Chad McCumbee, who qualified an impressive third, had a very long day. The team blew an engine in practice and spent the remainder of the afternoon replacing it. Come race time, the #11 team experienced a variety of problems, including the car stalling on the track, costing them several laps. Eventually, the team got all of the problems fixed and he returned to the track to pick up a 24th-place finish.
Local driver David O’Dell took the wheel of the TC Motorsports #35 at Lanier and qualified an impressive sixth and raced second to Joey Miller for much of the mid-portion of the race, electing not to stop for tires. O’Dell eventually fell out of the race with mechanical problems before returning right before the end of the night. He finished 27th
ARCA LEFTOVERS: LANIERby Jeremy Troiano
Miller, Kimmel, Blount, Allison & More
MILLER JUST MISSES VICTORY
Not many drivers would be happy campers if they dominated a race like Joey Miller did at Lanier National Speedway in Georgia, only to lose the lead and the race on the final turns of the final lap. But the fact that Miller wasn’t fighting mad after the race just goes to show how much the young 20-year-old driver has matured during his rookie season in the ARCA RE/MAX Series.
Miller qualified fourth and quickly moved his way to the front of the field at Lanier on Saturday night. By lap 12, Miller found himself at the front of the field, a position that he would not relinquish for the next 188.
Miller was expecting a two-lap shootout. It was just one lap.
“The end of the race kind of surprised me,” said Miller. “Normally, it is a green-white-checker finish. That really messed me up more than anything. Had I really known, I would have used him up a little more on that last lap.
“Yeah, I was excited about the car. We knew we were going to have a good piece when we came here. I don’t think we knew we were going to have such a good car, though. I’m just really excited about the results of tonight. Sure, we would have liked to have won, but we led a lot of laps and we showed how good of a team we have and that we can run on the short tracks as well. After tonight’s run, I’m really excited to go to some of the other short tracks later in the year. I think we can be a challenger from now on for the win at each of those tracks.
“I’m just happy on how the whole night went, though. The car is in good shape. Sure, we are the first loser, but worse things could have happened. We showed tonight how good this team really is and I am very happy about that. It was a good point’s night.”
KIMMEL’S TEAM DEFINES “PERSEVERANCE”
Frank Kimmel felt very fortunate to finish in the top-five at Lanier on Saturday night. And rightfully so for the six-time ARCA champion. If you took a look at his car, you would have thought it was the car of someone that probably crashed out of the race.
Joey Miller cut down the points lead of Frank Kimmel with his second-place run at Lanier.
“They beat and bang and knock you out of the way and keep going.
“I really don’t know what happened over there in turn two. One car got into another car or something. I was on the outside committed to go around David (Ragan) and there I was. There wasn’t much I could do about it. It was one of those short track fender benders.
“Of course, (the crew) got on the radio real quick to see if anything was bad. The guys did a super job of getting the car fixed. We almost got a lap down, but we just got back out on the track in front of the pace car and the leader. We came in with loose lug nuts and got a penalty on pit road. It was an eventful night for sure.”
For Kimmel, it was just another sign as to why he and his team are the best in the ARCA Series right now.
“This is how you win championships. You just need to finish. When I went to the back so many times, I was just thinking a top-10 would be a good night, so to get a top-five is great. We fell very fortunate.”
HOMETOWN HERO GIBSON NOT OVERLY HAPPY
As stated in his pre-race press release, Georgia-native Mark Gibson was looking forward to the Lanier National Speedway race ever since the schedule was announced many month ago. Not only was his sponsor, William Brothers Lumber, the title sponsor of the race, but it would be the first time Gibson has raced so close to home on a short track.
Kimmel's #46 didn't look this good after the race.
But not Kimmel and his Advance Auto Parts team.
After getting involved in a lap 114 accident, Kimmel and the rest of the crew went to work to get the #46 fixed and to keep the car on the lead lap. He charged from mid-pack early in the race after starting 14th and moved into the top-six before pitting just before halfway. Then, charging back through the field, he got involved in the accident.
“She is pretty beat up. It was some rough racing out there tonight,” said Kimmel, whose fourth-place finish allowed him to hold onto his points lead over Miller.
BOWSHER LETS OFF A LITTLE STEAM, THEN A LITTLE MORE
It is no wonder than his fellow competitors thought that Todd Bowsher was several laps off the pace on Saturday night. Even in his own words, the team made “about a 1,000 pit stops.”
In addition to all those pit stops to try and fix a bad overheating problem and to try and keep the engine cool by putting cool water back into it, Bowsher also pancaked the side of his #21 and gave himself a couple of “whitewalled” tires in the process.
“We didn’t get much break as far as lapped cars go. I think everyone thought we were laps down with all of the stops that we were making. We were battling track position all night. I am happy, but frustrated at the same time because we had a top-five car without a doubt. It would have been interesting if we could have played our cards they way we wanted to, but we were dealt the hand we were dealt.
“It’s a 10th-place finish is good. I can’t wait until Berlin (Raceway) now. I think we’ve got something for them at the remaining short track races.”
BELL, McCUMBEE & OTHERS OUT EARLY
There were several drivers who qualified inside the top-10 that ran good races, but failed to show up at the end of the night.
TJ Bell was fast all day at Lanier. He was one of the quickest cars in practice and qualifying, but fell off of the pace just past halfway with engine problems and finished 30th.
Gibson was hoping for a better run than he had.
Gibson didn’t qualify that well (23rd), but wasted little time heading to the front of the pack. Soon, he found himself in the top-10 and gaining on the top five. Then, a little bump from Jason Jarrett slowed his progress dramatically.
“We had a good run. We had a top five car for sure,” said Gibson. “We knew if we started real loose, that we’d be good when the sun went down and we were. We came from the back to fifth pretty quick. We were just right. I wasn’t even trying to run.
“Then, the 25 (Jarrett), with new tires and being impatient, just dumped me. I know Jason didn’t do it on purpose,
Blount, who has already won two races in 2005, had a relatively quiet night on Saturday. He qualified 13th, raced his way into the top-10, fell back during pit stops and then raced into the top-five for a fifth-place finish by the end of the night.
But it wasn’t one of the best runs for Blount and got plenty wild.
“I don’t think I’ve done so much three-wide racing as I did here,” added Blount. “People were being absolutely crazy out here. We had enough car to smoke everybody, but I was so tight in the center I knew that if I used everything I had I would’ve probably ended up in the wall.”
he just needs a little patience. He needs to run good, but we all need to run good. So I’m just a little disappointed in Jason, but I know he didn’t do it on purpose.
“That killed our whole night. We had a top five car and there was no way we weren’t going to finish in the top five. I think we even had a chance to win the race. We were at times better than the 90 car (eventual race winner David Ragan).”
After the contact with Jarrett, Gibson fell a lap off the pace and couldn’t make it up. He settled for a 12th-place finish.
“The car ran good. It was a hometown crowd and Williams Brothers sponsored the race, so I’m just a little disappointed we didn’t fare better than we could have.
“I’ll take a 12th, I just know that it could have been so much more.”
LANIER PROVES HOW IMPORTANT TESTING IS FOR BLOUNT
Even in the ARCA Series, testing is important. Just ask championship contender Chad Blount.
“This was the one track we didn’t get a chance to test, and the way we ran all day in practice, qualifying and the race proved how important testing is,” said Chad after Saturday night’s event at Lanier.
Miller and the Hagans / Country Joe Racing #9 elected to be one of the teams that attempted to run the entire race on one set of tires. It might have been a strategy to work had the caution flag not flown several times during the race. Miller was never able to open up the lengthy advantage that his #9 could have enjoyed if the race stayed green. Instead, Miller was forced to fend off challenges of many during the short runs, which he successfully did until the final restart. That resulted in a one-lap shootout to the end.
David Ragan, one of the cars that did pit during the night, dove to the inside of Miller going into turn one on the apron, making some contact with Joey’s car. The two raced side-by-side down the backstretch before Ragan finally completed the pass in turns three and four and took the checker with Miller a very close second.
But through all of that, Bowsher kept his car on the lead lap and earned a very hard fought 10th-palce finish.
“It is hard racing with one eye on the temperature gauge and one eye on the race track,” said Bowsher after the race. “Unfortunately, we did have a overheating problem from the drop of the green flag. We have a good system here and I don’t know why.
“I’m really proud of our effort here today. We had a awesome car. There is a lot of people that saw us work our way through the field a few times and saw us make a 1,000 pit stops.
Ken Weaver, who came into the night fourth in points, qualified in the top-10 and was running well before getting caught up in an accident with a couple of other cars on lap 137. Weaver limped his car around and the team went to work fixing the damage, getting him back out for a 26th-palce finish.
JARRETT HAS SOLID TOP-THREE
Jason Jarrett has done a very good job as of late subbing for the injured Billy Ventruini in the #25 car.
On Saturday night, he had one of the best cars at the track, but had to settle for a top-three run rather thana win.
The night had its good and bad points, which started when he took the lead from David Ragan after qualifying second on the fourth lap before having a run in with a lapped car, causing him to lose the lead just a few laps later.
“The 84 car (Norm Benning)… I don’t know what happened there,” said Jarrett, referring to the lap 12 contact that caused him to lose the lead and nearly crash. “I know there was a lot of space in between my car and his. I was trying to give him as much room as possible. The next thing I was about wrecked. He came over after the race and said something happened to his master cylinder. I guess he wasn’t controlling the break pedal that was controlling that master cylinder.”
That caused Jarrett to slip back to the back half of the top-five, but after a pit stop, he found himself in the running for the win in the final 10 laps.
“We had a good car after that,” added Jarrett. “I knew this place was similar to Lake Erie and I knew someone was going to go and not stop. It was some crazy stuff going on out there. Everyone bottlenecked on the bottom and I went to the high side for a few laps and I made up a bunch of positions there. My car was about as good as anyone’s in front of me. I feel like we had the car to beat, especially at the first of the race, but it has to be that good at the end of the race.”
SOLID OUTING FOR JOSH ALLISON
The #64 team and driver Josh Allison had plenty had reason for celebration after the close of the Williams Brothers ARCA 200 on Saturday night.
Allison finished the race in sixth place, marking it his first top-10 finish of the season, and matching his career-best ARCA finish, which came at another short track, Berlin Raceway in 2004.
Chad Blount's #67 was fast, but not like it has been most of the year.
This was a common site in Todd Bowsher's pits on Saturday evening.
Chad McCumbee (left) watches as his crew changes out the engine in his #11.
Jason Jarrett (#25) has had a good run in Billy Venturini's cars.
Allison started the race in the fifth position after a strong qualifying effort. He held a spot in the top five for almost the entire race, and proved to be a definite contender for the victory until late in the event, when the cars of David Ragan, Frank Kimmel, Jason Jarrett and Chad Blount all passed him with fresher tires.
"I'm very excited about finishing right up there with the likes of (Joey) Miller, Kimmel, and Blount," said Allison. "Knowing that Team 64 can be competitive with the teams that hold the top three spots in points gives myself and the team a lot of confidence heading into the next race at Milwaukee."