ARCA Menards Series Preview – Pocono I

The ARCA Menards Series returned to the track at Talladega Superspeedway last weekend and continues their schedule this weekend by going north to Pocono Raceway.

The Anywhere Is Possible 200 presented by General Tire will mark the fourth race on the 2020 schedule and features 21 cars on the entry list.

On the entry list, there will be some new faces as that is normally the case for the ARCA Menards Series. Of the 21 cars, Russ Lane, Clay Greenfield, Derek Griffith, Ryan Huff, Sam Mayer, Tanner Gray, Hailie Deegan, Drew Dollar and Ty Gibbs will all make their Pocono debut this Friday afternoon.


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However, despite those drivers who have not competed at Pocono before, one team has plenty of experience and that’s Venturini Motorsports.

Venturini Motorsports will have drivers Deegan, Drew Dollar, Chandler Smith, and Michael Self in the field.

Self has the most starts out of the stable with three and has a best finish third twice (2017 and 2019). Even though, the Utah native was able to gain a top five finish last year, Self notes that Pocono has been tricky for him but does have enough confidence to perform well.

“Pocono Raceway has been a little bit tough for me to really grasp in the past. I really like the track, but its definitely difficult. Last year we were able to snag a third-place finish, but I left feeling like I just wasn’t where I wanted to be with my level of comfort there. I’ve spent a lot of time watching video and asking questions to people that have had success there and I have a few things in mind that I’m anxious to try this weekend. It’ll be interesting with such a limited practice session, but I’ve got confidence that the No. 25 Sinclair Oil Toyota Camry team are bringing a solid car as always and I can just go in and work on the things I want.” 

For Drew Dollar, Pocono couldn’t have come at a better timing. The Venturini driver is coming off a win at Talladega last weekend and has momentum heading into his Pocono start Friday. Dollar is ready to get back in the No. 15 and have an exceptional outing.

“I’m looking forward to carrying the momentum we have from winning at Talladega Superspeedway into Pocono Raceway this weekend. We’ll have limited practice and I’ve never been to Pocono before, but I’m confident that I will be able to quickly get up to speed. I know my Venturini Motorsports Toyota Camry is going to be really good and I can’t wait to get back to the track.” 

Back in the field this weekend and making his second ARCA start this year is Chandler Smith. Notably, the Georgia native recorded one start, which came last year where Smith placed eighth after starting third.

“I’m looking forward to getting back in my No. 20 JBL Toyota Camry with Venturini Motorsports. It’s been a long downtime and I am excited at being able to be back at a racetrack.”

As for DGR-Crosley they will have Hailie Deegan, Thad Moffitt, and Tanner Gray once again.

Moffitt has three starts at Pocono with a best finish of 11th, which came in 2019. The DGR-Crosley crew will have a brand new Ford body to the No. 46 machine.

“Pocono is very unique and challenging. I’ve kind of struggled there in the past, but I think I have a better shot this year. I’m in better equipment and I’ve got a better starting spot already based on 2020 points, so I’m pretty confident going into this. DGR-Crosley is bringing fast cars to the track right now and all of our Fusions have been fast so far this year. I think we’ll just keep it up going into Pocono and I believe that we have a good shot at running top three and possibly winning the race this weekend.”

Tanner Gray is back in the No. 17 Ford Performance entry. Gray makes his Pocono debut this weekend and will be a busy driver as he is scheduled to pull double duty by competing in the Truck race as well. The New Mexico native hopes this weekend his luck will start turning around.

“I don’t know what I need to do to turn my luck around on both the ARCA and Truck Series sides. I might need to start looking for four-leaf clovers, or put a lucky horseshoe in my hauler, or something. I’m looking forward to racing twice at Pocono this weekend. This will be my first time there, so getting the extra seat time in the ARCA car will help me on Saturday since I’ll already be familiar with the track. Thad (Moffitt) has raced there twice before, so I’ll probably lean on him for some advice, as well as David (Gilliland, team co-owner) since he’s got a lot of experience there.”

Even though Talladega was a new experience to Hailie Deegan last weekend, Pocono will somewhat not be new to the California native as she recorded one start that came last year. Deegan started fourth and placed seventh, two laps down in the running order. She notes that she enjoys the challenges Pocono bring and has been using the simulator to get extra track time in.

“Pocono is a fun track. It’s really hard to get your car set up and good for every single corner. I think going there with DGR-Crosley, with all the guys working hard here, that I’m going to come with a good set-up. I’ve been on the simulator a lot and getting a lot of practice. I’ve been trying a lot of different stuff seeing what I’m comfortable with and seeing what we want to baseline with since we’re not getting much time on the track. It’s going to be fun.”

Jason Kitzmiller is back in the No. 97 Codie Rohrbaugh entry and is set for his Pocono debut. The West Virgina native is coming his off his career best finish last weekend at Talladega, finishing eighth. With all that aside, Kitzmiller now turns his attention to Pocono and hopes to carry some of that Talladega momentum for Friday afternoon.

“I’ve been preparing as best as I can for Pocono,” added Kitzmiller. “Of course, I’m been talking to Codie a lot about it – but the only thing that is really going to help me is track time. I wish we were still having the test, but I know circumstances prevented that and we’ll have to work around that. Thankfully, we’ll have some practice before we jump in the race and I’ll use that as my saving grace to try and get comfortable and use the race to keep making adjustments to our car and put us in position to perhaps back up what we did last weekend at Talladega.”

Like Kitzmiller, Derek Griffith makes his first Pocono start as well. However the Chad Bryant Racing team has had some previous success at the 2.5 mile speedway. The No. 22 team won with Ty Majeski two years ago in 2018 after starting fifth and leading 12 laps. Griffith is excited to get to the track and see how the 22 team performs.

“I’m excited to get to Pocono on Friday,” said Griffith. “It’s going to be a big challenge as it will be the largest track that I’ve ever competed on, but I feel like I’m heading there with one of the best teams in the garage. It’s going to take a few laps to get comfortable, but I think with some confidence in myself and the leadership of the Chad (Bryant) and Paul (Andrews, crew chief) we can turn some heads.”

Joining the likes of Kitzmiller and Griffith will be the Fast Track Racing and Andy Hillenburg entry of Ryan Huff. Huff placed 12th last week at Talladega and heads to Pocono for the first time in his career. However, the team is optimistic as they were able to purchase some equipment from Travis Braden who previously owned RFMS Racing. This leaves Huff and the No. 10 team optimistic for Friday.

“We were fortunate to get our hands on some pretty good equipment,” sounded Huff. “Working with Fast Track Racing and Andy Hillenburg has been great for these last couple of races but we had the chance to bring some additional resources to the table and I’m hopeful we can capitalize on it.”

Of the other drivers slated for their first Pocono start include Ty Gibbs, Russ Lane, Sam Mayer, and Clay Greenfield.

Friday’s event will be a one-day show that includes only one practice session. The session takes place from 3:30-4:30 p.m./ET with no TV coverage. There will also be no qualifying and starting lineup will be based on 2019 owner points.

The green flag and 80 lap race is set for 6:05 p.m./ET live on Fox Sports 1.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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