Tuesday, June 25, 2019

ARCA Endures More Rain But Ty Gibbs Gets His First ARCA Win

Ty Gibbs knows what to do!
Ty Gibbs, the grandson of hall of fame NFL coach Joe Gibbs, has been close before in his previous ARCA starts this season but he finally sealed the deal this past Saturday at WWT Raceway with a last lap pass to grab his first win in the ARCA Menards Series. Grandpa Joe was there to see it happen as well and although Sam Mayer wasn't happy about how Ty made the final pass, it looked to me like he left the door open entering Turn 3 and Ty dove under him and went for the lead. An old saying in stock car racing is that eight wheels are better than four, and I can understand why Mayer was upset but at least Ty didn't outright dump him with bumper contact, so I thought it as a fair pass given the circumstances. Naturally I'm sure it looked different from inside the cockpit but they also say that rubbin' is racin' so I'd have to say that no one was really surprised by the outcome and how it happened.

Michael Self started from the pole again
I got to WWT Raceway at Gateway Motorsports Park Friday afternoon for the tech inspection day but that was cut short by Mother Nature when afternoon showers rolled into the St. Louis area. The forecast for Saturday (race day) had been for heat and temperatures in the 90's but they missed that by a mile as severe weather rolled through the area early in the day and it kept raining until around noon. Finally the track got dried and ARCA got about an hour of practice starting around 2:00 which set the field for the race. Michael Self again set fast time in his pretty Sinclair sponsored machine and the other 21 cars entered were all able to get some laps in before the track was handed over to the NASCAR trucks for their practice session. As often happens on a day when bad weather intervenes, the rest of the day seemed to be on a fast track as more rain was predicted for later that night during the truck race which was set to run as soon as the ARCA Day to Day Coffee 150 was completed. That rain never came however and everyone was glad we got another race run and we wouldn't have to postpone everything.

Please stop and say hi!
The rains in the morning had an upside however as there wasn't much to do but hang around the media center or walk through our garage area and chat with people. I met some genuinely nice people, which always seems to be the case when I actually have time to talk with racers, fans or other officials. It was my first visit to Gateway and I came away very favorably impressed with the facility and everything about it, especially the access, as the track is visible from Interstate 7 and is adjacent to an exit which made getting in and out very easy. I got to speak to a couple young guys at the media center who were employees of the karting center on site (I wished I'd had more time to go run those karts as it looked like a fun layout) and spoke with more than one old timer who wanted to talk about the old days with ARCA and USAC racing on the dirt miles at Springfield and Duquoin. Later on up in the stands it was more of the same, as I got to talk with quite a few fans, most of whom are usually curious about how I get to do what I do. I'm always happy to share my story and passion for motorsports photography so these interactions helped round out what had started off as a miserable looking day.

I like shooting the bigger tracks but it  definitely is more work.
This month has been one big blur  - in fact the last two months have been - and this is my 10th weekend in a row working a race. I have been fighting a cold for the last two weeks which makes things tougher physically. Now tomorrow is another roadtrip - this time to Joliet, Illinois for the next ARCA race at Chicagoland Speedway. I have been to several tracks this season for the first time but Chicagoland is not new to me as I went there for the first time in 2006 to cover Indycar for the defunct American Motor Journal publication. It's a 1.5 mile track with decent banking and the Muscoe lights are fantastic to work with since our race will start at dusk and finish in darkness Thursday night. It's another race weekend where ARCA is paired up with other NASCAR series so the ARCA track time might be somewhat limited but the visibiity for the series and it's drivers is well worth any perceived shortcomings in tracktime. It just means we all have to be more efficient! Following the Chicagoland race I have some personal travel to do on a family mater and then it's right back to teaching after 4th of July weekend. The rest of July is just as busy and there will be just eight races left in the ARCA season once the holiday weekend is over.

I've tried to share my experiences after each race this season ad it's been hard to keep up with it but I write because I have to. I love this work and I have to do something to be creative or my life gets dull and colorless. I'm grateful to have these opportunities and I know there's so much more I could do if given the chance. Until then, I will keep plugging and hope you keep coming back for more. Thanks for reading. Here's a few more photos from last weekend.

Ty Gibbs is not large in stature but he came up big at WWT Raceway
Rookie Gavin Harlien had an interesting introduction to  the ARCA Menards Series!
The Gibbs team had to replace its Ilmor engine before the race
The 27 team of Travis Braden made a good call on amid race pit stop and  led some laps
First time ARCA race winner Ty Gibbs is only 16 years old

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