Tuesday, May 29, 2012
New Short Track for ARCA's Best: Tour Making First Visit to Elko
TOLEDO, Ohio -- Among the most thrilling action in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards is that which takes place on short tracks, and the newest track on the tour's schedule is the shortest of all.
At just three-eighths of a mile, Elko Speedway in Elko New Market, Minn. promises to provide a new dimension to ARCA competitors like nine-time champion Frank Kimmel, six-time race winner Chris Buescher, and points leader Tom Hessert. Those drivers, along with many others, will visit the track for the first time in a stock car in Saturday night's Akona 200 presented by Federated Car Care.
The unknowns, and Elko's position as the newest and shortest track on the ARCA Racing Series schedule, are mere pieces of what makes the sixth race of ARCA's 60th Anniversary Season a hot ticket and an intriguing event.
Hessert currently leads Buescher by just 15 points in the series standings. Despite Hessert's consistency as the only driver with multiple top-fives and four top-10 finishes in the season's first five races, Buescher is the man with momentum, having won on the half-mile Toledo Speedway for the fourth time last week.
Twenty-one-year-old Brennan Poole won in his first ARCA start one year ago, and could use another victory to kick-start his rise back to the top of the point standings.
"I hear (Elko)'s got a pretty good surface," said Poole. "It should be fun. It'll be tight, short track racing, with a lot of bumping and running. I'm looking forward to getting up there."
After five races, Poole stands just above Chad Hackenbracht, who just four years ago won a national asphalt championship in a Legends car at - of all places - Elko Speedway. Below them is Kimmel, not only the man with ARCA's most recognized name but also the holder of 74 career victories, good for second on ARCA's all-time list. Kimmel has not won since 2008, but has shown power on short tracks this season with two second-place finishes.
Just 45 points separate those five drivers in the series standings, and a hungry pack of competitors stands just below them.
Other entered drivers include: Steve Arpin, 2010's leading winner in the ARCA Racing Series and a native of Fort Frances, Ont., just north of Minnesota; Milka Duno, a veteran of three Indianapolis 500 starts; Erik Jones, who was the first 15-year-old driver in the ARCA Racing Series and turns 16 this week; Alex Bowman, a two-time Menards Pole Award winner and the race winner at Salem (Ind.) Speedway this season; and Joey Miller, the "hometown kid" from nearby Lakeville, Minn. whose experience at the track and five past ARCA wins could give him a leg up in the Akona 200.
A business relationship between series presenting sponsor Menards and Akona Manufacturing, a Minnesota-based brand, made the Akona 200 and ARCA's visit to its 29th state a reality.
"The Twin Cities is a great market in general, and a very important market for our series presenting sponsor - Menards," said Mark Gundrum, vice president of business development and corporate partnerships for ARCA. "Through a business-to-business relationship between Akona and Menards, we are able to bring ARCA's brand of stock car racing to a great facility just south of the Minneapolis and St. Paul area."
Race tickets are currently available at 32 Menards stores throughout Minnesota, and will be on sale for $15 - a $10 discount off of the at-track price - until Friday, June 1, the day before the race.
Akona Manufacturing is a branch of TCC Materials, a leader in the concrete products industry based out of Mendota Heights, Minn., less than 30 miles from Elko Speedway. Akona Manufacturing, LLC, founded in 1950, specializes in concrete repair products such as cement patches, floor underlayments, cleaners, sealers, and mastic repair products. Akona products are available at Menards.
More information on Akona products and events is available at www.akonallc.com.
The ARCA Racing Series will hold two practices on June 2, from 2-2:45 p.m. and 3:15-4. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell will follow at 5, and every driver in the starting field will sign autographs for fans on the track from 6:30-7:30. The 200-lap, 75-mile race will begin at 8. All times are Central.
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 28 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 0.4 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 for the first time. In June, the first event at Minnesota's Elko Speedway will give ARCA a race in a 29th state.
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.