ARCA RE/MAX Series is Closing In On Rockingham Race
All roads in the ARCA/REMAX 2009 season have been leading to a venerable old track nestled in the Sandhills of North Carolina.
And that road is getting pretty short, as the series pulls into the Rockingham Speedway to crown a champion at the American 200 on October 11, 2009.
“This place knows a thing or two about crowning champions,” said Rockingham Speedway President and 1995 ARCA/REMAX Series Champion Andy Hillenburg. “This year’s championship battle is shaping up to be a shootout and it looks like anyone looking to hoist the trophy is going to have to tame Rockingham to do it.”
Currently, points leader Justin Lofton holds a 55-point lead over second-place Parker Kligerman, with nine-time ARCA champion Frank Kimmel, Joey Coulter, Craig Goess, Brian Silas and Patrick Sheltra all within striking distance with five races before the finale.
Lofton is glad to be returning to Rockingham, hopefully looking to protect a points lead.
“When I first heard we were going to Rockingham last year I was more than excited,” said Lofton. “Pulling into Rockingham Speedway was like taking a step back into the past. I just took one look at the track and I knew it was my type of track. It (the run at Rockingham) was what I needed to convince (car owner) Eddie (Sharp) and my Dad that I should run the rest of the ‘08 season.”
For Goess and his race team, finishing the 2009 season at Rockingham is important for several reasons.
“It’s definitely nice because Rockingham is the only race that we go to that is in the same state that I live in so all of the guys at Greenville Toyota and a lot of my friends and family can come out and support me for that race,” said Goess. “I really enjoy getting around Rockingham...I think we finished sixth there in the spring so we will be much better when we go back. It’s a privilege to be able to race there as a driver with all of the other names that have raced at that track and it’s a privilege for the Series too.”
The ARCA RE/MAX Series has raced at Rockingham on three previous occasions, with Charlie Glotzbach winning the inaugural event in 1973, current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie Joey Logano winning in his career first ARCA RE/MAX Series start in May 2008 and Sean Caisse winning in April 2009.
For more information about the ARCA/REMAX American 200 or the accompanying USARacing Aaron’s 150 October 9-11 or to order tickets, please contact the Rockingham Speedway at (910) 205-8800 or visit our website at www.rockinghamspeedway.com. Tickets begin at $20 for single-day reserved seating with $5 back-to-school special pricing for students. Weekend and pit passes are also available.
59-Year-Old Veteran Bob Schacht Back in the Saddle; Enters ARCA NJMP Road Course
Bob Schacht's ARCA RE/MAX Series driving career spans over four decades. It's also impressive. The 59-year-old driver, in 181 career start, has 19 series wins among 55 top-five finishes and 92 top-10s. In addition to 16 career poles and 1,887 laps-led in 56 races, the veteran driver has fielded top-notch equipment for a variety of drivers over the years.
However, in an effort to field cars for others, the Chicago-born and raised racer hasn't driven much over the last decade. In fact, in the last nine years, Schacht has just one ARCA RE/MAX Series start. Make it two counting the upcoming September 13th South Jersey Building Trades 150 at the 2.2-mile New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) road course.
So why now after nearly 10 years away from the saddle?
"It's fun," said Schacht from his Mooresville, North Carolina race shop. "I can go there and have fun. There's no ulterior motive. I'm in my own deal, so I don't have to listen to anyone."
When asked if this would be a sign of things to come, Schacht replied, "Well, never say never. But I'm 59. Where am I going? There's nothing I'm trying to prove. I just want to have some fun and get my fix in. Funny thing is, I'm probably more competitive now than I've ever been, which is really scary. Meaner the older I get too.
"But I'm going to New Jersey; I don't care what anyone says. I'm going. Who knows, it could be my last hurrah."
Schacht, after an eight-year hiatus, returned to the series to race at NJMP last year where he started 19th and finished 9th.
"I'm sure we could have finished even higher before the rain came. We're coming back with a better car. I've got another car entered too - same car that Frank (Kimmel) drove there last year, so if anyone needs a good, quality piece, we've got one."
Schacht has been fielding 'good, quality' pieces for a variety of drivers over the years including himself. Schacht's first ARCA RE/MAX Series victory reaches back to 1980 at Illiana Speedway in Schererville, Indiana. The last time he went to victory lane was 18 years later at Memphis Motorsports Park in 1998. In between are victory lane credentials worth crowing about in a wide variety of track shapes and sizes including six wins at Pocono Raceway, three at the Nashville Fairgrounds, two at ORP and one each on the DuQuoin mile-dirt, Pensacola FL, Sandusky OH, Springfield MO, Salem (500-lapper) and on a road course outside of St. Louis. That puts Schacht in a very small category of drivers who have earned wins on short tracks, dirt tracks, superspeedways and road courses.
Schacht, who always fielded his own equipment as well as quality cars for dozens of drivers over the years, has his own opinions regarding the development drivers coming through the ranks these days, including current ARCA RE/MAX Series championship contender Parker Kligerman.
"Parker's the real deal. The kid is really, really good. He reminds me a lot of Stuart Kirby. (Schacht introduced Kirby to stock car racing via ARCA). I mean, the first time Stuart saw Pocono he broke my track record by over a second. Then we took Stuart to the World 600 for the first time (Cup race at Lowe's) and he qualifies 20th. Incredible. But, where is he now?
"Parker's got the talent, but he's also got to make all the right moves. It's just like anything else; the well could dry up tomorrow."
Schacht is explicit in regards to what he means by making 'all the right moves'.
"They move up too soon; then they get consumed by everything you have to deal with at that level. Then people say he was just a flash in the pan.
"In reality, a lot of these young kids today are not always there on talent. Without the money, where would they be? The way everything is today - last 10 years anyway - you need more than talent to bring to the party. You need money; and when you run out, you're gone.
"I'm on my own dime at New Jersey, so I'm gunna go have some fun; that's all there is to it."
Practice for the ARCA RE/MAX Series at NJMP is scheduled for Saturday, September 12th from 12:20 - 1:20 PM and from 1:50 - 2:50 PM followed by Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell at 4:30. The 150-mile race is slated to go off at 1:00 PM Sunday afternoon, September 13th. The event will feature live streaming video and audio of all the on-track activities at ARCAracing.com through the ARCA Racing Network.
NOTE: This year's ARCA RE/MAX Series event at New Jersey Motorsports Park marks the 12th time the series has raced on a road course since its inception in 1953.
Southern Boys Are Strong at Chicagoland
A pair of drivers with connections to the state of Alabama posted podium finishes in the ARCA RE/MAX Series on Friday at Chicagoland Speedway, with Fairhope, Alabama's Grant Enfinger finishing second in his own No. 83 BeasleyAllen.com-Roush Performance Parts Ford and Galliano, Louisiana's Hal Martin, a weekly Late Model racer at Alabama's Mobile Int'l Speedway, finishing third in the No. 4 Cunningham Motorsports Dodge.
It was Enfinger's second time finishing second in the ARCA RE/MAX Series this year. He also finished second at Kentucky Speedway in July after battling side-by-side for the lead with Parker Kligerman for 30 laps. Enfinger was the CGS Imaging Hard Charger of the Race at Chicagoland, advancing from his 16th place starting position to second during the 150-mile/100 lap race.
Sponsor for New Jersey Race Announced
New Jersey Motorsports Park officials have announced that the September 13 ARCA RE/MAX Series race will be sponsored by 22 building and construction trade associations and be titled the South Jersey Building Trades 150. The race marks the ARCA RE/MAX Series' second appearance to the 2.6-mile road course.
DuQuoin’s Magic Mile Dirt Calls Out for ARCA Rookie Coulter
ARCA RE/MAX Series rookie Joey Coulter has only raced on dirt once. Nonetheless, the 19-year-old Miami Springs, Florida driver feels he's way better off headed to the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds than he was last month in his first dirt track attempt on the Springfield mile-dirt.
"I definitely know more this time around," said Coulter. "I also know I definitely don't know enough yet.
"I got to talk to Frank (Kimmel) at Chicagoland. He said DuQuoin's more of a rectangle than Springfield. He also said that DuQuoin doesn't rubber-up as much and you could slide the car more - keep it pitched out more because of the different shape. He said the dirt was different at DuQuoin compared to Springfield. Anyway, I got the feeling that whatever we learned at Springfield doesn't necessarily apply for DuQuoin."
Despite the differences between the two, there's no getting around the fact that both tracks are flat miles filled with clay - a little redder the dirt is the farther south you get. And despite Springfield being Coulter's first dirt track attempt, things were going very well until......
"Things were going really well until we got turned. I don't think it was intentional, but it hurt the car. We were actually real happy with the car toward the end of the race. We spent the first half saving tires. There at the end, bout 40 to go, we lit the candles and raced up to fifth or sixth. Then we got turned.
"My guys have done an awesome job getting the car turned around. We straightened it out. Looking at the bright side, it hit mostly on the right front wheel. It broke the wheel and A-frames before it got to the clip, so fortunately, the wheel and suspension pieces absorbed the brunt of it."
Through it all, Coulter had more questions than answers when he left Springfield, but took away some valuable information nonetheless - just in time for the upcoming September 7th Labor Day Monday classic - the 57th annual Southern Illinois 100 at the "Magic Mile" in DuQuoin, Illinois.
"Springfield was a huge learning experience - completely different than anything I've ever tried. Once I got myself adapted, the track would change. I learned that you can't set up once and be good all day. The track is constantly changing, so it definitely makes for some handling issues. And then you ask yourself, 'is it the car or the track?'"
Coulter, after consulting with several drivers about running on dirt, and after racing at Springfield, began to put the pieces together.
"I could see what the guys were talking about - how the track rubbered-up similar to pavement. But the way the track changed throughout the day was nothing like I've ever experienced. I mean, Springfield was my first time on dirt, period.
"So if the track changes, then you've got to understand what it's going to do to the car. It's like one big never-ending equation going on in your head. How much do you change the car to adapt to the changing track conditions or do you wait for the track to come to you?"
Following Coulter's disappointing finish at Springfield, he rebounded with a solid sixth place finish at Chicagoland last Friday. Coulter's also fourth in championship points, within reach of veteran Frank Kimmel, who's third.
Currently, there are 36 entries for the Southern Illinois 100 including one from NASCAR veteran and two-time DuQuoin winner Ken Schrader.
Westmorland, California's Justin Lofton and rookie/Penske Development driver Parker Kligerman lead an ultra tight championship points battle headed to DuQuoin.
Eddie Pearson, son of NASCAR champion David Pearson, has also filed an entry, as has USAC national champion Brian Tyler.
Former Southern Illinois 100 winners at DuQuoin include AJ Foyt, Jimmy Bryan, Fred Lorenzen, Don White, Rusty Wallace, Dean Roper, Jack Bowsher, Bob Keselowski, Bob Strait, Kimmel, Billy Thomas, Tony Stewart and Schrader to name a few.
ARCA RE/MAX Series practice for the 57th Southern Illinois 100 is scheduled from 9:00-10:00 am local Central time Monday, September 7th, followed by Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell at 11:00. The start of the Southern Illinois 100 is set for 1:00 pm.