LONG POND, Pa. — Taylor Gray overcame an early pit road mishap and led 38 laps to win Friday’s daylight-shortened General Tire Delivers 200 at Pocono Raceway. Gray notched his third ARCA Menards victory of the season in addition to his ARCA Menards Series East victory in April.
“It was really cool to come out here, my first time being here, and be able to win,” Gray said in a post-race media conference. “I can’t thank Ford Performance and everybody enough for taking the time that they really don’t have to and putting some resources into the ARCA program.”
After qualifying was canceled due to inclement weather, Gray started the race in the second position based on practice speeds. Right out of the gate, Gray passed Sammy Smith for the lead and drove away from the field. Gray led up until Lap 27 when Rev Racing’s Nick Sanchez passed him.
On the pit stop during the Lap 30 competition caution, Gray’s team had trouble fueling the car and he did not beat the pace car off pit road. Therefore, he fell a lap down and would restart from the tail end.
Not knowing if the race would run the full distance because of daylight, crew chief Chad Johnston ordered Gray to pit a second time to top the car off with fuel.
“It looked like we were having a problem getting the fuel can engaged properly and getting the whole can emptied into the race car,” Gray said. “Once we did figure it out, we got the second can in, and by that time, we were trying to beat the pace car off pit road and we did not… Chad Johnston made a pretty good call by coming back down and taking fuel.”
On Lap 46, Parker Chase stalled on the track and Gray got the lucky dog. Shortly after, Gray missed a heavy crash on Lap 60 involving Amber Balcaen, Sean Corr, Andy Jankowiak and Ed Pompa. Most drivers pitted, but Gray stayed out and took the lead.
On the restart, Gray held off Sanchez and others to retain the lead. With darkness approaching, Jesse Love spun out on Lap 62 and caused a caution. The race would never go green again as ARCA threw the checkered flag on Lap 64 to hand Gray the victory.
“We’ve made our equipment and our race cars a lot better from last year,” Gray said. “I feel like we’re a step ahead in the aero department than JGR’s (Joe Gibbs Racing) ARCA program. So, to be able to say that as a manufacturer and as a team, that’s pretty cool.”
Sanchez recorded his third top-five of the season by finishing second. Brandon Jones, a full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series competitor, finished third with Rajah Caruth behind him in fourth. Daniel Dye rounded out the top five in fifth.
Halfway through the season, Caruth leads Sanchez by three points in the ARCA standings. Dye is right behind, just six points back of Sanchez.
Next Friday, ARCA heads to Indianapolis Raceway Park for the Reese’s 20o. They’ll race with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series while Xfinity and Cup are at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“I love that place. I’m actually super pumped to go there,” Gray said. “We went there in ARCA in 2020 and we ran really well there. I’m super pumped to go there, it’s a cool race track. I’m glad we finally decided to go back to that place.”
The Reese’s 200 is scheduled for Friday, July 29 at 6 p.m. ET on FS1 and MRN.