First ARCA RE/MAX Series Podium Finish Continues a Strong Rookie Season for Craig Goess; Third-Place Finish at Pocono Raceway Gives Goess Boost En Route to First Series Victory CONCORD, NC (August 3rd, 2009) -- When Craig Goess and his Eddie ...
First ARCA RE/MAX Series Podium Finish Continues a Strong Rookie Season for Craig Goess; Third-Place Finish at Pocono Raceway Gives Goess Boost En Route to First Series Victory
CONCORD, NC (August 3rd, 2009) -- When Craig Goess and his Eddie Sharp Racing team unloaded the #81 Greenville Toyota Camry at Pocono Raceway (PA) for the ARCA RE/MAX Series 200-lap event, they knew that he was gunning for a strong run, including driving towards his first win of his rookie season in the series. Running in the top five for the entire event, it looked like a victory could be in reach, and even though Goess wasn't quite able to pull off that victory, he crossed the line in third, his highest finishing position to date in the series.
Weather has been an issue for the ARCA RE/MAX Series this year, raining out multiple qualifying efforts and shortening practice at tracks. Pocono wasn't an exception as the field had to start by owner's points due to qualifying being rained out. Still though, Goess was able to get some track time to try and make his car better for the race.
"The car was pretty tight all through practice and we didn't want to do anything too drastic, so we kept working at it a little bit at a time when we came in," explained Goess. "It got somewhat better, but the motor felt like it was down on power. We were trying a different package with it. We ended up changing a gear to get a little more RPMs, and that seemed to help it a little.
"After practice we felt like we had about an eighth or ninth-place car and we weren't happy with that, so we did some fairly aggressive changes to make it better. We swapped out some front springs and changed the intake on the motor. Luckily the changes we made paid off as the car was better. The only thing we were missing was the original gear. If we would have had that, we might have improved our position (during the race)"
Starting from the sixth position, Goess moved into the top five and maintained his position throughout the race, despite not having the right gear in the car.
"We had a ton of cautions in the beginning, and it seemed like we could never get going," said Goess. "We only made one pit stop and freed the car up a little bit. We stayed in the top-five mix pretty much the whole day. That gear was hurting us -- we were just running out of gear going into turn one. We had about 500 yards where we were flat and everyone else pulled us a little. We tried to make up time in other areas."
Goess has been running well heading into the later stages of the races this season, but, in many events, something strikes Goess, making him have to fight tooth and nail to get back towards the front by the time the checkered flag flies. It almost happened again as two cars in front of him made contact, putting Goess into avoidance mode, but he made the right lane choice, got by and finished third.
"For once, nothing weird happened that prevented us from having a strong finish. Everything went pretty smooth up to the end of the race.
"A couple of the cars had fresher tires than us at the end. The #77 (Parker Kligerman) got by us and I was behind him and the #25 (Steve Arpin). He (Kligerman) got by the #25 and got to second, and coming out of three the #25 got into him and turned him. Luckily I went the right way. I could have gone high or low at the time and I chose to go low, and that was the way to get by as the #77 tore up his car pretty good by hitting the wall.
"All in all, everyone was real happy with the way the weekend turned out for us."
Even though Goess would have liked to enter victory lane at this point at least once this season, he is pleased with his third-place finish and his results on the track every week.
"We are happy with our results lately. We just need to continue to improve and we do not have many more spots to go before getting a win. I think we have eight or nine more races, so hopefully before the end of the year we will contend for one."
In just his first year of racing in the ARCA RE/MAX Series, Goess currently sits fourth in season points as he looks to wrap up this year within the top five and maybe even the top three by season's end.
"You have Justin Lofton in there and it is his second year," said Goess. "Kligerman is in there and is having an excellent year and Frank Kimmel is there. We are sitting right behind them, so I don't think that is too shabby. I think that is commendable for our first year."
While the ARCA RE/MAX Series takes a break from the on-track action, Goess and the Eddie Sharp Racing team will spend the next few weeks testing at places like New Jersey Motorsports Park to continue to improve their performance on race day.
Goess will return to the track in racing action with the ARCA RE/MAX Series on Sunday, August 23rd, at the Illinois State Fairgrounds facility.