Sunday, June 26, 2011

Young Guns Rule #ARCA Winchester - Dakoda Armstrong Steals Show

Dakoda Armstrong Takes Winchester Win

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On a perfect night for racing in east-central Indiana, Dakoda Armstrong saved his best for last at Winchester Speedway's high banked half-mile, passing Ryan Blaney with just 10 laps to go in the 200 lap affair. Blaney, son of NASCAR shoe Dave Blaney, had dominated the race from pole position after setting a new track record in qualifying. In fact, the first five starters all topped the previous ARCA track record for Winchester and starting the night, you just new it was going to be a dogfight. That was true for everyone behind Blaney as he checked out early and was leading easily until a right front tire went down with less than 40 laps to go. He surrendered the lead to fellow rookie, and current ARCA rookie points leader Ty Dillon, but a gamble for right side tires on his last stop left Dillon a sitting duck for Armstrong who charged ahead and won going away.

Tires were the name of the game on this night. ARCA legend Frank Kimmel was one of the first to lose a right front tire, going a lap down in the process so he was never a factor again. Recent Pocono winner Tim George had a tire go down - he ended up making numerous pit stops just to keep his Richard Childress Racing car in the race. Youngster Chris Buescher ran in the top five most of the race but tire problems knocked him back late, then Blaney and Dillon had their tire issues and Armstrong was ready to pounce. And pounce he did, with style going into Turn 1.

Dakoda Armstrong waits to qualify at Winchester
This young man has a big future in racing, as he is not even 20 years old yet and Winchester could be regarded as a home track for him, since he hails from just down the road in New Castle, Indiana. Having extensive experience at Winchester from USAC races probably put Dakoda ahead of the game on this night, as the ARCA series had not raced here since 2007 and it looked like many of the teams were caught off guard by the heavy loading on the right front that this fast track always produces and numerous tire failures were the result.

Jared Marks fuel fire was brief

Winchester always produces some great and entertaining racing and I've been going there off and on since the early 1990's. Tonight's ARCA race had a little of everything. Crashes, including one big mess that brought out an early red flag so oil could be cleaned up. A fire involving the car of Jared Marks who somehow managed to stay in the race. More pit stops and blown tires than I think I've ever seen in a short track race. Late race excitement from Dakoda, the kid with the movie star looks and the race savvy of a man far beyond his years. He's got some races coming up this year in the Camping World Truck Series and has won three times in ARCA already at tough race tracks - Talladega, Salem and now Winchester. I was there at two of those wins and can honestly say I love to watch him race and am glad I got the chance to see him on his way up the ladder. I'll have more pix to upload as time allows but for now, this little sampling will have to do. Congratulations to the New Castle Kid who is about to hit the big time!
Winchester ARCA Winner Dakoda Armstrong enjoys the spoils of victory

Maryeve Dufault and others brought out the red flag in this Turn 1 crash

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