Rookie TJ Bell Runs Second Until Losing to the Gas Game
“We’ve had worse things happen to us,” said Schrader. "But that’s the way it goes some nights. The car was running great, for a while anyway. We’ll just break out the dirt car and go run Pevely (I-55 Raceway in Missouri) tomorrow night.”
Not even five-time RE/MAX Series champion and current point leader Frank Kimmel, who finished second in the Advance Auto Parts-Pork Ford nearly five seconds away, had anything for Hemphill.
“He’s (Hemphill) just that much faster than we are right now,” said Kimmel. “He’s doing a great job, there’s no doubt. We turned our motor harder than we should have trying to keep up. We’ll have to take it apart when we get home to see how bad
we hurt it.”
Schrader chased and then passed Ryan Hemphill and then his engine blew.
“It’s this racing team; they just don’t quit,” said an exhausted Hemphill from victory lane. “Their drive to win is just amazing. To take the car apart on Monday and have it ready for me the next week is just amazing. They make it possible for me to be successful.”
Hemphill won his fourth career Pork Pole award earlier in the day and led the most laps (53) on his way to his fifth series win in only his tenth series attempt.
NASCAR veteran Ken Schrader seemed every bit as fast in the early going, but engine failure took the Fenton, Missouri driver out of the mix just past the halfway point.
“Schrader was really tough tonight,” added Hemphill. “He had the better car early on.”
In all, Schrader, in his own Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet, led 46 laps with Hemphill in immediate tow before his mount gave up.
If there’s a way to beat ARCA RE/MAX Series rookie Ryan Hemphill on a superspeedway, very few teams have figured it out. With some heavy hitters in the show, Hemphill, in the TRIMSPA Dodge, ran up another perfect score card en route to victory lane Friday night at Gateway Int’l Raceway in the Shop ‘n Save 150.
Sparks, Nevada rookie TJ Bell, in Brad Kemp’s unsponsored Chevrolet, was steering toward his career-best finish in second when he ran out of gas with less than two laps remaining. That opened the door for Kimmel and rookie AJ Fike who turned in his career-best superspeedway finish in third in the Ray Farms Pontiac. Christi Passmore, in the GAP Roofing-Asphalt & Fuel Supply Ford, finished a career-best fourth in front of Jason Jarrett, who completed the top-five finishers in the Gladiator GarageWorks-Bennigan’s Chevrolet.
TJ Bell (#08) looked to be on his way to a 2nd until the gas game got him.
Hemphill led at the onset for five laps before Schrader took control on lap six. Schrader, with a mirror full of Hemphill, led up through lap 41 before first-round pit stops brought most of the front-runners onto pit road for routine service. That put series veteran Bobby Gerhart, who had pitted earlier out of sequence, into the lead for the next nine laps before Schrader regained control. But Schrader’s lead was short-lived when the mechanical gremlins came calling, which handed the lead back to Hemphill who, under caution, opted for one final stop on pit road. Brent Sherman then stepped up to lead through lap 73 before Bell took his turn up front for three rounds. Hemphill, on fresher tires, charged back into the lead on lap 77 of the 120-lap, 150-mile race and never looked back.
Billy Venturini, nursed his ill-handling Hawk Saw Blades-Tucson Chevrolet to the checkered flag in sixth ahead of Sherman, who soldiered home in seventh in the Serta Mattress-Hickory Farms Ford despite engine trouble late in the race. Bell finished eighth one lap down. Gerhart, who had been running in the top-five all the way in his Lucas Oil Pontiac, finished ninth after losing a lap due to a flat tire inside of ten laps remaining. Highland, Illinois native Scott Kuhn, in Kyle Petty’s Victory Junction Camp Pontiac, finished a career-best tenth.
Schrader picked up the Bennigan's Halfway Lap Leader award while Venturini, who started 17th, earned the Hoosier Tire Hard Charger honors for advancing the most positions. Passmore's Bob Schacht Motorsports team received the Gladiator GarageWorks Gladiators of the Race award. Bell got the Landrum Spring Hard Luck honors.
After ten consecutive events without pause, the ARCA RE/MAX Series gets a weekend off before heading back to Pocono Raceway for the Giant 200 on Saturday, July 31.