Clean and Green: Michigan Race Ties for Fewest Cautions at Track (TOLEDO, Ohio) - Once viewed as a rarity in the ARCA Racing Series Presented by RE/MAX and Menards, the action seen in green flag pit stops is becoming more common. As at Pocono,...
Clean and Green: Michigan Race Ties for Fewest Cautions at Track
(TOLEDO, Ohio) - Once viewed as a rarity in the ARCA Racing Series Presented by RE/MAX and Menards, the action seen in green flag pit stops is becoming more common.
As at Pocono, the Racing for Wildlife 200 at Michigan International Speedway saw just two caution periods Friday. Pocono's 200-miler was green for 68 of 80 laps; Michigan experienced an even higher rate of full racing, with 87 of 100 laps under the green flag.
The two cautions Friday were for a cut right front tire on Josh Richards' No. 99 Ford, and for a spin from Chase Mattioli's No. 17 Ford. The limited caution periods resulted in green flag pit stops at both events, once viewed as a rarity in the ARCA Racing Series.
"I think people are using their heads more, and it's just better equipment than they've had in the past. Everybody's racing smarter," said Mikey Kile, winner of the Racing for Wildlife 200. "The ARCA Series has come a long way. The more races we have like this, the better the series is going to be, from an overall racing standpoint. Only two cautions today? It's a major step forward for the series, for drivers and everybody."
The low caution count is in a sharp contrast and shows a marked improvement when compared to earlier superspeedway races this season. The season opener at Daytona slowed for 36 laps on six cautions, while Texas was yellow eight times for 43 laps. Improvement began in late April, when the Talladega event produced just four cautions for 26 laps.
In 28 previous races at Michigan International Speedway, only two races had seen the yellow flag just twice.
Sealed with a Kiss: The Victory Lane celebration for Mikey Kile's first career ARCA Racing Series Presented by RE/MAX and Menards win was filled with some very traditional elements: high-fives, a Gatorade bath, and the "Big Bill Kiss."
Bill Venturini Sr., the team patriarch and a two-time ARCA Racing Series champion, planted a big, wet smack on Kile after he exited the No. 25 Sears Auto Center/DieHard Toyota. A national viewing audience witnessed the emotional embrace on SPEED, and "Big Bill" explained it soon after.
"Just like Andy Granatelli at Indy," said the senior Venturini, "I kiss every one of my drivers who wins. Just like Andy Granatelli kissed Mario Andretti at Indy!"
Granatelli made his reputation as a car owner at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, winning two Indy 500s - with Mario Andretti in 1969 and Gordon Johncock in 1973. When Andretti won - the driver's only Indy 500 victory - Granatelli planted a big kiss on his cheek, much to photographers' delight.
Kile Not a Full Rookie: Although 2010 marks Mikey Kile's first season as a full-time driver in the ARCA Racing Series, the Louisiana native is not eligible for the RE/MAX Rookie of the Year title.
In Chevrolets fielded by Brad Keselowski Racing, Kile made 8 ARCA Racing Series starts in 2009, one more than the maximum allowed in a season while retaining rookie eligibility. One of those 8 starts in 2009 was at Michigan, where Kile finished sixth.
Another First-Time Winner: Mikey Kile's first career ARCA Racing Series victory marked the seventh different winner in eight ARCA Racing Series events this year, and the sixth different first-time winner in 2010. 2010 winners include Bobby Gerhart (Daytona), Justin Marks (Palm Beach), Steve Arpin (Salem and Texas), Dakoda Armstrong (Talladega), Chris Buescher (Toledo), Craig Goess (Pocono), and Kile (Michigan). Marks, Arpin, Armstrong, Buescher, Goess and Kile were all first-time winners.
Large numbers of different winners are not uncommon in the ARCA Racing Series, nor are large numbers of first-time winners in a given season.
In 2007, 15 different drivers posted ARCA Racing Series victories in 22 total events, 10 of whom were first-time series winners, including James Buescher (USA International Speedway), Chad McCumbee (Nashville and Pocono), Scott Lagasse Jr. (Kansas), Billy Leslie (Winchester), Erik Darnell (Kentucky and Michigan), Ken Butler III (Toledo), Michael McDowell (Kentucky, Pocono, Chicagoland, and Toledo), Jeremy Clements (Nashville), Bryan Clauson (Gateway), and Michael Annett (Talladega).
Pole Award Sees Early Variety: Just as Victory Lane has welcomed seven different winners in eight ARCA Racing Series races this season, the Menards Pole Award Presented by Ansell has also been awarded to a variety of drivers.
In eight races in 2010, pole qualifying has taken place seven times, with the only outlier being for a weather cancellation at Texas in April. Seven different drivers have won in the seven qualifying sessions, with five of those drivers achieving their first career pole.
Casey Roderick (Palm Beach), Max Gresham (Salem), Dakoda Armstrong (Talladega), Mikey Kile (Pocono), and Craig Goess (Michigan) each became first-time top qualifiers, with James Buescher (Daytona) and Chris Buescher (Toledo) having each taken a second career pole this season.
Youth is served, as well. The two Bueschers, Roderick, Gresham, and Armstrong - five drivers in all - were all born in the 1990s.
Consistency Builds Champions: Patrick Sheltra has not been one of the seven winners in eight events in 2010. However, the Indiantown, Fla. driver has managed to earn top-10 finishes in every race so far this season. Sheltra, whose one career victory came at Salem in 2009, is leading the championship standings by 35 points over Justin Marks. Frank Kimmel (fifth in points), Tom Hessert (sixth), Tim George Jr. (ninth), and Robb Brent (10th) are also looking for their first win in 2010. Despite being 11th in championship points, second-year driver Joey Coulter could be considered a strong candidate to become the next first-time winner on tour, having earned runner-up runs at Toledo and Michigan already this season.