Robb Brent Negotiates Solid Run In Dirt Debut SPRINGFIELD, Illinois (August 24, 2009) - - ARCA RE/MAX Series (ARS) driver Robb Brent tackled the Illinois State Fairgrounds Sunday afternoon taking to the dirt for the first time behind the wheel...
Robb Brent Negotiates Solid Run In Dirt Debut
SPRINGFIELD, Illinois (August 24, 2009) - - ARCA RE/MAX Series (ARS) driver Robb Brent tackled the Illinois State Fairgrounds Sunday afternoon taking to the dirt for the first time behind the wheel of the No. 36 Orchard Chrysler Dodge Jeep Dodge Charger.
Not knowing what to really expect in his first tango in the Allen Crowe 100, the Justin Allgaier Motorsports (JAM) driver leaned on the experience of his veteran crew and car chief Kelly Kovski who traded in his wrenches for the steering wheel in the 14th ARCA race of the year.
The one-day show started off on the right foot for the Shelby Township, Michigan native by posting the 15th quickest lap during the short one hour practice. Brent wheeled his Mike Allgaier owned machine around the one-mile oval in a time of 34.675 seconds at 103.821 miles per hour.
"I'll take that," said Brent, who is juggling a full-time ARCA RE/MAX Series plate while also earning a college degree. "It's hard for me to really know if I'm doing everything by the books because I've never been here before. Luckily, Justin (Allgaier) is here and Kelly (Kovski) is practically a teammate to me in this race; so I have a couple great guys to chat with about what the car is doing. We're going to make a few minor tweaks to the car for qualifying."
Despite picking up over two tenths of a second from practice, Brent's lap was only good enough for 20th quickest. Overall, not a bad performance for the 22-year old rookie dirt competitor.
"It was okay," offered Brent. "I slipped up a little bit and if you do that here; you're pretty much toast. These dirt races are so unique because the schedule is so tight and ARCA only gives you one lap of qualifying. If you make a mistake; there is barely any room for recovery. It is what it is; we'll just to move up for the race."
Before strapping in Brent took some time and talked to a familiar face at the Illinois State Fairgrounds and his team leader Justin Allgaier. With the team's shop located just a few minutes from the track, Brent and the NASCAR Nationwide Series rookie spent some time together with Allgaier giving Brent some tricks of the trade to dirt racing. After all, Allgaier is a former winner the Springfield mile.
"Justin was so open with me about this place," explained Brent. "He knows what his first time here was like so he did everything he could to reassure me that everything was going to be alright. He is a great leader and I was glad to have him on my side.
"At the start of the Allen Crowe 100, Brent began patiently working his way through the 38-car starting field. With a well-handling and neutral Dodge Charger; Brent had marched his way into the top-15 when the first caution flag waived.
With the teams required to make a mandatory trip to pit road, the JAM team led by new crew chief Dave Leiner opted to bring their driver down the crowded pit road for fuel only. Returning to the track inside the top-15, Brent would utilize the remainder of the first half of the event to learn the perfect line and learn from his aggressive competition around him.
A plague of yellow flags kept the teams at bay for a whopping 42 laps of the 103-lap event but with a chance at getting some new Hoosier rubbers inside the remaining twenty laps of the event -- the former road racing ace ducked down pit road one more time for tires and a minor chassis adjustment.
Restarting near the tail end of the lead lap, Brent latched on to the veteran competition ahead of him which eventually found him behind his car chief Kelly Kovski. Restarting behind Kovski's No. 39 Chevrolet Monte Carlo in a green-white-checkered the duo put on a great show with the veteran dirt driver Kovski pulling ahead of the No. 36 at the line with Brent posting a comfortable 13th place run.
"All in all, I can't really complain about the day," said Brent. "I will tell you this even with all the cautions the race goes by extremely fast. I learned a lot out there today and even more behind Kelly (Kovski). It was dirty but boy was it fun. No doubt that this experience at Springfield will help me in a couple weeks at DuQuoin."
By racking up his 10th top-15 finish of the year, Brent continues to hold the 10th position in the ARCA RE/MAX Series championship standings entering the series' next event at the Chicagoland Speedway for the running of the Ansell Cut Protection 150.