Armstrong Makes Clean Sweep of Talladega Cunningham Motorsports and the ...
Armstrong Makes Clean Sweep of Talladega
Cunningham Motorsports and the #22 team had a racer's "dream weekend" this weekend at the Talladega ARCA 250 on the famed 2.66 mile Talladega Superspeedway with the pole and a victory. The race was Dakoda Armstrong's 11th race in with the ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards.
After having a good test at the speedway in March, Dakoda Armstrong's first lap on the track gave the 18 year old high school senior confidence in what could happen for his team this weekend. After 16 laps of practice, Armstrong had posted the 2nd quickest speed and looked forward to qualifying when he said, "Our car is great...I think we can get the pole!" Those were pretty bold words coming from a rookie who was running his 11th stock car race. The main obstacle to making his prophecy come true was the fact that he would make his qualifying run 7th out of 42 cars. With his qualifying time of 51.346 and a speed of 186.499, which was a tick faster than his practice times when most other cars lost about .25 seconds in qualifying, Armstrong jumped to the top of the scoring pylon. After an anxiety-filled wait for 35 cars to qualify, Dakoda remained on top of the speed chart to gain his first pole of his young ARCA Series career.
With the experience Armstrong got in the drafting practice before the race, Armstrong had more confidence in his car when he commented, with a grin, "We are really good. Paul Andrews (crew chief) and all of the guys in the shop0x2022I owe it all to them. They have worked so hard. The team is really psyched up. It is almost hard to believe that I have the pole, with all of the history here at this track."
When the race began, Armstrong led the field to the green flag and led the first 32 laps of the 94 lap event. On the restart on lap 33, following the second caution, Armstrong lost the lead to Tim George and continued to fall back to 7th. Mid way in the race, Armstrong's teammate Tom Hessert picked up Armstrong's draft and the two Cunningham Motorsports cars raced back to the front, trading the point several times. During the caution on lap 52, Andrews brought the car in for 4 tires and no other adjustments, based on Armstrong's comment, "the car is perfect." The #22 came out of the pits in 13th spot and worked his way back into the top-10 before he told crew chief Andrews that the car was overheating. He and Hessert hooked up again to try to work the outside line toward the front. With 10 laps to go, Armstrong was in 12th position. With the two Cunningham Motorsports teammates drafting, they both moved towards the front. In the final 4 laps, Armstrong remained in the top 4 spots. Entering the final turn in the steep outside line, with a strong push from Patrick Sheltra, Armstrong pushed back to the point and crossed the finish line with his first ARCA stock car win.
After doing an impressive first-ever burn out, the victor said in victory lane, "Thanks to the 60 car. Patrick (Sheltra) pushed me all the way to victory. With 10 laps to go, I certainly didn't think we would be here. I thought we were going to have to settle for 10th." The 19th winner from the pole at Talladega Superspeedway was still unbelieving in the media center following victory lane, when he said, "This is a dream come true. Every young racer dreams of winning at a place with this much history. And my dreams have come true. I don't think I really believe it yet."
The next 4 finishers behind Armstrong were Sheltra, Tim George, Craig Goess and Mikey Kile. Next up on the team's schedule is Toledo Speedway, May 23.
For more information on Dakoda go to: www.dakodaarmstrong.com
-source: cunningham motorsports