ARCA Town: Wrapping Up Awards and Planning for the Future
Open Wheelers of All Types are Turning to ARCA
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (Tony Stewart Racing Photo)
STENHOUSE SIGNS WITH ROUSH FENWAY
Roush Fenway Racing announced today that they have signed Olive Branch, Miss. native Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. to a multi-year contract. Stenhouse will race full-time in the ARCA RE/MAX Series for Roush Fenway beginning in 2008. Stenhouse is currently racing in USAC's National Sprint Car and National Midget Car Series'.
"I've been waiting for this for a while," said Stenhouse. "I'm really excited about this opportunity. Since I was six years old and starting to race this is what I've wanted to do. To be racing for Jack Roush, John Henry and a team like Roush Fenway Racing, it's a dream come true."
Stenhouse has looked brilliant in both a Sprint and Midget car in 2007 racing for Tony Stewart Racing. In 22 Sprint car starts, Stenhouse has chalked up two wins, seven top-five and 14 top-10 finishes and currently sits fifth in the overall point standings. In the USAC National Midget Series, Stenhouse has looked just as strong claiming five wins in 23 starts along with 10 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes while occupying third in the overall point standings.
"We're very excited to have Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. as part of our Roush Fenway Racing stable of drivers and as part of the Ford family," said team owner Jack Roush. "Ricky has shown tremendous talent in the USAC series this year with six wins and we feel he'll do a great job for us in the ARCA series in 2008."
Stenhouse will fulfill his obligations in the USAC Series' through 2007 but will begin testing with Roush Fenway in the coming weeks.
"I never thought I'd sign with Roush Fenway, the largest team out there, especially coming from Mississippi. I'm looking forward to getting into a stock car and learning as much as I can from all my new teammates at Roush Fenway. I can't thank Jack and Ford enough for this opportunity, I'm anxious to get on track in 2008."
CROCKER WINS SUPERSPEEDWAY CHALLENGE
Erin Crocker clinched the Hoosier Tire Superspeedway Challenge Championship for her Gillett Evernham Motorsports team Friday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway, becoming the first female driver in the 55-year history of the ARCA RE/MAX Series to earn the prestigious award.
“It’s a really big deal for me,” said Crocker. “It’s a really prestigious award and it’s a huge honor to win it. When you look back at some of the drivers who have won ARCA’s superspeedway title, from Davey Allison to Frank Kimmel, it makes it even more special.
“I also think it could really help my career. It means something to be the ARCA RE/MAX Series Superspeedway champion. I’m truly honored to hold the title.”
Crocker made her ARCA RE/MAX Series debut at Nashville Superspeedway in 2005, earning the pole award in her No. 98 Dodge Charger and posting a 12th place finish. Since then, the Gillett Evernham Motorsports driver has become a seasoned veteran in ARCA competition, earning 12 top-5 and 16 top-10 finishes in 25 career starts. She finished second in an ARCA RE/MAX Series race at Kentucky Speedway in 2005 and 2007 and at Kansas Speedway in 2006, joining Shawna Robinson as the highest-finishing females in series’ history. She is a 2003 graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic
Institute in Troy, New York, with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Management Engineering.
Crocker joins prestigious company as a winner of the Hoosier Tire Superspeedway Challenge Title. Frank Kimmel is a five-time Superspeedway Challenge Champion (1998, ’01, ’03, ’05, ’06). Other winners include Davey Allison (’84, ’85), Lee Raymond (’86), Bill Venturini (’87, ’91), Tracy Leslie (’88), Ben Hess (’89), Bob Brevak (’90), Bob Keselowski (’92), Jeff Purvis (’93, ’94), Mike Wallace (’95), Tim Steele (’96), Mark Gibson (’97), Chad Blount (’02), Bobby Gerhart (’04), Blake Feese (’04) and Kyle Krisiloff (’04).
The Superspeedway Challenge is a $62,500 total point fund within the 23-race ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule and includes race events at Daytona, Nashville, Kentucky, Pocono, Michigan, Kansas, Gateway, Chicagoland and Talladega. The ARCA RE/MAX Series has recognized a superspeedway challenge champion each consecutive year since 1984.
Crocker and the Gillett Evernham Motorsports Team will formally accept the 2007 Hoosier Tire Superspeedway Challenge Championship at the ARCA RE/MAX Series National Championship Awards Banquet on Saturday, December 8th at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington, Kentucky. The event is open to the public and tickets are available by calling the ARCA Home Office at (734) 847-6726.
KING KIMMEL WINS THE TRIPLE CROWN
Defending ARCA RE/MAX Series Champion Frank Kimmel continues his quest for a record ninth national championship title, but on Friday at Talladega Superspeedway, it was all about the Bill France Triple Crown. Kimmel, driver of the No. 46 Pork-Fort Dodge Animal Health-Greenheck Ford, clinched the 2007 edition of the award this weekend, becoming the only driver in ARCA history to earn five Bill France Triple Crown Awards.
Crocker leads the pack earlier this year with her #98.
This weekend’s ARCA RE/MAX 250 marked the third and final leg of the series, which is designed to measure a driver’s performance on a diverse array of tracks, including a mile-dirt track (The DuQuoin State Fairgrounds, Sept. 3), a short track (Salem Speedway, Sept. 15) and a speedway (Talladega Superspeedway, Oct. 5).
Kimmel finished fifth at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds, second at Salem Speedway and second at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday evening. In 2007, Kimmel has posted three wins, one SIM Factory Pole Award, nine top-5 and 15 top-10 finishes. He has led 259 laps in eight races. He is on track to clinch a record shattering ninth National Championship Points Title at ARCA Championship Weekend at Toledo Speedway October 12-14.
Other Bill France Triple Crown award winners include Blake Bjorklund, Brent Sherman, Jason Jarrett, Tim Steele, Bill Baird, Harris DeVane, Bob Hill, Bob Keselowski, Bobby Bowsher, Bill Venturini, Tracy Leslie, Grant Adcox, Lee Raymond and Davey Allison.
The Bill France Triple Crown award winner has been honored at the ARCA RE/MAX Series National Championship Awards Banquet each consecutive year since 1984.
OPEN WHEEL FLAVOR AT TALLADEGA
Former Formula One driver Scott Speed and reigning IndyCar Champion Dario Franchitti made their stock car debuts in the ARCA RE/MAX 250 at Talladega Superspeedway. Both drivers finished on the lead lap, with Speed posting a seventh-place finish and Franchitti finishing 17th.
“I had a blast out there,” Speed said after the race. “This type of racing just couldn’t be more different than Formula 1. In Formula 1, it’s all about instant reactions. With stock cars, it’s more of a chess game of figuring out what to do and where to go with your car. My strong suit was at the very beginning and the very end of the race, when everyone went everywhere. I definitely was able to pick off guys. But when everyone was in a train, I definitely didn't have a good feel of what was better, the outside or the inside drafting lines.”
At Talladega, Speed announced plans to compete in the full ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule in 2008 driving for Team Red Bull in cars prepared by Eddie Sharp Racing.
BARNES COMES BACK TO ARCA FOR TOLEDO RACE
TC Motorsports owners Tammy and C.E. Clower have announced that Louisville, Kentucky native Chuck Barnes Jr. will compete in their ARCA RE/MAX Series racecar in the Hantz Group 200 Presented By Belle Tire at Toledo Speedway this Sunday afternoon October 14th.
Barnes Jr., who has been working at Petty Enterprises since the end of July, will be making his second ARCA RE/MAX Series start this season, he competed in the Eddie Gilstrap Motors Fall ARCA Classic 200 at Salem Speedway on September 15th were he finished eighth.
Barnes Jr. is the defending race winner of the Hantz Group 200 Presented By Belle Tire last season at Toledo Speedway, in his first ever start with the ARCA RE/MAX Series, beating now nine-time series Champion Frank Kimmel.
"I'm looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the TC Motorsports car at Toledo this weekend," remarked Barnes Jr. "I have to thank Tammy and C.E. Clower for giving me this great opportunity again, I'm really looking forward to racing with the ARCA RE/MAX Series at Toledo Speedway Sunday, last season's event was really awesome, I never expected to get the win in my first ever start with ARCA, but it was great, especially with me having to hold off Frank, he's been a great friend through the years and I've always looked up to him as a great racer!"
Barnes Jr. was the 2006 Salem Speedway Late Model Champion, the 2004 CRA Super Series Champion and won the prestigious All American 400 late model event at the Music City Motorplex in Nashville in 2004. He has been a full-time employee for Petty Enterprises since July were he works on final set up for both teams NASCAR Nextel Cup cars before each event. Barnes Jr. finished fourth in The 100 CRA Super Series event in the Circle Track Nationals at O'Reilly Raceway Park on September 22.
"I haven't gotten to race much this season, I did race a couple of late model races early in the year at Salem. I got to race the Hendricks County Motorsports late model at ORP with CRA in September, which was a good run for us as a teammate to winner Chris Gabehart. We raced the ARCA race at Salem Speedway in September, the car was a little off, we finished in the top ten, but I felt we should have done a lot better. Hopefully we can turn things around at Toledo this Sunday!"
PODIUM FOR CASOLA, CAREER BEST RUN FOR JOHNS
Andy Belmont Racing’s Dominick Casola, a 2007 rookie on the ARCA RE/MAX Series tour, posted a career best third-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday evening. Casola was the highest finishing rookie in the No. 1 A. Casola Farms Ford and also earned Hoosier Tire Hard Charger honors for advancing from his 21st starting position to third.
Dario Franchitti found Talladega to be an eye-opening experience. (Talladega Superspeedway Photo)
“I knew I had to keep my position and maintain where I was (on the final laps),” said Casola. “I wasn’t giving up the bottom for anything, because if I went to the outside, I’d get freight-trained. So I was just trying to hold the line and follow them to the checkered and see what happens.”
Casola was followed across the finish line by Richard Johns in the No. 39 BeavEx Ford, who also posted a career best finish. Johns’ fourth place showing at Talladega bested his previous career best of seventh at Kansas Speedway in 2006.
“For a first time at Talladega and a first time in a restrictor plate race, that was pretty wild just like you see on TV,” said Johns. “I’ve got a lot of respect for these guys that race like Frank Kimmel. It was a great race. We were beating and banging there those last 20 laps. That’s what we had to do. It was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to come back here. I learned a ton. You can sit and play video games but there’s nothing like real track time.”
Race winner Michael Annett (#28) and champion Frank Kimmel (#46) lead Casola's #1 and Johns' #39. (Talladega Superspeedway Photo)