ARCA Town: Getting Ready for Lakeland
Teams Have Been Testing for First Short Track Race of 2007
On the heels of a nearby superspeedway classic at Daytona, the ARCA RE/MAX Series, in its 55th consecutive season of competition, is headed back to the Sunshine State for a short-track thriller at USA Int'l Speedway in Lakeland, Florida Saturday night, March 24.
The first annual Construct Corps-Palm Beach Grading 250 marks the first appearance of the RE/MAX Series tour at the Lakeland oval. The event also marks the first time that a nationally touring stock car series that competes at Daytona will also race at Lakeland.
Ricky Carmichael recently tested at Lakeland. (Ginn Racing Photo)
Heavy Hitters Kimmel & Gerhart Entered
Expected entrants include eight-time ARCA RE/MAX Series national champion Frank Kimmel and five-time Daytona ARCA 200 winner Bobby Gerhart. Gerhart, of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, earned a record fifth Daytona triumph on February 10, 2007 with Kimmel trailing in fifth position. Kimmel, of Clarksville, Indiana, is currently second in the all-time series win column with 68 career victories.
Florida Flavor Solid
The event will also be chalk-full of Florida flavor with expected entries from Florida residents Bill Baird (Sarasota), Mario Gosselin (Lake Wales), Tim Russell (Longwood), Benny Chastain (Tallahassee), Bryan Silas (Stuart) and Michael Faulk (Ocala). Baird, who drives the Ken Schrader Racing Dodge, was the 1999 ARCA RE/MAX Series champion. Baird most recently finished 12th at Daytona while Gosselin, who led 21 laps at Daytona, finished 13th. Russell drives for Hagans Racing while Silas drives for 1995 series champion Andy Hillenburg. Both Gosselin and Faulk have previous experience at Lakeland in the USAR Pro Cup division.
Several Teams Test at Lakeland
In advance of the event interest is clearly high among the teams, several of which have already tested on the .75-mile paved oval including Russell, Silas, Ryan Howard in the Country Joe Racing Dodge, Josh Clemons in the Clemons Racing Ford and Justin Marks in the RAB Racing Dodge. Six-time AMA Motocross champion Ricky Carmichael also tested in a Ginn Racing entry.
Other drivers planning tests at Lakeland include Westby, Wisconsin's Dexter Bean and Vail, Colorado's Gabi DiCarlo scheduled to share the track February 26 and 27. Michelle Theriault is penciled in for February 28 with a busy day to follow on March 1 with three teams scheduled including Eddie Sharp Racing, which fields two fulltime ARCA RE/MAX Series teams, one of which is a Toyota driver development team. Other March 1 testers include Brian Keselowski, son of 1989 ARCA national champion Bob Keselowski, and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin driver Ryan Mathews who drives the Cunningham Motorsports Dodge Development Dodge. RAB Racing (Construct Corps Dodge) is also scheduled to re-test on March 3.
The Construct Corps-Palm Beach Grading 250 is the second of 23 events on the 2007 ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule, which includes an interesting mix of short-tracks, on both dirt and pavement, as well as 12 superspeedway events including Daytona, Talladega, Pocono, MIS, Kansas, Nashville, Kentucky, Gateway and Chicagoland to name a few.
The ARCA RE/MAX Series garage opens at 9 am Friday morning, March 23 followed by technical inspection and the first practice session from 4:30 to 6:00 pm. A second practice session on Saturday, March 24 rolls out at 1:00 pm followed by Pole Award Qualifying at 4:30 pm. The Construct Corps-Palm Beach Grading 250 is scheduled to go off under the lights Saturday night starting at 7:30.