Craig Goess' Third-Place Finish at Kansas Speedway Sets Up Exciting Season Finale Kansas City, Kansas (October 1, 2010)- When the No. 81 Greenville Toyota of N.C. Eddie Sharp Racing team pulled up to Kansas Speedway this week, driver Craig...
Craig Goess' Third-Place Finish at Kansas Speedway Sets Up Exciting Season Finale
Kansas City, Kansas (October 1, 2010)- When the No. 81 Greenville Toyota of N.C. Eddie Sharp Racing team pulled up to Kansas Speedway this week, driver Craig Goess was only 20 points out of the lead for the 2010 ARCA Racing Series Championship. The team knew that every point, every lap could decide the championship. Goess delivered a third-place finish on Thursday night, providing an exciting race for the fans and an even more exciting battle for the championship.
Kansas Speedway, a 1.5-mile track, proved to be a familiar track type for Goess. This season, he finished sixth or better in the last six speedway races, and the team looked to capitalize on that success and experience.
As a companion weekend with the NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series, the ARCA Racing Series on-track activities were confined to Thursday. With the quick turnaround, the No. 81 team was forced to work diligently on the set-up of their Toyota.
On-track action got started with the lone practice of the day, and Goess utilized the two-hour session to find the best line around the 1.5-mile oval. The team worked to make changes throughout the practice, and the No. 81 completed the eighth fastest lap with a time of 32.147 seconds (167.978 mph).
Looking to improve upon his time in practice, Goess laid down a lap of 31.884 seconds (169.364 mph) during qualifying. His time was good enough to qualify the No. 81 in the seventh position for the main event.
Goess, crew chief Johnny Allen and the No. 81 Greenville Toyota of N.C. crew knew that the race at Kansas Speedway had huge championship implications. With so few points in between the top-three, the team hoped to run a smart race.
The green flag waved on the Kansas Lottery 150 on Thursday evening, and the field was ready to compete in the 19th event of the ARCA Racing Series season. All eyes, however, were on the three cars competing for every point for the championship. Goess started from the seventh position and looked to run a smooth 100-lap race.
The first caution of the race flew on lap three, and as the field came back to green on lap six, the battle in the points turned into a battle on the track. Goess and points leader Patrick Sheltra raced each other hard around the oval early in the event.
By lap 30, Goess held steady in the top-10, and he looked to remain close to the front of the pack and stay out of trouble. Crew chief Allen encouraged Goess to continue to hit his marks and work the bottom line in order to hold the fastest speed.
Goess avoided incident when the No. 16 of Joey Coulter and No. 15 of Tom Berte made contact in front of him on lap 35. Goess used this to his advantage as he moved forward and continued his trek to the front of the field.
The No. 81 appeared patient, looking to capitalize on mistakes made by others and save aggressive moves for the end of the race. He continued to hold steady in the top-10. By lap 77, Goess began to make his move as he passed the No. 44 of Frank Kimmel for the fifth position.
With 14 laps to go, the final caution of the day waved when the car of Rob Jones spun in the infield grass. The leaders came down pit road for the crucial last stop of the day on lap 87, and crew chief Johnny Allen strategized the best way to get Goess to the front of the pack. Allen called for four tires, and the No. 81 crew worked diligently, executing an extremely fast stop. Goess returned to the field in the third position, moving up two positions.
The green flag waved on lap 94, with a six-lap shootout to the checkered flag. The No. 81 battled the No. 25 of Mikey Kile to keep the third position in the last laps, but Goess took the position back with a vengeance. In the third position, Goess looked ahead to the second-place No. 55 of Steve Arpin and began to gain ground. As the white flag waved on the field, Goess began to catch Arpin, but the 1.5-mile lap was not enough to catch the No. 55.
Rookie Ty Dillon took the checkered flag to collect his first ARCA Racing Series victory. The 18-year-old grandson of Richard Childress stole the show, holding off the ARCA Racing Series field. Steve Arpin crossed the line second, and Goess steered the No. 81 to a third-place finish. The finish is Goess' ninth top-five and 14th top-10 finish in 19 races this season.
"At the beginning of the day we struggled, but an iffy day turned out to be a pretty good day," said Goess. "Everyone on the No. 81 team worked so hard all day long, and I think that we continue to pull together. The guys had a great pit stops everyday, and Johnny Allen, my crew chief had great calls. Overall, I think it was a successful day, and I'm very proud of our team."
The point battle became even closer after the event in Kansas, with Sheltra remaining in the lead. Goess gained one position, and he is a mere 10 points out of the lead. Tom Hessert is in the third position, 20 points behind the leader. With only one race left on the 2010 schedule, every lap counts.
"I'm really looking forward to going to Rockingham next weekend," said Goess. "With the points race so tight, everything will be on the line. I hope that we can sit on the pole and have a really great race."
The 2010 ARCA Racing Series champion will be determined next Saturday at the historic Rockingham Speedway.