Sunday, July 27, 2014

ARCA Kids Rule Chicagoland and Lucas Oil Raceway

Mason Mitchell's monumental burnout after his Chicagoland win was epic
The 2014 season continues to be a year of firsts for ARCA and I've had the pleasure of shooting races this summer which added to the series' lengthy history of important moments. After losing Winchester on the last lap, Mason Mitchell came back at Chicagoland two weeks later with a chip on his shoulder and finally got his first win in the series. Mitchell wrapped up his win with a burnout for the ages and there was no doubting the joy this young man was feeling as he celebrated the win after finishing second four previous times this season. Then this past weekend, Winchester Speedway winner Brandon Jones showed up at Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis and swept the event in style with a pole and race win. Jones did it without any last lap heroics this time and managed his second win in only two career ARCA starts!

Brandon Jones: 2 for 2 in ARCA
This is exactly why I enjoy ARCA racing so much: young talented drivers finding their way to victory lane and learning racecraft in the process. Whereas Jones needed a last lap, 4th turn bump and run move to get by Mitchell at Winchester, he was up front all night at Lucas Oil Raceway and took advantage of the misfortunes of others to snag another win. And he did it cleanly as the #4 Exide car had barely a mark on it after 200 frantic laps on the virtually flat 5/8 mile Lucas Oil short track. Similarly, Mitchell stalked the leaders at Chicagoland and won comfortably barely two weeks after his Winchester disappointment. It's a wondrous thing to see these young drivers mature before your eyes. For awhile at Lucas Oil, it looked like Mitchell was going to take back-to-back wins as he had led numerous laps until a rear gear problem knocked him down the order. Having worked all three ARCA races this July in succession, I got to see this maturation process first hand and am going to miss working with these guys now that my teaching responsibilities are gearing up again this week. I guess I will just have to wait until they return to Salem in September to see how they've progressed.

Justin Boston won at Toledo but gave a win at Lucas Oil away
Mitchell and Jones are not the only ARCA "kids". Fifteen year old J. J. Haley has already won a pole this year. Haley and Kyle Weber are so young that they are not allowed to race on any of the big tracks yet! Add in Ken Schrder protege Matt Tifft, Kyle Weatherman, Justin Boston, Austin Wayne Self and others, then you get an idea of how strong this series is in terms of young talent. While Grant Enfinger is a relative veteran and the current ARCA points leader, he and other vets like Tom Hessert, 10-time ARCA champ Frank Kimmel and the busiest man in motorsports Ken Schrader have their hands full every time out as these young guys are fast, fearless and hungry to move up the ladder in stock car racing. I hope I can be there many more times as they fight it out!

While the ARCA gang heads to Pocono this week, I will be getting ready to start another school year teaching algebra and geometry, so my racing work will have to take a backseat to my real livelihood for the time being. But rest assured you will hear from me again as the ARCA season winds down and we find out whether old age and treachery will indeed rule out over youth and exuberance. Until then enjoy these slideshows. If you want to see more photos from these (and other) ARCA races, then follow this link (ARCA Racing Photo Site) for all the action. See you down the road at a racetrack somewhere.

Chicagoland 150 Race Action

Lucas Oil Raceway Scott's 200 Race Action

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