Dakoda Armstrong Wins ARCA Racing Series 250
Dakoda Armstrong played hooky from high school on Friday in order to compete in the ARCA Racing Series 250 at Talladega Superspeedway. If he needs a note to explain his absence, he can show the trophy he received for winning the race.
Armstrong used a strong push from Patrick Sheltra to pass Grant Enfinger on the backstretch of the final lap of the 94-lap race, and then held off Sheltra to win in only the 11th ARCA start of his career.
“I can’t believe I won that race,” said Armstrong, an 18-year-old senior at Shenandoah High School in Indiana. “With about 10 to go, I thought we were going to get stuck. I have to thank (Sheltra). He pushed me all the way to victory.
“I’m going to go back to the hotel tonight and say, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I just won Talladega.’ This is incredible.”
Enfinger, a native of Fairhope, Ala., was poised to become the first Alabamian to win a race at Talladega Superspeedway since Huyetown’s Davey Allison captured the 1992 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the track. Enfinger led for most of the final 20 laps, and held off an attempted pass by Tom Hessert with only three laps to go.
But Enfinger got caught in the middle of the track on the backstretch of the final lap with no drafting partner behind him, enabling Armstrong to roar past with help from Sheltra. By the time the pack reached the finish line, Enfinger had been shuffled back to sixth place.
“I knew it was going to get crazy there at the end,” Enfinger said. “They started coming from all angles and I just couldn’t hold them off. It felt like I dropped an anchor there on the backstraightway on the last lap.
“It’s just one of those deals. It’s Talladega and it’s going to get crazy. It’s a little bit tough, but it was still a great day.”
Tim George Jr. finished third, followed by Craig Goess in fourth and Mikey Kile in fifth.
“Those last two laps felt like they lasted 20 minutes,” said George, who was in sixth place entering the final lap. “Coming through (turns) three and four there at the end, it was a tight squeeze. We had to have been four- or five-wide.”
Armstrong became the 19th driver to win an ARCA race at Talladega Superspeedway from the pole position. In the process, he gained a new entry for his high school yearbook: Most likely to end up in Victory Lane at a NASCAR track.
“I started racing when I was 6, and I’ve always wanted to win at the big tracks,” Armstrong said. “But the way the race was won, with a last-lap pass, it’s something I’m never going to forget. It was an incredible race for us.”
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