ARCA Invades Palm Beach Int'l Raceway; Road Course Adds
New Twist to Title Chase; Several Drivers Comment.......
The ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards is a lot of things to a lot of people.
To some, it's not much more than a stepping stone to the next level, and the fame and fortune of NASCAR. To others, it represents the opportunity to see if they have what it takes to get to the next level. And to yet another group of racers, it's home. It's the place where they will race as a career.
It's also place where the next pitch may be a high-speed curve ball, like the next event on the schedule at Palm Beach Int'l Raceway (PBIR) in Jupiter, Florida where drivers will spend more time turning right rather than will left.
And for the 2010 title contenders, a quirky left- and right-turn road course on the heels of a superspeedway classic at Daytona is, to put it mildly, challenging.
ARCA is the self-proclaimed "most diverse stock car touring series in the world". The tour races on tracks ranging in size from the 2.66 mile superspeedway at Talladega, AL to the .438 mile bullring that is Berlin Raceway. In addition, a pair of mile dirt tracks at Springfield and DuQuoin, and road course racing for good measure.
For the first time in the 58-year history of series, ARCA will run at two road courses in 2010. The first left- and right-turn run is this Saturday at PBIR, with the second scheduled for August 15 at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
With the season opening at the 2.5 mile "restrictor plate" Daytona International Speedway immediately followed up by PBIR, many drivers feel that survival is the key to getting through February, and not digging too large of a hole in the chase for the 2010 championship. Here's what some of the drivers had to say about going to PBIR for the first time.......
FRANK KIMMEL: "I really enjoy road courses, they're always fun. I don't feel like I'm a very accomplished road racer because I don't get to do it enough. Sometimes, I have a hard time telling Bill (brother/crew chief) and the team the adjustments the car needs to be better, since I'm out on the track just trying to get comfortable. But, it's a good confidence booster knowing that we've had some good success with road racing. It's a race where you have to be smart, be there at the end of the day and take what your car has to give you. That's what we've done well over the years, and I'm glad we've got a couple of road races on the 2010 schedule. Overall, I'm really happy that we got to test, and I expect to go into Palm Beach and be competitive. We had a great test (at PBIR) on the Monday after Daytona and we believe that we can get a good finish that will position ourselves for a run at the championship."
PATRICK SHELTRA: "You can earn just as many points at Palm Beach as you do Daytona. On that level, each track is equally important. And if you put all your focus on Daytona because it's the biggest race of the year, that's fine, but if you're running for a championship, then you need to put just as much focus on Palm Beach. I'm not a road course specialist, but I want to be leading the points when we leave (Palm Beach). I don't want to be digging out of hole this early in the season. We've got to be prepared at Palm Beach. The test went well for us. The track is really fast with some extremely tight and slow corners, so it's going to be crucial for someone like me who doesn't have a lot of road course experience to stay focused and stay on track. If we can do that and I know we can - we should be in the hunt with a couple laps to go. There won't be a dull moment this weekend."
JOEY COULTER: "Going into the 2010 race season, I knew I needed to be prepared as possible and the road courses proved to be my biggest challenge. I went out to Bondurant in January, knowing they would help me learn the intricacies of the left and right handed turns. It proved very useful, as we tested very well here (PBIR) just a few weeks ago."
ROBB BRENT: "I'm excited. ARCA is really throwing a curve at us this year by going to a superspeedway like Daytona and then two weeks later a road course, but we're ready for it. I cut my teeth in road course racing, so I really feel like I have an opportunity to get ahead on the championship points. Palm Beach is a nice place. The track has some impressive speed with some super tight corners but that should make the race very exciting. We truly have a legitimate chance at winning Saturday's race. Road course racing is a lot of fun. It throws some different techniques at you from a team and driver standpoint. While you are focused on staying on the track - you're also looking at who you are racing with, pit strategy and even weather."
CRAIG GOESS: "It should be a cool experience. Being in a new element and taking to a new place, the race should be exciting. I'm interested to see how we all make the best of the situation when we are not used to the track. Like anybody, anytime you put yourself in a situation that you're not completely familiar with, it adds to the challenge. But I remember something Eddie (Sharp/car owner) told me last year; he said just 'go out and have some fun'. It sounds simple enough, but I find that if do that ...... just have fun ....... I tend to be a little more relaxed in the car, which makes me perform better, and guess what ...... have more fun as a result. "Seems like if you let yourself get too aggravated, you start missing your marks; then you have to compensate. Sounds simple, but it's true. If set myself up for having fun, that's usually what happens. I'm sure it'll take me longer to get up to speed than a lot of the guys, but I'm confident that with the right attitude I'll be able to pick it up."
BRYAN SILAS: "The best case scenario at Palm Beach would obviously be a win," added Silas. "But, I'm not an experienced road racer. I go into every race now thinking I can win, but realistically, if we could come out with the car in one piece and a top-10 finish, I'd be ecstatic. Unlike New Jersey (Motorsports Park road course), this track's hard on brakes. You're reaching speeds of 150 mph-plus and then down to 35, 40 mph for some of these corners. The person who still has his equipment under him at the end is going to win. If there's anything that I learned in the test, it's that this is a very challenging course. There's absolutely no runoff. If you spin off here, you're gunna hit something. Attrition is definitely going to play a role."
JUSTIN MARKS: "Palm Beach Int'l Raceway is a good example of what a lot of new tracks are going to these days," said Marks. "The track itself is very smooth and was paved with the right aggregate to create a surface that's very raceable and seems to take rubber down and grip up. There's a lot of grip. The layout is great because it has a few technical sections that can be approached differently depending on the type of car and how your car is handling. Also, and most importantly, it has a few good passing zones and a few places that you can really set someone up and make a pass. It's important to have technical corners that lead to passing zones and they've done a good job of that."
The Tire Kingdom 150 presented by ModSpace at Palm Beach Int'l Raceway is scheduled to roll off at 1:00 PM Saturday afternoon, February 27th. On-track activity begins on Friday, February 26th with practice from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM followed by Menards Pole Award Qualifying presented by Ansell at 4:00 PM.
Roderick Excited to Begin His Rookie Season in ARCA
Casey Roderick’s rookie season piloting the No. 51 Monolith Dodge begins this weekend with the running of the Tire Kingdom 150, a 150-mile, 75-lap race on the road course at Palm Beach International Raceway in Jupiter, Fla.
Roderick and his Dawsonville, Ga.-based team are kicking off what could be a pivotal year in the career of a young racer who hopes to one day compete at the top levels of NASCAR racing.
Under ARCA’s rules, Roderick, who is just 17 ½ years old, is only eligible to run on tracks up to one mile in length until Aug. 8, when he turns 18.
But age isn’t the only limiting factor for Roderick and his team this year, as his car owner and driving mentor Bill Elliott explained.
“We only have sponsorship assistance for about five ARCA events, so I looked over the 2010 schedule and decided on the five events that I thought best suited Casey’s talent while giving him the best exposure we could in hopes of bringing along a full- time sponsor in 2011,” Elliott said.
The No. 51 Dodge with sponsorship from Monolith Hospitality will be fielded in a joint effort by Phoenix Racing and Bill Elliott Racing. That pairing produced a strong second-place finish last fall at Rockingham Speedway, where Roderick charged from a last-place start to lead the race before finishing a close second.
His performance at the Rock made quite an impression on the NASCAR-season crew at Phoenix Racing.
“We have really been impressed with Casey,” said Steve Barkdoll, General Manager of Phoenix Racing. “He is just a good, hard working young man, and he won us over last year when we helped Bill get his car ready for the Rockingham race.
“This year we want to help make sure Casey has a car capable of running up front every week.”
Elliott said the team’s goals for the weekend are both optimistic and realistic.
Running “Door to Door”, FIREHOUSE Teams up with Universe Racing
Like baseball and hotdogs, rock-n-roll and auto racing go hand in hand. Keeping that tradition alive, Universe Racing, an ARCA Racing Series Presented by RE/MAX and Menards race team is pleased to announce its alliance and marketing partnership with the multi-platinum recording band, Firehouse for both ARCA events at Pocono International Raceway this season. In conjunction with Tyler Jett Motorsports Marketing, the partnership has been agreed upon, with the possibility of the team running more than just the events at Pocono this year.
Consisting of band members CJ Snare, Bill Leverty, Michael Foster and Allen McKenzie, Firehouse has been a force on the hard rock music scene for over two decades. Most fans remember their rockin’ hits like “Don’t Treat me Bad”, “Love of a Lifetime”, “Live my Life for You” and “When I Look Into Your Eyes”, among others. After all of these years together, the band continues to tour, make new music and entice new fans while maintaining the same fan base they’ve had for years.
Firehouse front man and Pennsylvania native, CJ Snare, has always been a fan of auto racing. “We are very proud to support Universe Racing. As a young man growing up in PA, we always heard about the Pocono Raceway and for Firehouse to play a small part in the races is an honor. We are all race fans but by far the biggest fan is our drummer, Michael Foster”, noted Snare.
Matter of fact, the band released “Door to Door” on their CD labeled “Prime Time”. The song is specifically written around racing. Along with many other Firehouse favorites, “Door to Door” is available for download at iTunes.
Owned by Bronx, New York businessman, Tony Aquilino, Universe Racing is entering its first season of competition with Hazleton’s Steve Fox at the controls. Fox has over 30 years under his belt in many forms of racing. He began racing motorcycles and snowmobiles and has since competed at many local short tracks in the Northeast. He also has a handful of ARCA Racing Series starts at Pocono International Raceway, where he is the General Manager for the Stock Car Racing Experience.
“This is great”, exclaimed Fox when asked about the newly formed alliance. He continued, “I’m thrilled to be working with Firehouse, one of my favorite bands. When Firehouse burst on the scene in the 90s they really went right to the top. They have proved that they have staying power with how popular they still are today. I’m really looking forward to having a lot of fun with this and I hope they are as well. Looks like this season we’ll have to ‘Reach for the Sky’ “.
Firehouse will be in the Pocono area the night prior to the Pennsylvania 125, which is slated for July 31. Along with Skid Row, Firehouse will be performing at Penn’s Peak, a popular club in nearby Jim Thorpe, PA.
With Firehouse Music on the hood of the Firehouse Music Dodge Charger for both Pocono races this season, and if agreed upon by the management at Penn’s Peak, Fox and others from the Universe Racing team may be on hand at the Jim Thorpe venue for concert-goers to check out the full bodied stock car and the great rock band that helps support their efforts in the ARCA Racing Series.
Both Fox and the entire Universe Racing team look forward to the summer events at Pocono and hope to obtain backing to run more races this season. Thanks to Firehouse, Universe Towing, Valve Tech Sales and G-Force Racing Products, they’re off to a great start.
Mattioli Win at Palm Beach Worth $100,000 for Clearbrook Treatment Centers
Chase Mattioli will be racing for the win this Saturday at Palm Beach International Raceway in the ARCA Tire Kingdom 150 in his Big Machine Records / Big Green Egg / APS Ford Taurus. A top 10 finish will result in a $10,000 donation to Clearbrook, while a win makes the donation $100,000. Mattioli, a 20 year old Fordham University sophomore wants to win but also wants to use himself and his race car to draw attention and raise money to help people overcome one the largest health care problem in America today, addiction. Since 1972, nationally renowned Clearbrook Treatment Centers have been helping adolescents and adults who suffer from alcoholism and/or chemical dependency, and now Chase wants to "Lend a Hand" and help Clearbrook in their efforts.
"Addiction and dependency on alcohol or drugs affects us all," Mattioli explained. "Everyone is touched by this disease and has family members, friends or acquaintances that are struggling with alcoholism and/or chemical dependency. No one, regardless of age, income, race or gender is immune. For years Clearbrook has been helping in a big way, and I hope our efforts on and off the track, and the attention of race fans, make a difference," Mattioli concluded.
"The Mattioli family has been big supporters of our efforts at Clearbrook and we appreciate and applaud Chase's help in spreading the word," commented Clearbrook CEO, Dr. Nick Colangelo.
If Mattioli finishes in 10th or higher, Clearbook will receive $10,000, with $100,000 coming their way if he wins. Both contributions are funded by insurance annuities, secured through one of the international leaders in creative insurance solutions, Massachusetts based HCC Specialty Underwriters, www.hccsu.com.
"Our Insurance products have backed prizes and charitable contributions that have ranged from $10,000 Hole in Ones to $10,000,000 Triple Crowns" says Jack Woodbury, HCC's Sr. Vice President.
20-year old Chase Mattioli, a member of the Mattioli / Pocono racing family, has been burning rubber since the age of seven. Beginning his racing career at the Lehigh Valley Quarter Midget Track, right outside of Pocono Raceway's turn three, Chase always dreamed of running with the “big show”.
Climbing his way through the Bertil Roos Racing School , the Fast Track Racing School , the NASCAR Weekly Series, the Sports Car Club of America, the KONI Grand AM Challenge Series and the ARCA Series; Chase finally made it to the “big show in 2009, and competing in his very first NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Loudon , New Hampshire .
In 2010, Chase will be a regular in the 2010 ARCA Series Presented by RE/MAX and Menards Series, and compete in select NASCAR Camping World East, Camping World Truck and Nationwide Series races events.
When not at the track, Chase can be found at Fordham University in the Bronx , where he is a sophomore majoring in business and marketing.
Spotlight On Patrick Sheltra At Palm Beach
Indiantown, Florida native Patrick Sheltra cannot hide from being in the spotlight when the ARCA Racing Series (ARS) presented by RE/MAX and Menards enters Palm Beach (Fla.) International Raceway this weekend but Sheltra is prepared to stay focused for Saturday’s Tire Kingdom 150 presented by ModSpace.
For just the third time in his ARCA career, the 23-year old will compete on a road course and while he doesn’t consider himself a road racing expert by any means, the ARCA pro is approaching Saturday’s race with optimism.
“I’m ready for Saturday,” said Sheltra, who’s in his fourth year of ARCA competition. “This is an important race for us and we prepared to raise the bar and conquer the challenges and leave Palm Beach with a strong finish.”
Sheltra knows that Palm Beach will be different than any other ARCA event he has ever competed in though. With the track located just 15 minutes up the road from the small city of Indiantown, the stands are expected to be packed with “Sheltra Nation” hoping to the see their hero in contention for his second career ARS victory.
“It’s really cool to have a race literally in our backyard,” Sheltra sounded. “The outpour of support from fans and the local media has been incredible. I’m extremely appreciative of everyone’s support but I have to remain the job at hand on Saturday. I don’t want to disappoint my guys or our marketing partners – we’re here to win and look at the bigger picture.”
Much like his inaugural debut at New Jersey Motorsports Park in 2008, “Mr. Showtime” had the opportunity to test at the 11-turn, 2.034-mile design and FIA Grade II certified road course two days after finishing fifth in the ARCA season opener at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway earlier this month.
The test was successful despite some motor issues late in the day but the Sheltra Motorsports team led by crew chief Jon Wolfe along with Sheltra are confident about the car’s modifications for this weekend.
“The guys have worked really hard on the car since the test,” added Sheltra. “They installed several new parts and painted the car in a slick black which is a little different than our normal bright green and camouflage so hopefully the change in the paint scheme can bring us some extra luck.
The track is incredibly fast with some seriously tight corners. It’s going to take a driver who is easy on their equipment and uses their head the best that will be victorious this weekend. Without a doubt, we plan to be that car.”
With Sheltra’s superior top-five effort at Daytona, Sheltra locks fifth in the ARCA Racing Series point standings but with his four competitors ahead of him not entered for the second race of the season Sheltra will inherit the number one spot and doesn’t plan to relinquish the position.
"It's probably a little early in the season to be talking points, but someone's gotta be the leader out of Palm Beach, and I'd like to be that guy," said the pilot of the No. 60 Sheltra & Son Construction, Inc. Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS. "We've just hovered in the top-10 points over the last few years; it's time to step up and win this championship. We've got the team; I've got the experience, and we all want it bad.”
All About Flowers, American Concrete, Buffalo Wings & Rings, CAM 2 Blue Blood Racing Oil, Ferguson Pipe Enterprises and Recycling Services join the team as associate marketing partners in Saturday’s contest.
Entering Palm Beach, Sheltra has 68 ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards starts to his credit with one career victory at Salem Speedway (April 2009). During his ARCA tenure, Sheltra has accumulated 11 top-fives and posted 23 top-10 finishes. A third place qualifying effort at Rockingham Speedway (April 2009) is Sheltra’s best time trials efforts to date. He has controlled the ARCA field five times for 109 laps.