Monday, July 25, 2016

Chase Briscoe Earns ARCA Trifecta at Lucas Oil Raceway

Chase Briscoe celebrates his third consecutive ARCA win
With Chase Briscoe's background in USAC short track racing, I guess we should not be surprised that he got his third straight ARCA win on a short track. He grabbed the checkers at Winchester at the end of June, then again at Iowa Speedway two weeks ago and added Lucas Oil Raceway this past Friday night. On the other hand, maybe we should be surprised about Chase's wins since his USAC experience was almost entirely on dirt tracks in open wheel machines, not on pavement tracks in big, heavy stock cars! However you choose to look at it, this kid is on a role and is just starting to display his talents in an ARCA stock car. Having seen him race a lot already this season, I for one am not surprised that he is getting to Victory Lane on a regular basis now. Earlier this season, he was always fast but something would happen during the races to keep him out of first place. Quite a few people (including me) told him that when he got that first win the floodgates would open and that's exactly what has happened.

Briscoe (77) held off Kligerman in a clean fight for first
I don't know how the Sioux Chief 200 at Lucas Oil Raceway west of Indianapolis translated on the FoxSports1 telecast, but Chase did a masterful job on track and in the pits to snag the win in fairly convincing fashion. All the ARCA teams know that Cunningham Motorsports fields some quality equipment every week and expect the 77 that Chase pilots to be up front most every week. This race Chase had to not only fend off the usual challengers from Venturini's stable of three cars, two from Mason Mitchell Motorsports, but Justin Haley was entered for Braun and seasoned veteran Parker Kligerman was on hand subbing for concussed Jon Wes Townley for Athenian. Kligerman took pole and led early but once Chase got out in front, he held off every challenge and managed to get out of the pits before everyone else when it counted. A red flag just past halfway gave everyone time to cool down and plot strategy but Briscoe had them all covered after subsequent restarts. It seemed like half of his hometown of Mitchell, Indiana joined the Cunningham team in Victory Lane at the end of the night. I'm telling you that was fun to watch and it was  even more fun to be there to document the event in pictures for the ARCA Series.

A nice little reflecting pond appeared in the infield of Turn 1
With the completion of the race at Lucas Oil Raceway, I am now halfway through my commitment of 14 races shooting for ARCA this season. I have to miss Pocono this weekend due to school commitments but from the following week through the season finale in Kansas this October, I will be there for all the action. It's been great working with long time ARCA photographer Harlen "Doc" Hunter and having Rich Corbett join us at various races this year. There's so much we can do for the series with more than one photographer on hand. 

Can't use flash from three feet away!
It's also been fun for me to see the styles of other people I get to work with. I have become somewhat of an available light snob and avoid using flash during a race at almost all costs. I will use fill flash in Victory Lane once the race is over, but there's something moody and emotional about night racing that available light captures better for my eye, so I leave my flash in its pouch and crank up the ISO. I don't know that everyone feels that way, but if you look at enough of my night racing photos over the last few years, you really can see that style preference emerge. I think using a flash to get on track pix looks unnatural and with the Canon 7D Mark II I bought this spring specifically for its low light capability, I don't see any point in shooting action with flash. In fact there are some action photos I could not get at all with flash as the last thing I want to do is blind a driver with a big booming flash in a head-on shot like the one above. I never owned a big Norman flash unit that a lot of sprint car photographers use and I understand why they have them, but I've just decided to do it another way. Ain't creativity grand?

On the other hand, a good flash exposure does have its place and I could not have gotten this shot without it. That's another aspect of doing this work that I truly love. There are so many technical challenges to overcome every race and I have to be sure to get variety in my photos so the series can use them in all kinds of marketing and promotion activities. And after a 17 hour day in the Indiana summer heat and humidity, 20,000 plus steps on my pedometer app and editing about 2500 photos, I want to go home satisfied that I've done a good job and captured the spirit of the events I cover.  Last Friday I did all of that and in two weeks, I get to do it all over again at Berlin Raceway in Michigan. Give me a shout, bring your camera and come to the race. You'll be glad you did. Safe travels everyone. See you at a race!

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