New Jersey Motorsports Park
Sunday, July 1, 2012
Sunday Heat a Major Factor for Ranger and Others; News & Notes from New Jersey Motorsports Park
TOLEDO, Ohio -- Andrew Ranger took a moment before standing on his window ledge with the Sunoco Racing checkered flag to celebrate his second consecutive ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards win at New Jersey Motorsports Park's Thunderbolt Raceway.
The slight hesitation was part reflection, as Ranger had just become the first two-time road winner in 16 road course races in series history. The pause also gave Ranger a chance to cool down and recover, as high temperatures and demanding conditions throughout the two-hour, 33-second race left many drivers as exhausted as they have ever been after a race.
The 25-year-old Ranger (No. 53 RRT Design & Construction Dodge), making his fourth ARCA start, mustered enough strength to pass Chase Elliott (No. 9 Aaron's Dream Machine/HendrickCars.com Chevrolet) on the first turn of the final lap. He denied a win for Elliott, who made just his third series start.
"I was trying to drink water a lot," said Ranger, of Roxton Pond, Quebec. "At the end, (Elliott) was really fast. I just tried to put a lot of pressure on him, and I knew I was a little quicker than him so I waited until the last lap and that's what happened.
"I was trying to manage my car, save my car for the end, but the 9 car was really, really fast."
Ranger has now made four ARCA starts. In addition to two New Jersey wins, he finished fifth at both Chicagoland Speedway and the DuQuoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds dirt mile last season.
Asked to compare his two wins and late passes at New Jersey to determine which was more difficult, Ranger gave equal credit to Elliott and last May's runner-up, George Miedecke.
"Both of them were not easy to do," he said. "It's a tough car to drive and to win another race like that is fantastic."
Elliott was so exhausted after the race that he retired to his team's hauler for several minutes before returning to the podium to appear for top-three photos and interviews.
"I've never been so dang worn out," said the 16-year-old. "It's so hot. I couldn't even describe to you how warm I was. I think the only thing (Ranger) beat me with was just experience and my fatigue. If I'd been in a little bit better shape, I think we could have beat him."
Chris Buescher (No. 17 Reliance Tool/David Ragan Ford Ford) said shortly after the race that the only warmer event he could remember was last July at Iowa Speedway - host of the next race on the ARCA Racing Series schedule. Left with an air circulation system cooling only his feet but not the top half of his body, Buescher was exhausted as well.
The ARCA Racing Series will be off next weekend before traveling to Iowa Speedway for the Prairie Meadows 200 on Friday, July 13. The race will air live on SPEED at 9 p.m. Eastern, with live timing and scoring available at ARCARacing.com. All practice activity and Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell will take place that day, and ARCARacing.com will feature live timing and scoring coverage of those sessions as well. The race will be the seventh for ARCA at the 0.875-mile track since 2006, and the 11th on the 20-race schedule for 2012.
Buescher Trims Poole's Lead to 10: Brennan Poole (No. 25 CJ Solar Band Toyota) finished sixth Sunday at New Jersey Motorsports Park and sat near his car after the race with a foot uncovered, having experienced tremendous heat throughout 67 laps in his first road course start.
The heat is definitely on in the championship standings as well, as Chris Buescher ended the season's first half by trimming Poole's points lead to just 10, 2540-2530. Poole had entered with a 25-point lead, but Buescher gained 15 points by finishing three spots ahead of Poole in the race. Poole's margin was last this low after the June 2 race at Elko Speedway in Minnesota, four races before Sunday's event at New Jersey.
"Today was real hot and I burned my foot a little bit, but I'll tell you, it was a lot of fun," Poole said. "I'm covered in dirt, which brings me back to my old days; I'm just not used to turning right so much. Our plan was to qualify in the top 10 and we qualified 11th, so we were close. We wanted to stay on track all day, and we stayed on track all day. My guys put me in a good position with a strategy call there at the end. (Crew chief) Billy Venturini did a great job and we were fighting for a top-five finish there at the end. We just got a little too tight. That's some of my inexperience. We didn't lose a whole lot of points. We just wanted to get out of here safe and move on to some of our stronger tracks coming up like Iowa, Chicagoland, and Lucas Oil Raceway."
Frank Kimmel (No. 44 Ansell/Menards Toyota) moved into third, 160 points behind Poole but five ahead of Alex Bowman (No. 22 St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Dodge). Chad Hackenbracht (No. 58 Tastee Apple Chevrolet) is fifth, 260 points behind first. He stands 25 points clear of Tom Hessert (No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet) of Cherry Hill, N.J., who improved to sixth in his home state.
Matt Lofton (No. 16 Strutmasters.com Chevrolet) experienced early trouble Sunday and fell to seventh, ahead of Spencer Gallagher (No. 23 Allegiant Air Chevrolet), who improved two positions to eighth. Ryan Reed was inactive this weekend and stands ninth, just ahead of Venturini Motorsports teammate and top 10 newcomer Nelson Canache (No. 15 Venezuela Tourism Ford).
Several of the shuffles in the point standings, especially those near the bottom of the top 10, were a result of a 250-point bonus - per the ARCA Rule Book - being awarded to drivers who made each of the starts in the season's second five-race leg, which began June 2 at Elko and finished Sunday.
The full and official ARCA Racing Series standings will be released Tuesday.
Elliott Earns Third Top-10 and Career High: Chase Elliott led 12 laps in Sunday's race at New Jersey Motorsports Park, the second ARCA event in which he has led. He also led 22 laps at Salem in April. His second-place finish was the best result of his ARCA career, topping a fourth-place finish at Salem.
Not only has Elliott finished in the top five in each of his last two starts, but he has finished in the top 10 in all three of his ARCA attempts.
Elliott had never raced on a road course in a stock car before, but quickly found himself in contention as he held off Andrew Ranger for all but one of the final 11 laps Sunday.
"It was pretty wild to race such an experienced guy like that," he said. "Our biggest thing was learning. I never expected to have led the last 10 laps, or whatever it was, and to be battling with such an experienced road racer."
Elliott's next planned race in the ARCA Racing Series is Saturday, August 11 at Berlin Raceway near Grand Rapids, Mich. Elliott finished second to Kyle Busch in the June 19 Rowdy 251 at Berlin, one of the signature races on the ARCA CRA Super Series schedule.
Buescher Third, Keeps Four Crown Lead: Two Roulo Brothers Racing teams lead the Bill France Four Crown standings through two of four races. That's due, of course, to Chris Buescher and Brandon Davis (No. 99 Roulo Brothers Racing Ford) finishing third and fourth at New Jersey Motorsports Park just weeks after both posted top-five finishes at Michigan International Speedway.
Buescher leads with 390 points to 365 for Davis. Frank Kimmel is third with 340 points and Alex Bowman has 335 points. Last season, Four Crown winner Chad McCumbee finished in the top 10 in each of the four events, something only the top three drivers have a chance of doing this year.
Buescher was happy to have another chance at the New Jersey road course, where he also finished third in 2010.
"It was a lot of fun," he said. "The Roulo Brothers did a nice job, coming home third and fourth with Brandon. It was a lot of fun racing with him. I knew he'd be really quick there. I always love coming to New Jersey. Each year, it's something different. It's like the dirt. We get to break it up and try something different. You know, we ran really well again. We've had good runs every year."
Now second in the point standings, Buescher is looking forward to having Davis as his teammate in several upcoming races.
"We're going to have some good cars coming," Buescher said. "We've got a good piece for Iowa and Brandon is going to come run with us as well, at the first two of those. I'm looking forward to them. We'll be really competitive at all three. I'll take this off week and try to relax and catch up a little bit and go enjoy the Fourth of July."
Ranger Makes Name in Key New Jersey Categories: Andrew Ranger's 4.474-second margin of victory was the largest for an ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards driver in five races at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Chase Elliott and Ranger drove much closer than that going to the white flag, but Elliott slipped up after Ranger passed him on the last lap.
Casey Roderick held the previous record, a 2.889-second win on August 15, 2010.
Ranger moved into a tie for third on the all-time New Jersey lap leader list. Not only did he beat Chase Elliott on the final lap, but he also led 27 laps in the race's first half. He has now led 36 laps in two races, tied with Justin Marks' total from 2010 and just short of Patrick Long's 46 in 2009 and George Miedecke's 40 last year.
Fourth Another Career High for Davis: After a career-high fifth-place finish at Michigan 16 days earlier, Brandon Davis finished fourth Sunday at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Like many drivers, he experienced extreme heat conditions.
"It got real hot," he said, clutching a large sports drink just after exiting his car on pit road. "My feet were burning and it was kind of hard to see straight there. These guys made a call, and it didn't quite work out. We had too many yellows for it to work, but that's racing and we took a shot at it. It was a good day. Obviously, we would have liked to come away with a win. It didn't work out and we'll move on to the next one."
Davis had a shot at third over Buescher, but his teammate passed him with under five laps to go as they ran about five seconds behind the lead duo of Elliott and Ranger.
"Chris was coming hard," Davis said. "They told me he was on fresh tires and I tried to hold him off as long as I could. These cars, you just work so much and I gave everything I had left but he was able to go past me. He's a great teammate. I'm happy for him and I know he's got to be close to the points lead. Overall, it's a good day."
Duno Wins Hard Charger, Earns Honor as Top Venezuelan: Milka Duno (No. 94 Milka Way Toyota) scored the first top-10 finish of her ARCA Racing Series career by finishing 10th at New Jersey Motorsports Park Sunday. She is the first Venezuelan driver to finish in the top 10 of an ARCA Racing Series event, having edged fellow Caracas native Nelson Canache by two positions.
Duno started 21st and improved 11 positions to her final finishing spot, more than any other driver in the field. For that improvement, Duno won the CGS Imaging Hard Charger of the Race Award.
Kimmel Racing Overcomes Motor Issues: Will Kimmel (No. 68 Clarksville Schwinn & Cyclery Ford) practiced fast enough to make the first qualifying group of six cars on Saturday afternoon, but experienced engine trouble right away in Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell.
The team's only spare engine sat in its second car, the No. 69 scheduled to be driven by Shawn Umphries. Late Saturday night, the team decided not to start Umphries and instead move his engine to Kimmel's car, the team's flagship. Kimmel ended up finishing fifth, a welcome surprise after a weekend of trouble.
"It was a great run for our team," said Kimmel. "We lost our motor and that was a short track motor; at least we finished the race. Oh, man. An all-volunteer crew, we've got two guys working with Dad (Bill Kimmel) in the shop and it's just really tough for us right now. This is one of those races where we come and get experience, and I got some good experience. I had contact with the 99 (Davis) off of Turn 2. I'm sure he didn't mean it. He just got into the back of us and I was too loose to hang on. That's part of it, though."
The team has entered races through the spring and early summer, but has not always been able to complete those events. Kimmel's focus, he says, is on making the late summer dirt races at the Illinois State Fairgrounds and the DuQuoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds.
"I hope we can go to the dirts and maybe run Salem," he said. "We'll see what happens. I've got to thank my dad and my mom. We talked about it last night, whether we should go ahead and put our last motor in and risk it or not; we did, and I hope it's okay and we'll race some more."
New Jersey the Home of ARCA Road Racing: Unofficially, New Jersey became the all-time home of ARCA Racing Series road racing with Sunday's event at Thunderbolt Raceway. Of the 16 road course races in ARCA's 60-year history, the Garden State has hosted five, more than any other state.
Illinois has hosted four and Kansas two, with Florida, Iowa, Ohio, New York, and Virginia all having welcomed single races.
Five for Frank; Another Jersey Top-10: Frank Kimmel became the first driver to earn five top-10 results in ARCA Racing Series competition at New Jersey Motorsports Park by finishing seventh.
Kimmel had finished 10th, ninth, fourth, and sixth from 2008-11, respectively. Sunday, he had to come from 15th - his lowest New Jersey starting position yet - to earn another top-10.
"We did everything we could to make the car better," he said. "The guys worked so hard on it all weekend. It seemed like we made it better in the race, and the more laps we ran, the better we got. It was a hot day and we made up as much as we could and came home with another solid finish."
Best Finishes for Holehouse, Canache, Others: Jason Holehouse (No. 81 Pease Racing Chevrolet) finished 11th in Sunday's race at New Jersey Motorsports Park, an improvement on his only prior career start in the ARCA Racing Series. Nelson Canache, making his 10th start in the ARCA Racing Series, finished a career-best 12th.
Willie Mullins (No. 5 Bugsy's Auto Repair/Crow Wing Recycling Chevrolet) earned his best finish in 15th, and Dr. Ed Bull (No. 3 Hixson Construction Ford) tied his best result, 16th.
2012 is the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards' 60th Anniversary Season, featuring 20 races at 18 tracks. The complete 2012 event schedule is available at ARCARacing.com.
The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards has crowned an ARCA national champion each year since its inaugural season in 1953, and has toured over 200 race tracks in 26 states since its inception. The series has tested the abilities of drivers and race teams over the most diverse schedule of stock car racing events in the world, visiting tracks ranging from 0.375 mile to 2.66 miles in length, on both paved and dirt surfaces as well as a left- and right-turn road course in its most recent season. This year, the series visited Alabama's Mobile International Speedway and Minnesota's Elko Speedway for the first time.
Founded by John and Mildred Marcum in 1953 in Toledo, Ohio, the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) is recognized among the leading sanctioning bodies in the country. Closing in on completing its sixth decade after hundreds of thousands of miles of racing, ARCA administers over 100 race events each season in three professional touring series and local weekly events.