Rookie Matt Hawkins Hustles in Hawkeye State; Wins Prairie Meadows 250 in Career-First ARCA RE/MAX Series Start NEWTON IA (4-19-08)--Canton, Georgia rookie Matt Hawkins wasted no time in asserting himself among the ARCA RE/MAX Series ranks.
Rookie Matt Hawkins Hustles in Hawkeye State; Wins Prairie Meadows 250 in Career-First ARCA RE/MAX Series Start
NEWTON IA (4-19-08)--Canton, Georgia rookie Matt Hawkins wasted no time in asserting himself among the ARCA RE/MAX Series ranks. Hawkins, in his career-first series start, tracked down Matt Carter just in time, rubbed fenders just enough and cruised on to win the Prairie Meadows 250 Saturday afternoon at Iowa Speedway.
The 20-year-old driver, in the JaniKing-Racing Radios Dodge, drove underneath Carter through turns one and two with six laps to go to earn the momentous victory.
"I have some great guys behind me," said Hawkins, who led three times for 12 laps. "We came here to run up front and we did. Working traffic wasn't terrible because the field got strung out enough that I could pass cars fairly easily. But, once I got up with the fastest seven cars, that was a different story. It was hard to pass those guys. When I got into Matt (Carter) with about seven to go, I just lost the nose and got into him. It certainly wasn't intentional and I hope he knows that."
Carter, in the Stine Seed-Fort Dodge Animal Health-Pork Ford, got tight in the final laps and gave up two more spots before the checkered flag waved. Regardless, Carter, who led 117 of the 250 laps, was credited with the Aaron's Lap Leader award for leading the most laps, and finished fourth. He also earned the Accel Fastest Lap of the Race (134.151 mph).
"The contact (between Hawkins and Carter) was really no big deal," said Carter. "He was faster than we were and would have passed us anyway. He apologized; everything's fine."
Justin Allgaier, who led 83 laps, not only passed Carter with four laps to go, but was closing in on the eventual winner before time ran out. Allgaier, in the AG Tech-Hoosier Midwest-Simpson Safety Chevrolet, finished second, five lengths away from Hawkins. He also earned the Klotz Halfway Leader honors.
"We had temperature problems and that caused us to have some long pit stops," said Allgaier, who lost six positions on pit road during his final stop. "We had too much tape on the nose, but when we removed that it took away the downforce on the front of the car. We tried to get the car right for the long runs, but the weather threw everyone for a curve. It's really a good thing that it was cold when we had the open test here because we were more prepared to deal with the weather today."
Frank Kimmel, in an unsponsored Ford, charged from the 39th starting position to finish third, earning the Casite Hard Charger award.
"Car ran very well all day," said Kimmel. "It's (the car) actually a combination of a few cars that we pieced together. We're actually off to the best start ever in the ARCA RE/MAX Series; we just need a sponsor to see us through the rest of the year."
Eighteen-year-old rookie Jesse Smith, in only his second career series start, finished a career-best fifth in the Lloyd's Barbeque-Spam-Hormel Foods Dodge after leading three laps.
In all, there were 13 lead changes among seven drivers while nine cautions, all for minor incidents, slowed the field for 54 laps.
Scott Speed led 28 laps in the Red Bull Toyota and finished sixth ahead of his Eddie Sharp Racing teammate Ken Butler III, who finished seventh in the Aaron's Rent Toyota.
Bryan Silas busted out his second consecutive top-10 run with an eighth place finish in the Nortrax-Shell Rotella T Chevrolet. Patrick Sheltra finished ninth in the Ferguson Pipe-FloraGanics Chevrolet. Tayler Malsam shook off some early-season bad luck with a solid 10th place finish in the Dodge Driver Development Dodge.
Next up for the ARCA RE/MAX Series is the Kansas Lottery $150 Grand at Kansas Speedway on Friday, April 25th, 2008. The race airs on SPEED Saturday at 8:30 p.m. Eastern.
UNOFFICIAL TOP-10 ARCA RE/MAX SERIES POINT STANDINGS AFTER THE PRAIRIE MEADOWS 250 AT IOWA SPEEDWAY (4-19-08); 1) Justin Allgaier 680; 2) Frank Kimmel 635; 3) Matt Carter 615; 4) John Wes Townley 540; 5) Tom Hessert III 535; 6) Patrick Sheltra 515; 7) Bobby Gerhart 485; 8) Scott Speed 465; 9) Ken Butler III 460; 10) Mike Harmon 455.