Tuesday, August 31, 2010

ARCA: Back to the Dirt

ARCA Racing Series Set for 100 at Du Quoin

(TOLEDO, Ohio) - The Bill France Four Crown Award - won last week by Joey Coulter (No. 16 Rip It Energy Fuel/Darrell Gwynn Foundation Chevrolet) - annually celebrates the variety of tracks competed upon by the ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards. Though the official Four Crown schedule saw its completion days ago, the series' surface diversity is far from over for 2010.

A third consecutive race in Illinois marks the second trip to a dirt oval for the ARCA Racing Series as the championship stretch winds on. Two weeks ago, the one-mile clay track at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield played host to stock cars, making way for Patrick Sheltra (No. 60 PatrickSheltra.com Dodge) to earn his first win of 2010. One hundred thirty miles to the south-southeast, as the crow flies, sits the dirt surface at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds, a one-mile track that will play host to the ARCA Racing Series in the renewal of a classic Labor Day tradition.

The 100-lap, 100-mile Southern Illinois 100 presented by Federated Auto Parts is scheduled to being at 1 p.m. Central (2 Eastern) on Monday, September 6, with live timing and scoring and a live audio broadcast presented by ARCA Nation and the ARCA Racing Network available at ARCARacing.com. 27 previous ARCA races have been held at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds; nine-time series champion Frank Kimmel (No. 44 Ansell/Menards Ford) is the all-time win leader at the dirt oval with five victories (2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2008). Parker Kligerman, last season's wins leader with nine, won at the track one year ago.

Kimmel trails leader Craig Goess (No. 81 Greenville Toyota of N.C. Toyota) by five points atop the ARCA Racing Series standings. Sheltra, who enters as a favorite with wins in consecutive races, is just 10 points from the lead in third place. With only five races remaining on the schedule, the top four drivers are separated by just 25 points in what promises to be an exciting finish to the championship contest.

The Southern Illinois 100 is scheduled as the 16th race of 20 this season, and the 330th dirt event of 1,309 total races in the series' history. The race is the feature event of the final day of the 11-day Du Quoin State Fair, which began Friday.

The lone practice is scheduled for 9 a.m. Central, with Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell - which has produced 12 different pole winners in 14 qualifying sessions this season - taking place at 11 a.m. Central. Live audio coverage and live timing and scoring of all events will be available on ARCARacing.com.

Kimmel is the highest returning finisher from last year's race after finishing second to Kligerman. Coulter was third. A.J. Fike (No. 10 RFMS/Liberty Village Ford) has finished in the top five in each of his last three ARCA starts, and will return to the field after starting on the pole, leading the first 54 laps, and finishing fourth at Du Quoin in 2009. Each of Fike's recent top-fives have been on dirt and in Fords owned by Andy Hillenburg.

Racing star Ken Schrader, a veteran of seemingly countless disciplines, finished fifth in 2009 and will enter the No. 52 Schrader Racing Chevrolet. Schrader last appeared in the ARCA Racing Series at Toledo in May, finishing sixth.

Additional returners from last season's top 10 include Steve Arpin (ninth) and Bryan Silas (10th).

Monday, August 30, 2010

ARCA notes

Top Four in ARCA Series 
Standings Separated by 25 Points

(TOLEDO, Ohio) - The separation of four drivers by a mere 25 points atop the ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards standings serves as the norm at the beginning of a season, when only one or two races have been completed. After 15 races, however, such a small range among contenders is an indication of major competition.

Craig Goess (No. 81 Greenville Toyota of N.C. Toyota) entered Chicagoland Speedway 10 points behind Frank Kimmel's (No. 44 Ansell/Menards Ford) lead atop the standings, but seized the Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell Friday afternoon. In doing so, Goess earned 15 bonus qualifying points and moved out of third place to unseat Kimmel before the race.

Kimmel did edge Goess by one position in that evening's Ansell Protective Gloves 150, but Goess led three early laps to earn an additional five bonus points and maintain a five-point advantage (3670-3665) for first place.

Patrick Sheltra (No. 60 Recycling Services/Ferguson Pipe Toyota) entered the weekend 40 points behind Kimmel and 30 points behind the bottom of the Kimmel-Tom Hessert-Goess triumvirate, but earned 10 points for qualifying second and the maximum 200 for winning the race. Sheltra is now in third place, 10 points behind Goess and five behind Kimmel. He leads Hessert (No. 77 Cherry Hill Classic Cars Dodge), formerly second, by 15 points.

The fifth, sixth, and seventh positions are also closely contested. Rookie Dakoda Armstrong (No. 22 Ferrellgas/Syngenta Seeds Dodge) is 135 points behind Goess, and leads Justin Marks (No. 32 Construct Corps Dodge) by 10 and Mikey Kile (No. 25 Venturini Motorsports Chevrolet) by 20.

Coulter Survives in Four Crown Chase: With the ARCA Racing Series standings so competitively tight with just five races remaining, Joey Coulter's (No. 16 Darrell Gwynn Foundation/Rip It Energy Fuel Chevrolet) narrow win in the Bill France Four Crown Award competition may have provided a preview of the thrilling lap-by-lap points movement still to come in the series' October 9 season finale at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway.

Late in Friday's Ansell Protective Gloves 150, with Patrick Sheltra leading, Coulter was ninth - a difference equivalent to a 40-point shift in the final race of the Four Crown pursuit. For Coulter, who entered with only a 45-point advantage over Sheltra, the margin was too close to comfort. A fall of just one more position would have entered the two drivers into a tiebreaker for the Four Crown Award, which would have been won by Sheltra by virtue of the third tie-breaking criterion: most victories. Sheltra's two - at Chicagoland and the dirt oval at the Illinois State Fairgrounds - would have edged Coulter's one, earned at the Berlin (Mich.) Raceway short track on August 7.

Coulter rose to eighth, however, and defeated Sheltra at the top of the Four Crown standings by 10 points, 745-735. Coulter ended the competition with finishes of first (Berlin), second (New Jersey Motorsports Park, road course), fourth (Illinois State Fairgrounds), and eighth.

"It is really an honor," Coulter said after the race. "It is one of those awards I've always known about, and thought, 'Man, it'd be really cool to be able to go to four different race tracks and run really good.' When we won the first race at Berlin, I thought we really had a shot to win it this year. My strategy was to do good at the short track and survive on the road course, because I don't have a lot of experience there, and then go after it on the dirt track and come (to Chicagoland) and go after it."

Coulter mentioned his second-place finish on the road course as a key point for believing himself to be the top contender.

Four Crown points are allocated without qualifying or in-race bonuses, and distributed in the same method as in the official series standings. A race winner receives 200 points, the second-place finisher receives 195, and following positions receive five fewer points per lower position until five points are awarded to a 40th-place finisher, if necessary.

The top 10 drivers in the final Four Crown standings are as follows: 1. Coulter 745; 2. Sheltra 735; 3. Tom Hessert 725; 4. Steve Arpin 715; 5. Frank Kimmel 695; 6. Craig Goess 655; 7. Dakoda Armstrong 640; 8. Mikey Kile 620; 9. Bryan Silas 530; 10. Tim George Jr. 530.

Third All Too Common for Enfinger: Grant Enfinger (No. 09 BeasleyAllen.com Ford) made just his 17th career ARCA Racing Series start in Friday's Ansell Protective Gloves 150, but finished in third place for the fifth time overall and over his last 12 races. Enfinger has finished in that position three times this season alone, with the first two occurrences happening at Texas in April and at Iowa last month.

Enfinger, who runs a limited schedule in a car owned by Robby Benton, had entered the weekend as the highest-returning finisher at Chicagoland Speedway after posting a runner-up result in 2009.

Statistical Oddity for Sheltra: Patrick Sheltra's win was not only his first ARCA Racing Series victory on a speedway, but it represented the completion of a peculiar statistical quirk through seven races on such tracks.

In races on paved ovals over one mile in distance this season, Sheltra has finished in each of the first seven positions exactly once. He finished fifth at Daytona, seventh at Texas, second at Talladega, fourth at Pocono in June, third at Michigan, sixth at Pocono in July, and first at Chicagoland.

Remarkably, Craig Goess is only one race away from the same seven-race oddity. His 34th-place result at Daytona preceded finishes of second at Texas, fourth at Talladega, first at Pocono in June, sixth at Michigan, third at Pocono in July, and fifth at Chicagoland.

Sheltra is the only driver this season with seven top-10 finishes in as many speedway races; Goess and Justin Marks have six apiece.

Career High for Fowler: Eighteen-year-old Kyle Fowler (No. 52 Schrader Racing Chevrolet) of Georgia finished 12th in the Ansell Protective Gloves 150 to set a new career high. Fowler had finished 15th at Toledo in May and 22nd at Iowa in July in his only previous ARCA Racing Series starts.

Other notable highlights included: Kyle Martel (13th) posting the third top-15 of his partial season for the No. 43 Hanover Cold Storage/Finish Line Express Chevrolet owned by his father, Bill Martel; Chris Cockrum (No. 28 Hixson Construction Chevrolet) finishing 15th in his first appearance in the series since a 12th-place result in the season opener at Daytona; and Tony Palumbo (No. 70 NOTW.com Ford) achieving a career best in 17th place.

Sheltra Advances in Lap Leader Standings: Patrick Sheltra's 85 laps led Friday gave him the $500 Aaron's Lap Leader Award for the Ansell Protective Gloves 150 and moved him from 10th place and into third in the year-long Aaron's Lap Leader Award standings. Sheltra has led 100 of the 206 laps contested in the previous two races and 164 in all over four races this season. He trails only Chris Buescher (209) and Steve Arpin (196).

Additionally, Sheltra led at Lap 50 to win the $500 Messina Halfway Leader Award.

Chad Finley led three laps just before the race's halfway point and became the 24th driver to lead in the series this season.

Five Races to Reach Record: Patrick Sheltra became just the second driver with multiple wins in the ARCA Racing Series in 2010, joining Steve Arpin (Salem, Texas). Each driver scored his pair of victories consecutively.

Five races remain on the ARCA Racing Series schedule, allowing several chances for two more winners to materialize. Such an occurrence would give the series 15 different race winners in 2010 and tie the record set in the first 22 of 23 races in 2007. Nine-time champion Frank Kimmel, a winner of 74 races in his career, has not yet won in 2010.

Eleven of the 13 drivers to win this year have been first-time winners in the series.

Craig Goess became the second driver with multiple Menards Pole Awards in 2010, joining Chris Buescher. Eleven drivers with one pole each are tied for second place in the season-long Menards Pole Award standings.

Continuing Through Illinois: The ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards visits the one-mile Du Quoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds dirt oval in Du Quoin, Ill. for a Labor Day tradition on Monday, September 6. Practice begins at 10 a.m. Eastern/9 a.m. Central, and Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell follows at noon Eastern/11 a.m. Central. The 100-lap, 100-mile Southern Illinois 100 presented by Federated Auto Parts takes place at 2 Eastern/1 Central. Live timing and scoring and live audio coverage for all three events will be presented by ARCA Nation and the ARCA Racing Network at ARCARacing.com.

Frank Kimmel is the all-time leading winner at the track with five victories (2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2008). Parker Kligerman, last season's leading winner with nine victories, won last year to sweep the dirt oval portion of the schedule.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

ARCA notes

Hessert Capitalizes on Kimmel's 
Misfortune to Narrow Deficit

(TOLEDO, Ohio) - Frank Kimmel led 10 laps in the second half of the Allen Crowe 100 in Springfield, Ill., yesterday, but exited the Illinois State Fairgrounds with an air of regret - much to Tom Hessert's delight.

Kimmel (No. 44 Ansell/Menards Ford), a master at the one-mile dirt oval with a record seven career wins, finished outside the top 10 at the oval for the first time since his 1996 debut, when he came home 12th following a Lap 73 crash into the Turn 2 wall.

"I don't know what happened," said the nine-time series champion. "I just lost the car.  It got out from under me, spun the thing out to the wall and tore it all to pieces. It's just a disappointing day. They crashed there earlier, during the previous caution, and I don't know if there was anything on the track or not, but that's my excuse today. I just lost it and it messed up a good day."

Though the result was a far cry from what Kimmel had hoped would be an eighth Springfield win and a pad to his series lead, it was an improvement on what could have been. Kimmel started just 16th after repairs and earned the Aaron's Lucky Dog to return to the lead lap and improve his position.

Kimmel maintained the ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards points lead by five (3205-3200), but is feeling heat from Hessert (No. 77 Cherry Hill Classic Cars Dodge), who finished third.

"We had a good points day," Hessert said. "We weren't the fastest, but we raced smart. We took advantage of the holes that were given to us."

Craig Goess (No. 81 Greenville Toyota of N.C. Toyota), who entered the race second in the standings, fell to third but maintained a mere 10-point margin to Kimmel. Goess finished 11th but did not lead any laps.

Patrick Sheltra's (No. 60 Recycling Services/Ferguson Pipe Dodge) win helped him improve one position to fourth. The former standings leader sits just 40 points from the lead and is being closely pursued by Mikey Kile (No. 25 Venturini Motorsports Chevrolet), 45 points from first place.

The 2010 title would not only give Kimmel a record 10th series championship, but would make him the first driver to win an ARCA national championship in three separate decades. Bob Dotter was the last driver to win a championship without winning a single race, accomplishing the rare feat in 1980, the first of his three title seasons (1983, 1984).

Hessert's best championship finish is eighth, achieved in each of the past two seasons.

Coulter's Four Crown Lead at 25: Joey Coulter (No. 16 Darrell Gwynn Foundation/Rip It Energy Fuel Chevrolet) finished fourth at the Illinois State Fairgrounds to secure his second consecutive top-five finish on a dirt track (third at Du Quoin (Ill.) in 2009) and his third straight top-five in the month of August. In turn, Coulter maintained the lead in the pursuit of the Bill France Four Crown Award, which rewards drivers for success on a diverse slate of tracks.

The Four Crown schedule is comprised completely of the ARCA Racing Series races scheduled for August. The final Four Crown race is scheduled at Chicagoland Speedway (1.5-mile speedway; August 27). Coulter also led the Four Crown standings after his win in the first race at Berlin (Mich.) Raceway (short track, August 7) and a second-place finish at New Jersey Motorsports Park (road course, August 15).

Tom Hessert remained second, and Mikey Kile and Patrick Sheltra each rose two positions, to third and fourth, respectively.

Four Crown points are allocated without qualifying or in-race bonuses, and distributed in the same method as in the official series standings. A race winner receives 200 points, the second-place finisher receives 195, and following positions receive five fewer points per lower position until five points are awarded to a 40th-place finisher, if necessary.

The top 10 drivers in the Four Crown standings are as follows: 1. Coulter 580; 2. Hessert 555; 3. Kile 540; 4. Sheltra 535; 5. Steve Arpin 520; 6. Frank Kimmel 510; 7. Dakoda Armstrong 490; 8. Craig Goess 475; 9. Robb Brent 425; 10. Chad McCumbee 415.

Coulter will clinch the Four Crown title regardless of any other driver's finish with a top-five result Friday evening at Chicagoland Speedway.

Cox Contends, Leads 41 Laps: In just his fifth start of the 2010 season, Ron Cox led 41 laps to take the $500 Aaron's Lap Leader Award in Sunday's race.

Cox, a high school teacher from Tennessee who finished second at Springfield last season, seemed prepared for another high finish before being involved in a collision with Mikey Kile late in the race. He finished 20th.

Steve Arpin challenged Cox in the lap leader category by taking the first seven laps after starting from the pole and leading 29 consecutive laps later, for a total of 36. Arpin won the $500 Messina Halfway Leader Award by leading at the race's halfway point.

Arpin closed within 15 laps (209-194) of Chris Buescher for the lead in the year-end Aaron's Lap Leader Award standings.

Approaching a New Mark for Parity: Patrick Sheltra contributed to one of the best storylines of the 2010 ARCA Racing Series season with his victory, as he became the 13th driver to win in 14 series races. The record is 15, set in the first 22 of 23 races in 2007.

11 of the 13 drivers to win this year were first-time winners in the series.

Steve Arpin is the only driver with multiple race wins, but had not won a pole prior to Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell Saturday. Arpin became the 12th different Menards Pole Award winner in 13 qualifying sessions this season. (Qualifying at Texas Motor Speedway in April was cancelled for severe weather.) 11 drivers with one pole each are tied for second place in the season-long Menards Pole Award standings behind Chris Buescher, who qualified first at Toledo and Mansfield.

Top-Fives the Norm for Fike: A.J. Fike steered the No. 10 RFMS/Liberty Village Ford to fifth place for owner Andy Hillenburg, marking his third consecutive top-five dirt track finish in ARCA competition. Fike finished fourth in both races last season. No other driver can claim such a distinction. Steve Arpin comes close, with top-10 finishes in each of the last three dirt races - fifth at Springfield and ninth at Du Quoin last season, and seventh Sunday.

Career Highs for Basham, Kovski: Jason Basham (No. 94 Darrell Basham Racing Chevrolet), son of ARCA Racing Series mainstay Darrell Basham (No. 34 Darrell Basham Racing Chevrolet), recorded his first top-10 finish in 51 ARCA Racing Series start. Basham finished 10th, topping his previous career high of 15th at Du Quoin last year.

Kelly Kovski, who normally serves as the car chief for Robb Brent's No. 36 Orchard Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Dodge at the Springfield-based Allgaier Motorsports shop, finished sixth in the No. 17 Central Illinois Security/Hoosier Tire Midwest Chevrolet for Roulo Brothers Racing. The finish tied the Springfield resident's career high, achieved at the Springfield fairgrounds oval three years ago.

Sweet Home Chicago: The ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards visits the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. on Friday, August 27. Practice begins at 5:30 p.m. Eastern/4:30 Central on Thursday, August 26, and Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell follows at 12:30 Eastern Friday. The 100-lap, 150-mile Ansell Protective Gloves 150 begins live on SPEED at 7 p.m. Eastern. Additionally, live timing and scoring and live audio coverage for all three events will be presented by ARCA Nation and the ARCA Racing Network at ARCARacing.com.

The race will be the 10th at the suburban facility, and in nine races, no driver has won more than once. Frank Kimmel (2003) is the lone active winner. Kimmel is one of four winners from the pole at the track, with Chad Blount (2002), Steve Wallace (2006), and Michael McDowell (2007). Eventual series champion Justin Lofton won at Chicagoland last season.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Bristol race quotes

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
IRWIN TOOLS NIGHT RACE
BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER POST RACE QUOTES
AUGUST 21, 2010


JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS CHEVROLET, FINISHED 3RD: ULTIMATELY WHAT KEPT YOU FROM GETTING KYLE THERE AT THE END AND CATCHING REUTIMANN AS WELL? "We put the last set of tires on and we did it under green and the front tires just felt flat the whole time and I had lots of grip but the balance felt real tight. It was a real good night for our Bass Pro Shops Chevy. We had Johnny Morris, his boy and some friends here tonight and they have been at every race that we have won and I knew that we had a really good car after happy hour was over and when I saw Johnny here I was like, 'we have a good car, and you have been good luck so you never know.' And honestly at one point there I thought we were going to have the car to beat at the end but we just didn't have the speed we needed."


THIRTEENTH IN POINTS AND I KNOW YOU ARE STILL 100 AWAY FROM THAT 12TH SPOT. CAN YOU DO IT IN 2 RACES? "I don't know everybody worries about points but every time I do we struggle. I appreciate you telling me how far we are out but it is really irrelevant. We have had a great season and in two races a lot can happen. And fortunately there is only one guy you have to beat now and when you have four or five in between you it makes it a lot harder but that is cool, the cars are fast right now."


YOU MAKE UP A LITTLE BIT OF GROUND AND NOW YOU'RE IN 13TH "Yeah, I let Bono worry about the points. He's really worried about that and I haven't paid any attention to it. That's a lot of stress that you can put on yourself when you're worried about points. So I'll let Bono and those guys worry about it and we'll just worry about racing the car."


CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 HAMBURGER HELPER CHEVROLET, FINISHED 4TH: ON HAVING A GOOD RUN? “It was a well-needed run. It was a good way to bounce back. It was a bummer we didn’t get to experience a good race the last time we were here. I love this race track. I love competing here.”


HOW DO YOU LEAVE HERE? “We’ve got two races to go. Two good race tracks – I love Atlanta, run well there, and I love Richmond, run well there. With any luck at all, we’ll be in this thing.”

TALK ABOUT COMING BACK FROM THE PIT ROAD SPEEDING PENALTY: “We all talked before the race. This is a team effort and it’s going to take a team effort to get ourselves in the Chase. They did their job on pit road; they did their job all weekend long. I promised them I would do my job.”


DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE A TEAM THAT CAN CONTEND FOR A TITLE? “RCR is an organization that can contend for a championship. We’ve seen my teammate (Kevin Harvick) capitalize and show our potential at RCR all season long. Jeff (Burton) and I can compete at their level. One of us should bring home a championship. It’s the best shot we’ve had since I’ve been at RCR. I look forward to it.”


YOU BATTLED ALL NIGHT LONG, DIDN'T YOU? "Yeah, I messed up in the pits and got us a pit road speed penalty. But the guys responded good. We had a good weekend with the Hamburger Helper Chevrolet and I'm just proud of our effort. This is exactly what we needed and the boys did a good job. Kyle Busch? Little turd! Three races right here at Bristol; that's pretty cool, love him or hate him!"


YOU'VE BUILT YOURSELF A LITTLE CUSHION WITH 2 RACES TO GO BEFORE THE CHASE "Well, it's a little bit of cushion. Jamie McMurray is 13th now behind me and he beat me tonight. But we've just got to keep doing what we're doing. If we do that, I don't think they can catch us."


YOU FOUGHT A LOOSE RACE CAR AND A SPEEDING PENALTY, HOW DID YOU GET HERE? "The speeding penalty was my fault and I apologized to the guys but I had to get up on the wheel and make up for them but the Hamburger Helper Chevrolet was good all weekend long and the guys did a good job and this is what we have to do and we are in a pressure cooker and the guys are responding good and I told them to have fun with this, this is my favorite race track and we had fun with it and it wasn’t quite what we wanted but a top-five run is pretty good.


“And I will tell you what, love him or hate him but the little turd did pretty good. Three races in a row and winning right here, that is quite a feat to accomplish."


SEEMED LIKE IT WAS TYPICAL BRISTOL TONIGHT AS YOU WERE IN THE MIX THEN OUT OF THE MIX AND YOU ENDED UP IN THE MIX. HOW DO YOU FOCUS ALL NIGHT AND DO THIS? "You know this is short track racing at its best. You just have to go out there and race as hard as you can and take what it gives you and just never give up. You never know the outcome of this thing and I just knew the caution was going to come out and shake things up and we were going to have to play strategy and hold on but it didn't and it was still a good night for us and I am proud of the guys."


OKAY NOW YOU HAVE ANOTHER PURSUER, JAIME MCMURRAY IS NOW THE 13TH PLACE GUY BUT 100 PTS BACK WITH TWO TO GO, HOW DO YOU ASSESS IT? "Well you know, again our cars are running well and a 100 points is a lot. It’s a lot more than 35 and he did a good job tonight and he drove a good race, his car was good and I expect they will be but Mark Martin and Ryan Newman are not out of this thing yet either. We just have to keep digging and doing what we are doing and they are not going to catch us."


RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 WIX FILTERS CHEVROLET, FINISHED 6TH: WAS IT A GOOD POINTS DAY FOR YOU? “Well, not really because (Clint) Bowyer finished in front of us. If we could have kept Bowyer out of that situation, we would have gained on Mark (Martin) and Bowyer. That is neither here nor there. It was a good team effort for everyone on this Wix Filters Chevrolet. We can’t expect to make everything up in one race. Another top-10 effort on a concrete track is good for our team. We’ll just go on into Atlanta.”


JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET, FINISHED 7TH: “We had a top-five car, it just hard to get track position with people short pitting and just hard to make that up at the end. Overtaking here is so difficult. But I think, it was where we didn’t have car enough to win, but I think we had the car to run where we were all day. It is a bit of a shame, we ran top five all day and finished seventh, that kind of sucks, but we brought our Target Chevy back in one piece so that is pretty good.”


JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET, FINISHED 11TH: ON TONIGHT’S RACE “We drove up through there, got up to the top-five or six but couldn’t maintain it. Got really, really loose on the long runs. We fought it. We had a lot of long runs tonight that didn’t do us any favors tonight. We finally started to get it there at the end. That last pit stop cycle kind of pinned us in and we got shuffled back. We didn’t expect to come here to win. We’ve really struggled here at Bristol the last several runs. I felt like we were better tonight. I am really looking forward to going to Atlanta, I think we have a great shot to win there.”


YOU CLINCHED FOR THE CHASE TONIGHT: “It is always good. We’ve had a heck of a season. Very consistent runs and strong runs. We haven’t won yet, I still think we have a heck of a shot at the championship. I am really happy to be in the Chase again. Right now we are focused on wins and bonus points and I am a little disappointed with an 11th place finish tonight but it wasn’t from a lack of effort, that is for sure.


“I hope these fans here had a lot of fun because it was a lot of fun to race. There were a lot of great battles. They have so many amazing fans here in Bristol so thanks for that.”


HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE TEAM’S MOMENTUM WITH TWO RACES UNTIL THE START OF THE CHASE? “We didn’t expect to come here and win. This has been a real struggle for us. This new car, the long greens here at Bristol. We just haven’t been the same with our DuPont Chevrolet. There is a lot of work and effort we are putting in, it is a process. We keep trying and I felt like we were better tonight. Hopefully we will be better next time we come back. I think we have tracks coming up that are really good for us.”


JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET, FINISHED 35TH: WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE WITH YOU AND JUAN PABLO? "It was a restart so everybody is out there running hard and we came down the back and I have to look at the video but I think I left him enough room on the outside lane there. And we were on the straightaway there for a little bit and all the sudden I got hooked with force, it wasn't like we bumped and banged and I squeezed him. But we were on the straightaway and everything was fine and then around I went so I don’t think it was something intentional and I don’t think he was trying to dump me but I will just have to look at things and see. I really felt like I left him the room."


WE SAW FELIX SABATES COME OVER AND TALK TO YOU WHEN YOU CLIMBED OUT OF THE CAR, JUAN PABLO'S CO-OWNER, WHAT DID HE HAVE TO SAY? "He apologized and he said that Juan Pablo felt really bad so I am not sure what that may mean but I don't believe it was intentional. The Ganassi guys, Chip, Juan...........we are all friendly and I hate for something like that to happen and I look forward to looking at the video and seeing what really went on because I am really disappointed because I felt we really had a shot at winning this thing."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Chevy on Bristol

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL CHEVROLET – POINT LEADER: "Well, Bristol is a lot like Watkins Glen. You never know what's going to happen. You could get caught up in someone else's mess before you even know what happened. I'm glad we're not in that position. You can go there and be really aggressive, and take chances that you wouldn't normal take if you were in Clint's (Bowyer) position. You have to race hard, but you have to race with one eye over your shoulder to see what's going on around you, and behind you, and try not to make any mistakes. For us, you can just go there and if you tear something up, you tear something up. You put it in the trailer and go to the house. Things still happen fast, but you can race all over the race track now. There's a lot less cautions. There's a lot less beating and banging, because the corners are so sweeping that you need to have the fenders on the car now, or you become just like any other race track, and the dreaded areo-push takes over.  You have to take care of your car in order to be up front. The night atmosphere is great. It always seems to bring a little more enthusiasm to the driver, the fans, and everybody around. It's a cool place to race."
 
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET – 2ND IN STANDINGS: “Bristol has been tough for us. We’ve struggled there ever since they changed the track.  I just feel like I had a knack for that place; a grove and a feel and a setup that the cars really worked well for us. Ever since they changed the track, none of that seems to work. It is about re-inventing yourself as a driver from myself trying to find a different groove that works as well as giving good feedback to the team to get the car to work the way we need it to. We feel like we get a little bit better each time we go there. (To hit your marks) there is visual and then there is just timing of getting out of the throttle and getting on the brakes and then as you feed the wheel and you get down the straightaway, you just want to turn off into the corner at the right time and aim the car for certain spots on the track. Sometimes what happens you hit on it and it does everything you want it to and then it is about doing it consistently. Bristol is the type of track where you get into a rhythm there because the straightaways are so short and it is such a quick lap time that you find yourself, if you get it right, it can be really fun. But, if you keep missing it lap after lap, it can be very very frustrating.”
 
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE CHEVROLET - 4TH IN STANDINGS: “Bristol is one of those places where you’ve got to have everything kind of go your way. If you have one hiccup, it’s hard to recover from it. We’ve only won one race there and we’ve kind of been all over the board. It’s been feast or famine for us. It’s like if you have one problem in the first half of the race, it’s hard to recover from it. It makes for a very long day. We’ve had more long days than good days. What you’ve got to keep in mind is that every time the competition gets closer, it makes it harder and harder to start further back and pass cars. If you’re a half-second faster than the 20 cars in front of you, you’re probably going to be able to work your way through. If you’re half of a tenth of a second faster, it’s a lot harder to make up those spots. With the sport and the competition level going up every week, passing is harder. That’s why track position is so important. The thing about Bristol is that, at the end of the day, you still have to have a good-handling racecar. You can get good track position, but if you don’t have a good car, you’re not going to be able to hold onto it.”
 
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET – 5TH IN STANDINGS: “We ran so well there in the spring, even last year, we had a great spring and fall race.  That night race has always been one of my favorites.  We look forward to being competitive and hopefully going back to victory lane there.  It’s a great race track; I’ve always loved watching races there.  I’m glad to actually enjoy racing on that track now.” 
 
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET –7TH IN STANDINGS: "I think we are really good at short tracks. Sometimes, our finishes don't indicate how good we ran. I think the short tracks are the strength of our deal. We led a lot at Martinsville, we were very, very fast at Phoenix, and we ran really well at Bristol in March. We were also really fast at New Hampshire and led a lot of laps, so I think our short track program has been pretty solid. We're going to have to move it forward as we go into the last third of the year, but I feel like we're solid there. The spoiler thing is really interesting to me. I talk to some people who think it has changed stuff and I talk to others and they say it hasn’t. I know that this is going to sound stupid to y’all, but I haven’t really paid much attention to how the spoiler has affected it. I’ve just tried to pay attention to how the car needs to be better and how I need to drive it better. I think that potentially Bristol is a track, like we talked about Phoenix, having less impact that it would when we went to Texas. I think Bristol is similar to that. I think it is small enough where aerodynamics matter but it is not going to matter as much as it does here. I don’t think the spoiler is going to have a major impact.”
 
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 HAMBURGER HELPER CHEVROLET - 12TH IN STANDINGS: "Bristol is all about speed. The track has a tremendous amount of speed for its size, and things happen fast. The key is to avoid trouble on the race track. It's easier said than done. I like the side-by-side racing at Bristol, and the fact that you can race really hard there. I like the track because, like most drivers, it reminds me of my short track racing roots. I think Bristol is definitely one of those races (wildcard race), but any of these races anymore are wildcards. You have to be able to get it all through the whole race. You can run well, but with the way these things are shaking out at the end, it doesn't matter. You have to be there at the end. You have to make the right decision to put yourself in right position to have a good finish."
 
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CARQUEST AUTO PARTS/GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET – 13TH IN STANDINGS: MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CARQUEST AUTO PARTS/GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET – 13TH IN STANDINGS: “Bristol is a tough one because you can’t count on anything, and you can’t count anything out. This team witnessed that first-hand when we were there in March. We had an awesome race car, possibly the best one we’ve had all season. We had a chance to win that race and lost it all when we were pushed into the wall by another car. And last year, we led a lot of laps and came up just one position short in the fall race there. All we can do is run the best race we can. It’s a great race and we all look forward to it. I think we’ll be really good, you just can’t count out something crazy happening at Bristol. Bristol is the most exciting race track I think that we race on.  It’s action-packed, it always has been and I think certainly since I’ve been driving NASCAR been one of the most exciting races to watch.  Sparks fly there.”
 
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 WIX FILTERS CHEVROLET – 14TH IN STANDINGS:  “There’s no place like Bristol. I’ve told people before that Bristol is like a baby superspeedway. If something happens in front of you, it may not be your fault, but you can get caught up in somebody else’s wreck in the blink of an eye. You have to really be on your toes at Bristol, and that seems to be where frustrations can rise and flame up quicker than at any other racetrack. Everyone will tell you Bristol has always been a game of survival. Everything happens so fast there. You don’t have time to think or blink. I learned that in 2003, when I won the pole there. I knew I had a good car but I never anticipated I could put down a lap that fast. You just don’t realize how quickly everything happens at Bristol. You could have the best car out there, but everything is completely out of your hands. One minute, you could be running in the lead and, just seconds later, you could be wrecked in the corner and out of the race and it would be no fault of your own. You won’t even realize what has happened to you until afterward. I think the racing and the track are definitely better the way they are now. I think it’s more a combination of the tire and the track than it is the age of the concrete. Concrete doesn’t change very much, if at all, over time. It’s more the combination of the tire and the racing we can do with that tire. With the tire Goodyear has been bringing, the racing has been very good. I think we put a lot of emphasis on qualifying because Bristol is a track where, if you miss the first run set-up wise, you’ll be a lap down before you know it. We’re going to make the best of it, like any other track. It just happens to be Bristol, and everything happens very fast. To me, the racing is at an all-time high at Bristol, compared to the way it used to be. We can race side-by-side and actually gain spots without having to wreck someone.”
 
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS CHEVROLET – 15TH IN STANDINGS: “I personally really enjoy short-track racing so I’m looking forward to getting back to that type of racing after a long stretch of bigger tracks.  Qualifying well is really important so that you have good track position to start with and get a pit stall on the front stretch.  Everything happens so fast at Bristol, you can be leading the race one second and find yourself in the wrong place in the middle of a wreck the next, you’re really one your toes all night.  Since they repaved the track it has more options with running the top or bottom line which can make for some great racing under the lights.   Bristol is always one of the most exciting races of the season.”
 
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88  AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET – 17TH IN STANDINGS: "Bristol is one of the best places to see a race. Everybody's sitting right on top of the racetrack. There's nothing else that really compares to Saturday night racing at Bristol. I like racing there and have enjoyed some success at the track. I think my favorite (Bristol memory) of all are just going to those races when I was a kid in 1985.  I remember being at both races.  In 1987 I remember being at both races.  That place when you're young and everything in the world's exciting, I mean, that place really stands out to you.  Just being there was just really, you knew that you were seeing something really unique, and there is nothing like that anywhere else in the country.”
 
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – 19TH IN STANDINGS:  “We did a Goodyear tire test at Bristol earlier this year that we were pretty happy with. I actually enjoy racing there. You are on the wheel all the time and it’s one of those tracks that you want to be running up front. It’s when you get into the back of the pack that it’s a nightmare and can make for a very long day. That’s pretty much what happened to us when we were there in the Spring. Wrong place at the wrong time and we had to run around the track with a damaged Target car. We’ve got the cars to get top-fives and wins it’s just being there, in one piece, at the end that matters at Bristol.”
 
REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW CHEVROLET, 30TH IN STANDINGS: "Every driver likes Bristol and why not -- it's fun, it's fast and it's just a great short-track venue," said Smith. "I especially have a special fondness for Bristol since it's the track of my first career start in the Sprint Cup Series (March 2007). This weekend is also special for Furniture Row Racing because we're paying tribute again to the American farmer and rancher with a special Farm American paint scheme on our No. 78 Chevrolet. We've been running a lot better lately and we're ready for that breakout race and getting in the top-10."    
 
BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 09 PHOENIX CONSTRUCTION CHEVROLET – 31ST IN STANDINGS:  "Racing under the lights and Bristol, it's just right.  Bristol is such a fun track, and to have this race under the lights just makes it that much more exciting.  This is a fan-favorite track and it's always great to see the fans excited.  We're hoping that the fans can come and enjoy this race and sell it out again.  It's more enjoyable for everyone when the place is packed. One of the unique things that the track has done is to allow us to come out to our choice of song for driver introductions.  We've done it a few times now, but the fans seem to get a kick out of it. I've got my song picked, but we'll wait until Saturday to let everyone know.  It's something neat that the track does and it's pretty cool.Racing at Bristol, you have to be patient.  This is definitely a place where tempers get hot and accidents are bound to happen.  It's feast or famine here.  There is a lot of side-by-side racing and a lot of beating and banging.  It is hard to come out of Bristol without some sort of damage to your car.  It always seems like the guy who has the best looking car usually wins."

MORE Jimmie Johnson quotes

YOU'RE HEADING BACK TO BRISTOL IN A FEW WEEKS, DO YOU HAVE A LITTLE MORE OPTIMISM THAN YOU'VE HAD IN YEARS PAST GIVEN WHAT HAPPENED IN THE SPRING? "We ran so well there in the spring, even last year, we had a great spring and fall race. That night race has always been one of my favorites. We look forward to being competitive and hopefully going back to victory lane there. It's a great race track; I've always loved watching races there. I'm glad to actually enjoy racing on that track now."

WHAT'S YOUR APPROACH ON POINTS NOW? "The bonus points, that's kind of the obvious one that all the drivers want and as a team, the momentum from a win would be very important and helpful. But from our standpoint, not just this year but others as well, we felt the consistency going into the Chase was really important. We've had some races in the last four or five weeks where we've been competitive and didn't finish well. We've had races where we weren't competitive and didn't finish well. I think we're looking more for a consistent run here leading into New Hampshire before we start the Chase. If we can get 10 points, obviously that's what we need and what we want. But I think the momentum and the confidence that comes with four or five strong races is really important."

A familiar face: Frank Kimmel

Kimmel takes ARCA points lead

(TOLEDO, Ohio) - Often regarded the unluckiest of numbers, 13 may be a charm for Frank Kimmel and the No. 44 Ansell/Menards Ford in 2010.

Sunday's Garden State ARCA 150 at New Jersey Motorsports Park's 2.25-mile Thunderbolt Raceway marked the 13th of 20 races on the 2010 ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards schedule. In finishing fourth in Race No. 13, Kimmel achieved his 10th top-10 of the year and the series points lead, a position he's come to know all too well since his first of nine series championships in 1998.

Kimmel entered the weekend trailing Craig Goess (No. 81 Greenville Toyota of N.C. Toyota) by 10 points, and it's that margin (3030-3020) by which the 48-year-old Indiana driver leads Goess after the conclusion of the Garden State ARCA 150, won by 18-year-old Casey Roderick.

Kimmel finished fourth and Goess eighth Sunday, allowing Kimmel to gain 20 race points on the incoming leader. Neither driver led any laps or earned a bonus for qualifying in the top three in Menards Pole Qualifying Saturday afternoon. The two did drive side-by-side early in the race just inside the top 15.

The 2010 title would not only give Kimmel a record 10th series championship, but would also make Kimmel the first driver to win an ARCA national championship in three separate decades.  Bob Dotter was the last driver to win a championship without winning a single race, accomplishing the rare feat in 1980, the first of his three title seasons (1983, 1984).

Tom Hessert (No. 77 Cherry Hill Classic Cars Dodge) unseated Justin Marks (No. 32 Construct Corps Dodge) from third place with a fifth-place finish. Hessert is 45 points and Marks 75 points behind Kimmel's lead. Yet again this week, only 105 points separate first and seventh places.

Coulter Continues to Lead Four Crown: Joey Coulter's (No. 16 Darrell Gwynn Foundation/Rip It Energy Fuel Chevrolet) second-place finish at New Jersey Motorsports Park was his first top-five finish in three road course races in the ARCA Racing Series, and it helped him maintain the lead in the Bill France Four Crown standings.

The Bill France Four Crown is the season-within-a-season contest which rewards drivers for success on a diverse slate of tracks. The Four Crown schedule is comprised completely of the ARCA Racing Series races scheduled for August. Remaining Four Crown races are scheduled for the (Springfield) Illinois State Fairgrounds (dirt track; August 22) and Chicagoland Speedway (1.5-mile speedway; August 27). Coulter also led the Four Crown standings after his win in the first race at Berlin (Mich.) Raceway on August 7.

Four Crown points are allocated without qualifying or in-race bonuses, and distributed in the same method as in the official series standings. A race winner receives 200 points, the second-place finisher receives 195, and following positions receive five fewer points per lower position until five points are awarded to a 40th-place finisher, if necessary.

"I am really thrilled at bringing home a second-place finish," Coulter said. "My guys have worked their tails off and I have really been trying to improve my road course skills this year. Leading the Four Crown headed into this weekend's race at Springfield is a great feeling and I want to go out there and continue our consistent runs."

The top 10 drivers in the Four Crown standings are as follows: 1. Coulter 395; T-2. Tom Hessert 365; T-2. Frank Kimmel 365; 4. Steve Arpin 350; 5. Mikey Kile 345; 6. Patrick Sheltra 335; 7. Dakoda Armstrong 330; 8. Craig Goess 325; T-9. Tim George Jr. 275; T-9. Chad McCumbee 275.

Extra Mileage Worthy: When the engine expired in Casey Roderick's No. 51 Bill Elliott Driver Development Dodge after the 18-year-old driver had completed just three laps in Saturday's opening practice, a member of the Bill Elliott Racing crew was forced to drive to the team's headquarters in Dawsonville, Ga. to pick up a spare engine. Dawsonville is approximately 765 miles from New Jersey Motorsports Park's location in Millville, N.J., and though the roundtrip of over 1500 miles wasn't complete until 8 a.m. Sunday, Roderick was pleased, calling it an "awesome effort" after his win.

Elliott Unable to Attend, but Influential: Bill Elliott was unable to be in attendance for the first ARCA Racing Series victory of protégé Casey Roderick, as he was driving to a 22nd-place finish in yesterday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Michigan International Speedway. Roderick insisted that despite Elliott's continuing career as a driver, the 1988 NASCAR champion has carried a prominent role as a teacher since Roderick's days racing in lower divisions.

"I was racing the Thursday Thunder Series at Atlanta. I was 15 and my dad basically ran out of money to keep me going," Roderick said. "We figured we were going to have to pack it in. Bill's wife, Cindy, came up to me and asked me what my helmet size was. The next thing I know they had me in a car and I got to run Late Models and ASA before coming to ARCA. Every day I wake up and thank Bill Elliott. Now, he makes me work on the cars. That's what Bill's taught me. It's a lot of hard work and he's definitely not making it easy on me so he's been a big part of that."

Roderick was born in 1992, a year in which Elliott won five races and finished second in the NASCAR Cup Series standings for a third time. On the weekend of August 8 that year, Roderick's birth date, Elliott started sixth and finished 14th at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, which like New Jersey Motorsports Park is a prominent Northeast road course.

Buescher, Marks Speak on Incident: Chris Buescher (No. 17 David Ragan Fan Club Ford) and Justin Marks (No. 32 Construct Corps Dodge) collided in a first-turn incident on Lap 55 which took Marks, a leader for much of the race, out of contention.

"The day was turning out just the way we wanted it to, just hitting my marks and staying out of trouble the first half of the race. We didn't get as great of fuel mileage as we hoped, so we had to short pit, followed by a short green flag run that shuffled us back into traffic a little bit," Marks said after the race. "That last restart I didn't get as good of a start as the 17 (Buescher), so I moved to the inside going into Turn 1. As soon as I got on the brakes, I got hit from behind and shoved into the fence. I guess those things happen sometimes. I'm proud of my team and our fast racecar, and we're just going to pick up and move on, and try to win as many races as we can from here on out."

Said Buescher: "I hate that it happened. I waited until the start/finish line and got under him, just like you're supposed to, and he kept pushing me down, down, down. Eventually, there was grass and I had to turn back left, and by that time it was just too late."

Silver Lining for Marks: Justin Marks led 36 of 67 laps, including the 34th, to win both the $500 Aaron's Lap Leader Award and the $500 Messina Halfway Leader Award in Sunday's race.

Marks' closest competitor in the lap leader category was Tim George Jr. (No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Development Chevrolet), who led twice for 19 laps. Tom Hessert was on track to lead the race at halfway, but ran out of gas on Lap 33 after three laps led. Hessert did close to within three laps (158-155) of Steve Arpin for second place in the year-end Aaron's Lap Leader Award standings, led by Chris Buescher.

New Names Aplenty on Winner Lists: With his win in the Garden State ARCA 150, Casey Roderick helped to set an ARCA Racing Series record. Roderick became the 11th driver to win his first career race in 2010, a mark which surpasses the previous mark of 10 first-time winners in 2007.

Roderick is the 12th driver to win in the series in 13 races this season. Only Steve Arpin has multiple wins (Salem, Texas). The record is 15, set in the first 22 of 23 races in 2007.

Justin Marks' pole made him the 11th different Menards Pole Award winner in 12 qualifying sessions this season. (Qualifying at Texas Motor Speedway in April was cancelled for severe weather.) 10 drivers with one pole each are tied for second place in the season-long Menards Pole Award standings behind Chris Buescher, who qualified first at Toledo and Mansfield.

Top-10 for Mitten in First Start: Robert Mitten, making his first ARCA Racing Series start, started 11th and finished seventh in the No. 82 Corr Motorsports Chevrolet. Mitten, 46, resides in Plantation, Fla. and has experience driving in the Rolex Sports Car Series and in other sports car disciplines.

Nick Igdalsky (No. 14 Modspace/Red Cross Disaster Relief Ford) showed that road racing is his specialty, matching his season-high finish of 15th. Igdalsky finished in the same position in the series' previous road course race, at Palm Beach (Fla.) International Raceway in February.

Dr. Ed Bull (No. 28 Back in Shape Ford) made the third start of his ARCA Racing Series career - and his third on a road course. Bull, a chiropractor from Chapin, S.C., finished two laps down in 16th, an improvement on his 23rd-place finish at Palm Beach and 27th-place finish at New Jersey last year.

Off to the Fair: The ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards visits the one-mile dirt track at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Ill. on Sunday, August 22. Practice begins at 10 a.m. Eastern, with Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell following at noon. The 100-lap, 100-mile Allen Crowe 100 begins at 2 p.m. Eastern, and live timing and scoring and live audio coverage for all three events will be presented by ARCA Nation at ARCARacing.com.  Frank Kimmel is the all-time leading winner at the track, with seven victories between 2000 and 2008. Parker Kligerman won in the series' most recent event at the track, in 2009.

The ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards features 20 events at 17 tracks on its 2010 schedule. The series has crowned an ARCA national champion each year since its inaugural season in 1953, and has toured over 200 racetracks in 28 states since its inception. The series tests the abilities of drivers and race teams over the most diverse schedule of stock car racing events in the world, annually visiting tracks ranging from 0.4 mile to 2.66 miles in length, on both paved and dirt surfaces as well as left- and right-turn street and road courses.


More blog entries from this writer:
• Angel in Black: Remembering Dale Earnhardt Sr. (a book of great stories)
• Then Junior Said to Jeff... (the book of great NASCAR stories)