Michigan Speedway preview

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- It's stock car time in the Irish Hills of Michigan as Michigan International Speedway prepares to host its first of three major race weekends in 2004. The first race of the season, Saturday's Flagstar 200 will be the ...

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- It's stock car time in the Irish Hills of Michigan as Michigan International Speedway prepares to host its first of three major race weekends in 2004.

The first race of the season, Saturday's Flagstar 200 will be the ninth stop for the ever-popular ARCA/REMAX Series. With NASCAR-type equipment and some bona fide stars of tomorrow mixed in with a number of veterans, this event is 200 miles of door-to-door racing.

Saturday's race marks the fifth year that Flagstar Bank, based in Troy, Michigan, will be the title sponsor of the Flagstar 200.

The race, MIS and the ARCA/REMAX Series have been a good fit for Flagstar Bank.

"We're pleased to once again bring the excitement of the ARCA/REMAX Series to MIS," said Gary Burkart, first vice-president and national advertising manager for Flagstar Bank. "It's an outstanding family event, and a great way for people to celebrate Father's Day. As a Michigan-based banking company, Flagstar is proud to be part of one of the premier facilities in the state."

ARCA/REMAX provides drivers with a competitive series that allows them to hone their racing skills and prepare for a step up to the "big leagues," namely the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.

Defending Flagstar 200 winner Casey Mears is a perfect example. A rookie who made 36 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup starts last year, Mears also ran in six of ARCA's superspeedway events. He won three, including the Flagstar 200, his first win in ARCA competition. At MIS, Mears did so in convincing fashion, winning from the pole and setting an ARCA track record in qualifying at 188.073 mph.

Mears' success cannot be lost on current ARCA/REMAX rookie sensation Ryan Hemphill. Hemphill, who is driving the TrimSpa Dodge for Braun Racing, has alrea dy won three times and currently stands fifth in the points.

Joining him in this year's Flagstar 200 entry will be five-time ARCA champion Frank Kimmel, along with Billy Venturini, Jason Jarrett and Brent Sherman. They represent the top four positions in the current ARCA/REMAX point standings. Venturini and Jarrett also represent racing families. Venturini's father, Bill, is a two-time ARCA champion while Jarrett's father, Dale, is the 1999 NASCAR Cup champion and a four-time race winner at MIS.

Other entries of note are Bobby Gerhart, A.J. Fike, Todd Bowsher, Andy Belmont, Christi Passmore and Jerry Glanville, the former NFL coach for the Atlanta Falcons and the Houston Oilers.

Fans can enter ARCA RE/MAX Series Garage after Flagstar 200:

A long-standing short track tradition will make its way to Michigan International Speedway this Saturday when the ARCA RE/MAX Series opens up the garage area to ticketed fans following the Flagstar 200 event.

"I think it's great!" stated five time and defending ARCA RE/MAX Series champion Frank Kimmel. "It's just too cool--just like Saturday night at the short track, only at a superspeedway. If I can, I'll sign an autograph for everyone in there!"

Promoted as "ARCA ALL-ACCESS," the fan-friendly opportunity is the brainchild of ARCA President Ron Drager and MIS President Brett Shelton.

"We've always considered ourselves ARCA's home superspeedway track," commented Shelton. "The chance for fans to see the drivers, cars and teams up close, right after they've battled for 200 miles is certainly unique."

Fans who purchase grandstand tickets for the Saturday, June 19 ARCA RE/MAX Series "Flagstar 200" will be offered the chance to make their way from their seats into what is normally the restricted garage area via the turn four crossover shortly after the checkered flag falls. Once inside, they will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the drivers, teams and cars, just minutes after they've come off the track.

To purchase tickets to the Flagstar 200, log on to , 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or call the MIS Ticket Hotline at 1-800-354-1010. The MIS ticket hotline is open from 9 A.M. through 9 P.M. seven days a week. The Flagstar 200 is set to begin at 1:00 PM on Saturday afternoon.

ARCA RE/MAX Series drivers autograph session near Speed Channel Stage on Friday, June 18; Trackside Live viewing open to public:

Several stars of the ARCA RE/MAX Series will take part in an autograph session on Friday, June 18 from 6:30 P.M. -- 7:30 P.M. The autograph session will be located near the Speed Channel stage located outside Gate 23 near Lot B behind the main grandstand of MIS.

Several ARCA RE/MAX Series stars are tentatively scheduled to sign autographs, including five-time series champion Frank Kimmel, Ryan Hemphill who has already won three races in 2004, Jason Jarrett, Brent Sherman, Christi Passmore, and T.J Bell and Brandon Knupp.

Also that night, the popular Speed Channel show Trackside Live will be open for the public to attend. The popular weekly live racing show features hosts Steve Byrnes, Larry McReynolds, Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond and will run from 7:00 P.M. -- 8:00 P.M. on Friday night June 18.

-mis-

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers Darrell Waltrip , Casey Mears , Frank Kimmel , Bobby Gerhart , Jason Jarrett , Billy Venturini , Brent Sherman , Todd Bowsher , Ryan Hemphill , A.J. Fike , Christi Passmore , Brandon Knupp