Monday, June 25, 2012

Alex Bowman Snares ARCA Win at Winchester

Alex Bowman  takes the checkers at Winchester to snag his 4th career ARCA Series win
Sunday's ARCA Series Herr's Chase the Taste 200 race at Winchester Speedway was another day for the young guns as Alex Bowman grabbed his second win of the season and fourth overall in the series. The summer heat didn't appear to slow any of the competitors down on this track which bills itself as the "World's Fastest Half Mile." Unlike the Salem race earlier this season on the circuit's other high banked half mile, this race was clean and fast with very few on track incidents. The Winchester surface is less bumpy than Salem and lends itself to two and three wide racing all around the track, whereas racers at Salem must negotiate Turns 3 & 4 in single file up against the wall. This was my first opportunity to work as a contributor to ARCA's race coverage and I look forward to my next chance to do that at Lucas Oil Raceway near the end of July.

Winchester ARCA Pole winner Chris Buescher
Bowman had a spirited duel with second place finisher Brennan Poole over the last 25 laps or so but a tire problem by Poole on the last lap doused any chance he had of knocking Bowman out of the win. Erik Jones took third ahead of pole winner Chris Buescher. Buescher was fast early but faded as he couldn't come to grips with the hot race track after starting the weekend from P1 nearly setting a lap record in qualifying. Matt Lofton brought his Strut Masters machine home fifth as eight cars finished on the lead lap in a race that seemed to be over almost as soon as it started, taking only an hour and 13 minutes to complete. The biggest challenge for the frontrunners all day was dealing with lapped traffic as a number of cars couldn't match the leaders' pace from the drop of the green flag but trundled around on the low line in a race of their own for best in class. Such is life in ARCA these days as the top third of the field is usually comprised of up and comers who you will see in a couple of years in the higher levels of stock car racing. ARCA continues to be the top series for stock car racing's future stars and is the only series to include dirt tracks, road courses and paved ovals of all sizes on its season schedule. These guys put on some of the best races you'd ever want to see at any level and the drivers are always approachable, and most events include a fan friendly autograph session. One fan told me her daughter is already signing autographs as Miss ARCA, so keep an eye out for the future trophy queens here too!

I've put in a great deal of effort the last three years to expanding my options for racing photography and I'm grateful to have the chance to work directly with the ARCA Series this weekend. It's a very family oriented organization and you can't question the love of racing those involved share once you get to know them. I've been covering ARCA on a regular basis now for almost six years and I love the fact that their races are chances to get up close and personal with the future stars of stock car racing. I know that my ARCA work for American Motor Journal, through this blog and through my website have only been small contributions to the promotion of this exciting series, but I wouldn't trade my days at an ARCA race for most any other series. You should get out soon and experience it for yourself. Until next time, here's more pix from yesterday's race at Winchester Speedway.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Richard Westbrook Leads Spirit of Daytona to Rolex Grand Am Win at Mid Ohio

Michael Valiente and Richard Westbrook Celebrate their win at  at Mid Ohio
For the second time today in races at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course, a late caution flag set up a shootout finish but Richard Westbrook was up to the challenge from Scott Pruett to hold on for the Rolex Grand Am Series win in the EMCO Gears Classic. Also for the second time today, Michale Valiente was on the top step of the podium, this time as Westbrook's teammate, after also winning in the Continental Tire Challenge race earlier in the day. The EMCO Classic finish was set up by a late spin from Max Angelelli which thwarted his bid to win and opened the door for Pruett's final challenge. The Gainsco team dropped from the pole early in the race and was never really a threat today, but until Angelelli's late off, he looked like he might have something for Westbrook, but it was not to be. The GT class was also highly competitive as Turner Motorsports took the win with Paul Della Lana and Bill Auberlen doing the thrashing at the wheel. The BMW people must be happy today with a second in the DP category and the GT win.

It was an entertaining 2 hours and 45 minutes and the day has been a long one for me - up at 5:45 to hit the road and headed back to Indy this evening. I am quite happy with my work today and I went some new places that I had never shot before, and tried out some black and white settings on my cameras which I rarely do. I probably walked about 6 miles all told so it will be good to sit back and drive home here in a few. I'll have more to say and more pictures to post when I get some down time tomorrow, so for now enjoy the following slideshow.

Roush Jr. & Johnson Take Mid Ohio Continental Tire Challenge

Continental Tire Challenge Winning Mustang with Jack Roush Jr. and Billy Johnson
In a race fraught with full course yellows, the Mustang started by Jack Roush, Jr., and finished by Billy Johnson overcame an eighth place starting position and a field of 62 cars to win at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course today in the preliminary race of the EMCO Classic. Roush and Johnson led a heated battle among the GS contestants to the checkered flag, as the final two laps were the deciding factor following a late full course caution in the final minutes. The Rum Bum Porsche piloted by Matt Plumb and Nick Longhi faded to third with overheating problems after starting on the pole. Eric Curran and Lawson Aschenbach took second in their Camaro. In the ST class, Michael Valiente and Chad Gilsinger won from the pole for the Honda American Race Team (HART) and were clearly the class of the field. Valiente is pulling double duty today racing in the Grand Am feature event later this afternoon in the #90 Spirit of Daytona DP machine.

The Grand AM race should be a real barn burner even though there are fewer than 12 DP cars entered this weekend. The #99 Gainsco entry wheeled by Jon Fogarty took pole position and should be hard to beat this weekend with teammate Alex Gurney. The new Corvette DP chassis has been strong so far this season and took the top five starting positions for this afternoon's sprint race which is scheduled for 2 hours and 45 minutes. Perennial favorites Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas will start from sixth today and have their work cut out for them in their Ganassi Racing Telmex BMW Riley. Twenty-six cars will take the green flag for the EMCO Gears Classic today and I'll have more on that later today. Until then here's a slide show from the Continental Tire Challenge Race.