Saturday, October 13, 2018

Christian Eckes Takes 3rd ARCA Win Racing Rain and Rainbows

Christian Eckes won again for Venturini Motorsports
The ARCA Racing Series was finally able to get the Shore Lunch 200 race run this past Saturday at Lucas Oil Raceway with Christian Eckes turning in a dominant performance to get his third win of the season. The race was originally scheduled for Brickyard 400 weekend but got washed away with so many other activities in the area that weekend by the remnants of Hurricane Florence which soaked central Indiana for days. We were lucky that day to get an hour of practice in and we almost had a repeat performance by Mother Nature on October 6th as we had two different, albeit much shorter, rain delays to contend with before the show could go on. Eckes is another young ARCA talent who has done a great job this year and his wins and poles contributed to his Venturini team's total of eight pole and eight wins this year.

Sheldon Creed (28) has been strong and consistent all season
Season points leader Sheldon Creed entered the weekend with an almost insurmountable points lead over MDM Motorsports teammate Zane Smith and had just announced he was getting a ride in the NASCAR truck series for next year. Creed finished a strong second place and locked up the Short Track Challenge title for 2018 in the process. It has been so much fun watching Sheldon mature this season and I expect he will do well at the next level. Now all he needs to do is start the race at Kansas Speedway October 19th in the season finale and he will become ARCA's official season champion for 2018. That will give him plenty of time to work on his awards speech at the annual ARCA banquet in December in Indianapolis.

Rain, rain go away!
I walked over 18,000 steps Saturday throughout the day which turned out to be another 15 hour work day but it was anything but uneventful. The first rain delay hit as the cars were lining up in pit lane in their starting order as ARCA officials had moved the start up an hour to try and beat the rain. I was just walking out to the pits when that rain hit and several of us huddled under a pop up tent on the ARCA tech inspection line to stay dry. The crazy thing was the sun was still shining the entire time so we were treated to a spectacular double rainbow! The track drying didn't take too long so the field was put on the track about an hour later and I headed out to the position outside of Turn 1 where I wanted to shoot the start of the race. The field of 25 cars was wheeled out and the pace laps got started under threatening skies but it didn't feel like it would rain again. Man was I wrong!

First came the rain, then the rainbow, then more rain, and finally the race.
I felt a couple of sprinkles on the second pace lap and then the next lap I heard race control direct the pace car to lead the field back onto pit lane and then the skies opened up in earnest. I got my raincoat on and covered my cameras in plastic as I started walking towards the main grandstands to seek cover underneath with the fans. As I turned the corner to go under the stands, I slipped on some mud and went down in a heap but I didn't damage my camera equipment or hurt myself somehow. A couple people came over to see if I was OK and when I looked up, there were my two friends I had invited out to see the race from behind the scenes! I'm sure they hadn't anticipated connecting with me in this manner; neither had I, but we did get to spend the next 90 minutes or so hanging out during the rain delay which was a lot of fun. It was their first ARCA race so I showed them around as we walked pit lane to see the cars and point out some drivers, we talked to an ARCA official about the technical aspects of the cars, and then paid our friends at the Ilmor trailer a visit to get them info on the 396 engine most of the teams are now using. I learned some things in the process too as I am not a technical gear head - I just like cars and I love to drive!

Sheldon Creed will likely be the 2018 ARCA champion
Speaking of driving, I will make my last long drive of my 2018 season this coming weekend when I drive to Kansas Speedway for ARCA's season finale. This year's season champion will be crowned and our post race duties will get complicated if someone other than Sheldon Creed wins the race but that's OK. I will probably get another chance to shoot the start of a race from the flagstand and since we're sharing the track with NASCAR's Xfinity and Monster Cup series, I may get a chance to shoot some pix of the big boys as well if time allows. Once Kansas is in the books, then the planning for 2019 can begin in earnest. I've already booked my flight for Daytona so I'll be ready to go to work next February for sure. In the meantime, you should check out the photo albums on the redesigned ARCA website or follow me on Twitter to see my daily motorsports photos! Until next time, here's a few more of my photos from Lucas Oil Raceway. Stay safe and get to a race near you!

I love the flange fit composite bodies being used by ARCA now; this is Christian Eckes at speed
Still one of the prettiest stock cars around: Michael Self in his Venturini ride with Dino the dinosaur on the side
Everyone was happy to finally get the race in
Remnants of the monsoons left a nice reflecting pool inside of Turn 1
Yes - the trophy really was taller than winner Christian Eckes!

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