Rockingham: Craig Goess race report

Craig Goess Finishes Fifth at Rockingham Speedway; Collects Runner-Up Position in Championship Rockingham, N.C. (Oct. 9, 2010) - Craig Goess topped off his 2010 ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards season Saturday afternoon at ...

Craig Goess Finishes Fifth at Rockingham Speedway; Collects Runner-Up Position in Championship

Rockingham, N.C. (Oct. 9, 2010) - Craig Goess topped off his 2010 ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards season Saturday afternoon at Rockingham Speedway with his 10th top-five finish of the season. The fifth-place position, however, was not enough to give Goess and the No. 81 Greenville Toyota of N.C. team enough points to top the points leader Patrick Sheltra.

The weekend started off with a day-long test session Thursday, as the No. 81 team tested two different cars throughout the day.

On Friday, the team worked on the car during the lone practice session of the weekend. The Eddie Sharp Racing crew worked with diligence to get the No. 81 faster and finished the session with the third quickest time of 24.885 seconds (144.665 mph).

During the qualifying session, the No. 81 laid down a lap of 24.794 seconds (145.196 mph), good enough to land a starting position of third for Saturday's race. The third-place position gave Goess an added bonus of five points in the point battle, moving him within five points of leader Sheltra.

As the team entered the garage at the Rock on Saturday, everyone remained calm, getting ready for the day. Goess continued his regular race-day routine and focused on preparations with crew chief Johnny Allen.

The green flag waved on the season finale, and the fireworks in the air seemed synonymous with the fireworks expected on the track for the chase for the championship at Rockingham. Goess started from the third position and looked to continue the consistency he showed throughout the season.

The caution flag fell on lap 10, and Goess radioed to the crew that the car was tight in turns three and four. The No. 81 was running in the sixth position, and Eddie Sharp, team owner and spotter for the No. 81, encouraged his driver on the radio. "You're doing fine," said Sharp. "Keep focusing, and be smooth. This is a long race, just keep hitting your marks."

The green flag waved on lap 14, and Goess ran in the sixth position between Ty Dillon and Frank Kimmel. Quiet on the radio, Goess focused on protecting his position on the track.

By lap 31, the No. 81 fell back to the eighth position. Goess set his sights on catching Tom Hessert's No. 77 in the seventh spot. The caution flag fell on lap 50 with the No. 81 in the ninth position. Crew chief Allen called Goess down pit road on lap 52, and the crew went to work on changing four tires, adding fuel and making a track bar adjustment. The green flag dropped on lap 60 with Goess in the 10th position, and Sharp radioed to the 29-year-old driver to not overdrive the entry into the corners.

A caution fell on lap 75, and Goess explained to the crew that the No. 81 had a hard time getting off turn four. The team took the caution as an opportunity to discuss strategy for Goess. "Make these spots up slowly," Sharp encouraged. "We still have half the race. Keep working the bottom line and get your tires on the white line if you can." The green flag dropped on lap 79 with Goess in the eighth position.

Goess fell back to the tenth spot by lap 120, and he told the crew the tires were extremely worn out. On lap 146, Tim George Jr. hit the wall, causing the yellow to come out. Running in the 10th position, Goess came down pit road looking to pick up positions with a quick stop. The ESR crew put on four tires and added fuel, completing an efficient stop. Goess picked up four spots and restarted on lap 158 in the sixth position.

With 25 laps left to go in the final race of the season, Goess continued to fight for every position. Hessert, third in points going into the event, fell back to the 17th spot and left Goess and Sheltra to battle for the championship. The No. 81 raced against time as Goess made a push to catch the front of the pack and the No. 60.

On lap 179, Goess picked up speed and passed Grant Enfinger's No. 09 for the eighth position. He then picked off Chad McCumbee's No. 1 for the seventh spot. Goess was running faster than the leaders on lap 182, but the team hoped for a caution to slow the field and cut the distance to the front of the pack.

By lap 193, Goess showed that he was making a surge. He continued to cut the length to the No. 44 and was soon on the bumper of Kimmel. The No. 81 passed the No. 44 on lap 195 and set his sights on the No. 60 of Sheltra for the fourth position.

The white flag waved. Goess gave the last lap everything he could but could not catch the No. 60. Goess crossed the finish line fifth, one position behind Sheltra, who was crowned ARCA Racing Series Champion. Sheltra collected his first-career ARCA Racing Series Championship by 25 points over Goess.

Goess expressed his discontent with the outcome of the race. "I didn't see today working out the way it worked out," Goess said. "We did the best we could with what we had. We fought hard all day, and it wasn't meant to work out for us, I guess. I'm proud of the season we put together and everything the No. 81 ESR team has done this season."

The No. 81 team finished the season with 10 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes in 20 starts. An announcement is expected today regarding future endeavors for ESR and Goess.

-source: esr

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Series ARCA
Drivers Frank Kimmel , Tom Hessert , Chad McCumbee , Tim George Jr. , Patrick Sheltra , Craig Goess , Grant Enfinger , Ty Dillon