented by RE/MAX and Menards. The win for the No. 81 Greenville Toyota of N.C. Toyota was the second consecutive at Pocono Raceway for Eddie Sharp Racing.
Kile had dominated for most of the race in the No. 25 Sears Auto Center/DieHard Toyota, losing the lead only when the 80-lap event slowed for each of its two cautions. Kile led the first 36 laps after winning the Menards Pole Award Presented by Ansell, and then led 31 laps until Goess stole the advantage away for the final nine.
"We ran pretty well the second time we came up here last year," Goess said. "We brought a different car, and it was the first time I had driven it. We knew we had a good car right off the bat in practice."
Kile had led by nearly four seconds at points throughout the first half of the race, but Goess took the lead on Lap 37 when the caution flag flew for debris. The ensuing restart saw Kile steal the point away almost immediately, but Goess then held Kile's advantage to less than a second.
The race continued uninterrupted and even featured some side-by-side action when Goess matched Kile to start Lap 55. Kile pulled away, unrelenting and not allowing Goess to make the complete green flag pass.
The second and final caution made the race for Goess, as one particular change gave him the ultimate advantage.
"My crew just made really good decisions, and the last time, they got it to where I could really come off of (Turn) 3. That's where the 25 was getting us. Outside of that, we were pretty equal. Once we got that fixed, I was able to come off. We got good track position, got in some clean air, and at that point, he wasn't catching us," Goess said.
Goess led from the green flag, which fell with five laps to go, and only increased his lead over Kile.
The win helped Goess improve two positions in the ARCA Racing Series standings, to fifth. However, the driver warned that it was too early to think about the championship race.
"(The win) keeps our momentum rolling pretty good," Goess said. "We've had some good finishes the last few races. If we can avoid some bad luck, and that happens to some other people, and not us, that'll do a lot for us in the standings. But at this point, it's really too early to speculate on that. We're going to go out and run every lap as hard as we can, just like we did today, and hope for the best."
The day was only slightly less successful for Kile, who was also in pursuit of his first ARCA win. His second-place finish after leading 67 of 80 laps was a career high.
"It definitely is bittersweet. You know, we led the most laps. We were really riding, and the guys came on the radio and said we were still pulling away," Kile said. "Man, the car was great. That last caution just fell at the right time for them and the wrong time for us."
Kile was pleased to look forward to the series' next race, at Michigan next Friday.
"You move on and run. It's a good debut for the sponsor, and we'll be taking this car to Michigan next week. We're really looking forward to that, so we'll keep our heads up high, second place, and move on to the next race," he said.
Eighteen-year-old Chad Finley matched his best career finish by placing third in the No. 29 Brad Keselowski Racing Chevrolet sponsored by Auto Value Certified Service Centers, and points leader Patrick Sheltra continued his season-opening string of top-10 finishes by placing fourth in the No. 60 Recycling Services/Ferguson Pipe Toyota.
"I think we probably had a third-place car, and that's where we ended up," Finley said. "Pocono is really unique as a triangle-shaped track. It can be hard to figure out. To come out of here third, I don't think it gets any better than that."
Sheltra's finish was his seventh top-10 in a row to start the 2010 season, and he remains the only driver with a full slate of top-10 finishes.
"It starts at the shop, and the guys are real good there," Sheltra said. "You come here and you have a struggle like we did today with the right rear going down, and nobody gave up, and that's what it takes. You've got to keep getting top-10s and top-fives. That's what we'll drive for, to not be out of the top 10."
Sheltra is the series points leader for the second consecutive week with a 25-point lead over Justin Marks, who finished seventh.
Frank Kimmel started on the front row in the No. 44 Ansell/Menards Ford and finished fifth, one lap off of the pace. Robb Brent, Marks, Dakoda Armstrong, Bobby Gerhart, and Tim George Jr. filled out the top 10.
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.