Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Enfinger Gets Down and Dirty to Snag ARCA Win at Du Quoin Mile

Fear The Finger, indeed!
Grant Enfinger has become the beast of 2015 on the ARCA series circuit and snagged his fifth win of the year with a last lap pass of rookie Kyle Weatherman to pad his overall points lead with only three races left on the schedule. It was veteran Frank Kimmel's 500th ARCA start so there was a lot of sentiment for him to get a win but it was Enfinger's savvy on a green-white-checker finish which got him to Victory Lane once again. The dust was flying all day at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds in southwestern Illinois, and in a season where multiple first-time ARCA winners have emerged, Enfinger has proven that his Gallagher Motorsports team is the one to beat week in and week out. No one else has more than one win this season and it will take something really drastic for Enfinger to lose the season championship with only races at Salem Speedway, Kentucky and Kansas remaining.

Austin Wayne Self (98) battles Josh Williams
Even as Grant continues his winning ways, the battle for the next three positions in the standings is extremely close as Josh Williams, Tom Hessert and Austin Wayne Self are now separated by only 85 points. The 2015 hard luck winner so far has to be Kyle Weatherman though with multiple second place finishes and near-misses that have kept him out of the winner's circle so far. Weatherman has a consolation prize of the Calypso Short Track Challenge and has an amazing nine Top 10 finishes in only 12 races run, as until recently when he turned 18, he was not eligible to run on some of the big tracks where ARCA races. I feel bad for Kyle and Cunningham Motorsports as they have been so close to getting him a win this year. Teammate Tom Hessert is in much the same predicament but he has won Salem before so watch out for him next weekend! I wouldn't count Josh Williams out either as he has really come on strong lately and shown a lot of speed for his small team.

Down and Dirty
Du Quoin was ARCA's second straight mile dirt track race and I am frankly glad it was the last one for this season. As their photographer, the races at Springfield and Du Quoin are a bear to work as they are both one day shows with very condensed practice-qualify-race schedules and there's a lot I have to do. This past weekend was about as dirty as I have ever gotten at a race track as it was extremely hot and the blowing dust (especially in Turn 1) just clung to my sweat soaked arms, face and shirt. I was quite happy to hit the shower Sunday night once I got home to Indy, and I don't know if the shirt I was wearing will ever come clean! I love the challenge these races present and my roots are in dirt short track racing, so I felt right at home and was able to experiment with some different angles and techniques despite the short schedule. My pedometer step count was nearly 17,000 for the day so you know I got around the track a few times after arriving at 7:00 in the morning!

Trying a new angle - from under the guardrail
There are lots of really good racing photographers around so I feel really blessed to have the opportunity to shoot for ARCA this season. It looks like my schedule with the series will be about the same for 2016 so that is pretty exciting. When I decided to change careers in 2009 so I could have more time to work as a photographer, I didn't know what would come of that decision and working for the ARCA series has been a godsend, especially this year with everything else I've been dealing with in my personal life. I know a lot of photographers and look at lots of other people's work to continue learning but one thing I've seen more of this year, or at least been more aware of, is the appearance of a lot of images which seem over-processed to my eye.  I know everyone has their own style and I appreciate the variety that I see on Twitter and Facebook, and various motorsports websites on the internet. Maybe I'm becoming more of a purist (or just getting set in my ways with advancing age) but I like documenting races as cleanly as possible with the images coming straight from the camera with maybe a little cropping or toning down of hotspots but not much other processing. One of the greatest lessons I've learned over the years is that I have to shoot what I see and hope that others like it too. I can't shoot like someone else but I sure can learn from them. Thank God for that. Come on down to Salem next weekend and we can talk shop or tell racing lies. It will be fun! See you at the track.

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