DuQuoin's "Magic Mile" Chalk-Full of Flavor, Story Lines Galore ARCA RE/MAX Series Stars Schrader, Stenhouse, Tyler Busy with Double-Header Labor Day Weekend Duty DuQUOIN IL (8-29-08) -- It's a throwback to how it used to be when people came...
DuQuoin's "Magic Mile" Chalk-Full of Flavor, Story
ARCA RE/MAX Series Stars Schrader, Stenhouse, Tyler Busy with Double-Header Labor Day Weekend Duty
DuQUOIN IL (8-29-08) -- It's a throwback to how it used to be when people came from miles around to eat corn dogs and elephant ears at the fair while they waited for their heroes to fire up their stock cars and champ cars. It's how it used to be; and for the versatile ARCA RE/MAX Series warriors, it's how it still is, and will be, when the renowned stock car tour, in its 56th consecutive season, comes to the sleepy little corner of southern Illinois to mix it up on the "Magic Mile".
And yes, the track's still dirt; the garage floor is still grass; the raceday ticket price is still reasonable, and the crowds are still among the healthiest anywhere in ARCAville.
It's the 58th Southern Illinois 100 at the 86th annual DuQuoin State Fair in DuQuoin, Illinois, and it's next in the ARCA RE/MAX Series lineup Labor Day Monday, September 1st.
There is also a full field of 41 top-notch ARCA RE/MAX Series warriors with story lines galore on the way for the historical stock car classic, a crowd pleaser since 1950, the year that Jay Frank won the inaugural Southern Illinois 100 in an Oldsmobile Rocket. Little could he know that some of the most recognizable names in racing would follow in his winner circle footsteps -- names like Jerry Unser, Jimmy Bryan, Fred Lorenzen, Joe Leonard, Don White, AJ Foyt, Jack Bowsher, Rusty Wallace, Dean Roper, Bob Keselowski, Bob Strait, Frank Kimmel, Tony Stewart and Ken Schrader.
But that's exactly what happened as the event, over time, turned itself into one of the most prestigious mile-dirt stock car races in America.
Schrader, who will be racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race the night before at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, is again entered for this year's Southern Illinois 100 at DuQuoin. That means that Schrader will sit in a plane all night and into the early morning hours of Labor Day to make it in time to race at DuQuoin.
Of course, this is all nothing new for Schrader, who's been doing it this way for decades.
"I've been pretty fortunate that I've been able to do it the last few years," Schrader said. "Tony Stewart has been awful good to me. After the race, I'll get on a helicopter with Tony and fly to the airport. We'll get on his plane and he'll drop me off at the Carbondale, Ill., airport, I'll hop in the rental car, grab a shower at the hotel and then meet the boys in the lobby because I think practice is at 9 a.m."
The long flight gives Schrader and Stewart time to catch up.
"Tony and I usually talk all the way to Illinois, which isn't that long of a flight, it's three-and-a-half hours or something, but when you're going through those time zones -- you get on the plane at 11 p.m. in Fontana and you're all pumped up and then it's 5 a.m. in Illinois when you land it's kind of like 'Oh shoot, this could be a long day.' We've won DuQuoin the last two years, so we're looking forward to going back there," added the 53-year-old driver.
When probed about the adjustment of going from a high-speed superspeedway to a mile dirt track, Schrader said, "There's no adjustment on this stuff. You've got this circle, you sit in a car, you've only got a couple of pedals that do anything, and you go around the circle as fast as you can."
Schrader's won the last two consecutive Southern Illinois 100s; although this year he'll go up against the most competitive SunTrust Rookie crop ever assembled in the ARCA RE/MAX Series world, not to mention nine-time series champion and four-time DuQuoin winner Frank Kimmel, who dominated on the Springfield mile-dirt two weeks ago.
However, leading SunTrust Rookie of the Year contender Scott Speed is the championship point leader headed to DuQuoin; but the former Formula 1 circuit driver does not exactly relish in the idea of playing on the clay.
"I will have to say I am not necessarily looking forward to the dirt this weekend," Speed said. "We qualified and finished eighth at the last one, so hopefully we can run well and get out of DuQuoin with the points lead. Needless to say, can't wait to get back to the asphalt."
Following Speed's eighth place finish two weeks ago at the Springfield mile-dirt, he also had this to say, "Racing on the dirt is.....well, dirty. I was just glad when it was over."
While the point leader may fret over the dirt, Roush Fenway Racing development driver Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., who finished second at Springfield, is most assuredly looking forward to racing at DuQuoin. The Olive Branch, Mississippi driver, who cut his teeth on dirt tracks across America, is also racing in the USAC Silver Crown Series race at DuQuoin the night before.
USAC national champion Brian Tyler will also try his hand at the Southern Illinois 100.
Tyler Bring Toyota Two-Step to DuQuoin Dirt
Tyler returns to the DuQuoin State Fair for another double-duty weekend on the dirt. The popular Parma, Michigan driver will do a "Toyota Two-Step," driving Toyota powered cars in both the ARCA REMAX Series Southern Illinois 100 on Monday, and the Ted Horn 100 USAC Silver Crown race on Sunday night.
Two weeks ago, Tyler wheeled his no. 25 Jet Star-Nline Apparel-Venturini Motorsports Toyota Camry to a third place finish in the ARCA REMAX Series Allen Crowe 100 at Springfield. The day before, Tyler dominated the USAC Silver Crown field, scoring a breakthrough first win for Toyota in the Tony Bettenhausen 100 at the one-mile Illinois State Fairgrounds oval.
"Springfield was a fun weekend," said Tyler, who will be driving the Rich Woodland Racing-prepared no. 25 Venturini Motorsports Toyota Camry at DuQuoin. "We were able give Toyota their best finish in each event, and their first win in the USAC Silver Crown Series. We're pretty proud of that."
The last time Tyler took on the ARCA REMAX Series regulars at DuQuoin, he set a new track one-lap track record with an average speed of 108.196 mph, smashing the old mark of 103.072 set by Tony Stewart in 2003. He also led for 17 laps. He returns to the Southern Illinois 100 with veteran ARCA REMAX Series crew chief Calvin Humphries turning the wrenches.
"Calvin was with me when we set the track record at DuQuoin in 2005," said Tyler. "We're bringing back that same chassis. With a little luck, we might sit on the pole again."
Sponsors Jet Star and Nline Apparel together will appear on the No. 25 Toyota Camry entry for DuQuoin. Jet Star, a leader in fuel distribution services, is owned by Darryl Guiducci, Tyler's Silver Crown team owner. Nline Apparel, a leader in the custom apparel industry, is co-owned by former ARCA REMAX Series driver Rich Woodland, who has fielded ARCA REMAX Series cars for Tyler over several seasons.
Fatheadz Sunglasses, Patricia Diane Vineyards, and Lucas Oil will complete the team's sponsorship for the Southern Illinois 100.
"We're coming back to DuQuoin with the goal of winning both races this weekend," added Tyler. "We were close at Springfield, and that just makes us want to pull off double wins that much more."
ARCA RE/MAX Series practice for the 58th Southern Illinois 100 is scheduled from 9:00-10:00 am local Central time Monday, September 1st, followed by SIM Factory Pole Award Qualifying at 11:00. The start of the Southern Illinois 100 is set for 1:00 pm.