The pre-race festivities at Talladega Superspeedway got started early for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards. Like all ARCA Racing Series champions, the 2012 ARCA titlist Chris Buescher was honored during the annual black-tie Int'l Motorsports Hall of Fame induction ceremony Thursday night. NASCAR champion Bobby Allison honored Buescher on stage before Buescher's likeness was officially unveiled on the ARCA Wall of Fame inside the museum. The ARCA Wall of Fame, completely restored just last year, includes an impressive assortment of imagery representing 60 years of ARCA racing dating back to 1953. The ARCA Wall of Fame features all 30 different ARCA champions from 1953 forward, Buescher being the latest addition.
Rick Hendrick, Dale Inman, Rusty Wallace and Don Schumacher were this year's inductees into the prestigious Int'l Motorsports Hall of Fame at Talladega.
Kimmel inches closer to Katona's all-time win mark
Frank Kimmel inched ever so closer to yet another all-time ARCA record with his victory in the 51st Int'l Motorsports Hall of Fame 250 at Talladega Superspeedway. The victory, shortened by 21 laps due to rain (Kimmel's one other win at Talladega in 2006 was shortened due to darkness), marked Kimmel's 77th career win, just two wins shy of Iggy Katona's all-time ARCA win milestone mark of 79 wins. "That's a big deal to me," Kimmel said about the win record. "I've never been a big stat guy, but Iggy was a hero of mine. He raced with my dad." Meanwhile the nine-time ARCA champion padded his point lead headed to the next event on tour - the Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care at Toledo Speedway Sunday, May 19. Kimmel also increased his career laps-led total to 10,756. The second-generation ARCA driver now has 249 top-five finishes and 336 top-10s. Kimmel is already the all-time Toledo ARCA winner with nine victories, including his career-first at Toledo in 1994.
Rookie Mingus hot on heels of veteran Kimmel; earns SCOTT® Challenge Rookie title at Talladega
While Kimmel basks in the glow of his most recent win at Talladega, he ought not get too comfortable with rookie Mason Mingus on his bumper. Mingus, who finished a career-best second on the heels of Kimmel at Talladega, earned the SCOTT® Challenge Rookie of the Race award, and trails Kimmel by just 40 points headed to Toledo for the next race. Thirty-three years separate 51-year-old Kimmel and 18-year-old Mingus creating a bit of an odd match-up - a teenager who's still in high school and a grown man with kids graduating from college. "It's kind of the way it's been over the last decade here," Kimmel said. "If it's not Mason, it's some other rookie coming with all the right equipment and lots of talent. Mason might be new around here, but he's been around for a while. He's driven late models quite a bit, and has shown a lot of promise. I consider him a formidable opponent for sure." Mingus and his father Donnie Mingus were the first to congratulate Kimmel in Victory Lane at Talladega.
Career days for Armstrong, Jones, Ferrier, Cushman, Forrister and more
If it was a bad day for a few, it was a great day for many. In addition to Mingus's career-best finish, the same is true for Caleb Armstrong, who steered the Venturini Motorsports 55 car to third in the final running order. Canadian Terry Jones, a former Toledo Speedway Sportsman division track champion, finished a career-best fifth, ahead of John Ferrier and George Cushman, who finished seventh and eighth, respectively, both career-best efforts. Longtime ARCA competitor Mark Gibson crew-chiefed for Ferrier. Chilhowie, Virginia's Cody McMahan also finished 12th in his career-first ARCA start. Barry Fitzgerald and Galen Hassler also earned career-best finishes of 18th and 20th, respectively. Josh Williams (sixth) and Benny Chastain (19th) tied their career-best finishes.
Rough day for Venturini Motorsports
Caleb Armstrong was the lone bright star among the Venturini Motorsports four-car team at Talladega. While Armstrong came out clean, his Venturini Motorsports teammates did not fare so well. It started when John Wes Townley's pole speed was disallowed resulting from unapproved suspension mounting/placement. Townley, who opened his year with a win at Daytona, started at the back and raced his way up inside the top-10 early on before contact with his teammate Milka Duno resulted in Townley making hard contact with outside and inside safer barrier walls. His car was destroyed but Townley walked away unhurt. Later on, Duno and Thomas Praytor made contact during a restart that triggered a multi-car crash off turn two that took out Duno and her other Venturini Motorsports teammate Justin Boston. No drivers were injured in the mishap; however, Duno and Boston were out for the race.
Gallagher, Hessert caught up in Big One
After earning a career-best second place finish at Salem Speedway the weekend before, Spencer Gallagher's day at Talladega ended early after getting caught up in the multi-car wreck off turn two. "What an up and down day here at Talladega Superspeedway," Gallagher said. "My Gallagher Motorsports crew led by Dave (Hirsch) gave me an excellent Chevrolet this weekend that responded to everything I needed it to do. I knew I had to drop to the back when our water was overheating but the crew got me fixed up during the pit stop and we were headed back to the front. It's unfortunate we got caught in someone else's wreck but that's racing and we will rebound at Toledo Speedway in two weeks." The Gallagher Motorsports crew attempted to fix the battered machine, but deemed the damage terminal. When the event ended early due to rain on lap 73, Gallagher was scored with a 27th-place finish. Tom Hessert, last week's Salem winner, was also caught up in the big pile-up. Hessert was scored in 26th after his crew got him back out just in time for the closing laps. Clay Campbell, Bo LeMastus, Donnie Neuenberger and James Hylton were also caught up in the same wreck. There were no injuries.
Four teams penalized in post-qualifying inspection
Four teams were penalized for post-qualifying technical inspection violations after qualifying Thursday. Each of the four teams had their qualifying times/speeds disallowed based on the violations of rules and procedures specified in the 3-1-13 ARCA Technical Bulletin related to the event. The Cunningham Motorsports #22 driven by Korbin Forrister and the Turner Scott Motorsports #66 driven by Mark Thompson failed to meet minimum rear quarter panel height as referenced in item 13. The Bobby Gerhart Racing #5 driven by Bobby Gerhart and the Venturini Motorsports #15 driven by John Wes Townley had unapproved suspension mounting/placement as referenced in items 17, 18 and/or 19. All four teams earned provisional starting positions for the International Motorsports Hall of Fame 250.
Duno earns Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell
Milka Duno became the first female ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards driver since 1988 to win the pole at Talladega Superspeedway. Duno had the second-fastest time in the Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell but when the time of Venturini Motorsports teammate John Wes Townley was disallowed following post-qualifying inspection, Duno was announced as the pole winner. "This is fantastic," Duno said following her award. "We have been trying, trying, trying for the pole ever since Daytona. All day, I made my crew chief (Kevin Caldwell) crazy, saying 'what do we need to do?'" Patty Moise won back-to-back poles at Talladega in 1988.
SPEED hits 200 with ARCA
The SPEED network broadcasted its 200th all-time ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards race at Talladega Superspeedway Friday. The network, which will become Fox Sports 1 in August, has been broadcasting ARCA Racing Series events since 1997 reaching back to an event at Salem Speedway where the series debuted on Speedvision, the predecessor to SPEED. "This speaks to the benefit of having a long-term partnership," said ARCA President Ron Drager. "We are able to work very closely together with everyone at SPEED. It is important to us, our race teams and the sponsors involved with our series to have that level of exposure." SPEED is broadcasting five of the first eight ARCA Racing Series events of the 2013 season and 10 races total. From Talladega, SPEED follows ARCA to Toledo for live coverage of the Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care Sunday, May 19.
More Opportunities for ARCA champ Justin Allgaier
After Justin Allgaier secured the 2008 ARCA Racing Series championship, the Riverton, Illinois driver sped off for the NASCAR Nationwide Series where he currently drives fulltime for Turner Scott Motorsports. Allgaier's phone is also ringing with television opportunities. The Nationwide Series winner served as an additional color analyst for the entire Talladega broadcast, working alongside play-by-play guy Rick Allen and color commentator Phil Parsons. The Twitter board lit up with continual praise for the job Allgaier did during the broadcast.
SCOTT® Brand announces title sponsorship role in inaugural ARCA event at Road America
Officials from Kimberly-Clark Professional, Road America and ARCA announced Friday just prior to the race, that SCOTT® Brand products will serve as title sponsor for the 2013 ARCA Racing Series event presented by Menards at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The SCOTT® 160 is set for Saturday, June 22. ARCA's visit to the four-mile Road America road course will be run in conjunction with the NASCAR Nationwide Series as a same-day doubleheader. SCOTT® Brand is also an official sponsor of the ARCA series with the SCOTT® Challenge Rookie program.
Farewell tour for James Harvey Hylton; caught up in Big One
James Hylton's final go at Talladega did not end as he had hoped. The 78-year-old Inman, South Carolina stock car legend got caught up in the big pile-up off turn two. "We were just riding around minding our own business when they started wrecking in front of us. It's unfortunate; we lost another really good car. I'm a little sore, but I'm fine." Hylton, along with his two crew members, longtime crewmember Terry Strange and his son James Hylton, Jr., pushed his car to the starting grid on pit road at Talladega. The 2013 season will mark his farewell tour behind the wheel of his famous No. 48. "I've been thinking about this for quite a while," Hylton added. "I'm 78, and the time has come." Hylton made 602 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts since 1964, winning twice at Talladega and Richmond. Since 1997, Hylton has made 147 ARCA starts. Hylton also finished 15th in the ARCA race at Talladega, on the lead lap, in 2009 at the age of 74.
ARCA on the march; heading home to Toledo
From the biggest, most sweeping track at Talladega, to one of the tightest short tracks on tour at Toledo Speedway, the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards is off and running for the 2013 season. After competing in the 51st annual Int'l Motorsports Hall of Fame 250 at Talladega, the series, born in Toledo in 1953, heads home to Toledo where the 72nd Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care takes shape on the historic Toledo half-mile, high-banked oval Sunday, May 19. Frank Kimmel is the all-time Toledo winner with nine wins. The Menards 200 is live on SPEED at 2:00 p.m. eastern. The broadcast is only one of two short track races you'll see on SPEED, the other being the Prairie Meadows 150 race at Iowa Speedway in early September.