Pocono: Kerry Earnhardt answers the call

Long Pond PA, 6-17-00 – by Don Radebaugh – Kerry Earnhardt borrowed the keys to his Dad’s Monte Carlo and delivered the perfect Father’s Day gift - a victory Saturday in the Pocono ARCA 200. And like his famous father and brother before...

Long Pond PA, 6-17-00 – by Don Radebaugh – Kerry Earnhardt borrowed the keys to his Dad’s Monte Carlo and delivered the perfect Father’s Day gift - a victory Saturday in the Pocono ARCA 200.

And like his famous father and brother before him, Earnhardt became the third member of the high-profile family to go to victory lane this year in major-league superspeedway racing.

Earnhardt, in only his fourth ARCA start and first-ever at Pocono, led 55 of 80 laps and kept Mike Swaim, Jr at bay late in the event to complete the family hat-trick. “Dad was on the radio helping me out,” said the winner in victory lane. “Dad preached to me last week about concentrating and listening to him and not to worry about the rear view mirror. I just watched my marks and kept thanking him, and here we are in victory lane.”

Polesitter and seven-time ARCA Pocono winner Tim Steele, who set a new one-lap track record with a speed of 167.380 mph, led at the onset and stretched his advantage to 10 lengths ahead of outside polesitter Dan Pardus. Just when it appeared that Steele would run off and hide like so many other Pocono events, Pardus fired up his Jim Gardner Chevy and reeled in the leader after 10 circuits. After working Steele over for five additional rounds, Pardus maneuvered underneath the all-time ARCA superspeedway winner and led four laps before the first of two cautions appeared, this one for debris. Under caution, Cavin Councilor led the way in his Target Saws & Blades-Earthlink Chevy, while the rest of the leaders ventured onto pit road for service. Earnhardt, with help from the Steve Park Pennzoil Winston Cup crew, got out first among the leaders, and back under green, quickly charged into the lead. From there, Earnhardt, with his father as coach, soon mastered the tricky 2.5-mile triangle and drove away from his closest competitors while Steele continued to struggle with a race car way too tight.

The second caution of the afternoon, for a stalled racecar, would mix the line-up one more time but with only green flag racing ahead, no driver could match Earnhardt’s effort. Swaim, in the Xlerator Pontiac, got within three lengths with less than 10 to go but could get no closer and trailed the winner across the final stripe in the runner-up spot 1.689 seconds behind. Pardus, after a lengthy green-flag pit stop to secure loose lug nuts, charged back to finish third tight on Swaim’s bumper with Ed Berrier and Frank Kimmel, in the Advance Auto Parts-Pork White Meat Chevrolet, completing the top five. Berrier, who took over the reigns in the Kmart Kids Race Against Drugs Ford when the injured Shawna Robinson bailed out during the first caution, raced hard from the tail-end to earn the Hoosier Tire Midwest Hard Charger Award. Steele, who fought the handle all day on his father’s HS Die-Softech Ford, came home sixth in front of Morgan Shepherd in the Stan Hover Ford. AJ Henriksen, in the Engineered Components Chevrolet, recorded his career-best superspeedway finish with a strong eighth place showing, the last car on the lead lap while Matt Hutter, in the Phoenix Construction Chevrolet, finished ninth. Point leader Bob Strait, in Mark Thompson’s Midway Islands Ford, completed the top-10.

Earnhardt also won the Prestone ARCA Rookie of the Race Award while Swaim earned the Quarter Master Comin’ Thru in the Clutch honors for his second place finish.

CURRENT UNOFFICIAL POINTS: Bob Strait 1820, Frank Kimmel 1690, Brian Ross 1670, Andy Belmont 1550, Shawna Robinson 1530, Norm Benning 1490, Tim Steele 1465, Bobby Gerhart 1455, Kirk Shelmerdine 1405, Mark Gibson 1395.

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Series ARCA
Drivers Steve Park , Shawna Robinson , Frank Kimmel , Kerry Earnhardt , Bobby Gerhart , Ed Berrier , Tim Steele , Kirk Shelmerdine , Mark Gibson , Norm Benning , Morgan Shepherd , Brian Ross , Mark Thompson