Nothing stopped Brennan Poole this week at Michigan International Speedway - not a blown engine, not Ryan Blaney, and not Venturini Motorsports teammate - and friend - Justin Boston.
Poole, in the No. 15 Venturini Motorsports-Renton Coil Spring Toyota, notched his fourth career win in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards Friday, winning the Patriot Pumps 200. Poole grabbed the lead with 12 laps to go, and then had to stave off a challenge from the hard-charging Blaney.
"It was a hard fought day," Poole said. "But it was a fun day. Michigan is so fun, and so fast."
In Thursday's practice session, Poole's team, led by crew chief Kevin Reed, changed engines after the first one blew up early on. However, Poole was back on the track to turn more practice laps before the session ended. Then, on Friday morning, he qualified second.
"Our guys worked really hard," he said. "We blew that engine six laps into practice. They worked hard to get me back out there. The car was really good to race. It's a testament to how hard these guys worked."
Poole was chasing Boston in the closing laps and got within inches of Boston's left-rear quarter off turn two. Boston spun in the exchange while Poole continued on in the lead.
"I think it was just air," said Boston, the SCOTT Rookie Challenge recipient.
After Boston's spin, Blaney, in the No. 22 Cunningham Motorsports Dodge, restarted third and quickly passed Frank Kimmel to move into second behind Poole, but he was not able to get close enough to challenge for the win. Blaney still finished second, tying his career-best.
Blaney dominated much of the race, leading 64 laps of the 100-lap, 200-mile race. However, during the final restart, ARCA officials determined that Blaney advanced his position prematurely, and as a result, had to drop to back of the longest line, which put the third-generation racer back to seventh. From there, Blaney put on a gallant charge and got within five lengths of Poole at the checkered flag.
"I thought we were the dominant car all day," Blaney said.
Poole, who had served Venturini Motorsports all year as spotter and driver consultant, was making his first ARCA Racing Series start of the season.
"I knew he (Blaney) was coming," Poole said. "He had a good race car all day. My heart was pounding when he was coming. I was giving it all I could to the finish. It's probably the biggest win of my career. It's a special place."
Series point leader Frank Kimmel finished third in the No. 44 Ansell-Menards Toyota. Boston finished fourth in the No. 25 ZLOOP Computer & Electronics Recycling Toyota, his third consecutive fourth place finish. Grant Enfinger finished fifth in the No. 90 Motor Honey-Casite.com Ford.
Eight cars finished on the lead lap, including Mason Mingus in the No. 32 811 Call Before You Dig Toyota, who finished sixth. Will Kimmel, in the Messina Wildlife-Jones International Ford, finished seventh. Roger Carter had the best day of his ARCA career, finishing a career-best eighth in the Kreisenderle.com-Union Bank Dodge, the last car on the lead lap.
Buster Graham also had a career day, finishing a career-best ninth in the Courtesy Ford-MashburnMachine.com Ford. Thomas Praytor tied his career-best finish in 10th in the USA Boxing Junior Olympic Championship Ford.
The race had four cautions for 23 laps and took just under 1 hour and 29 minutes to complete.
The ARCA Racing Series travels next to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin for the first race at Road America in series history on Saturday, June 22. The SCOTT 160 at Road America will precede the same-day NASCAR Nationwide Series race.