Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Ross Kenseth Takes Ken Schrader Racing Ride to Michigan Win

Ross Kenseth led 51 of 100 laps in his Corrigan 200 win
The first time I went to Michigan for a race was in 1981 for the CART Norton 500 and it got rained out. Summer weather in the Irish Hills always seems to involve "moisture" and this past weekend's trip was no exception, although thankfully the ARCA Series race did not get rained out. There was a point just after halfway where Grant Enfinger's crew was begging for officials to throw the checkered flag early as there was mist in the air and he was leading at the time. But race control waited it out and ARCA managed to get the entire 100 laps run. Ten minutes after we started the hat dance in Victory Lane, the downpour hit us so we were quite lucky to get the day completed more or less on schedule, especially since it had rained hard the night before as well as earlier Friday afternoon. Everyone involved was glad to get the full race distance in on Friday and Ross Kenseth made the most of his opportunity with Ken Schrader's #52 Federated Auto Parts machine to take a fairly convincing win. Frank Kimmel looked like his old self in Venturini Motorsports' #25 with a second place finish and Austin Wayne Self snagged an impressive third for Mason Mitchell Motorsports after a crash at the last race in Pocono ended his day early.

One of the last Victory Lane pix before the monsoon: Ross and dad Matt
Once the rains came, we had to move the rest of the Victory Lane photos under a covered area beneath the pit lane suites which was something new for me but it was fun anyway as it was just Ross Kenseth and a cadre of photographers as the crew members and usual Victory Lane crowd had run for cover elsewhere. The rains continued to pound down until I had to clear out of the ARCA hauler which was ready to leave, so I had to run to my car which was parked in a grass lot in the infield so I could drive it back and load up my gear. From the track to Coldwater, Michigan, the rain was coming down sideways but it was fairly early so I didn't push it as I had to stop for gas before getting on I-69 anyway. Once I hit the interstate, I drove south out of the rain and had a nice drive back to Indy, arriving home about 1:00 a.m. Saturday which wasn't bad at all.

Frank Kimmel leads Enfinger, Hessert & Kerzejewski in Turn 1 at MIS
Working for ARCA as its photographer is really a blast: I get to do what I love and see my work published on the websites of teams and the series. The racing is always entertaining and I am getting to know quite a few people involved in the series. The teams and crews are also starting to recognize me which makes my job easier. The days may be long at times and there's lots of walking involved at the tracks - last Thursday I logged over 20,000 steps and Friday over 15,500 on my pedometer app - but the people are great and it's very rewarding supporting the teams and series. Michigan was the second of four straight June weekends where I will be working for ARCA. We go to Chicgaoland this coming weekend, paired up with the NASCAR Xfinity Series, for the Scott 150. Then the last weekend in June, we are back home in Indiana at Winchester Speedway where ARCA will be the headliner for two days of racing at "the world's fastest half mile". I love Winchester, partly because it's close to home and partly because I get to sleep in my own bed rather than in a hotel on the road!

Mason Mitchell's 2014 Chicagoland burnout was epic
It might be hard to top last year's race at Chicagoland Speedway where eventual season champion Mason Mitchell got his first ARCA win and executed a burnout for the ages with tire smoke billowing above the main grandstands. While I can't say that his win was unexpected last year, you just never know who will be entered each week that might be a serious contender to win. At Pocono, it was Trevor Bayne. Ross Kenseth did it at Michigan. This weekend, Daniel Suarez will pull double duty with the Xfinity race, and there are easily a half dozen ARCA regulars who could win, not the least of which is current points leader Grant Enfinger who started off this season like a house afire with three straight wins. Tom Hessert is second in points and is overdue for a win. Third place Josh Williams gets a shot in the Cunningham Motorsports #22 machine while fourth in points Austin Wayne Self is ready for a breakout win in Mitchell's #98 anytime now. Matt Tifft will be back in Schrader's #52 to try and duplicate Kenseth's Michigan win for the team. I could go on and on but in case you hadn't noticed, I am already getting excited about the race this weekend, and I'm writing this on Tuesday!

I don't think a lot of people give ARCA the credit it deserves for a number of reasons. Having worked inside the series now for awhile, I may be biased but if you want to see hard fought racing and some of the best young talent in stock car racing, then you need to get to an ARCA race. Come on out and join us! Until next time, here's a sampling of my Michigan photos. To see the rest, you'll have to go to ARCA's photo site at this link. Let me know what you think and we'll see you at the track.

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