Top Four in ARCA Racing Series Standings Separated by 25 Points (TOLEDO, Ohio) - The separation of four drivers by a mere 25 points atop the ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards standings serves as the norm at the beginning of a ...
Top Four in ARCA Racing Series Standings Separated by 25 Points
(TOLEDO, Ohio) - The separation of four drivers by a mere 25 points atop the ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards standings serves as the norm at the beginning of a season, when only one or two races have been completed. After 15 races, however, such a small range among contenders is an indication of major competition.
Craig Goess (No. 81 Greenville Toyota of N.C. Toyota) entered Chicagoland Speedway 10 points behind Frank Kimmel's (No. 44 Ansell/Menards Ford) lead atop the standings, but seized the Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell Friday afternoon. In doing so, Goess earned 15 bonus qualifying points and moved out of third place to unseat Kimmel before the race.
Kimmel did edge Goess by one position in that evening's Ansell Protective Gloves 150, but Goess led three early laps to earn an additional five bonus points and maintain a five-point advantage (3670-3665) for first place.
Patrick Sheltra (No. 60 Recycling Services/Ferguson Pipe Toyota) entered the weekend 40 points behind Kimmel and 30 points behind the bottom of the Kimmel-Tom Hessert-Goess triumvirate, but earned 10 points for qualifying second and the maximum 200 for winning the race. Sheltra is now in third place, 10 points behind Goess and five behind Kimmel. He leads Hessert (No. 77 Cherry Hill Classic Cars Dodge), formerly second, by 15 points.
The fifth, sixth, and seventh positions are also closely contested. Rookie Dakoda Armstrong (No. 22 Ferrellgas/Syngenta Seeds Dodge) is 135 points behind Goess, and leads Justin Marks (No. 32 Construct Corps Dodge) by 10 and Mikey Kile (No. 25 Venturini Motorsports Chevrolet) by 20.
Coulter Survives in Four Crown Chase: With the ARCA Racing Series standings so competitively tight with just five races remaining, Joey Coulter's (No. 16 Darrell Gwynn Foundation/Rip It Energy Fuel Chevrolet) narrow win in the Bill France Four Crown Award competition may have provided a preview of the thrilling lap-by-lap points movement still to come in the series' October 9 season finale at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway.
Late in Friday's Ansell Protective Gloves 150, with Patrick Sheltra leading, Coulter was ninth - a difference equivalent to a 40-point shift in the final race of the Four Crown pursuit. For Coulter, who entered with only a 45-point advantage over Sheltra, the margin was too close to comfort. A fall of just one more position would have entered the two drivers into a tiebreaker for the Four Crown Award, which would have been won by Sheltra by virtue of the third tie-breaking criterion: most victories. Sheltra's two - at Chicagoland and the dirt oval at the Illinois State Fairgrounds - would have edged Coulter's one, earned at the Berlin (Mich.) Raceway short track on August 7.
Coulter rose to eighth, however, and defeated Sheltra at the top of the Four Crown standings by 10 points, 745-735. Coulter ended the competition with finishes of first (Berlin), second (New Jersey Motorsports Park, road course), fourth (Illinois State Fairgrounds), and eighth.
"It is really an honor," Coulter said after the race. "It is one of those awards I've always known about, and thought, 'Man, it'd be really cool to be able to go to four different race tracks and run really good.' When we won the first race at Berlin, I thought we really had a shot to win it this year. My strategy was to do good at the short track and survive on the road course, because I don't have a lot of experience there, and then go after it on the dirt track and come (to Chicagoland) and go after it."
Coulter mentioned his second-place finish on the road course as a key point for believing himself to be the top contender.
Four Crown points are allocated without qualifying or in-race bonuses, and distributed in the same method as in the official series standings. A race winner receives 200 points, the second-place finisher receives 195, and following positions receive five fewer points per lower position until five points are awarded to a 40th-place finisher, if necessary.
The top 10 drivers in the final Four Crown standings are as follows: 1. Coulter 745; 2. Sheltra 735; 3. Tom Hessert 725; 4. Steve Arpin 715; 5. Frank Kimmel 695; 6. Craig Goess 655; 7. Dakoda Armstrong 640; 8. Mikey Kile 620; 9. Bryan Silas 530; 10. Tim George Jr. 530.
Third All Too Common for Enfinger: Grant Enfinger (No. 09 BeasleyAllen.com Ford) made just his 17th career ARCA Racing Series start in Friday's Ansell Protective Gloves 150, but finished in third place for the fifth time overall and over his last 12 races. Enfinger has finished in that position three times this season alone, with the first two occurrences happening at Texas in April and at Iowa last month.
Enfinger, who runs a limited schedule in a car owned by Robby Benton, had entered the weekend as the highest-returning finisher at Chicagoland Speedway after posting a runner-up result in 2009.
Statistical Oddity for Sheltra: Patrick Sheltra's win was not only his first ARCA Racing Series victory on a speedway, but it represented the completion of a peculiar statistical quirk through seven races on such tracks.
In races on paved ovals over one mile in distance this season, Sheltra has finished in each of the first seven positions exactly once. He finished fifth at Daytona, seventh at Texas, second at Talladega, fourth at Pocono in June, third at Michigan, sixth at Pocono in July, and first at Chicagoland.
Remarkably, Craig Goess is only one race away from the same seven-race oddity. His 34th-place result at Daytona preceded finishes of second at Texas, fourth at Talladega, first at Pocono in June, sixth at Michigan, third at Pocono in July, and fifth at Chicagoland.
Sheltra is the only driver this season with seven top-10 finishes in as many speedway races; Goess and Justin Marks have six apiece.
Career High for Fowler: Eighteen-year-old Kyle Fowler (No. 52 Schrader Racing Chevrolet) of Georgia finished 12th in the Ansell Protective Gloves 150 to set a new career high. Fowler had finished 15th at Toledo in May and 22nd at Iowa in July in his only previous ARCA Racing Series starts.
Other notable highlights included: Kyle Martel (13th) posting the third top-15 of his partial season for the No. 43 Hanover Cold Storage/Finish Line Express Chevrolet owned by his father, Bill Martel; Chris Cockrum (No. 28 Hixson Construction Chevrolet) finishing 15th in his first appearance in the series since a 12th-place result in the season opener at Daytona; and Tony Palumbo (No. 70 NOTW.com Ford) achieving a career best in 17th place.
Sheltra Advances in Lap Leader Standings: Patrick Sheltra's 85 laps led Friday gave him the $500 Aaron's Lap Leader Award for the Ansell Protective Gloves 150 and moved him from 10th place and into third in the year-long Aaron's Lap Leader Award standings. Sheltra has led 100 of the 206 laps contested in the previous two races and 164 in all over four races this season. He trails only Chris Buescher (209) and Steve Arpin (196).
Additionally, Sheltra led at Lap 50 to win the $500 Messina Halfway Leader Award.
Chad Finley led three laps just before the race's halfway point and became the 24th driver to lead in the series this season.
Five Races to Reach Record: Patrick Sheltra became just the second driver with multiple wins in the ARCA Racing Series in 2010, joining Steve Arpin (Salem, Texas). Each driver scored his pair of victories consecutively.
Five races remain on the ARCA Racing Series schedule, allowing several chances for two more winners to materialize. Such an occurrence would give the series 15 different race winners in 2010 and tie the record set in the first 22 of 23 races in 2007. Nine-time champion Frank Kimmel, a winner of 74 races in his career, has not yet won in 2010.
Eleven of the 13 drivers to win this year have been first-time winners in the series.
Craig Goess became the second driver with multiple Menards Pole Awards in 2010, joining Chris Buescher. Eleven drivers with one pole each are tied for second place in the season-long Menards Pole Award standings.
Continuing Through Illinois: The ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards visits the one-mile Du Quoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds dirt oval in Du Quoin, Ill. for a Labor Day tradition on Monday, September 6. Practice begins at 10 a.m. Eastern/9 a.m. Central, and Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell follows at noon Eastern/11 a.m. Central. The 100-lap, 100-mile Southern Illinois 100 presented by Federated Auto Parts takes place at 2 Eastern/1 Central. Live timing and scoring and live audio coverage for all three events will be presented by ARCA Nation and the ARCA Racing Network at ARCARacing.com.
Frank Kimmel is the all-time leading winner at the track with five victories (2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2008). Parker Kligerman, last season's leading winner with nine victories, won last year to sweep the dirt oval portion of the schedule.