BROOKLYN MI, by Don Radebaugh - ARCA RE/MAX Series veteran Blaise Alexander, in his own Lisa Express-Central PA Auto Auction Pontiac, won the rain-delayed Michigan ARCA 200 Saturday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway. The Montoursville,...
BROOKLYN MI, by Don Radebaugh - ARCA RE/MAX Series veteran Blaise Alexander, in his own Lisa Express-Central PA Auto Auction Pontiac, won the rain-delayed Michigan ARCA 200 Saturday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway. The Montoursville, Pennsylvania native kept runner-up finisher Frank Kimmel at bay to earn his third-career RE/MAX Series triumph.
"The last pit stop I came in third, and they got me out first," Alexander said. "I knew I had a good car, but my biggest worry was pit stops, but they were awesome. They did better than a Winston Cup team. The car was fast; it was awesome. It was the best car I've had anywhere. It handled so good we got better mileage because of it. It was so fast I could play it safe and not drive all out on every lap. I took my time and tried not to overdrive it. I was just doing what I had to do."
And while Alexander did what he had to do, his crew, made up entirely of volunteers, won the battle off pit road during the final caution, which put the eventual winner out front for good. When the green flag waved with less than 15 laps remaining, Kimmel, in Larry Clement's Advance Auto Parts-Pork Ford, got within two lengths of Alexander, but in the end, lost the leader's draft and fell back by nearly a second at the final stripe. Three-time MIS winner Tim Steele, in his own HS Die-Softech Ford, finished third after overcoming continual handling troubles with Rick Carelli, in the RE/MAX Int'l Chevrolet, trailing in fourth, the last car on the lead lap. Bruceton Mills, West Virginia rookie Richard Mitchell, in only his fourth career start, steered the Coach USA-Mountaineer Gaming Pontiac to a solid fifth place finish recording his career-best finish.
Three cautions slowed the event for 16 laps during the 100-lap race, but more often than not, green flag racing was the norm during the 200-miler which saw nine lead changes among five drivers. After a two-hour rain delay, Alexander, who won the Old Milwaukee Pole award, led four times for 44 laps while Kimmel held the top spot twice for 48 laps. "We were just a little too tight all day," said Kimmel. "We tried and tried and I just about ran the wheels off it at the end trying to catch him. Blaise ran a great race and he deserved the win." In addition, Carelli led five laps while Steele led two. Former National Football League head coach Jerry Glanville led a lap and finished a respectable sixth in his own Loctite-Fricker's Ford. It was Glanville's third top-ten finish in five starts this year on the RE/MAX Series tour. Laurel, Mississippi driver Robert Burroughs stayed in the hunt all afternoon and finished seventh ahead of Kalamazoo, Michigan rookie Larry Hollenbeck who finished eighth in the SWAT Fitness Club Ford. It was Hollenbeck's third top-ten finish after nine starts. Garfield, Minnesota rookie Rick Thoennes also had a career-best run finishing ninth with Walkerton, Indiana rookie Chad Blount completing the top-10 finishers in the Braun Mobility Products Chevrolet.
Alexander also won the Loctite Halfway Leader award as well as the National Pork Producers Pole-Win Bonus for winning from the pole. In addition, Alexander picked up the Quarter Master Comin' Thru in the Clutch honors and the RJS Safety award bringing his total earnings for the afternoon to $24,395. Jason Jarrett, who finished 12th, won the ARCA Highest Finishing Rookie award while Soddy Daisy, Tennessee standout Ron Cox won the Hoosier Tire Hard Charger award for advancing the most positions, from 31st to 13th in the final running order. Steele earned the Thermo-Tec Cool Drive award.
The versatile ARCA RE/MAX Series travels next to the triangular-shaped Pocono Raceway for the Pepsi ARCA 200 on July 28 before heading off to the new Nashville Superspeedway for the Waste Management 200 on August 11 followed by a visit to the Illinois State Fairgrounds one-mile dirt oval in Springfield on August 19.
CURRENT POINTS: 1) Frank Kimmel 3715; 2) Tim Steele 3095; 3) Andy Belmont 2955; 4) Jason Jarrett 2775; 5) Ron Cox 2725; 6) Todd Bowsher 2450; 6) Norm Benning 2450; 8) Chuck Weber 2425; 9) Donny Morelock 2335; 10) Billy Venturini 1560.