ARCA RE/MAX Series Heads for Home; 63rd Running Coming to Toledo Speedway Schrader, Ragan, Kimmel, Stenhouse, Speed, Butler, Point Leader Carter Entered TOLEDO OH (5-8-08) -- From NASCAR stars' Ken Schrader to David Ragan, from Formula 1 veteran...
ARCA RE/MAX Series Heads for Home; 63rd Running Coming to Toledo Speedway Schrader, Ragan, Kimmel, Stenhouse, Speed, Butler, Point Leader Carter Entered
TOLEDO OH (5-8-08) -- From NASCAR stars' Ken Schrader to David Ragan, from Formula 1 veteran Scott Speed to ARCA RE/MAX Series veteran Frank Kimmel, from Roush Fenway Racing's Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. to independents' Justin Allgaier, Norm Benning and Darrell Basham, the ARCA RE/MAX Series Hantz Group 200 by Federated Car Care at Toledo Speedway is shaping up to be one of the most competitive and flavorful fields ever assembled at the storied half-mile, banked oval.
And we haven't even mentioned current ARCA RE/MAX Series point leader Matt Carter, who hails from Denver, North Carolina giving the show some southern flavor -- not that it's lacking. In fact, drivers from 20 different states are expected for the series' 63rd appearance at its hometown track since 1963.
Carter, like most of the tracks on the tour, has never seen Toledo Speedway.
"I've never seen the place," said Carter. "Actually, I did see the last few laps of the race there last year on TV."
Carter was referring to the race in which teammates Ken Butler III and Michael McDowell tangled near the end of the race. Butler went on to victory while McDowell ended up sideways in turn one.
"Looks like a basic little short-track, the kind I grew up on, so I'm not real worried."
Ironically, Carter, who is the son of longtime NASCAR car owner/crew chief Travis Carter, is driving the Larry Clement-owned no. 46 Ford, the car that nine-time series champion and nine-time Toledo winner Frank Kimmel vacated to start his own Kimmel Racing team. Kimmel is currently second in points.
"I'm actually a little surprised we're leading the points," added Carter. "We haven't run good anywhere this year. The car's been real, real tight everywhere we've raced. At Rockingham, the longer we raced, the worse it got. I think we're leading pretty much because, if nothing else, we've been able to finish races, whereas guys like (Justin) Allgaier, (Scott) Speed and some of the others haven't finished in some of the races.
"I mean, we're not running terrible, but we've got to get better. I think we've figured some things out here recently, so we'll see.
"I'm pretty sure we're taking one of the same cars that Frank (Kimmel) raced at Toledo last year; so we'll go off some of his notes, and some of ours too."
They had better be good notes, especially if you're going up against Kimmel, who's won 71 career RE/MAX Series victories, nine of which have come at Toledo.
And then there's Schrader, who, in 48 career ARCA RE/MAX Series starts, has 15 wins, four of which have come at Toledo.
Schrader's last victory at Toledo was two years ago. For Kimmel, his last Toledo triumph was in September of 2005.
Eddie Sharp Racing (ESR) teammates' Butler and McDowell won back-to-back Toledo events in 2007; however, McDowell has moved onto the NASCAR SPRINT Cup Series, driving for Michael Waltrip Racing. Butler has returned to the ESR stable for a full ARCA RE/MAX Series season in 2008.
With Butler, comes his new teammate Scott Speed, the Manteca, California driver who cut his teeth in go-karts, road course racing and Formula 1. Speed made headlines at Kansas Speedway back in April where he drove his Red Bull Toyota to victory lane in only his fifth series start.
And of course, they'll all have to deal with Roush Fenway Racing's David Ragan, who has already tested at Toledo just last week.
"It's going to be a day of fun for sure," said Ragan. "Not a day off by any means; but a chance to drive a quality racecar and have a shot to win a big race."
Ragan, prior to his NASCAR tenure with the Roush Fenway Racing organization, made 29 ARCA RE/MAX Series starts, including two at Toledo where he finished second and fourth in 2005.
"I love Toledo Speedway. I'd rather run a short track anyway. I get my share of mile and a half tracks on the weekends. Toledo's just a neat little race track. It's got just enough banking, and there's a second groove to pass. It's big enough to carry decent speed and slow enough to have all those great short-track characteristics. It's also great to be working with Gary (Roulo) again. He helped me a lot through the years.
"For me, it's also about returning to my roots. ARCA helped me get to where I'm at, so I want to give back."
Also coming from the Roush Fenway Racing stable is development driver Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., who has recently moved to a tie for third in series points with fellow rookie Tom Hessert III. Stenhouse is coming off career-best finishes of second and third at Kansas and Rockingham respectively.
The ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series will join the festivities with the Champion Credit Union 50 lap feature event Saturday, May 17th, the same day the ARCA RE/MAX Series cars practice and set the starting field in SIM Factory Pole Qualifying. The Hantz Group 200 by Federated Car Care is scheduled to roll off Sunday afternoon at 2:00 pm ET.
In addition, the 4th Annual Fan Fest will accompany the ARCA double-header weekend Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm with interactive attractions, race car haulers and much more.