TALLADEGA — Tom Hessert made a late move to win the International Motorsports Hall of Fame 200 on Saturday morning.
Hessert passed John Wes Townley and Bobby Gerhart for the lead with three laps left to take the lead for good. This is Hessert’s fourth career win in the ARCA Series and first victory at Talladega.
“The car was really good all day, but we were kind in the middle all day” Hessert said. “We finally got a chance to lead the outside lane towards the end. We got past the 5 (Gerhart) and 25 (Justin Boston), the 22 (Austin Wayne) did such a good job of pushing us. That was a big determining factor for the whole thing.”
After the only caution flag of the race, there were 15 cars on the lead lap. Townley, who eventually finished second, led with five laps to go, but Gerhart surged on the outside lane to take the lead.
It didn’t last long as Hessert surged to the front with a push from third-place finisher Wayne on the outside to pass Townley with three to go. He held on to take the checkered flag.
“I was going on the outside earlier, but I couldn’t get very much help,” Hessert said. “On that restart I was behind the 25 (Boston) and it wasn’t getting going very much. I was able to go up the middle, and the 25 was left out of the line there. Once we did that we were able to gain some real ground. … Coming through the tri-oval we went three wide on the outside, Austin stayed with us and made up some ground.”
ARCA points leader Grant Enfinger finished ninth. Enfinger looked as if he was well on his way to securing a historic fourth straight victory, but he was penalized for speeding on pit road. The Fairview native received a pass-through penalty, which moved him to the back of the lead pack. Enfinger led the first 35 laps before being penalized.
“I wanted to pull out a win, but our hearts are at home on the Gulf Coast area and people are suffering from the storms,” Enfinger said. “We had a car that could win, and the driver let it slip away today.”
Mason Mitchell finished fourth for his 16th straight top 10 finish. Spencer Gallagher finished fifth, Derrick Lancaster sixth, Gerhart seventh, Frank Kimmell eighth, Enfinger ninth and Buster Graham 10th.
Alabama native Justin Allison finished 19th in his first race at Talladega, while Thomas Praytor came in 22nd and Joey Gattina was 31st.