ARCA Town: Getting Ready for Nashville..and Beyond
Lineup Changes, Schrader on the Dirt Again and More
Bobby Gerhart will be out of the #5 car at Nashville, but he'll have a capable sub in Brian Keselowski.
GEHART OUT OF HOSPITAL, TABS KESELOWSKI FOR NASHVILLE
Bobby Gerhart, injured during last Saturday's ARCA RE/MAX Series Pennsylvania 200 at Pocono Raceway, was released Wednesday afternoon from Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Gerhart, diagnosed with a left brachial plexus injury and a T6 compression fracture, has been fitted in a neck brace for comfort. The veteran driver has also been fitted with a back brace to be worn at all times in the upright position, and will undergo physical therapy under a physician's care in his hometown of Lebanon, Pennsylvania.
"Overall, I'm just so disappointed," said Gerhart on Wednesday. "As a team, we think it's plain to see that we've got this program completely turned around. We've been competitive everywhere. But our championship hopes are gone for 2007, and that's just disappointing; I don't know how else to say it.
"I just want to thank Lucas Oil, Eagle Warranty and all our sponsors for being so supportive through all of this."
Unable to drive the No. 5 Lucas Oil Chevrolet in this Saturday's Toyota 150 ARCA RE/MAX Series race at Nashville Superspeedway, Bobby Gerhart Racing has announced that veteran driver Brian Keselowski will sub for Gerhart at Nashville.
"It was a unanimous choice at BGR. I'm sure he'll (Keselowski) do a great job. The car he'll be in will be high quality in all regards, so he'll have the opportunity to win the race."
In six ARCA RE/MAX Series starts this year, Keselowski, driving the family-owned No. 29, has been extremely impressive with two victories already at Salem Speedway and Berlin Raceway. In fact, the Rochester Hills, Michigan third-generation
driver hasn't finished out of the top-10 yet this year. Keselowski's first series victory came at Berlin in 2006, giving him three victories in 28 career ARCA RE/MAX Series starts.
Brother, car owner and crew chief Bill Gerhart certainly shares in his brother Bobby's enthusiasm regarding the decision to put Keselowski in the seat.
"We feel we've made a great choice in selecting Brian Keselowski for Nashville," said Bill Gerhart. "Honestly, our phone's been ringing off the hook, but Brian's going to be our driver. We feel like by choosing Brian we also keep things within the ARCA family. When we first broke into this series in the 80s, Brian's father Bob Keselowski was the man here. I mean, we really looked up to him, and we certainly still do. We have an enormous amount of respect for the entire Keselowski family. The Keselowski's have also been very supportive of our team over the years and have been instrumental in helping us with some of our short-track set-ups."
Bill Gerhart also shares in his brother's disappointment.
"To say that we are disappointed is an understatement," added Bill Gerhart. "We started with a two-year plan in 2005 to run for the championship in 2007. We've had, and continue to have, great support from our marketing partners and we've worked so hard to make this championship run a reality. We just want to thank our sponsors who have been very supportive of our entire situation."
Gerhart, a five-time Daytona ARCA 200 winner, has been flooded with phone calls and well wishes since the accident.
"I just want to personally thank everyone who's tried to call or reach out to me; it really does mean a lot. I also want everyone to know that I'll be back (in the driver's seat); I don't know when, but I'll be back."
SCHRADER TO HIT THE DIRT
With several veteran ARCA RE/MAX Series dirt-track warriors already in the line-up for the 45th annual Allen Crowe 100 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, it will be, without question, extremely tough to win on the historic mile dirt track.
It just got that much tougher with the addition of Ken Schrader, who is entered in the No. 66 Hendren Motorsports Ford for the Sunday afternoon, August 19th event.
"Schrader called asking about the ride last week sometime," said car owner Bill Hendren. "After a little back and forth, we finally worked out a deal for Kenny to run our car. It's the same car that Bob Strait nearly won in last year, so it's a very good piece.
"We want to win; it's the only reason we show up. With Schrader in the car, we have a legitimate opportunity to win. It's a good, fast car with a fresh Joe Rhyne motor. We're very pleased that Kenny will be driving the car."
Bob Strait was originally scheduled to drive the car; however, the Mokena, Illinois veteran driver was involved in a motorcycle accident back on June 1st and broke his right hand and injured his left hand and knee. The 16-time ARCA RE/MAX Series winner is doing well and continues to mend.
"I'm excited for both Bill and Kenny," said Strait. "They've got a real good chance of winning
the race. That's a great car, and when you put the two together, maybe he (Schrader) can get done last year what I wasn't able to."
Strait led 42 laps in last year's race and was leading on the final lap before Justin Allgaier passed the veteran driver heading into turn three to lead the final charge to the checkered flag.
Schrader, in 44 career ARCA RE/MAX Series starts, has 14 career wins including a victory at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in 1998, which was the last time the Fenton, Missouri driver competed at Springfield in an ARCA RE/MAX Series car. He also finished second at Springfield in 1997 driving for Jim Coyle.
Other ARCA RE/MAX Series victories for Schrader on the dirt include wins at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds in 2006, the Indiana State Fairgrounds in 1994 and the Hagerstown Speedway half-mile dirt in 1990.
Schrader is also entered for the upcoming September 3rd, Labor Day Southern Illinois 100 at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds.
SCHACT TEAM AND RENSHAW REUNITE FOR NASHVILLE
Since the ARCA RE/MAX Series event at Daytona International Speedway in February, Bob Schacht and his team have not seen an oval track until they tested a couple of weeks ago at Nashville Superspeedway.
Ken Schrader will be buckling in behind the wheel of an ARCA car when the series goes dirt racing.
The Bob Schacht Motorsports team has been busy over the past six months building cars for the new Dubai, U.A.E. based Speedcar Series. Although the team has tested at a couple of different road courses, even overseas at the Dubai Autodrome with the drivers of the Speedcar Series, they have not done any competitive racing in the ARCA RE/MAX Series.
That's all about to change this weekend as veteran crew chief/owner/driver Schacht and the team are heading to the Nashville Superspeedway for the Toyota ARCA 150 on Saturday.
Schacht will also be reuniting with Bowling Green, Kentucky native Deborah Renshaw, who is slated to drive Schacht’s no. 75 car for the event. Renshaw, who last drove with BSM back in 2003, has since competed in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 2004 and 2005 and is currently competing in the Late Model division at the Music City Motorplex in Nashville.
Nashville Superspeedway is also the place where Renshaw earned her career-best RE/MAX Series finish, a seventh place showing in 2002.
In all, Renshaw has nine career series starts. Her best finishes, outside of Nashville, were an eighth at Kentucky Speedway in 2002, a ninth at Chicagoland Speedway in 2002 and a pair of 11th place finishes at Talladega Superspeedway & Pocono Raceway in 2002. She qualified a career-best third at Salem Speedway in 2003. Her best superspeedway qualifying run was sixth at Chicagoland in 2002.
Deborah Renshaw (DeborahRenshaw.com Photo)
Renshaw’s entry at Nashville will confirm three female drivers entered for the Toyota ARCA 150. Phoenix, Arizona’s Gabi DiCarlo and Wilbraham, Massachusetts’ Erin Crocker are also entered. Both DiCarlo and Crocker are coming off solid runs at Pocono where DiCarlo finished 18th and Crocker finished fourth.
DiCarlo is currently 15th in overall national championship point standings while Crocker leads in the Superspeedway Challenge championship title. No female driver has ever won the ARCA’s Superspeedway championship. And, Crocker has earned impressive credentials at Nashville where she won the SIM Factory Pole Award in her career-first series start in 2005. Crocker’s best Nashville finish was third in 2005. Crocker is also the only female driver in series history who has five pole awards. She is also the only female driver in series history who has three runner-up finishes.
FEESE RETURNS TO NASHVILLE
Blake Feese is back. After notching another top-10 performance in his second outing of the season last month at Kentucky Speedway, the two-time ARCA RE/MAX Series winner returns to the site of his first career victory looking to give himself a boost while delivering his Sadler Racing team with a Gibson guitar in their backyard.
After strong runs at Kansas and Kentucky, Feese returns to Nashville Superspeedway, looking to return to victory circle for the first time since 2004. Oddly enough since scoring that victory, Feese hasn’t returned to the 1.333-mile facility, but no doubt he’s excited about the return.
“I’m really thrilled to be going back to Nashville this weekend,” said Feese, who looks to make his eighth career ARCA start Saturday. “I haven’t been to the track since the win, so I’m definitely looking forward to going back. On the strength of two great runs with the Sadler Racing team, we are looking forward to having another strong run on Saturday afternoon.”
In their last venue at Kentucky Speedway, Feese and the team finished sixth after starting 39th. The team qualified 23rd but had to relinquish that position after changing motors following qualifying. With only 60 laps of green flag racing, the showing by Feese and Co. proved they can conquer almost any problem that tries to stand in their way.
Continuing their association with the Scottish Rite and the Fuel Performance Catalyst (FPC), Feese and Sadler Racing are looking forward to giving them their third straight top-10 run.
“It’s an honor for me to continue to promote the Scottish Rite and FPC. We had a great run in our last outing at Kentucky and it offered a lot of television coverage. We are looking to do the same on Saturday.”
Sadler Racing participated in the open test at the Lebanon, Tennessee track last month. Feese,
the Saybrook, Illinois native produced the 10th fastest lap with a time of 31.190 seconds at 153.511 MPH.
The team opted to bow out of qualifying runs and focus on race runs. Sadler Racing wore out two sets of Hoosier tires trying to find the perfect setup with the hopes to award the organization with a Gibson guitar trophy on Saturday.
“The test went really well,” offered Feese, a former competitor in the World of Outlaws. “We spent the whole day focusing on race runs. We’re bringing the same Dodge Charger we competed with at Kansas and Kentucky, so we know it’s a good piece. I would really be disappointed if we didn’t deliver another good run.”
Blake Feese (Blake Feese.com Photo)