ARCA RE/MAX Series Veteran Mark Gibson Exchanges Headset for Helmet at Springfield Mile-Dirt; 47th Allen Crowe 100 Coming Sunday SPRINGFIELD IL (8-21-09) - It's been two years since ARCA RE/MAX Series veteran Mark Gibson buckled-up inside a ...
ARCA RE/MAX Series Veteran Mark Gibson Exchanges Headset for Helmet at Springfield Mile-Dirt; 47th Allen Crowe 100 Coming Sunday
SPRINGFIELD IL (8-21-09) - It's been two years since ARCA RE/MAX Series veteran Mark Gibson buckled-up inside a racecar; but that's all about to change this Sunday at the Illinois State Fairgrounds mile-dirt where the Winder, Georgia veteran will climb back aboard for the 47th annual Allen Crowe 100 in Springfield.
It's not like he hasn't been busy either. Gibson, car owner for current point leader/rookie Parker Kligerman, also serves as General Manager for Cunningham Motorsports, which fields two teams at the moment - the 77 of Kligerman and the 4 of, well, it'll be Gibson this weekend.
"I can't wait to go to Springfield," said Gibson.
"There's something about those covered grandstands, all the fans, the fair, then driving off into turn one with a Ferris wheel full of people right off the corner. You can actually see right down the fairway. It takes us back to the grass roots of racing; I guess I'm just old school, but I love it. The history of the place is so cool. AJ (Foyt), (Jack) Bowsher, Unser's, Andretti's; they all raced there. As far as I'm concerned we could race at Springfield or DuQuoin every weekend, and that'd be fine with me."
Gibson, whose ARCA RE/MAX Series driving career reaches back to 1982, will be making his 316th career series start at Springfield. Gibson, with his pressing duties with Cunningham Motorsports, was unable to race in 2008.
"I love the dirt. Hated missing last year. I'd run it every year if I could. I started on the dirt at Volusia County in the early 70s, and I've always liked it. Have always run well on the dirt." Gibson is bringing the same car he raced at Springfield and DuQuoin in 2007.
"It's one of the cars that Cunningham bought from Ganassi. It's a good car. It was built in 2002, David Stremme drove it. I expect to have a real nice piece; but even if the car's a little off, that's the good thing about racing on the dirt; you can change the way you drive to make up for it.
"Derrick Gray and Allen Patterson, who were on my crew years ago, are coming to help crew the car. Paul (Andrews/crew chief on the no. 4 Cunningham Motorsports cars) is coming too. Paul's never been to the dirt and he wants to see what it's all about."
Point leader Kligerman has also never been to the dirt, much less raced on it.
"I think Parker's going to do just fine. I know he's a little concerned about it, but as fast as he picks things up, I really don't think he'll have much trouble at all. With his midget background, and he likes a loose racecar, likes working the steering wheel; he'll be fine."
Regardless of how good one is on the Springfield mile-dirt, Gibson also understands that job one at the historic fairgrounds horse track is to beat Frank Kimmel, who has won seven of the last 11 races there. In the races he didn't win, he finished second bringing his average finish to an astonishing 1.36.
"You gotta beat Frank, and Ken Schrader - two of the best. With Frank, best you can do is try to follow him; then, if you're close enough, race him in the last four or five laps. As much as I've been doing this, I still learn a lot every time I go on the track at Springfield. I learned a lot running behind Schrader two years ago. I learned how to run a little different line through one and two. Problem was by the time I got to him, I had to change my line again. But I learn something every lap.
"Springfield's just a cool place. I think I've been going there longer than I've been racing, so it's a special place for me. It's not just the race either. I've had a special connection with the fans there over the years, real grassroots race fans. The fans come right down to you after the race. The fans at the state fairs are well educated on the sport. They know what they're looking at. They've seen all the great's race at Springfield at one time or another. It's just so cool to be a part of that. Whoever wins this Sunday; I just hope he understands how big it is."
Former Allen Crowe 100 winners include Schrader, AJ Foyt, Al Unser, Ramo Stott, Don White, Roger McCluskey, Bob Keselowski, Jack Bowsher, Bobby Isaac, Dean Roper and Curtis Turner to name a few.
Practice for the Sunday, August 23rd Allen Crowe 100 is scheduled from 9:00-10:00 AM local time with Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell at 11:00. The race is scheduled to get underway just after 1:00 PM. All the on-track activity will be featured on the ARCA Racing Network at ARCAracing.com through live streaming video and audio.