From Elko short track to Pocono big track; ARCA entries grow for Pocono open test Wednesday; Media welcome
TOLEDO, Ohio — From the smallest track on the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards tour to one of the biggest, there’s a lot on the plate for ARCA teams, officials and fans in the week ahead.
On the heels of the Shore Lunch 250 on the 3/8ths-mile Elko (Minn.) Speedway short track Saturday night (June 3), race teams will hightail it toward Pocono (Pa.) Raceway in time for the open test on the 2.5-mile triangle Wednesday, June 7. And don’t forget about the 1,100-plus mile ride in between.
The open test at Pocono is essentially three-fold…it’ll offer up the opportunity for some of the veterans to get a jump-start on race set-ups while for the rookies, it’ll be the chance to get approved to race in the General Tire #AnywhereIsPossible200 ARCA race Friday, June 9, just two day later. For others, the open test is also a step toward approval to compete in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Pocono later this summer.
Pre-entries for the open test include a wide range, from Daytona winner and current ARCA points leader Austin Theriault, who finished fourth in the ARCA race at Pocono in 2014, to Eagle River, Wisconsin’s Natalie Decker (Venturini Motorsports), who has never seen the place. Theriault, who drives for Ken Schrader Racing, is already good to go in the approval process while Decker’s on-track performance in Wednesday’s test will come under the watchful eyes of ARCA Racing Series officials. If things go well for Decker, she plans to make her superspeedway debut at Pocono Friday.
(Left to right: Christian Eckes, Natalie Decker, Zane Smith) In addition to 19-year-old Decker, Venturini Motorsports is testing three other rookie drivers with Christian Eckes (Middletown, N.Y./2016 Snowball Derby winner), Spencer Davis (Dahlonega, Ga.) and Zane Smith (Huntington Beach, Calif.) Smith, who finished a career-best fourth at Toledo Speedway, is running ARCA’s full schedule in ’17. Smith will also be celebrating his 18th birthday at Pocono June 9, day of the race.
MDM Motorsports is coming with four drivers, including NASCAR Camping World Truck and Xfinity Series driver Brandon Jones (Atlanta, Ga.), Lucas Oil Stadium Super Truck champion Sheldon Creed (Alpine, Calif.), Park City, Utah’s Michael Self and Metamora, Michigan’s Vinnie Miller.
Win-Tron Racing has entered two drivers for the open test to include Bluffton, S.C.’s Gus Dean (2016 ARCA Talladega winner) and Fletcher, N.C.’s Justin Fontaine (pictured right). Fontaine, 19, suffered a mild compression fracture of his L1 vertebrae during a late-race accident in ARCA’s season-opening event at Daytona. With his clearance, Fontaine will return to ARCA and compete in Saturday’s Shore Lunch 250 at Elko Speedway in the No. 33 ProMatic Automation Toyota.
Joe Gibbs Racing has also filed an entry for the Pocono test with Las Vegas, Nevada’s Riley Herbst in the No. 18 Toyota. Herbst is running the full ARCA tour in 2017 and finished a career-best fifth recently at Toledo Speedway.
Other entries for Wednesday’s test include AJ Fike (Galesburg, Ill.), John Ferrier (Middletown, N.Y.), Kirk Horton (Eldred, N.Y.), Dan Bainey (Phillipsburg, Pa.) and Kevin Kromer (Walnutport, Pa.).
While ARCA’s tenure at Pocono is impressive, so too is the list of winners over the years. It includes Tim Steele, Bob Schacht, Mike Wallace, Blaise Alexander, Kerry Earnhardt, Ryan Newman, Casey Atwood, Casey Mears, Scott Riggs, Frank Kimmel, Travis Kvapil, Justin Allgaier, Joey Logano, Ty Dillon, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne and Grant Enfinger.
ARCA made its first Pocono appearance on May 30, 1969 on the now defunct three-quarter mile oval that once existed inside the present-day triangle. Bobby Watson, in a Dodge, won the 200-lap/150 mile race on the three-quarter mile track, with Benny Parsons (1968 and ’69 ARCA champion) winning the pole in his yellow No. 98 Ford Torino.
ARCA didn’t return to Pocono until 1983 when it competed for the first time on the big track – Bob Schacht the inaugural winner. Since ’83, ARCA has been a mainstay on the Pocono triangle, running two events each year since 1987.
Media Welcome at ARCA Open Test
Media is invited out to cover the open test Wednesday, June 7 (on-track from 9-5). The morning of Thursday, June 8 is reserved as a rain date for the test.
Pocono Raceday Schedule
Practice for the General Tire #AnywhereIsPossible 200 is raceday, Friday morning from 9:30 – 10:55 a.m. with General Tire Pole Qualifying at 2 p.m.. The General Tire #AnywhereIsPossible 200 is live on FS1 Friday afternoon at 5:45 p.m.
In addition to live coverage on FS1, arcaracing.com will feature live timing and scoring and live chat of all on-track activities.
Race tickets are now on sale at PoconoRaceway.com.