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Grant Enfinger Solidifies ARCA Championship with Win at Salem

SALEM, IN – @GrantEnfinger entered the Federated Car Care ARCA Fall Classic 200 at Salem Speedway knowing that he had the chance to expand on his 180 point lead in the standings with just two races remaining on the schedule, tipping his advantage in points over second place @Josh6Williams that appears insurmountable.

Enfinger, en route to his first ARCA championship, knew that tire conservation would decide the race especially with Hoosier restricting teams to just four tires for the 200 laps. While Enfinger is new to the experience of clamping down on a title, the lessons he has learned throughout his late model career strongly contributed to a clutch, title deciding moment.

“I’ve done a lot of this type of racing,” Enfinger said post-race. “I grew up running late models around Mobile and Pensacola where you’ve got to concern your tires. A lot of that went into it; we were able to conserve our tires and still run a reasonable pace. This is one of those tracks where you can push it harder, go slower, and kill your tires.”

While Enfinger charged through the pack late after getting new tires, Williams found himself marred towards the end of the lead lap and eventually finished eighth. Despite strong runs and keeping pace with Enfinger near the top five for dozens of laps early, Williams acknowledged his title chances had all but ended after Salem.

“I think we’re running for second at the moment,” Williams admitted after the race. “I don’t know if it’s possible to catch him, he’d have to have like two DNF’s to the tail end of the field two times in a row for us to even get close.”

For Enfinger, the dagger to the title hunt also proved to be a statement win, the ones that define championship drivers and teams when looking back on an entire season of work. Having rolled off the trailer without much speed in the car, Enfinger qualified 10th but used late strategy on a pair of cautions to snatch a victory.

“We unloaded and we were not good,” Enfinger said. “That’s probably the worst we’ve unloaded during practice, but the guys rallied behind us and never gave up. Fortunately, we were able to test a couple of weeks ago; we resorted right back to where we were at the test with (crew chief) Jeff Stankiewicz there. 20 laps in I felt like we had a car that could win the race.

Jeff Stankiewicz made a heck of a call back there, keeping us out at lap 110. By lap 140 I was questioning that call but as soon as that caution came out that was the blessing we needed.”

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ARCA Championship Spills Over into Indianapolis

CLERMONT, Ind. — By this point of the ARCA Racing Series season, it’s not uncommon for one or two drivers to have pulled away in the standings. But with eight races remaining, four drivers are within one race of each other and could still go on a run and win the championship.

As has been the case all year, the championship conversation begins with frontrunner Grant Enfinger. For the second year in a row, Enfinger began the season by winning the first three events at Daytona, Mobile and Nashville.

As a result, he’s had the top spot from Day One, but has had a feast or famine type season beyond that. His three wins lead the tour but he’s also been shut out of Victory Lane ever since. He’s also had five finishes of eighth or worst allowing Tommy Hessert, Austin Wayne Self and Josh Williams to close the gap.

Brian Keselowski: Second Generation Driver Set for ARCA Return at IRP

Hessert has been the most consistent driver and is the only driver who has been running at the end of every event this season. He closed to within 95 points by finishing third last weekend at Iowa when Enfinger cut a tire and had to battle back to just finish eighth.

Williams crashed out and did not finish.

Hessert says he will have to keep capitalizing on others’ misfortune if he is going to contend for this championship.

“Well I mean, it’s extremely important,” Hessert said. “Grant’s been really good all year and so has Josh. They faltered (at Iowa) and we capitalized with a good finish but you know, I think there’s eight races after this, so not a ton of races left.

“So if we can make up whatever we did today — 20 or 25 points however many it was — it goes a long way.”

ARCA IRP: William Byron Makes Debut Plus Complete Entry List

While both Self and Williams have suffered their share of complications, they are both still in the hunt at 155 and 185 points out respectively. ARCA winners receive 200 points plus five bonus markers meaning that all four drivers have a healthy shot at duking it out deep into the fall.

That battle will heat up on Friday night with the Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200 at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indiana. Enfinger recognizes the hit-or-miss aspect of his season and is just hoping to find consistency at the track formerly called Indianapolis Raceway Park.

“I’m excited about getting back to LOR after I had a strong finish with GMS Racing there last year,” Enfinger said. “LOR is definitely not your typical short track. It’s very flat compared to most tracks that we race. It’s kind of a drag race up off the corner.

“I’m hoping to get dialed in and have a great points weekend with GMS Racing in the Allegiant Travel Chevrolet.”

Championship Standings Entering Indianapolis

  1. Grant Enfinger Ldr.
  2. Tommy Hessert -95
  3. Austin Wayne Self -155
  4. Josh Williams -185
  5. David Levine -295
  6. Sarah Cornett-Ching -480
  7. Bo LeMastus -560
  8. Thomas Praytor -600
  9. James Swanson -790
  10. Bobby Hamilton Jr. -925



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Grant Enfinger Extends ARCA Title Lead with Winchester Runner-Up

WINCHESTER, Ind. — Grant Enfinger and his GMS Racing Team put in a performance worthy of the ARCA Racing Series championship on Sunday, finishing second on an afternoon where multiple things could have derailed one of their fastest entries of the season.

Enfinger carried a swagger from the start of the weekend that indicated his status as one of the unquestioned drivers to beat in the Herr’s Taste the Chase 200 at Winchester Speedway.

The championship leader posted the second fastest practice time on Saturday and looked like a potential winner on Sunday, trading the lead with Brandon Jones during a fierce and competitive first half of the event.

Enfinger was running second at halfway on Lap 100 but suddenly dropped off the pace, falling to ninth by Lap 139 when Bo LeMastus spun on pit road to bring out the caution. As it turns out, Enfinger had somehow cut his right rear tire, resulting in a massive loss of grip.

At the time, he didn’t know what was going on but held on to his Chevrolet with all his might. Equipped with fresh tires, Enfinger methodically worked his way back to third, and was running there when Austin Wayne Self and Jones tangled for the lead on the final restart with six laps to go.

Enfinger took advantage of the contact and passed Jones to cruise to second place and extend his championship lead to 85 over Josh Williams and 95 over Tommy Hessert.

“I guess we ran over something so we were pretty lucky that the caution came when it did,” Enfinger said. “We salvaged the day, especially during that part of the race. We had to fight pretty hard to get our track position back. We had a car that was pretty equal to (winner) Austin Wayne Self but just didn’t have the time to race him head-to-head.

“Congratulations to those guys.”

Justin Boston: NASCAR Truck Series Driver Returned to ARCA at Winchester

Enfinger was also quick to credit his pit crew who changed his flat tire on Lap 140 and gained him five spots from ninth to fourth before the drop of the green flag on Lap 144.

“We had great pit stops and those guys are always on it,” Enfinger said. “We also just had good speed in the car until we had that issue so I’m proud of everyone at the team. We unloaded fast. We practice fast. We overcame some stuff and finished second so I’m proud of everyone involved with this team.”

Hessert and Williams finished sixth and seventh respectively. The updated ARCA championship standings can be found below.

  1. Grant Enfinger Ldr.
  2. Josh Williams -85
  3. Tom Hessert -95
  4. Austin Wayne Self -175
  5. David Levine -210
  6. Sarah Cornett-Ching -410
  7. Bo LeMastus -455
  8. Thomas Praytor -480
  9. Bobby Hamilton, Jr. -510
  10. James Swanson -715



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ARCA: Grant Enfinger Gets Back on Track with Joliet Runner-Up

JOLIET, Ill. — Grant Enfinger is rarely satisfied with anything less than a trip to Victory Lane nowadays in the ARCA Racing Series. But following a month of adversity, he was more than happy with a runner-up finish in the Scott 150 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Due to a series of unapproved adjustments after qualifying, Enfinger started the race from the tail-end of the field. He did not work his way into the top-10 until 30 Laps into the race but was in the mix with 20 laps remaining. He needed about 10 more laps to catch race winner Ryan Reed but simply ran out of time.

“Ordinarily second place would not be that good,” Enfinger told Popular Speed after the race. “But given our up and down season, this is pretty much what we needed. Everyone at GMS Racing has spent a lot of time giving us what we need to win races and compete for this championship.

“That’s what we intend to do and tonight was a big step towards that mark.”

Enfinger won the first three races of the season at Daytona, Mobile and Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville but has experienced a mixed bag of results ever since. He followed his three victories with three finishes of 13th or worst and then finishes of fourth, second, eighth and second on Saturday.

While he still holds the championship lead, his struggles have allowed Tom Hessert and Josh Williams to sneak into striking distance. Now, for the first time since winning three in a row, Enfinger has real momentum heading into next Sunday’s race at Winchester Speedway in Indiana.

“I feel like our chances are really good,” Enfinger said. “Our short track program at GMS is really incredible. We definitely have shown a lot of promise but we’ve shown it on the intermediate side too. We have a great car everywhere we go and I just can’t thank everyone at GMS Racing enough for the opportunity.”

Enfinger has made two prior starts at the World’s Fastest Half Mile — finishing fifth last season and ninth in 2011.



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Jukebox, 10th career ARCA victory goes to Grant Enfinger

MOBILE, Ala. — It’s hard to believe it was just two years ago that Grant Enfinger was celebrating his first career win in victory lane at Mobile International Speedway. Saturday, the Fairhope, Ala. native celebrated his third straight win at Mobile and 10th victory overall in ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards competition.

“I have so many people here today, watching this,” Enfinger said. “It’s unbelievable. It seems like it took forever to get the first one.”

Enfinger, in the No. 23 Snap Track-DSLD Homes-Allegiant Travel Chevrolet, widened his series point lead with his second straight win. It’s the second year in a row he’s started the season with victories at Daytona and Mobile. He started the race second and led on four different occasions for 161 laps, dominating the 205-lap race, which went five laps beyond the scheduled 200 after a green-white-checkered finish.

Brandon Jones was second in the No. 25 Ansell-Menards Toyota and Josh Williams third in his family-owned and operated No. 6 Southwest Florida Cable Construction Chevrolet. Austin Wayne Self, in the AM Technical Solutions Ford, was fourth, ahead of Kyle Weatherman in fifth in the No. 22 Cunningham Motorsports Dodge. Matt Tifft finished sixth in the Federated Auto Parts No. 52 Chevrolet, Thomas Praytor a career-best seventh in the DK-LOK Ford and Michael Lira eighth in the Gary Yeomans No. 58 Ford.

Dominic Ursetta, in his ARCA debut in the No. 55 Mosquito Patch-Arvada Excavating-PDS Toyota, finished ninth. Brian Finney, driving the Finney Racing-Bob Steele Chevrolet, finished 10th.

Enfinger led the first 54 laps, then pitted, giving up the lead to Tom Hessert for three laps. Praytor was credited with leading lap 58 before Enfinger got to the front again, leading for 40 laps. Enfinger took the lead for good on lap 145 after falling outside the top three during a green flag run.

“I felt like we had the class of the field for 50 laps, but we had to hold on after that,” Enfinger said. “At one point, we sort of fell back a little bit. But, the cautions played out the way we needed it to. (Crew chief) Jeff Stankiewicz pulled us in to pit road at the right times.”

The 11th and final caution flew on lap 198 when Finney and rookie Ronnie Osmer came together, which set up the green-white-checkered finish. Enfinger got out in front quickly with Williams and Jones swapping the second and third spot. Williams said he felt he could have gotten to Enfinger because he had fresher tires.

“We had fresher tires than Grant,” Williams said. “The No. 25 got into us a bit. I don’t know. I’ve been taught to race clean. I never touched him all day. We should have been in victory lane right now.”

Williams is a career-high second in the ARCA Racing Series point standings after two races of the season.

Jones said he tried to maintain his line to get to the leader.

“We struggled in three and four a little bit and he struggled a bit in one and two,” Jones said. “I thought if I could maintain that I could get there. Grant is a great driver.”

One of the 11 cautions flew for Will Kimmel, driver of the No. 69 Kimmel Racing Ford. In a rare type of incident, Kimmel’s car went airborne off turn one and sailed down the hill, into and over a concrete barrier. Kimmel walked away from the accident unhurt. His car came to rest about two football fields away from the track.

The incident caused a 10-minute red flag as crews worked to put the concrete barrier back in place. The race took one hour and 56 minutes to complete.

READ MORE: Will Kemmel, ARCA Series President Responds to Safety Concerns

Because Friday’s Menards Pole Qualifying was rained out, Self started on the pole as the driver of the No. 98 defending championship team. He drove one of the new composite body cars, the first ARCA race in which the cars raced.

“It was great to get to drive the new composite body,” Self said. “We had a really, really good race car. The guys did a great job working on it and to get a top five finish is good. I think we have a car that could have given Grant a run for that jukebox. We’re definitely going to have a lot of momentum going to Nashville.”

Self was referring to the jukebox trophy, sometimes called the coolest trophy in motorsports. Enfinger now has three of them.

“It’s going back to the shop for now,” Enfinger said. “I’m not sure who is going to claim it. All I know is there are a lot of people that mean a lot to me that are here today. It’s a pretty great feeling.”

The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards heads next to the Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville – the first appearance for the national touring series at the historic fairgrounds facility since 1992. The April 11 race will be stop No. 3 on the 20-race 2015 schedule. The complete results from Mobile can be found below.

  1. Grant Enfinger
  2. Brandon Jones
  3. Josh Williams
  4. Austin Wayne Self
  5. Kyle Weatherman
  6. Matt Tifft
  7. Thomas Praytor
  8. Michael Lira
  9. Dominic Ursetta
  10. Brian Finney
  11. Tom Hessert
  12. David Levine
  13. Bobby Hamilton Jr.
  14. Sarah Cornett-Ching
  15. Brad Smith
  16. James Swanson
  17. Ronnie Osmer
  18. Cory Howard
  19. Mason Mitchell
  20. Bo LeMastus
  21. Greg Hutto, Jr.
  22. Richard Doheny
  23. Will Kimmel
  24. Allen Milton
  25. Wayne Peterson
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ARCA Mobile 200 Offers Unique Jukebox Trophy to Race Winner

MOBILE, Ala. – In just three seasons, the ARCA Mobile 200 Jukebox Trophy has become one of the most recognized and desired prizes in all of Stock Car racing.

Crosley Radio will once again present the winner of the second ARCA race of the season with a full-sized 42″ iJuke deluxe jukebox. The trophy has quickly joined the Martinsville grandfather clock, the Nashville guitar and Miles the Monster as one of the most unique prizes in motorsports.

“We like to think this is the coolest trophy in racing” event promoter Tommy Praytor told Popular Speed. “We really appreciate Crosley Radio providing this one of a kind trophy for our race. I’ve told the story several times but it’s really one of those things that just happened and it really fits our event.”

Praytor, who serves as the race strategist for his son — Thomas Praytor in ARCA, first came across the idea while his team was parked next to the Crosley team hauler two years ago at Daytona International Speedway. Crosley CEO Bo LeMastus is also a semi-regular on the tour and will compete in the Mobile 200 on Saturday.

One of LeMastus’ crew members pulled the iJuke out of the hauler for display and Praytor says he immediately knew that he had to make it the trophy for his signature event. LeMastus agreed and a deal was quickly put together.

The trophy is based on a nostalgic jukebox design but the interior is full of modern technologies like an AM/FM radio, CD player, MP3/WAV reader plus an iPod docking station.

The trophy has become such a hot commodity amongst the ARCA garage that even the defending tour champion, Mason Mitchell, has filed a one-off entry in the hopes of rocking out in Victory Lane.

“It’s simple, I want the jukebox,” Mitchell said. “Mobile has become the top short track on the ARCA schedule in a very short time. The trophy is the Martinsville grandfather clock of the ARCA Series.

“We learned a lot from last year and our short track program was really strong at the end of the year.”

Mitchell finished third in the Mobile 200 last season and should be considered one of the favorites alongside defending winner Grant Enfinger — the only competitor to have earned the jukebox, having won both events since it was first offered in 2013.

“It’s a really cool trophy,” Enfinger said. “I really take a lot of pride in racing at Mobile. As the only guy to have won the jukebox, we’ve been working really hard at the shop to keep it that way.”

The ARCA Mobile 200 is set for March 14 and is the second event of the 2015 season. The race will not be televised but complete flag-to-flag coverage of each track session on Friday and Saturday can be accessed on the ARCA Series website.



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ARCA: Lucas Oil 200 Daytona Notebook

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The Sprint Unlimited may be the main event at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night but there are no shortage of storylines for the ARCA Racing Series which opens its 2015 campaign with the Lucas Oil 200 at 4:30 p.m. on FOX Sports 1.

A victory at the World Center of Racing has the potential to change lives with virtually every contender explaining that “winning at Daytona would mean everything.”

A good finish could possibly mean the difference between affording only a partial season or participating in the full season throughout the summer. For others, a start in the Lucas Oil 200 will surely provide valuable experience for he or she starts in the Truck Series or XFINITY Series racees next weekend at Daytona. In short, this particular field of 40 is one of the most compelling in the 53-year history of ARCA at Daytona International Speedway. With that in mind, here are a few storylines to follow during the race itself.

Pole-Sitter Mark Thompson, Oldest in Daytona History

Mark Thompson won the pole on Friday for the Lucas Oil 200 and at 63-years-old, became the oldest fastest qualifier in the history of Daytona International Speedway.

Thompson won three previous ARCA poles, all at Michigan International Speedway – two in 1996 and one in 1997. He surpassed Vern Slagh to become the oldest ARCA pole winner and track officials confirmed that he is also the oldest pole winner of any event in the history of the 2.5-mile speedway.

Defending Winner Enfinger Still Looking for Sponsors

Grant Enfinger won the season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway last February en route to a remarkable six win-season and a second place in the championship standings split between Team BCR and GMS Racing. Despite all the success, Enfinger wasn’t even sure he would even race this season, his only job being an engineer and mechanic at GMS.

But Engfinger and GMS officials announced last week that Enfinger would return for the full season and chase his first career championship. However, Enfinger confirmed that the full season announcement may have been a little ambitious.

“There are still a lot of details that need to be worked out but everyone at GMS Racing made a huge commitment already,” Enfinger said. “I feel very fortunate to have Alamo Rental car on the hood this weekend and I think they are going to come back for a few more races as well.

“We have a good start but we need a few more things to come together before we can run for a championship.”

Needless to say, a second-consecutive victory would go a long way towards shoring up his 2015 plans.

“It would help finalize some things for sure,” Enfinger added. “It would help our confidence and more than anything else, it’s always good to win.”

Defending Champ Mitchell Still Working on 2015

Iowa youngster Mason Mitchell won the ARCA Racing Series championship in 2014, defeating Grant Enfinger by 255 points. Mitchell had hoped his championship would transition him towards a full-time Truck Series career in 2015, even making his debut at Homestead in November in preparation.

Mitchell brought in Austin Wayne Self to drive his flagship No. 98 ARCA car this season but has not been able to put a package together to compete in NASCAR. While he has some plans coming together, Mitchell is competing in the Lucas Oil 200 just to continue momentum and possibly score a marquee victory at the World Center of Racing.

“Winning here would be huge because this is the only race we have locked down,” Mitchell said. “It would be good for morale, good for the team. I have some things in the works to go Truck racing or maybe XFINITY racing. Iowa is back on the ARCA schedule and it would be huge to go there as well as it’s my home track.”

Patrick Starpoli Turning Heads

Harvard graduate and former NASCAR K&N Pro Series West winner Patrick Staropoli was in the right place at the right time and the remarkable turn of events has him racing in the Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona.

Staropoli is competing in the race for Empire Racing and linked up with the squad when they needed a last minute driver for the annual December ARCA Daytona test. He was the fastest driver during that session and it led him to getting signed for the event with sponsor American RF. This is a major opportunity for the Florida native because after taking 2014 off and returning to school in 2015, this is the only race he currently has on his schedule.

He’s again capitalized on the opportunity, posting the fastest time in practice and qualifying 17th for the race.

“This is my one race,” Staropoli said. “As a Late Model driver, I just dream of going to the Snowball Derby because even running a race like the Florida Gov Cup really tests are budget. This is the only thing we have scheduled so I’m going to give it everything I got.”

Before heading to Daytona, Staropoli actually had to take a hematology exam on Thursday at the University of Miami where he is currently enrolled in its Medical School. Staropoli says while the teachers have been understanding, they are often hesitant to grant him schedule changes and make-up dates due to his racing.

In short, aiming to become a doctor and Sprint Cup driver at the same time is incredibly taxing.

“It’s a juggling act,” Staropoli said. “It’s gone surprisingly well. When I first came back to school they said, ‘you just came back from racing..’  so they didn’t want to move the test. But I explained the last minute nature of the test and they understood.

“I think deep down inside they know they have other things their students are really passionate about and encourage them to do that when they can.”

Buster Graham Looks for Redemption

Popular Louisiana part-timer Buster Graham has returned to Daytona this season, one year removed from his most competitive speedway race yet where he was running third before getting spun out by Chase Elliott, igniting a multi-car incident that ended his day.

Still paired with Ruolo Brothers Racing. Graham believes he will have just as good a shot on Saturday assuming that he can make it to the end of the race. He is still miffed about the incident with Elliott but is fully focused on making up for it on Saturday.

“I know what happened,” Graham said. “I don’t think it was intentional at all. It was racing and I just hate that it happened. The thing that gets me though is his attitude at the end of the race. He wasn’t going to worry about it. It wasn’t just me because he took out a bunch of good cars. You know who’s backing him so he’s got no worries.

“This race is just a big deal. So many of us are on tight budgets and it takes everytrghing we got to get here and getting wrecked, any year, I didn’t like that driver not worrying about or even not asking us of we were alright.”

On a positive note, Graham may have the best designed car in the race — one sponsored by Louisiana Tech.

This opportunity for Louisiana Tech and Graham was made possible through a school booster who connected the university with the Roiulo Brothers race team. The supporter wanted to help promote the university by providing the resources needed to create the Tech-themed wrap, uniforms and apparel.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to drive the No. 17 Louisiana Tech car in this race,” Graham said. “It’s an honor to represent such an outstanding, upper tier university and to sport the Bulldog colors and logos. At the end of the race, I hope to be able to climb out of the car on Victory Lane and talk up Louisiana Tech. We are going to do our best to make the Bulldogs proud.”

Thomas Praytor Requires New Engine, Perseveres

Thomas “Moose” Praytor has entered the 2015 Lucas Oil 200 in his own family team based out of Mobile, Ala. and opened the weekend by blowing a motor in Friday practice. A quick call to Roush Yate Engines however put the team back on track.

Praytor announced that he would return full-time for a third straight season and making the grid was a testament to their dedication, given the adversity the new team faced in practice.

“A tremendous amount of effort from our friends at Roush and Walley Finney making a middle of the night road trip to make it happen,” Praytor said. “I just knew we were done but with friends like we have incredible things keep happening for our race team.”

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The Lucas Oil 200 will be live today on Fox Sports 1, for the first time live on MRN Radio and live timing and scoring on

Lucas Oil 200 Starting Lineup

  1. Mark Thompson
  2. Cody Coughlin
  3. Tom Hessert
  4. Brett Hudson
  5. Clay Campbell
  6. Daniel Suarez
  7. Blake Jones
  8. Will Kimmel
  9. Sean Corr
  10. Leilani Munter
  11. Frank Kimmel
  12. Scott Sheldon
  13. Grant Enfinger
  14. Bobby Gerhart
  15. Matt Kurzejewski
  16. Tyler Audie
  17. Patrick Staropoli
  18. Austin Hill
  19. David Levine
  20. Buster Graham
  21. Daniel Hemric
  22. John Lowinski-Loh
  23. Mason Mitchell
  24. Brad Smith
  25. Ed Pompa
  26. Josh Williams
  27. Austin Wayne Self
  28. Terry Jones
  29. Bo LeMastus
  30. Garrett Smithley
  31. Thomas Praytor
  32. Karl Weber
  33. Sarah Cornett-Ching
  34. James Swanson
  35. Donnie Neuenberger
  36. Bobby Hamilton Jr.
  37. Bill Catania
  38. Cole Powell
  39. Barry Fitzgerald
  40. J.J. Pack