TALLADEGA — Even Grant Enfinger is a little amazed at his streak, but he sure doesn’t want it to end.
The 29-year-old Fairhope driver has won each of the first three races on the 2014 ARCA season. He’s hopeful No. 4 comes in Saturday’s 10 a.m. International Motorsports Hall of Fame 200 and he’ll start from the best position possible — the pole.
Enfinger, the latest success story among The Alabama Gang, won the pole with a top lap of 183.649 in practice qualifying Friday. Iowan Mason Mitchell was second at 183.448.
“I’m not the one who needs to be up here,” Enfinger said. “The guys at the shop are what makes you sit on the pole at a superspeedway … They gave us a heck of a hot rod.
“I didn’t expect us to get on the pole. I did want to get in that Top 10 group, so I was really happy after practice we were able to put up a good number. I’ve got to thank Mason Mitchell for that. He pushed our way to the front there and got us in that good group of cars. We were lucky enough to be with those good guys and that’s what helped us put it here.”
The remaining top five qualifiers were Justin Boston of Baltimore (182.916), Mark Thompson of Cartersville, Ga. (182.902), and John Wes Townley or Watkinsville, Ga. ((181.553).
So far, Enfinger has won at Daytona, Mobile and Salem. He’s in the same car this week he won with at Daytona. None of the wins have come from the pole — he has started second twice and fourth once — but he knows how to get to the front.
He has led more than half of all three races. He has led a total of 333 of 486 possible laps.
Counting the end of last season he has won four of his last six ARCA starts.
“It is pretty incredible,” he said. “It makes it a little sweeter that it took us so long to get that first one. I remember here in 2010 I was leading at the white flag, leading on the backstretch, and finished 10th or 12th. That happened to us a lot. We were really close and knocked on the door a lot, but we were able to break through and win a couple races last year (and) that’s when the momentum started building.
“Everything’s clicking. We haven’t changed anything. We’re just all working together and everybody’s staying really focused. It’s an incredible roll we’re on and hopefully we can keep it going.”
All knotted up
OK, guys, how much would you spend on a celebrity wedding? Two million?
Apparently, that’s what the National Enquirer reports — according to a source — Dale Earnhardt Jr. is going to pony up when he marries interior decorator Amy Reimann in a lavish ceremony at Daytona International Speedway.
“So we just skipped the engagement, I guess; went right to the wedding,” he said denying the report. “That was funny. I read that, and it was a roller coaster of an article.”
As far as the $2 million price tag for the eats and entertainment, Junior said, “I definitely would have a hard time writing that check.”
On Friday, it was announced Nationwide Insurance signed a three-year sponsorship deal on Dale Earnhardt’s No. 88 Sprint Cup car. The deal, for 12 races next year and 13 in 2016 and 2017, reportedly is valued at more than $10 million a year.
Earnhardt said his two current primary sponsors, National Guard and Diet Mountain Dew, were “very excited” to have it on board. The drive has appeared in Nationwide Insurance ads since 2009.
“We’ve had a relationship with them for a very long time; it’s been successful on both sides,” Earnhardt said. “It’s a great fit. We’ve had a lot of fun together. It’s a good thing for me.”
Nationwide has been on the No. 17 Roush-Fenway car of Ricky Stenhouse Jr., but there has been no announcement on that future.
The insurer is ending its seven-year run as title sponsor of NASCAR’s second-largest series at the end of this season. Based on things he was hearing, Earnhardt said the search for a new title sponsor “won’t be a challenging one” and there is “some good interest to fill that void.”
New Alabama Gang member
On Wednesday, Talladega Superspeedway recognized the original Alabama Gang and several young drivers who are in the NASCAR circuit. One noticeable person wasn’t in attendance: Darrell Wallace Jr.
Wallace was born in Mobile, but he moved to Concord, N.C., when he was a child. He said he was honored that he was mentioned.
“It touches the heart for sure and it makes me upset that I wasn’t here to hear that,” Wallace said. “That is cool to be recognized by them and I do hate I missed out on a great opportunity to be in front of them and to be here at the race track in your home state.”
The 20-year-old driver for didn’t get a chance to see the Alabama Gang on the race track coming up, but he has a rich knowledge on their history. He said he embraces being a part of The Alabama Gang.
“For me, I wasn’t really into it growing up,” Wallace said. “I didn’t pay a lot of attention to it, so I would say yes and no. I know who they are and the impact that made on this sport is huge. To be recognized by them is cool. It is really cool to read about their history and try to be as great as team.”