Hoosier Debuts ARCA Rain Tire With Resounding Success; Marks Wins Career-First
Justin Marks, driving for Win Tron Racing in the Construct Corps Dodge, turned "right" into the ARCA history books Saturday at Palm Beach Int'l Raceway with a convincing victory on the challenging, high-speed, 2.034-mile, 11-turn road course in Jupiter, Florida. While the victory was momentous for Marks - his career first - it was arguably even more momentous for the series itself.
The event marked the first time in the 58-year history of the ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards that it competed in the rain. The combination of a purpose-built Hoosier 'wet' tire and a commitment from the series to go ahead with its plan to race in the event of rain came into play when a steady rain began to fall just 20 laps into the event. Steve Arpin, the first to come down pit road for rain tires, triggered the historic moment when the majority of the teams followed Arpin's cue and steered for pit road for rain tires. From there, teams raced in the rain for the next 50 laps before monsoon-like rains engulfed the PBIR course during which series officials stopped the race on lap 70, just five laps shy of the intended mark. Further, just three cautions for nine laps - one of which occurred before the rain - slowed the event.
"Based upon the feedback we got from both the teams and Hoosier, we are pleased with the performance of the new rain tire," commented Joe Wells, ARCA VP of Competition. "This has truly been an historic day for our series."
Race winner Marks agreed.
"It was awesome - great rain tire," Marks explained. "Hoosier has always built a good rain tire. This tire was very consistent. It had great grip. What is great about it is that when you have Hoosier rain tires, you worry about driving the car, finding grip on the racetrack and having good rain racetrack, you never worry about the tire. You never have to worry about driving around on an ill-handling tire. It's just consistent and you know it's going to be there for you."
ARCA's Rich Road Course History
Although it was ARCA's first experience racing in the rain, it certainly was not the first road course appearance for ARCA. ARCA made its road course debut in 1958 at the now-defunct Meadowdale Raceway in Carpentersville, Illinois where Fred Lorenzen earned the victory. In addition to Lorenzen, ARCA's road course history holds an elite group of winners including Nelson Stacy (Meadowdale/1960), Curtis Turner (Virginia Int'l Raceway/1962), Elmer Musgrave (Meadowdale/1964), Jack Bowsher (Mid Ohio Sports Car Course/1965), Bob Schacht/St. Louis Int'l Raceway/1986), Ken Schrader (Heartland Park Topeka KS/1991), Darrell Waltrip (Heartland Park/1992), Scott Lagasse, Sr. (Des Moines Grand Prix/1994), John Finger (Watkins Glen Int'l/2001), Justin Allgaier (New Jersey Motorsports Park/2008), Patrick Long (New Jersey/2009) and Justin Marks (Palm Beach Int'l Raceway/2010).
Career-Best Run for Brent in Allgaier Motorsports Dodge
In addition to Marks earning his career-first win, Robb Brent finished a career-best second in the Allgaier Motorsports Orchard Chrysler Dodge Jeep Dodge. By doing so, Brent moved into a tie for second in championship points with Steve Arpin. Brent's previous career-best finish was fourth last year on the New Jersey Motorsports Park road course. From Palm Beach, Brent will travel back to his home in Shelby Township, Michigan in time to participate in the annual Toledo/Flat Rock Speedways Press Conference at Toledo Speedway Tuesday, March 2nd. Joining Brent for the press conference will be the 2008 ARCA champion and current Penske Racing NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Justin Allgaier.
Rookie Roderick Performs for Bill Elliott Racing
Seventeen-year-old rookie Casey Roderick, in a Bill Elliott-owned Dodge, also made history when the Lawrenceburg, Georgia driver swept the leader board Friday afternoon posting the fastest speed in practice and earning the Menards Pole presented by Ansell with a new one-lap track record of 93.325 mph. Roderick, who in only his second ARCA start and first ever on a road course, was also impressive in the race, leading 21 laps before the axle failed in his Monolith Hospitality Dodge. Both Roderick and Elliott, who spotted for Roderick, were guests on 'Inside ARCA' the series' pre-race show in live streaming video and audio at ARCAracing.com.
RCR's Blake Koch Earns Podium Finish in ARCA Debut
It was also a big day for West Palm Beach, Florida rookie Blake Koch who made his ARCA Racing Series debut in Eddie Sharp's 6 car, the same team that won the 2009 ARCA championship with Justin Lofton driving. Koch battled back from engine and driveline issues in practice to qualify third in the Tire Kingdom-sponsored Toyota. Koch also held his own in the race earning a solid third place finish in his debut. Koch, a development driver for Richard Childress Racing, plans to run the complete NASCAR K&N Pro West Series in addition to as many as five NASCAR Nationwide Series events. Koch has one Nationwide Series start at Memphis in 2009 where he finished 17th on the lead lap.
Salem Short Track Next
After back-to-back events in Florida (Daytona and Palm Beach) to start the 2010 season, the ARCA sanction will take a six-week hiatus before its next event on tour - the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 at Salem Speedway Sunday afternoon, April 11. The event marks the 87th appearance of the ARCA sanction at Salem since its inaugural race there in 1955. In fact, no track has appeared more on the ARCA schedule over the years than Salem. In addition to live timing and scoring at ARCAracing.com, the site will also feature live audio streams of the race.
March Means Test and Tune for ARCA; Texas-Talladega Two Step
However, before ARCA steers for Salem, it has two scheduled tests in March, the first of which comes next Tuesday, March 9 at Texas Motor Speedway in preparation for the series' return to Texas for the Rattlesnake 150 on April 16. In addition to Texas, the series has a two-day test scheduled at Talladega Superspeedway on March 23 and 24 in preparation for the ARCA Racing Series 250 on April 23. The race event at Talladega will be ARCA's 49th appearance on the renowned 2.66-mile superspeedway since its debut there in 1969.