ARCA Sweeps Talladega ARCA swept the Spring Talladega race weekend as race winners Justin Lofton (ARCA RE/MAX Series), David Ragan (NASCAR Nationwide Series) and Brad Keselowski (NASCAR Sprint Cup Series) each have ARCA...
ARCA Sweeps Talladega
ARCA swept the Spring Talladega race weekend as race winners Justin Lofton (ARCA RE/MAX Series), David Ragan (NASCAR Nationwide Series) and Brad Keselowski (NASCAR Sprint Cup Series) each have ARCA affiliations.
Keselowski, a Rochester Hills, Michigan, native, earned his career-first Cup victory in his fifth Series start on Sunday in a James Finch-owned Chevrolet. Both Keselowski and Finch are currently active in the ARCA RE/MAX Series as car owners; Finch fielded the No. 51 Miccosukee Gaming & Resorts Toyota for Eddie Mercer in Friday's ARCA RE/MAX 250 at Talladega and Keselowski fielded the No. 29 Greased Lightning Cleaning Products Chevrolet for Mikey Kile. Keselowski honed his racing skills at ARCA-owned short tracks, earning two Late Model victories at Toledo Speedway during the early stages of his racing career. His older brother, Brian Keselowski, is the 2003 Late Model Champion at Toledo Speedway and a former race winner in the ARCA RE/MAX Series. Father, Bob Keselowski, is an ARCA RE/MAX Series and ARCA Late Model Champion. Bob Keselowski was honored for his 1989 ARCA Championship season by serving as honorary starter during ARCA RE/MAX Series pre-race ceremonies at Talladega on Friday.
David Ragan, the winner of Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Talladega, competed fulltime in the ARCA RE/MAX Series in 2005 and won an ARCA race at Lanier National Speedway in his home state of Georgia in 2005. Ragan is currently active in the Series as a mentor to up-and-coming driver Chris Buescher. Ragan is scheduled to attend the May 17 Menards 200 at Toledo Speedway, where he will sign autographs for race fans.
Lofton, race winner of the ARCA RE/MAX 250 at Talladega on Friday, is currently second in the Series' point standings and in his second year of fulltime competition in the ARCA RE/MAX Series. Friday's race win marked the second ARCA RE/MAX Series win of his career.
Youth vs. Experience
37 years separate Talladega ARCA RE/MAX 250 race winner Justin Lofton from second place finisher Bill Baird. Baird, the 1999 ARCA RE/MAX Series Champion, has seen many up-and-coming drivers race in the ARCA RE/MAX Series over the years and commented on ARCA as a developmental series during his post-race media center interview on Friday.
"I personally think the ARCA Series is a great Series for these young up-and-coming kids," said Baird. "Some kids bypass the Series and move right up to NASCAR [Camping World Trucks, Nationwide, Sprint Cup] and I think that's a mistake because you learn so much here. I've definitely seen an influx of developmental drivers and Cup-affiliated teams using the Series to train young drivers since I first started racing here. I think it's great."
Baird and nine-time ARCA RE/MAX Series Champion Frank Kimmel were the only former Champions entered for this weekend's ARCA RE/MAX 250. Both drivers finished the race in the top-five.
Owens Sixth at Talladega; Career Best
Alli Owens posted her career best finish for the second race in a row with a sixth-place finish in Friday's ARCA RE/MAX 250. Her previous best finish was 12th at Rockingham just one week prior to the Talladega race. Four of the top-10 finishers posted career-best finishes this weekend, including Grant Enfinger (finished third), Mikey Kile (fourth), Owens (sixth) and Joey Coulter (eighth).
Career First Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell for Hessert
Second-generation driver Tom Hessert earned his career first Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell in the ARCA RE/MAX Series this weekend with a 186.590-mph (51.321 second) lap around Talladega Superspeedway during pole award qualifying on Thursday. It was also a career first pole for the Andy Belmont Racing Team.
"[Winning the pole] is definitely the biggest thing I've done for my career as far as exposure," said Hessert. "It's huge. Anytime you can go to a place like Talladega, it's special when you can run up front. It was an absolutely perfect lap. We made some adjustments between practice and qualifying and the thing really came to life. I knew it was going to be a good lap, but I didn't know it was going to be that good."
With his Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell, Hessert joined Justin Lofton (Daytona, Salem) and Ken Schrader (Rockingham) as ARCA RE/MAX Series Pole Award winners this season.
Kentucky Speedway Open Test Wednesday
The ARCA RE/MAX Series will test at Kentucky Speedway on Wednesday, April 29, in preparation for the next event on the 2009 schedule-the Drive Smart! Buckle-Up Kentucky 150 on Saturday, May 9, 2009.