Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Hoosier Chase Briscoe Tames Winchester For First ARCA Win

Chase Briscoe continues the winning tradition of the Cunningham 77
For a young man who had only raced on dirt tracks prior to 2016, Chase Briscoe is showing the ARCA field he's a quick study every race this season. After starting from pole position for the fifth time this year, Chase finally got his first ARCA Racing Series win last Sunday in the Herr's 200 at Winchester Speedway. The win was hotly contested as Chase and his Cunningham Motorsports machine had a stout challenger in Dalton Sargeant of Venturini Motorsports.

Chase Briscoe (77) and Dalton Sargeant (55) raced hard but clean all day
On a late restart, Chase and Dalton traded a little paint coming out of Turn 4 and Chase was able to drive away from there. Prior to that, Dalton and Chase had a race long battle and traded the lead several times with margins see-sawing from half a straightaway to nothing on a regular basis. For two young guys with limited experience in ARCA, they put on a whale of a show, racing side by side on a regular basis, and never seemingly in danger of crashing one another out. Very impressive!

Kyle Weatherman (98) and Matt Kurzejewski (52) are talented future stars
This race provided another example of why I love the ARCA Racing Series: there's so much young talent in these race cars and most people don't know it since ARCA doesn't get the publicity of some other series. That's a shame but it's the fans who really miss out as now is the time to get to know these young drivers and help them build a fan base for the day when they move up the ladder to NASCAR Trucks, Xfinity and Sprint Cup. You will be able to get up close, get an autograph, have an actual conversation, and say "you knew them when..." if you get out to an ARCA race. Don't stay home because you think it's not "big time" auto racing. That is just wrong thinking as these teams have sizable investments in equipment and ARCA has the most diverse 20 race schedule of any national touring series, with superspeedways, medium and short ovals, dirt tracks, and even a road course. Don Radebaugh would be proud that I worked that in here as I hear him say it all the time during pre-race ceremonies when he is on the public address system at tracks like Winchester.

Josh Reeves (42) battled Dustin Knowles (14) in his second start this season
I find ARCA interesting for other reasons as well, aside from the fact that I get to take pictures and do what I love at the racetrack. One big reason is every race is kind of like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to get. More than 100 drivers have earned points in ARCA already this year and the next race (at Iowa in two weeks) only marks the halfway point in the season! Not every driver obviously makes every race but there are opportunities to get into decent equipment and race, which is more than can be said for most any other series out there right now. If you have talent, work hard and maybe have a little money to throw in, then you can find a seat and get track time in a highly competitive environment. Who know what will happen then? A perfect example is Josh Reeves, usually a crew member for the 42 car normally drive by Bo LeMastus. Josh got to start at Madison and then ran the whole race at Winchester. Talk about "living the dream"! Yeah baby! People outside the sport may never know about these stories so I am fortunate to be able to get to know everyone behind the scenes and enjoy their successes when things go well.

Mason Mitchell did his Superman routine last year at Iowa
From here on out to the finale in Kansas in October, I will only miss one ARCA race so the next time I will see everyone is at Iowa Speedway July 9-10 when the series pairs up with my beloved Verizon Indycar Series for the weekend. Last year's Iowa race felt like we were working on the surface of the sun, it was so damn hot, so it might be that way again this year. Iowan Mason Mitchell won last year in his home race and I asked his dad this weekend at Winchester if Mason was going to bring out the 78 car again this year at Iowa. I got a funny response from him that I can't really repeat here, but it was another reminder of how fortunate I am to be shooting for this series and getting to know the people behind the teams. And ARCA is full of good people. I hope you come out to a race and get to experience that yourself. Please look me up if you do!

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