What’s it like when a bunch of mariners travel south to rural Alabama?
“They talk funny,” Grant Enfinger says of Archie St. Hilaire and his GoFas Racing No. 32 team. But the thing is, Hilaire probably thought the same thing when he started to work with Enfinger and crew chief Michael Shelton in December for the Snowball Derby.
Regardless of how they sounded to each other, the communication must have been positive because they left Pensacola with a top-10 with a program that was put together quite hastily compared to several teams they beat.
“Archie had a good time,” Enfinger told Short Track Scene on Thursday. “I think everybody had a good time.
“You know, we ran decent and Archie brought his Mainers, and we had a bunch of Alabama guys down there, and it was just kind of funny listening to everyone. We had a good car and we probably had to work too hard on qualifying stuff just to make sure we were going to get in on Friday, and that probably hurt us a little bit during the race, but everyone was happy.”
It seemed to go so well that their second race together will take place this weekend at South Alabama Speedway for the prestigious Rattler 250.
This is the first time Enfinger will have raced at South Alabama in a decade, when he captured his second victory in the 2011 race. He also won in 2008.
“That first one was huge, because it’s one of the marquee Super Late Model events, and it was definitely a huge win for us,” Enfinger said. “Back then, it was all family and volunteers at the track with us, and it was just an awesome time.
“I had won a 100 lapper in a Pro Late Model there before, but this is one of the big ones. The longer races are a different element and it was just a rewarding experience.”
Enfinger, of course, is more established these days.
He’s the 2015 ARCA Racing Series champion and the 2019 NASCAR Truck Series regular season champion. He made it to the final four in the Truck Series last season and is one of the more prominent drivers in the third-tier division.
The grind never ends, and Enfinger is still searching for the funding needed to run the full Truck Series schedule this season, after having a scheduled off week form the ThorSport No. 98 for the Daytona Road Course event.
Winning the Rattler isn’t likely to change the current dynamic in the Truck Series, but there would be a degree of personal satisfaction — especially with the support from Champion Power Equipment, Southern Pride Trucking and Breland Homes.
“It would mean more to me personally than it would from a career standpoint,” Enfinger said. “I have the same drive to get it done, but I think it would mean more to Archie and Shelton to get this program a win.
“They’re putting a lot into this and they’re allowing me the opportunity to do it, so I would just be stoked to get it done for those guys.”
Despite his two trophies, Enfinger isn’t sure he immediately knows how to make speed there before turning a lap on Friday.
He didn’t dominate in either triumph. He took the lead from Wayne Anderson with 40 laps to go in 2008 after the former Snowball Derby winner led 158 laps. In 2011, he took the lead when race leader Augie Grill was involved in an incident with 25 to go. Chase Elliott was the dominant force that afternoon with 158 laps as well.
“The last time I was here, it was still relatively fresh asphalt,” Enfinger said. “So the biggest thing was rolling the center. We had to roll the center and you could be pretty hard on the tires back then.
“But now, if it’s aged like I understand it had, you’re going to have to take care of the tires better. You’re still going to have to roll the center and if you can’t it’s going to be a long day. But if you’re free on entry and free on exit, that makes for a long day too, so that’s what I’m looking forward to working on.”
Enfinger is one of 26 entrants that includes three-time winner Ty Majeski, Bubba Pollard, Stephen Nasse and Casey Roderick. It’s the season opening event for the Southern Super Series. It will air live on Speed51 on Sunday afternoon.