Rookie Steve Arpin, in a Venturini Motorsports Chevrolet, led the speed charts in ARCA RE/MAX Series open testing Wednesday at Rockingham Speedway.
The Fort Frances, Ontario driver circled the historic one-mile oval in 24.877 seconds, an average speed of 144.712 mph.
"The biggest thing we have been working on today is learning the place; learning tire management and getting me acquainted with what that's all about," said Arpin. "We got a really good car. The Venturini's have had a good car every time they have come here. We are just going to do it again."
To say the Venturini's have had good cars at Rockingham could be an understatement. In the last two ARCA races at Rockingham, the Venturini's have won both with Joey Logano in 2008 and earlier this year with Sean Caisse. Arpin's in the same no. 25 car that carried Logano and Caisse to victory lane.
"This place is awesome," added Arpin. "Of all the places we go this is my favorite. It's racy. It has three or four distinct grooves. It's going to be a lot of fun."
Arpin was one of 22 drivers that posted time and speed at Rockingham Wednesday in preparation for the October 11th ARCA RE/MAX American 200, all part of championship weekend for the 57-year-old tour.
Troutman, North Carolina driver Clay Rogers, also in a Chevrolet, was second fastest overall with a time of 25.014, an average speed of 143.919 mph.
With just two events remaining in 2009 (Kansas Speedway Oct 1 and Rockingham Speedway Oct 11), Justin Lofton and rookie Parker Kligerman are in a very tight title fight with Lofton leading by just 25 points.
Kligerman, the 19-year-old Penske Development Driver, was third fastest overall in a Cunningham Motorsports Dodge.
"The biggest thing at the Rock is making the tires last," said Kligerman. "This is a very abrasive surface. In the spring we did a hundred lap run, so we are working towards that. If we keep a consistent, balanced car then the speed will come. Today, we have changed springs, shocks, a lot of stuff to keep the car balanced. Right now we are taking this thing one race at a time. We go to Kansas next and if we get the job done, we will come here with the points lead."
Justin Marks, in a second Venturini Motorsports Chevy, was fourth fastest overall.
"We are just working on the long runs," said Marks. "The tires fall of so quick that the handling goes away so fast. We are trying to tune the car to run on old tires and try to make it work on long runs. In the spring race they ran green for a long time. Trying to get a good balance to where we can move up the track a little bit and get a good car when the tires fall off.
Marks considers Rockingham his favorite track.
"I love this place," added Marks. "It is my favorite track. You can move around and find a place where your car works and where it is fast. It's a big challenge. It's racing where you have to be smart to win, which is the kind of racing that I like."
Rookie Casey Roderick, in a Dodge, was fifth fastest overall ahead of ARCA point leader Lofton, who was sixth fastest.
"The car is really good," said Lofton. "This is the car that we should have brought to the first race. We are really excited about it and glad we got the day in, considering the rain. We have the same car we won Pocono and Chicagoland with, and we are hoping we are going to bring home a win from the Rock. (Crew Chief) Mark Rette and I are making really big changes and we have a different set up from previous races. Coming back to the Rock, a track that has so much history, makes me look forward to an exciting championship weekend."
Rookie Craig Goess, in a Toyota, was seventh fastest in front of Pensacola, Florida rookie Johanna Long, who was eighth fastest in a D'Hondt Motorsports Toyota. Long also made the most laps during the open test, circling the track 149 times.
"I'm excited to learn more about Rockingham's characteristics today with some experienced drivers," said Long, who made her ARCA RE/MAX Series debut at Iowa Speedway earlier this year. "Brian Ickler and I race Super Late Models together, so I am looking forward to having track time with him in ARCA RE/MAX. At 17, this is a great opportunity to get some track time and gain a lot of collective knowledge from the veteran team at D'Hondt motorsports and my peers."
Drew Herring and Kyle Martel were ninth and 10th fastest overall.
Championship weekend for the ARCA RE/MAX Series at Rockingham Speedway gets underway with practice on Saturday, October 10th from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell follows Saturday at 2:30 PM. The ARCA RE/MAX American 200 is scheduled to roll off at 1:00 PM Sunday afternoon, October 11th.
The ARCA RE/MAX American 200 will feature live timing and scoring and live streaming audio at ARCAracing.com. The race will also air same night on SPEED at 10:00 PM Eastern.
For more information about the ARCA RE/MAX 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.
2009 ARCA RE/MAX Series
Rockingham Speedway, Rockingham NC, 9-23-09
Results, Open Testing
NO DRIVER/HOMETOWN CAR TIME SPEED
1 25 Steve Arpin/Fort Frances ON Chevrolet 24.877 144.712
2 54 Clay Rogers/Troutman NC Chevrolet 25.014 143.919
3 77 Parker Kligerman/Westport CT Dodge 25.141 142.192
4 15 Justin Marks/Rocklin CA Chevrolet 25.312 142.225
5 51x Casey Roderick Dodge 25.486 141.254
6 6 Justin Lofton/Westmorland CA Toyota 25.526 141.033
7 81 Craig Goess/Woodbury NJ Toyota 25.711 140.018
8 19 Johanna Long/Pensacola FL Toyota 25.734 139.893
9 22 Drew Herring/Benson NC Chevrolet 25.810 139.481
10 43 Kyle Martel/Lebanon PA Chevrolet 25.847 139.281
11 20b Ricky Stenhouse Jr./Olive Branch MS Ford 25.859 139.217
12 17 Chris Buescher/Prosper TX Ford 25.863 139.195
13 36 Robb Brent/Shelby Township MI Dodge 25.891 139.044
14 77a Dakoda Armstrong/New Castle IN Dodge 25.927 138.851
15 38 Jonathon Gomez/Twin Falls ID Dodge 26.153 137.652
16 58 Chad Hackenbracht/Denver NC Chevrolet 26.161 137.609
17 11a Bryan Silas/Stuart FL Ford 26.167 137.578
18 51 Brian Ickler/San Diego CA Toyota 26.223 137.284
19 11b Bryan Silas/Stuart FL Ford 26.256 137.112
20 4 Dakoda Armstrong/New Castle IN Dodge 26.435 136.183
21 20a Tom Hessert/Cherry Hill NJ Ford 26.520 135.747
22 2 Tim George Jr./New York NY Toyota 26.679 134.938
23 70b Mike Holt Ford 26.860 134.028
24 70a Tony Palumbo/Frankfort IL Ford 27.301 131.863