ARCA CARS HAVE WILD DAY IN THE MUSIC CITY presented by Advance Auto Parts
Lots of Crashes, A Few Surprises Including Crocker On The Pole by Jeremy Troiano
Nashville’s 1.5-mile track has always had some pretty interesting ARCA races. Years ago, Ken Schrader won the track’s first ARCA race in an event that saw lots of cautions. Last year, Joey Miller came from two laps down in his first-career ARCA race to win.
the pole, but I wasn’t as comfortable in the car today during practice as I was during testing here. I was definitely more nervous, but I knew it was in the car. I guess it worked. I don’t have too many laps in a stock car, so it was actually a pretty big surprise.
“I’ll be alright I think starting out front. I’m just going to use the first few laps to get comfortable in the car and maybe even drop back a few spots. That is fine. I want to finish the race.”
Crocker will have a familiar face in her rearview mirror on Saturday, as six-time ARCA champ Frank Kimmel will start third, directly behind Crocker. However, another of the big surprises on Friday came with who will start on Crocker’s outside. That will be long-time veteran Ken Weaver.
Weaver went out and knocked off Kimmel to grab the pole before eventually getting knocked off himself by Crocker. Just beating Kimmel was good enough for Weaver.
“That was a good lap. I though we had (the pole) for a while,” said Weaver. “Frank is like a hero to me. So beating him was kind of special.
“The car got loose going into one and I just buried the throttle and hope it would turn with the throttle. I told my crew chief that I think I need a crowbar to get some aluminum out of my rear end because I think I sucked it all up there going into turn one. When my guys told me I was a tenth-over the pole, I just shut it off. Maybe I should have tried another lap. I’m happy.”
Erin Crocker (right) won the pole in one of Ray Evernhman's (left) Dodges. (51 Photos)
On Saturday, another first-timer will hope that SHE can make it two-in-a-row. Evernham Motorsports Development Driver Erin Crocker, a sprint-car standout, grabbed the pole for Saturday’s race in a big way. Crocker used a late-draw and a much cooler track to grab the pole in not only her first-career ARCA start, but her first-career stock car start. And when qualifying was all over, she was nearly seventh-tenths of a second faster than the second-place qualifier.
“It means a lot to me to put the car on the pole,” said Crocker, who had team owner Ray Evernhan and Evernham Nextel Cup driver Kasey Kahne watching her on Friday. “All I really wanted to do was go out there and do the best that I could do. I thought we had a chance at
Kimmel didn’t sit on the pole for long after knocking off Joey Miller from the provisional pole. Miller will now start fourth on Saturday afternoon.
“The car was good,” said Miller. “It was a little loose. I was happy with it. It really cooled a lot and got a lot darker and the track cooled down quite a bit. There is a big difference in that. But for the race, I think we’ll be alright for the race. We’ll be a very good car in the race. I think we gave up a decent amount in qualifying, but I think we have a really good racecar.”
Chad Blount will start fifth.
But outside of the surprise front row, the biggest noise from Friday came from the sound of all of the cars slamming into the wall.
A total of nine different drivers made significant contact with the wall at some point during Friday. Six cars crashed in practice, and three more got into the wall in qualifying.
Hendrick Motorsports development driver Kyle Krisiloff wrecked near the end of practice. As a result, Krisiloff’s team had to roll out the backup car before qualifying. Krisiloff, who battled out for last year’s win with Miller, will start 20th.
One of the best stories of those who crashed was that of Robert Richardson. Richardson, making just his third ARCA attempt, crashed his car near the end of practice. For qualifying, the team used Mark Gibson’s backup.
Walt Brannen got into the wall on his second qualifying lap.
Walt Brannen and GR Smith both qualified with solid runs on their first laps, but both drivers spun and hit the wall on their second go around. Both drivers and their teams are fixing their cars and will both have to start at the back of the field come Saturday.
“I’m disappointed about crashing the car because the first lap was so great,” said Smith. “I feel like I should have been able to hold onto it. But every time we’d tape off the car, the backend would want to come around. I knew I’d be fighting that. I know the guys are going to be here working probably all night to get this thing ready. I’ll do the best I can to get back up through the field since I have to start at the back of the pack.”
Richardson qualified 11th, running a lap nearly a full-second quicker than he ran in his own car in practice and qualifying. Gibson qualified 34th.
Other drivers who made contact with the wall in practice include the team cars of Chevy White and Clay Greenfield as well as Johnny Leonard and TJ Bell. Denny Hamlin also got into the wall during qualifying.
“Our right-front tire went down going into turn three,” said Bell. “There was nothing we could do.”
As a result, Bell purchased a back-up car from ML Motorsports, which fields cars for Chad Blount. Bell will start 30th.
“There are just so many cars here,” said Kimmel of all the accidents. “ARCA is bringing the biggest field of cars out there at every track we go to. This is a good, affordable series. You see it a lot here in Nashville too, because this is a great racing town. You’ll see some local racers go out and buy a good racecar and there are a lot of good racecars out there. They come here and they see that it is a little big different. These are radial tired cars and they slide around a little bit more than others. And unfortunately, when you find the edge, it
Robert Richardson crashed his main car in practice.,, but qualified Mark Gibson's backup 11th.
may be too late. There are just so many cars here that everyone had to reach really deep and make sure they go.”
With so many cars in attendance, many went home. The biggest name was that of Mike Guerity, the leading Rookie of the Year candidate heading into Nashvlile. Guerity, who finished fourth at Daytona, qualified just 41st and missed the show. Others who were sent packing early included Richard King, Butch Jarvis, Eric Wallace, Todd Antrican, Clay Greenfield, David Ragan, Jason Basham, Ricky Gonzalez, Brad Smith, Billy Walker, Tim Mitchell and Cain Langford.