Chase Briscoe dominated the ModSpace 150 at Pocono Raceway to win his fourth race in a row. John Wes Townley finished second, Dalton Sergeant, Shane Lee, and Kyle Weatherman rounded out the top-5. Briscoe is the first driver since Parker Kligerman in 2009 to win four consecutive races in a row in ARCA competition. This is the 20th consecutive different race winner at Pocono.
“Cant believe this. You know it’s awesome to get big time, four wins in a row. General Tire brings us a great tire to where we can put on good racing like we do,” said Briscoe in a post-race victory lane interview with Fox Sports 1.
Townley, who returned to competition this week after missing a couple weeks due to concussion-like symptoms, was impressed with his run at Pocono. “We, unfortunately, quite didn’t have a car for the 77. He was just really fast, but hopefully we can beat him next time.”
The caution flag flew for a grand total of four times. The first caution flew for debris from a side window from the 52 car of Matt Kurzejewski. The second caution flew for the stalled car of Josh Williams. The third caution flew for Tom Berte, who stalled at the entrance of pit road. The final caution was also brought out by a piece of debris.
The second caution of the day also featured an accident on pit road. The jack man and the tire changer for the 98 of Gus Dean were hit on pit road due to Dean’s brake failure. The tire changer was checked and released from the infield care center. However, the gas man was transported to an area hospital for further evaluation.
Chase Briscoe extends his point lead over Williams, who is 400 points behind Briscoe. Kurzejewski is third, Tom Hessert, and Weatherman round out the top-five in points.
The ARCA Racing Series returns to action on August 6 for the Berlin ARCA 200 at the Berlin Raceway in Michigan. The event will be 200 laps. Action from Berlin can be seen on the American Sports Network.
The ARCA Racing Series heads to the Pocono Mountains for the second trip of 2016 for the ModSpace 150 at the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway. This will be the 14th race in 2016 for ARCA, kicking off a triple-header weekend in Pocono. 28 drivers are currently scheduled to race in the Friday evening spectacular. John Wes Townley will be returning to competition after missing two weeks due to concussion-like symptoms faced in a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Gateway Motorsports Park in late June.
Friday’s late afternoon race will be 50 miles shorter than the General Tire #AnywhereIsPossible 200 held at the beginning of June. The race will be a quick 60 lap shootout, where drivers will try to make it on one pit stop.
This will be the 63rd ARCA race at Pocono. ARCA races at Pocono have a notorious list of winners, including, but not limited to, Ty Dillon, Chase Elliott, Ryan Newman, Trevor Bayne, Tim Steele, Mike Wallace, and Blaise Alexander.
Pocono Raceway is located in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. Three distinct turns canvas the speedway. The first turn is banked at 14 degrees, and is designed after the Trenton Speedway. As they exit the turn, drivers will go down the Long Pond Straightaway gaining momentum as they enter what is known as the “Tunnel Turn”, turn two. The second turn is based on Indianapolis Motor Speedway at nine degrees of banking. After the exit of turn two, drivers will go down the shortshoot to set up for turn three. The third turn is only banked at six degrees, and is based off the Milwaukee Mile. Drivers must execute turn three to near perfection in an effort to gain more momentum down the longest straightaway on the circuit.
According to weekly press releases, drivers are excited about returning to Pocono.
Christopher Bell will be making his first start at Pocono for Venturini Motorsports, while performing double duty. “I’m really excited to make my first start at Pocono this weekend,” said Bell. “Pocono’s unique track configuration puts a lot of emphasis on the technical aspect behind the wheel. I’m looking forward to the challenge. Running back-to-back events will be a lot of fun and give me plenty of laps to adapt to a new track. I’ve had this weekend circled on my calendar for a while now.”
Matt Kurzejewski, driver of the no. 52 Ansell-Menards Toyota for Ken Schrader Racing, will be racing in front of a hometown crowd on Friday. "I'm totally looking forward to going back. I love the three completely different turns. Turn one has some banking and you can really hustle it through there. Turn two is more high-speed and technical, similar to a road course...you have to hustle it yourself through there. Turn three is more flat...not a big fan of flat tracks, but it's high-speed and I like it. For me, it can be challenging to hold a rhythm because you have to repeat three complete different movements over each lap, which requires drivers to get on a different tempo. It's different to everywhere else we go, which is a big part of the appeal, at least for me.”
Chase Briscoe, current ARCA points leader, will be trying to make history by being the first driver to win four races in a row since Parker Kligerman in 2009. Briscoe hopes to contend for victory.
Practice for the ModSpace150 will be from 9:30 to 10:55 on Friday morning. Lenard’s Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell will be at 2:00 pm EST. The race will begin at 5:30 pm on Fox Sports 1. On track activity with live timing and scoring can be viewed at arcaracing.com.
Since 1993, no driver has won an ARCA Series championship driving for their own team. That is about to change.
Mason Mitchell, 20, needs to finish 35th or better in Friday evening’s ARCA 98.9 200 at Kansas Speedway to clinch the title. With just 34 cars entered for the event, he has automatically clinched the title over Grant Enfinger, who trails Mitchell by 200 points entering the final race of the season. And in becoming the champion – he is the first driver/owner since Tim Steele did so in 1993 to debut a team and win the title in the same year.
“We want to make sure that when we start the race that we have it wrapped up,” said Mitchell on “The Speedy Digest” Wednesday evening. “Hopefully, we qualify well. If we can qualify where we have been qualifying, then we can get some qualifying points and we don’t have to worry about the point’s situation at all.”
After racing for the Roulo Brothers and Empire Racing in 2013, he made the choice of starting his own organization. Mason Mitchell Motorsports opened its doors prior to Daytona and has not looked back ever since. With hard work and determination, Mitchell has turned a start-up organization into a championship winning one.
With two mechanical issues that hindered his results at O’Reilly Raceway Park and Madison International Speedway, he has finished inside of the top-10 every event except for those. His No. 98 Ford has been a model for consistency, and leading at least two laps in all but four races has helped extend his gap over Enfinger.
“It would mean a lot just because I know how hard I have worked for it, my family has worked for it, my friends for supporting and most importantly – the whole Mason Mitchell [Motorsports] team,” said Mitchell, who chose to run the No. 98 because because Benny Parsons won two ARCA Series championships driving the number.
“It really is about the people that you support yourself with. The people that work their will work day and night to get to a race and you have to do everything you can to make it possible. It can be an uphill battle at times, but you just have to have faith in yourself and believe and know that you can keep it going. I knew it was going to be really hard [to win the title], but this isn’t like a surprise to me at all because it is what I wanted to do and what we set our goal to be.”
For this weekend’s race, Mitchell’s Ford will sport a bright pink paint scheme for breast cancer awareness. Plenty of his family and friends will be making the three-hour drive from his hometown of West Des Moines, Iowa for the championship celebration at Kansas.
Although his plans are not confirmed for 2015, Mitchell has hopes of moving up the ranks to either the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series or Nationwide Series.
“There is nothing on the works for that. Mason Mitchell Motorsports is still going to be an ARCA team and we are still working on things for that. We have a heck of a team here and all of the guys dig really hard. We did some crazy stuff at the beginning of the year to get started with everybody.”
Age is just number, right? Well, that’s at least what one driver in the ARCA Series says.
2013 marked the start of one young man’s journey to the top. Actually, that journey started years ago. Since he was a nine-year-old, Michael Lira has always been in the seat of a race car.
Lira currently races for Kimmel Racing – owned by fellow driver Will Kimmel. Working with Will and his father Bill Kimmel, the two have created one of the top teams in the ARCA Series. With Lira joining the organization late last year, Kimmel Racing has begun to see an added level of success.
“He definitely helps because he’s out there driving,” Lira said of his teammate. “I have been switching over to his radio channel – asking him a lot of questions because he is running really well. It has been huge to have him as a mentor – especially with the places that he has been too and knows already.”
Splitting time between the team’s flagship cars, the no. 68 and No. 69 Fords, Lira is going to be running 14 of the 20 events in the division this season. In addition to racing in the ARCA Series, he hasn’t forgotten about where he came from either.
Lira and his father have been able to raise the funding to race. With the ownership of Gary Yeoman’s Ford in Daytona Beach, Florida, the father-son combination has worked their way up through the stock car ranks. The family’s Ford dealership is one of the most successful in the country, and it is the number one seller of Roush Mustangs and Roush Performance Parts in the world. Due to the dealership’s success, the pair has also developed a relationship with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team owner Jack Roush.
“My dad and I have a good alliance with Mr. Roush," Lira said. "Our dealership, Gary Yeoman’s Ford, is the number one seller of Roush Mustangs and Roush Performance Parts in the world. They are good friends. Jack has helped me here and there. We use all Roush-Yates stuff. I want to do as many races as I can possibly do. ARCA is my main focus, but I won’t be able to race Daytona, Talladega or Michigan I believe because I don’t turn 18 until July next year."
After running eight races so far in this season, Lira has three top-10 finishes. Kimmel, however, has four in just seven starts. With his experience, he has been able to help his 17-year-old driver at tracks he has never been to. But even while running for a team that is finding success, both drivers have had trouble attaining additional sponsorship – the bread and butter of achieving their goals on and off the race track.
Running on a part-time basis has helped him develop to the level of competition. When he isn’t racing in the ARCA Series, the Florida-native is racing Super and Pro Late Models with his family. But the best part about this year in his mind is that he is able to gain experience on a weekly basis.
“The biggest thing is that we are not running for points," he explained. "It is like a giant test session for me. Every time you come back to a track for a second time – a lot of these short tracks that I went to that I didn’t test at – I felt like I was a lot better at the end of the race than I was at the first lap. If we came back here (Pocono) next week, I feel like we’d be setting ourselves up for a really good run, so we have a good future here.
“For the short track races, we kind of just showed up on race day and tried to learn the track in the two short 45-minute practices. After the race – I feel a lot better about it. I feel like when we go back to these tracks in a year or two when we are back and I have been to all of these tracks, it is going to be huge for me when I’m in the car.”
As he prepares for 2015, Lira will be entered in nearly every event in the ARCA Series. Since he doesn’t turn 18 until next July, he is restricted from competing in the restrictor plate events, along with a few other races. With hopes of racing full-time sooner rather than later, the high school student is focused on just getting better with time.
Since the father-son tango has a relationship with Roush, they are hoping to piece together a development deal in the near future. Roush is a partner with Kimmel Racing, but they also worked closely with Roulo Brothers Racing in ARCA as well. Most of Roush’s developmental drivers – including Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Chris Buescher – started out their deal with the organization by racing for the Roulo’s. However, before they can come up with a partnership with Roush Fenway Racing, Lira will need to find just a drop more speed on the race track.
“We’re hoping to work out a development deal soon, but we need to get more top-fives and start winning races before we can start talking about that,” Lira said. “Obviously, equipment is huge for everybody. You see people who move up quick and have good funding behind them and they can run well. You have to make sure that when you move to a new team or a new car that you have good people around you. More than expertise, it is about the people that are around you.”
After a dominating performance on Saturday afternoon at Pocono, Kyle Larson showed once again that he has a boatload of talent. However, Larson also utilized his NASCAR Nationwide Series crew from Turner Scott Motorsports.
Larson’s crew, led by Scott Zipadelli, proved to be the difference maker in Saturday’s ARCA 200 at Pocono. The No. 4 car had a lead over Matt Tift at one point the event which surpassed 20 seconds – that’s nearly half of the entire Pocono Raceway.
After making a green flag pit stop, Larson received a pit road speeding violation – forcing his Chevrolet to have a pass-through penalty. Due to his large lead, Larson still held a five second lead over Tift. A large part of holding a 20 second lead was because of his Nationwide Series pit crew, who noticeably had about a five-10 second quicker pit stop compared to the rest of the top-10.
But with a car that was clearly going to be dominating this weekend with his Nationwide Series team, should he have raced on Saturday? Wouldn’t have participating in the ARCA Series test at Pocono been enough for the 21-year-old?
Well, on Friday Larson told Speedway Digest that he did not believe it was going to hurt him by racing the ARCA Series race. However, at the time, he believed it wasn’t helping him an exceptional amount considering the differences between the ARCA Series and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Not only does the ARCA Series use a different tire combination as they throw on Hoosier tires to their cars, but they also have less horse power than the Cup Series. In the Cup Series, drivers have been shifting at least two-four times per lap at Pocono. Moreover, the ARCA Series does not shift at all at Pocono besides on the restart. Larson even joked about how Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates was making his practice shifting by driving around town in a manual vehicle – a Chevrolet Camaro to be specific.
The only driver who was able to contend with Larson for the victory was Mason Mitchell. Mitchell led several laps after the final restart, but as the field was coming to two laps remaining in the 200-mile spectacle, Larson flew by Mitchell, who owns his own team – Mason Mitchell Motorsports. He ended up beating Mitchell by approximately one second.
Justin Boston and Matt Tift had strong cars that might have been able to contend with Larson, but they’re days came to an end early as both of them got into a wreck with 15 laps remaining in the event. Justin Allison also had a strong car, yet his No. 88 Ford was stuck in fourth gear and caused him to fall back mightily on the restart.
Larson might have dominated the race, but he stated that he learned a few things which could help him on Sunday for the Pocono 400. He had to maneuver through traffic for the majority of the day, and also had an intense battle with Mitchell. Another thing which Larson could have learned this weekend was the line which he takes going to pass drivers in the corners. But that is about all he could learn with such drastic differences in the two divisions.
The California native was 12th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice held early Saturday afternoon after running 25 laps – the third highest amount behind Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski. He was also inside of the top-10 in the second practice of the weekend, and was fourth of nine cars to run 10 consecutive laps.
Larson will start his first Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono in the 14th position.