Championship contenders searching for speed in ARCA Series practice sessions for Saturday's running of American 200 at Rockingham Speedway Qualifying set to get underway for ARCA cars at 2:30 p.m. Friday, UARA Stars to follow Green flag falls...
Championship contenders searching for speed in ARCA Series practice sessions for Saturday's running of American 200 at Rockingham Speedway
Qualifying set to get underway for ARCA cars at 2:30 p.m. Friday, UARA Stars to follow
Green flag falls on UARA at 11 a.m on Saturday, ARCA to follow
ROCKINGHAM NC (10-7-10) - A mere 20 points separate the top three in the ARCA Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards standings with one race to go, it is ultra-important that the contending teams get a handle on the tricky one-mile ribbon of asphalt that is the Rockingham Speedway.
That's what Thursday was all about for points-leader Patrick Sheltra, second-place Tom Hessert and third-place Craig Goess, as well as the rest of the ARCA field entered in Saturday's running of the American 200 presented by Black's Tire and Auto Service at the speedway.
"We went out early on new tires and was bottoming out and got the goodness knocked off our tires so we could not have a good couple of laps at the beginning," said Patrick Sheltra. "On the long run - we had 50 laps on the tires - we could run with the top of the board. After lunch we will go out and try to get a couple of good laps on new tires and get higher on the speed chart."
With such a tight points battle it is important that teams find speed on the short runs and over the long-haul for Saturday's 200-miler. In addition to points earned for finishing position in the actual race, ARCA awards points for qualifying in the top-three starting positions: pole position is worth 15 points, second-place starting position gives the driver 10 points and a third-place qualifying effort earns five points in championship points.
After struggling to find speed in the morning session - finishing the morning 19th on the speed chart - Sheltra enlisted the help of last year's ARCA Series champion Justin Lofton to get the most out of the car.
"(Lofton) has been here and won the championship, so we couldn't think of a better guy to come over here and help us out a little bit. We're both feeling the same thing in the car, so we're going to put our heads together on this lunch break," Sheltra said.
Sheltra moved up to 12th in the afternoon session with a fast lap of 141.31 miles-per-hour, 25.476 seconds.
Hessert also found a himself higher on the chart in the second session, moving from 13th in the morning session to 11th in the afternoon with a fast lap of 141.382 miles-per-hour with an elapsed time of 25.463 seconds.
"We had a little trouble that kept us off the track because it kept bottoming out so we were only able to put 13 laps on the car," said Tom Hessert, who goes into qualifying on Friday second in points, 10 back of Sheltra. "After putting a few laps on the tires it was slipping and sliding a bit, but we'll get it dialed in this afternoon and be ready for qualifying tomorrow."
Goess took a slightly different tact, with the team working extensively on two cars during the morning session to try to find the right configuration to get around the track the fastest.
"We had a couple of different things that we wanted to try on a couple of different cars this morning," said Goess. "Toward the end of the session we pulled out a second car. We have a bunch of different stuff that we are trying to do to get it dialed in and get the car faster on old tires. It's a tough track to keep up with because as the track changes when it gets more rubber on it gets hotter. After lunch we decided which car were going to use and spent the rest of the day trying to get it as good as we can."
Goess ended the second session 20th on the speed chart after ending the morning with the third quickest lap time of that session.
The morning session proved to be much faster than the sun-drenched afternoon session when temperatures reached the 80s. Chris Buescher turned the fastest lap of the a.m. practice with a time of 24.726 seconds, 145.596 miles-per-hour. The fastest time of the p.m. session was posted by Steve Arpin at 25.028 seconds, nearly two miles-per-hour slower than Buescher's morning fast lap.
Friday, Oct. 8 is pole day for the ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards and UARA Stars Late Model Series with fans admitted to the grandstands for $5. The American 200 presented by Black's Tire and Auto Service gets underway Saturday, Oct. 9 with the UARA Late Models rolling off at 11 a.m. followed by the ARCA 200-miler at 1:30 p.m. Tickets, starting at $20 in advance, and suite packages are still available.
To order tickets for the American 200, contact the Rockingham Speedway at (910) 205-8800 or visit our website at www.rockinghamspeedway.com.