Friday, July 29, 2011

Ty Dillon Wins Again! Takes ARCA Ansell 200 at Lucas Oil Raceway

Ty Dillon Begins Victory Celebration at Lucas Oil Raceway
I've been calling the new breed of racers coming up through the stock car racing ranks "young guns" now for quite awhile, but I may have to amend that to "young lions" after the way Ty Dillon roared to another ARCA victory at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. Kicking off the Brickyard 400 weekend with the first racing event, ARCA put on another excellent show as Dillon, James Buescher, Ryan Blaney and New Castle's Dakoda Armstrong all took turns in the lead. A late race red flag caused by a frontstretch pileup on a restart let everyone catch their breath a little and the victory was in doubt right up until the green-white checker finish. Dillon took off at that point and won comfortably on a sweltering summer evening on the westside of Indianapolis.

This night was Dillon's from the very beginning, as he outpaced everyone from Pole Position to grab his sixth win of the ARCA season and maintain his series points lead. It looks pretty clear that he is the man to beat for the title this year in ARCA and his Richard Childress Racing (RCR) team has the goods to deliver. Grandpa Childress, in town for the big show Sunday at 16th & Georgetown, was beaming in victory lane after the race and it was great to see him congratulate all the team members for a job well done. Dillon led the most laps (71) on the night but was strongly challenged by Ryan Blaney who led almost as many as Dillon and was a threat right to the very end. He was extremely disappointed afterward. James Buescher came over from the Camping World Truck Series to lead 51 laps but couldn't match Dillon or Blaney's pace at the end. I was pulling for Armstrong and it looked like he might do it after taking the lead on lap 151 but the others were just too strong and he couldn't hold them off. Dillon's brakes were glowing red hot by the end of the evening and he lit up the frontstretch after taking the checkered flag with a burnout for the ages. His figure eights generated huge clouds of smoke and when he finally climbed out of his car, he dove into the arms of waiting RCR crew members, still wearing his helmet.

If you've never been to this fast little oval in Clermont, Indiana that has gone by various names over the years and is now known as Lucas Oil Raceway, you should make sure you visit someday. Even though it is relatively flat, there are almost always two grooves and it is a perfect track to diamond the corners and pass other cars either entering or exiting the turns. The lighting late in the day is also spectacular and for ARCA's first run here in many years, it was a special night to be a photographer. I have been shooting races at this track since the late 1980's, and although I have to miss the Camping World and Nationwide races here this weekend which lead up to Sunday's Brickyard 400, I always know this place will generate some exciting racing. Next year the story is going to change with the recent announcement by NASCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) that the truck series will not return in 2012 and the Nationwide race will be moved to IMS to run the day before the 2012 Brickyard. I know Forest Lucas is not happy about those changes, given how much he probably paid for naming rights at the track, but it is a well managed facility and I'm sure they will bounce back next year. I hope ARCA can return and generate a following as their presence during the "Kroger Speedfest" should be a boon to that series as well.

With all that said, I haven't even mentioned the fireworks that followed the ARCA race in the USAC midget and Silver Crown races which headlined this tripleheader. More on that in just a bit. Until then, here's my slideshow from Ty Dillon's remarkable Lucas Oil Raceway win.

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