ARCA Menards Series Preview- Springfield

The ARCA Menards Series drivers return on-track this weekend for the exciting Allen Crowe 100 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. It’ll mark the 16th race of the season and five races left until the championship finale at Kansas Speedway in October.

Dirt specialist and POWRI Midget driver Logan Seavey is set to return to the ARCA field this weekend, driving the No. 20 Venturini Motorsports Toyota. Illinois State Fairgrounds is the site where Seavey made his ARCA debut in 2018. Seavey is excited for another opportunity in ARCA on dirt.

“Coming off our success last year at these races, I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to run the dirt races again this year,” Seavey said. “Venturini brings the best cars in the field and with my experience from last year’s races, I’m confident we will have good runs at both tracks.”

It’s not often you find Seavey in a stock car, as he spends most of his time on dirt, but he hopes to lean on his experience to breakthrough on Sunday.

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“Dirt tracks change drastically throughout an event so having so much experience will definitely help me as the track changes from practice to qualifying, and throughout the 100-lap race,” he said. “Knowing what to look for on the racing surface and what is coming gives me an edge over most of the field.”

While Seavey has experience on dirt, his Venturini Motorsports teammate and championship points leader Michael Self does not. It’ll be the first time ever Self sees races on dirt.

“This is definitely going to be new experience for me,” Self says. “I’ve got very limited dirt experience so I’ve been asking a ton of questions and really trying to learn so I have an idea of what to expect this weekend. To be honest, I’m a bit nervous but also pretty excited. I’ve really enjoyed the dirt experiences that I have had, and just thought they were a ton of fun, so I’m anxious to see if this is comparable at all.”

It’ll be a challenge Self who will be managing his championship points lead sine he does not have any previous starts on the dirt tracks of Illinois State Fairgrounds and DuQuoin State Fairgrounds.

Self could lean on his teammate Christian Eckes who won last years race after being dominant and leading 60 of the 106 laps.

“We had a good showing last year,” said Eckes. “Running both dirt tracks prepared me a good amount for this season. It’s still unnatural for me but we’ve shown that we have the speed each time out. I’m just looking forward to the weekend and to having some fun out on the dirt.”

Even with the win last year at Illinois State Fairgrounds, Eckes says he needs to do that again in order to have any shot at the championship when the season dwindles down at Kansas in October.

“At this point we need to win. We need points and the best way to do so is to go get the maximum. I feel like we have the team to do it and we’re all ready to go do it.”

Eckes almost has a perfect rating at the dirt track in Illinois. The Venturini Motorsports driver has one win in two starts, with an average finish of 3.5. In 2017, the Middletown, New York native finished sixth and led two laps. Eckes also competed in the Eldora Dirt Derby where he finished sixth a couple of weeks ago.

Moving onto the Chad Bryant Racing team, youngster Corey Heim is slated to make his first ever dirt ARCA start this Sunday. The No. 22 Chad Bryant Racing driver is hopeful for a good outing, despite not having the experience needed.

“Unfortunately, I don’t know have any knowledge on dirt or what to expect with an ARCA car,” Heim said.“With that being said, I’m going into Springfield and even DuQuoin not knowing what to expect, but I feel like it’s going to be a ton of fun.” “It’s a pretty short day, so hopefully I can get things figured out in practice and qualifying and then make some good moves during the race.”

With not having the experience on dirt, Heim will be leaning heavily on his Chad Bryant Racing crew and hope to build it for the second dirt race later in the season.

“I’m going to be leaning on Chad (Bryant, team owner) and Paul (Andrews, crew chief) to help me with any mistakes early so I can be on game for the race. We’ll just go and see what happens.
“I think I can take what I learn from Springfield and build on it in DuQuoin. My goal is to run up front in these ARCA Menards Series races, even at these dirt tracks where the racing will be completely foreign to me.”

While Heim will be making his first ARCA dirt start on Sunday, his teammate Joe Graf Jr will have already competed in two races already. Graf Jr competed in the K&N Pro Series at Bristol on Thursday night and raced in the Xfinity Series on Friday night.

“Yeah, it’s going to be a busy couple days, but I’m excited about that and can’t wait,” said Joe Graf Jr. “A lot of people including Chad Bryant Racing have put a lot of effort into making Bristol and Springfield possible and without everyone’s support, I know this triple-duty weekend wouldn’t be possible.”

Graf Jr has just one start at the fairgrounds in 2018, where he was unable to finish the race due to a crash that took him out late in the race on lap 87 of 106. Even with the crash from last year, the Chad Bryant Racing driver is excited to return to the track on Sunday.

“The dirt is a lot of fun,” sounded Graf Jr. “Momentum and throttle are critical for mastering places like Springfield and DuQuoin. I learned a lot about tire conservation last year too.”

While one driver is excited to be back on dirt, so is another. That’s Bret Holmes who drives his family own No. 23 machine. Holmes has had experience racing dirt tracks in his home state of Alabama.

Yeah, it’s going to be a lot of fun to get back on dirt,” said Holmes. “I used to dirt race. I did it for about three-and-a-half years. That’s all my dad raced; he was a dirt late model racer. These dirt races are a lot of fun for us. I think it’s one of the races that all of us drivers look forward to every year, it’s just a good time running on the dirt. Springfield is basically a flat horse track, but it can be challenging. I’m looking forward to it for sure. We can really gain back some points back this month.

With having the dirt track experience that is needed to race, Holmes says they can be tricky and reach out to get you without any warning.

“These dirt tracks can get slick without much warning, and it’s easy to get out of the groove and mess up,” said Holmes. “You have to be patient and race the track. I think that’s where my experience will come in, and we can capitalize on it. I learned a lot when we used to run on dirt, and my dad has a ton of experience with it. We’ll use all of that to our advantage this month and gain as many points as possible.”

Holmes has two starts with one top-10 finish that came in 2018, where he earned his career best track finish of sixth.

Travis Braden, who also drives a family owned No. 27 machine hopes to better his fourth place finish in his only start that came last year. It was the first time he had ever competed on dirt.

“Last year, being that I had never raced on a true dirt track in a stock car before, we didn’t know what to expect and expectations were basically not even on our mind,” Braden said. “But after a solid first go at it in Springfield, we actually saw a glimpse of victory on the horizon at DuQuoin.”

Braden was in search of victory last year at DuQuoin taking the lead on lap 49 and leading 17 laps, before getting taken out in a wreck on lap 67 of 100.

“I am now very hungry for that redemption,” Braden said emphatically. “We’ve had so many opportunities for victory and have yet to manage it. After having it taken away from us in DuQuoin last year, I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder for this one. No excuses.”

Carson Hocevar who competes in the No. 28 KBR Development Chevy returns to the ARCA field for the first time since Iowa earleir this season, where he finished fourth. However, Hocevar will be making his first ever ARCA dirt debut this Sunday in Illinois. Despite it being his first ARCA dirt start, Hocevar competed in the Eldora Dirt Derby last month driving for Jordan Anderson.

 “There are a lot of things I learned at Eldora Speedway that I can apply to this weekend’s ARCA Menards Series race at Springfield,” Hocevar said. “I think that experience is really going to help us off the trailer and help me adapt quicker so we just focus on our balance. I am excited to get going on Sunday. It should be a fun race.”

Other names that are scheduled to compete are Wayne Peterson, Bobby Gerhart, Dick Doheny, Eric Caudell, Tommy Vigh Jr, Mike Basham, Kelly Kovski, Ty Gibbs, Ryan Unzicker, Brad Smith, Will Kimmel, Dale Shearer and Tim Richmond.

ARCA Series legends and today’s NASCAR stars have won at the dirt track in Springfield, Illinois. Names like Dean Roper, Bob Keselowski, Tim Steele, Ken Schrader, Frank Kimmel (Who has the most wins with eight wins), Justin Allgaier, Parker Kligerman, Brennan Poole, Kevin Swindell, Justin Haley, Grant Enfinger and Christian Eckes.

In the last five races, the race winners have come from anywhere in the field. Eckes won from the eighth position in 2018, Enfinger from second in 2017, Haley from 12th in 2016, Fike from 25th in 2015 and Swindell from eighth in 2014.

It’ll be a one day show like normal for the ARCA Menards Series drivers on Sunday. The only practice session is slated to take place at 9:00 a.m./Central. General Tire Pole Qualifying is scheduled to take place at 11:00 a.m./Central with no live TV coverage, but live timing and scoring can be seen on arcaracing.com with a free account.

The Allen Crowe 100 is set to get underway shortly after 1:30 p.m./Central and 2:30 p.m./ET live on MAVTV.


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