The ARCA Racing Series has announced it is coming back to Mobile International Speedway for a fourth time. The stock car event is set for March 14, 2015, at the oval track in Irvington.

Grant Enfinger of Fairhope said he will be back to defend his title. Enfinger used last season’s win to propel him to a 2nd place finish for the ARCA driver’s crown.

“As the guy who has two ARCA Mobile 200 Jukeboxes (the race’s trophy), I’m planning on being the first to take home a third,” said Enfinger, who was also honored this season as the grand marshal for the homecoming parade at the University of South Alabama, his alma mater. “I’m really happy to announce that the ARCA Series will be back at Mobile International Speedway in 2015.”

SPORTSpic

ARCA, which stands for the Automobile Racing Club of America, began in 1953 and is a very unique series in the sport. The drivers and teams are tested over a myriad of conditions. The tracks range in length from .375 miles to 2.66 miles, are run on both paved and dirt surfaces, and also offer both left-turn and right-turn road courses.

Mobile International Speedway, which opened in 1964, is considered Alabama’s fastest half-mile track. It also hosts the Sunoco Southern Super Series and the Miller Lite Super Late Model Series, in addition to a regular schedule of Saturday night races. MIS and Talladega Superspeedway are currently the only Alabama tracks used by ARCA.

“Mobile will again be the second race on our schedule, following the season opener in Daytona,” ARCA President Ron Drager said. “Our teams and officials talk about the Mobile event all year long, and it has become one of the most anticipated stops of the series. The energy and community involvement we experience in Mobile is incredible.”

ARCA Week will kick off Saturday, March 7, with an open practice for the teams. The race will take place the following weekend. Race officials said almost 22,000 fans have attended the three Mobile 200s.

“I’ve had the opportunity to race all over the country, but there is nothing like racing in front of the hometown fans at Mobile International Speedway,” said Thomas “Moose” Praytor, who finished 7th in the 2014 ARCA championship standings. “Grant has won the last two. I hope it’s time for another Mobile driver to win.”

Other area drivers who have competed in the Mobile 200 include Cale Gale and Darren Mathews. Gale was the winner of the inaugural race in 2012.

Future of LPGA tourney in question

A very cryptic message was left when the 2015 tournament schedule was released by the Ladies Professional Golf Association. Although the Airbus Classic in Mobile was marked down for May 18-24, the word “tentative” was next to it.

No other stop on the tourney’s 34-date schedule had this designation. John Cannon, president of the Sunbelt Golf Corporation, which oversees the event, said in a statement he is optimistic the tourney will return to the Magnolia Grove course in west Mobile.

“While work continues on the final details with Airbus and the LPGA, we are very hopeful the Airbus LPGA Classic will be returning to Mobile in May 2015,” he said.

There has been no other response from LPGA or tournament officials.

Bowling in Mobile

The picture is getting a little clearer for the next GoDaddy Bowl, which will be played Sunday night, Jan. 4, at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The representatives from the Sun Belt and Mid-American conferences are starting to shake out.

The MAC championship game is set for Friday, Dec. 5, and will feature Bowling Green (7-5) and Northern Illinois (10-2). The game will kick off at 6 p.m. from Detroit’s Ford Field. Finishing just behind NIU in division play were Toledo (8-4) and Western Michigan (8-4).

For the Sun Belt, Georgia Southern (9-3) completed a perfect 8-0 conference mark by rallying to knock off Troy. However, as the school is in its final year of transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision, Georgia Southern is not eligible for the postseason.

The next highest finishers in league play are Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4 overall, 7-1 SBC) and Appalachian State (7-5 overall, 6-2 SBC). GoDaddy Bowl officials are scheduled to announce their selections this Sunday, Dec. 7.

· Despite last week’s dramatic 42-40 loss to the U.S. Naval Academy, South Alabama is bowl eligible for a second straight season. The Jaguars wrapped up the year 6-6 overall and 5-3 in Sun Belt standings. This tied them with Texas State and Arkansas State, which has played in three straight GoDaddy Bowls.

The Sun Belt currently has three tie-in contracts with bowls. One squad faces a Conference USA team in the New Orleans Bowl, the second takes on the MAC here in Mobile at the GoDaddy Bowl while a third heads to the new Camellia Bowl in Montgomery against another MAC squad.

According to the Sun Belt website, a fourth bowl will come aboard in 2015: the Cure Bowl (which supports breast cancer research) in Orlando, Florida. The story also mentioned the conference is part of a coalition that will send teams to the Miami Beach Bowl and the Bahamas Bowl on a rotating basis.

Coach Joey Jones is optimistic about the squad’s chances to play in the post-season, noting during a news conference Monday “in my opinion, [a bowl invitation] would be the biggest thing that has ever happened to this football program. We have done a lot of good things … We have a chance to showcase the University of South Alabama, no matter what city we are in and I think we would do a good job of doing that. The anticipation of having that and not knowing is tough, but I feel good about it. I think we put ourselves in very good position to get there.”

Jaguar fans will have to wait until Sunday to see if their team is rewarded for its efforts this year.

Scholars and athletes

The University of Mobile recently had several members of its cross country teams named Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes.

On the list were seniors Daniel Holley of Bay Minette, a elementary education/early childhood education major, and Stephen Tindal of Bon Secour, a sociology major. Also named were senior Katelyn Osborne and junior Sarah LeCroy.

To be nominated, the student must have a minimum grand point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.