Kent Schenkel saved his best for last.
The Huntington resident and now-retired driver in the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) participated in his last race on June 14, capturing 12th out of 28 in the Patriot Pumps 200, held at Michigan International Speedway (MIS), in Brooklyn, MI.
Schenkel's previous best finish was 16th at the RainEater Wiper Blades 200 in 2011, also held at MIS.
Even though he finished strong, Schenkel points to three incidents during the race that he believes held him back from potentially finishing even higher.
The first incident came on Lap 25 when his car ran out of fuel. Schenkel says his engine wasn't even running when he rolled into pit row and that he and his crew probably "called it too close."
The next incident came between Laps 60 and 65, he recalls, when he was exiting the pit and ran over an air hose, which is a violation. The penalty stipulated that he make a pass through pit row, devouring valuable time.
The last incident, coming with only two laps to go, saw Schenkel strike some debris on the track that slit his tire - and sent him careening into the wall at 175 miles per hour.
Of the wreck, though, Schenkel says he is "no worse for wear."
He speculates finishing eighth or ninth could have been a very real possibility had those incidents not occurred.
"But," he muses, "those are the trials and tribulations of racing."
Schenkel, 63, entered the race resolved that it would be his last. However, after logging his best finish in five years of racing in the ARCA, the thought to continue racing, he confesses, "came across my mind."
But the steep cost of racing, he says, will ensure that he sticks to his plan of calling it a career.