The unofficial start to the 2007 ARCA RE/MAX Series
season will take place on December 15th as teams take
part in day one of a three-day test at Daytona
The 2007 ARCA season is set to kick off at Daytona on
BELMONT ADDS A TEAM
Veteran ARCA RE/MAX Series owner and driver Andy
Belmont announced today that his company Andy
Belmont Racing has acquired the assets of the No. 62
ARCA RE/MAX Series team owned by Bob Aiello.
Andy Belmont Racing (ABR) will return to a two-car operation next season fielding Belmont’s familiar No. 1 Ford Taurus, while putting together a competitive program for the No. 62 under the ABR banner.
“We’re very excited about the 2007 season,” said Belmont, who now calls Mooresville, North Carolina home. “We’ve been working together with Bob (Aiello, former owner of No. 62) in the past on several projects and now the timing seems right. Bob and I bounced this around a lot late last year and it all kind of came together. We are proud to announce that Aiello will stay on with the team in an advisory position and will also make himself available as a consultant to other racing programs."
Taking over the assets of the No. 62 also provides ABR a strong owner’s point berth heading into the 2007 ARCA RE/MAX Series season. The No. 62 finished fifth in ARCA RE/MAX Series owner’s points this season. In 22 of the 23 events, the team amassed one win, nine top-fives and nine top-10 finishes including one win.
Belmont’s No. 1 reeled in a solid 25th place position in the owner’s points with one top ten finish at Salem Speedway (September) utilizing a host of drivers this season. The duo’s standings virtually lock them into the first five events for 2007.
“We’re in a very good point’s position as we prepare our cars for Daytona,” explained Belmont. “In this age of racing in the ARCA RE/MAX Series, the competition is very tough, while we don't plan to use the provisional system, the fallback position offers some comfort should the unexpected ever arise. However, we’re making some great changes to our organization this off season and I’m definitely pumped about the future of ABR.”
Belmont continued, “The off season testing that we have done so far seems to have really helped. We have taken the
opportunity to experiment with some things that we just couldn't test under race conditions last year and I believe it will help out in the long run. We have tested some rookie drivers and are trying real hard to get the communication worked out between the team and the drivers. We will go to the test at Daytona with a couple of different people steering the cars as we keep searching for the right folks to drive the ABR race cars.”
The team is busy building new “hot rods” for next season’s events allowing the team to catch up with the ever changing technology the teams now face in the RE/MAX Series. ABR has been reconnected with some of its past employees, proving that the 2007 could be the most competitive season for ABR yet.
“We are very fortunate,” said Belmont. Barry Owen is working with us getting our cars together. NASCAR Busch East Series standout Joey McCarthy is working on some of our projects right now as well. Scott Lopez had made the move from the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series to ABR and his influence has been great to our team. Everything appears to be working and working well. We have a very interesting group right now. We also have half of a dozen students from the NASCAR Technical Institute and that’s been a big help. The students have some of the basics down and are eager to learn more. They have the will and the want to be a part of racing and that is huge. Youthful enthusiasm is a key component in any program that is growing.”
Andy Belmont Racing is expected to announce its alignment of drivers and sponsorship lineup in the near future.
ARCA TRUCKS ADD ONE
Due to popular demand, the ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series has added a 13th event to the 2007 schedule with the emergence of a race date at West Virginia Motor Speedway on Saturday, August 11th.
“We were approached with a request to bring a race date to West Virginia Motor Speedway,” said Joe Wells, Vice President of Competition for ARCA. “And even though we had already released our 2007 schedule, we felt like this was an opportunity that will only improve the series. We’re excited to work with WVMS promoters on this event.”
West Virginia Motor Speedway, located in Mineral Wells, West Virginia, is a high-banked, 5/8-mile clay oval featuring wide straights and sweeping 22-degree corners. The track has terraced hillside seating and state-of-the-art amenities for race fans and drivers alike.
Andy Belmont (AndyBelmont.com Photo)
Superspeedway testing for the ARCA RE/MAX Series will start on December 15th at Daytona International Speedway.
“We hosted the ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series at our other track, Tyler County Speedway, two years ago,” said West Virginia Motor Speedway promoter Daniel Patterson. “We really enjoyed working with them there, so we are looking forward to the 2007 event.”
While the August 11th race date marks the first time that the ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series regional tour has made an appearance at West Virginia Motor Speedway, ARCA’s connection to the clay oval dates back to the 1990’s, when the ARCA RE/MAX Series national tour competed at the track.
Since 1999, the ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series has provided racers with a unique yet affordable opportunity to participate in a regional touring series. The series, which is known for its diversity, competes on both pavement and dirt and on tracks ranging from .25 to one mile in length. With the addition of West Virginia Motor Speedway, the 2007 ALWTS schedule consists of 13 events in seven states and Canada.
The Saturday, August 11th, ALWTS race date at West Virginia Motor Speedway is scheduled to be the ninth of 13 events on the 2007 schedule and will feature 50 laps of racing around the 5/8-mile clay oval. Information, as it becomes available, can be found at www.arcaracing.com or www.wvspeedway.com.
BARNES TO TRY OUT DAYTONA
Chuck Barnes Jr. will be attending the ARCA RE/MAX Series open test at Daytona International Speedway scheduled for next week on December 15, 16, and 17th. Barnes Jr. will be testing a car for Georgia based TC Motorsports preparing for the Daytona ARCA 200 on Saturday, February 10, the 2007 season opening event for the ARCA RE/MAX Series. It will be the biggest track Barnes Jr. has ever driven a racecar on.
“I’m really looking forward to testing at Daytona next week,” remarked Barnes Jr. “ I’ve driven on Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Darlington and Iowa Speedway, but this will be my first laps ever on a Super Speedway. This will be a great opportunity to get some experience and see what the team will need to be competitive at the ARCA race in February.”
Barnes Jr. won in his first ARCA RE/MAX Series start in 2006 at Toledo Speedway on September 1st, beating now eight time series champion Frank Kimmel in a green, white checker finish. Barnes Jr. finished fourth in his second start at Salem Speedway on September 16th, coming from the back of the field after an early flat tire in the event. A blown engine kept the team from getting the laps needed to make the ARCA RE/MAX Series event at Iowa Speedway in October.
“I really appreciate Tammy and C.E. Clower, the owners of T.C. Motorsports, giving me this opportunity, we hope to build on our success on the couple of small track events we did last season, and become competitive at every track we race on in 2007. C.E. is currently talking with some possible sponsors for the Daytona ARCA event and for the 2007 season, hopefully something will come together so we can race in several ARCA events next year.”
BRANNAN ON A BREAK FROM ARCA
The 2006 racing season started out with plenty of promise for Walt Brannen. The young Georgia driver had a shot at winning the ARCA RE/MAX Series race at Daytona against several NASCAR Nextel Cup Series entries, but a late-race wreck dashed those hopes.
The wreck also ended his season, although he didn’t know it all the time. A lack of sponsorship kept Brannen out of ARCA for the remainder of the season. Since then, Brannen has knocked on a lot of doors in search of his next driving opportunity. Now, he’s found that close to home – with the rebirth of his family-owned race team, Walt Brannen Racing.
Now Brannen is gearing up for 2007 with a brand new Super Late Model that he hopes to debut this winter.
“We just picked up a new Frankie Grill [Grand American Race Cars] car and we’re getting it ready now,” said Brannen. “I’m excited about the new car – I wouldn’t run
anything but a GARC car. We’re planning on racing in the Georgia Asphalt Series next year and maybe some PASS South shows as well. I want to try to find a place to race just about every weekend.”
In his time out of the seat, Brannen has still stayed close to racing. He has worked with the NASCAR Nextel Cup/Busch Series teams of Haas CNC Racing.
“I’ve been helping out the Haas team,” said Brannen. “I’ve learned so much about the sport beyond just driving. There’s the business side and the marketing side, and getting to know those a little bit more will help my racing career. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be able to see how a top-notch team like Haas operates.”
Brannen has also been doing a little bit of racing thanks to the Haas team as well. He has been driving the Haas #6 car in Arena Racing League events at Charlotte’s Cricket Arena.
“I’ve been running a car in the Arena Racing League and that has gone pretty well. Those things are fun to race and they’ve kept me in a racecar. Things have gone pretty well too. I finished third in a few races. I’ve been keeping sharp and having a great time.”
ROAD RACER LALLY IMPRESSIVE IN ARCA TEST
“He’s going to be good.” Those words expressed from the voice of respected NASCAR and ARCA RE/MAX Series driver Andy Belmont as road racing ace Andy Lally completed a second stock car test this past Sunday (December 3) at Lowes Motor Speedway.
Last month, Lally, a native of Georgia took his shot behind the wheel of a 3400-pound stock car testing the waters should his career ever take a turn towards the largest spectator sport in the United States. His times were strong the first time out, but as the ole’ saying goes “second is the best.”
During the course of the eight-hour session, Lally performed brilliantly. His lap times continued to improve from start to finishing, wowing everyone around the 29-year old.
"This was one of the most exciting things I have ever done in my life. I knew I would love this and Sunday only
added to the drive for me to find a way to race here,” said the jubilant Lally.
Before taking to the intimidating 1.5-mile Lowes Motor Speedway, Lally attend Andy Hillenburg’s Fast Track Racing, completing with ease the “Classic Oval Course” setting him up for his second-go-around behind the wheel of Belmont’s familiar No. 1 Ford.
"I am very impressed,” stated Belmont, a long-time owner and driver in the ARCA RE/MAX Series. Andy was out there on 50 lap Michigan (Hoosier) tires making extremely fast laps. He hit the marks perfect just about every lap. The feed back was incredible and we were able to make the right changes to get him comfortable. This kid is the real deal. Someone, whomever that is, who gets to pick this kid up will no doubt be successful.”
Longtime Fast Track Racing (FTR) instructor Sheldon Holman kept a close eye on the rookie throughout the day. “I believe Mr. Lally is very talented,” he said. “He was incredibly smooth and he did everything that was asked of him. He was right on the money. I was impressed.”
For Lally, his overview of the team was professional.
"Andy Belmont's team was great in sorting the car out today, we made six or seven changes in the set up and we just kept getting faster,” he said. “Andy (Belmont) was great with the tips he would give me to help me get comfortable and it gave me the confidence to carry the car faster and faster into turns one and three.”
“The times we ran today exceeded what I thought we would do and the best thing is that there is much more left for sure.” We approached the test conservatively and set a goal of just getting through the day without putting a scratch on the car but we did much more than that,” explained Lally, the only three-time Rolex Grand Am Champion.
When asked about a possible tenure in the ARCA RE/MAX Series or stock cars, Lally was optimistic.
“Anything is possible but there is nothing on the horizon at the moment. I certainly would love an opportunity to do some stock car races in 2007, either on road courses or ovals or preferably both we’ll see,” Lally noted.
Andy Lally soared into his new venue with a successful and impressive resume to his credit. In addition to his Rolex Grand Am Championships, Lally has experience In the 24 Hours of Le Mans, SPEED World Challenge Series, Barber Dodge Pro Series and USF2000 Series. Lally ends his 2006 season on the heels of winning six Grand Am events this year."
The ARCA Trucks have added a race to their 2007 schedule.
Chuck Barnes has fans from his efforts in all kinds of short track racing. (51 Photo)