DUQUOIN IL (8-23-03) Undaunted by delay or his first-ever look at the legendary DuQuoin dirt-mile, ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series rookie Brian Rowe, in the Pate Manufacturing Ford Ranger, drove to victory lane in the inaugural Lincoln Welders...
DUQUOIN IL (8-23-03) Undaunted by delay or his first-ever look at the legendary DuQuoin dirt-mile, ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series rookie Brian Rowe, in the Pate Manufacturing Ford Ranger, drove to victory lane in the inaugural Lincoln Welders 50 Saturday night under the lights at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds.
Rowe passed Tully Esterline for the lead just as the pair approached the halfway point of the 50-lap event and never relinquished it earning his career-third series victory in only his tenth attempt.
As a result, the Barboursville, West Virginia driver has tied defending ARCA Truck champion Chad Guinn for the points lead with just two events remaining on the 2003 tour.
However, before the engines were fired to start the race, the event got off to a precarious start when the track lights went out on the frontstretch as well as throughout a portion of the midway in the adjoining state fair. After about an hour and a half delay, power was restored and the race went off without another hitch.
Esterline, in only his second series start of the season, won the Old Milwaukee Pole Award with a new one-lap track record and grabbed the lead at the onset while outside polesitter Ron Wells settled in behind. Rowe, who started fourth, trailed in third with Paul Hahn and Kevin Reeb running fourth and fifth. Guinn, who had to forego qualifying because of electrical problems, quickly charged from the tail-end and began pressing the leaders. Guinn, whose rise to the top did not take long, passed Hahn for fourth on lap five and started working on Rowe for third. However Rowe built a small cushion when he passed Wells for second on lap 14 heading into turn one. Rowe then made his winning pass on Esterline to lead the 25th circuit while Esterline, Wells and Guinn battled for second. However, Wells' fine run was erased from the mix when his engine failed on the 31st lap relegating the Riverside, Ohio driver to 14th in the final running order. Guinn got by Esterline for second and soon found himself battling Rowe for the lead. The pair went bumper-to-bumper lap after lap until Guinn, with less than six laps remaining, got too high coming off turn two and flat-sided his truck against the outside backstretch wall. Guinn gathered up his BFI-Northland Collision Ford but not before Esterline, in the Rupp Seeds Chevrolet, got back by for second. With the handle nowhere near as good as it was, Guinn began to get pressure from Hahn in the closing laps before giving up the spot on the final lap. Rowe eventually stretched his lead to five lengths at the checkered flag over Esterline, Hahn, Guinn and Reeb to complete the top five finishers respectively.
Brandon Knupp finished sixth ahead of two-time series champion Robbin Slaughter, the last truck on the lead lap, in seventh. Former series champion Bill Withers was eighth in front of Stan Maitlen in ninth and John Kasmierski in tenth.
In addition to Rowe's winning purse payout, he picked up the Cloyes Gear Halfway Leader award while Guinn was credited with the Ed & Company Hard Charger honors for advancing the most positions.
The final two events for the ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series will be at Spartan Speedway in Lansing, Michigan on September 7 before the tour wraps things up at Salem Speedway in Salem, Indiana on September 13 where they will serve as the preamble for the same-night ARCA RE/MAX Series Eddie Gilstrap Motors 200 under the lights for the first time.