FEESE GETS THE WIN TO WRAP UP ARCA SEASON by Don Radebaugh
Hendrick, Ganassi, Gibbs Future Stars Shine
In addition, a couple of multi-car wrecks took out several would-be challengers including Pork polesitter Frank Kimmel, who got caught up off turn two on lap 55 of the 113-lap race. The same accident eliminated Jason Jarrett, Germany’s Klaus Graf in the BAM Racing Dodge, Todd Bowsher and Dan Shaver. An earlier multi-car melee took Joe Cooksey, Ed Kennedy, Justin Ashburn, Bryan Gandy, Brandon Knupp and Keith Murt from the mix on lap 36.
At the onset, Kimmel led the first 28 laps with Feese directly behind before both pitted for routine service. That
Feese (#84) held off Reed Sorenson (#77) and Denny Hamlin (#10) when it came down to the end of the race.
Feese, in the Carquest Chevrolet, took the lead for good 22 laps from the finish, and then held off a very potent five-car pack to earn his second career ARCA RE/MAX Series victory in only his fourth attempt.
Sorenson, in the Target Dodge, finished a length away in second.
"The whole point for us coming here was to learn as much as we could for next year,” said Sorenson. “It was our first superspeedway race and I really didn't know anything about it. I think we accomplished all of our goals. It was pretty fun out there."
Joe Gibbs Racing development driver Denny Hamlin, in his career first series start, finished third hot on the heels of Sorenson.
"We just got real tight there at the end, said Hamlin. “I got up just enough to get Reed in there. When he got his nose in, it shot me up the track. It was an eventful day; I'm just happy to come home third."
Ryan Hemphill, another rookie driver on the Ganassi plan, finished fourth in the TRIMSPA Dodge in front of series regular Brent Sherman, who steered his own Serta Mattress-Hickory Farms Ford to the finish in fifth.
In all, 10 drivers shared the lead throughout the 300-miler during which eight cautions for 53 laps kept the field tightly bunched. The continual, yet typical, tight Talladega pack also lent itself to a couple of multi-car wrecks, which took out some noteworthy contenders long before the checkers would fall on the 42nd ARCA RE/MAX Series race at Talladega since 1969.
The most serious accident involved series regular Christi Passmore who made hard contact with both the outside and inside retaining walls on the frontstretch early on. Passmore was transported, conscious and alert, to the University of Alabama Medical Center where she was held over night for further evaluation.
It came down to a NASCAR showdown in ARCA town when Hendrick Motorsports development driver Blake Feese held off Ganassi Racing development driver Reed Sorenson to win the wild Food World 300 Saturday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway.
"It was pretty hairy out there,” said Feese. “Reed Sorenson was strong. He drove a smart race. He raced me clean and had a couple of smart runs on me. Jimmie Johnson really helped me learn the draft when I was here testing. The ARCA RE/MAX Series is a great series all around. They do a wonderful job. But, it's hard for a young guy to get an opportunity. It's tough. Everyone associated with Hendrick Motorsports gave me this opportunity. I am very appreciative to be a part of Hendrick Motorsports and wear this suit."
handed the lead to Bowsher who held for three laps. Sorenson soon showed his strength and led the next 25 circuits before rookie TJ Bell took his turn up front when Sorenson pitted. Bell led three laps before Stuart Kirby took control on lap 60. Kirby’s lead lasted six laps before Johnny Leonard made his way to the point. Leonard’s lead would last three laps before Chuck Weber passed the Cape Coral Florida rookie to lead the 69th circuit. But with Hendrick Motorsports driver Boston Reid on the charge, Weber’s lead was short-lived when Reid took control on lap 70.
By now, final pit stops were over and the strongest machines were left to sort things out up front. Reid held firm for 13 laps until Feese made his move for the front on lap 83. Then Hemphill, who had to start at the rear of the field after an engine change, shuffled his way to the front and replaced Feese as the leader on lap 91. However, Feese, unwilling to relent, charged right back and made the winning pass to lead the 92nd lap. Although there were several challenges, Feese would not forfeit the lead again.
Reid’s day ended after he and Billy Venturini, who got a bump from behind from Sorenson, came together racing for position on lap 96. While the incident concluded the day for Reid and Venturini, who came from a lap down the challenge for the win, Sorenson pressed on.
Bell, another driver who started from the tail-end because of an engine change, finished sixth ahead of Kirby in seventh. Rookie Ray Cook, driving for Bill Elliott, finished a solid eighth in his career-first series start. Holtville, Alabama rookie Jim Walker raced smart and finished ninth. Roger Williams finished a career-best 10th. Williams, who started 28th, also earned the Hoosier Tire Hard Charger award for advancing the most positions from a non-provisional starting position.
Blake Feese grabbed his second ARCA win of the year. (ARCA photos)