Kevin Swindell Wins ARCA Pole at Rockingham; Craig Goess Trims Deficit to Series Points Lead (ROCKINGHAM, N.C.) - Kevin Swindell backed up his leading effort from ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards practice, and drove the No. 6...
Kevin Swindell Wins ARCA Pole at Rockingham;
Craig Goess Trims Deficit to Series Points Lead
(ROCKINGHAM, N.C.) - Kevin Swindell backed up his leading effort from ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards practice, and drove the No. 6 Eddie Sharp Racing Development Toyota to the Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell before tomorrow's American 200 presented by Black's Tire and Auto Service, which will be just his fifth series start.
Teammate Craig Goess, currently in second place in the series standings to Patrick Sheltra, qualified third to earn five bonus points and trim his deficit to the lead in half entering the season finale.
"I feel like we've got a really good car, and the guys have worked really hard at the shop and this weekend. We didn't test at all. I think we ran 30 laps yesterday, and brought up the 25-lap tires from the 81 and ran some laps, and then ran two laps on a set of stickers, just to see where we're at. We've done this basically on a shoestring budget, and it really says a lot as to what those guys can do with what we've got," said Swindell, who had led the day's only practice session.
The 21-year-old son of World of Outlaws champion Sammy Swindell became the 14th different Menards Pole Award winner of the season and gave Eddie Sharp Racing its fourth pole of the year. His previous best starting position was eighth at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway in 2006.
With his lap of 24.763 seconds (145.378 mph), Swindell was the only driver in front of Goess (No. 81 Greenville Toyota of N.C. Toyota) and his 24.794-second (145.196 mph) lap late in the session, but Chad Finley (No. 29 Air Lift Company/Auto Value Certified Service Centers Chevrolet) snapped up the second position in 24.766 seconds (145.378 mph) to qualify second. Finley started on the pole in his only prior start at Rockingham, which came last season.
The top three qualifiers in each ARCA Racing Series event earn 15, 10, or five points. Goess had entered with a 10-point deficit to Sheltra's lead.
"I'm a little disappointed, because I thought we were stuck there in second and that evened us up, so I was thinking in my mind that we had 10," Goess said with a smile. "I wanted to pick up some points in qualifying, and we were able to do that. The other two guys we're running with for the championship weren't able to pick up any bonus points, so that definitely helps us out. That's one less spot I have to finish ahead of somebody to get this championship."
Sheltra and third-place driver Tom Hessert missed earning any qualifying bonus points. Sheltra (No. 60 Tequesta Road and Bridge of Florida/Jones Group International Toyota) finished the session eighth and will start from the outside of the fourth row. Hessert (No. 77 Cherry Hill Classic Cars Dodge) will start in the seventh row after qualifying 14th.
"We went out in practice and did our mock-up run, and we thought we were going to be high enough to get in the top three here. We didn't tighten it up enough, and just got a little sideways through (Turn) 2," said Sheltra.
Hessert remained optimistic.
"The car's good in race trim, but we had some problems in qualifying trim, getting too tight with entry into Turn 1. Our first qualifying run, we went through bumps and sort of missed it, but rebounded with the second lap. Rockingham's hard on the tires. Craig got five more points, so we have some more work ahead of us, but we've got the same gap to the points leader," Hessert said.
Sheltra maintained his 20-point advantage over Hessert, but Goess is now just five points - the equivalent of a single finishing position - behind the lead. Nonetheless, Sheltra is confident that he can manage his way through tomorrow's race and win his first ARCA championship.
"I've just got to do the job, and that's be consistent, be conservative, and keep the fenders on to be there at the end. We're here to win the race, but we're really here to beat the other two cars. We just have to play it smart and finish in front of them," Sheltra said.
Justin Marks qualified fourth and Steve Arpin was fifth. Ty Dillon, the winner one week ago at Kansas, will start sixth. Brandon McReynolds will start inside Sheltra on the fourth row.
Chris Buescher and Dakoda Armstrong, both two-time race winners this season, will start ninth and 10th.
Steve Park, who won at Rockingham in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2001, will start 20th. Park's No. 53 Coastal Wire Ford carries a paint scheme reminiscent of the Dale Earnhardt, Inc. car he drove to victory in NASCAR's highest level.
The American 200 presented by Black's Tire and Auto Service airs live on SPEED at 1:30 p.m. Eastern. ARCARacing.com will feature live audio coverage and live timing and scoring from ARCA Nation and the ARCA Racing Network.