Dillon Reflects on Past Talladega Visits; News & Notes from ARCA Racing Series at Talladega Superspeedway

(TOLEDO, Ohio) – Asked what a victory at Talladega Superspeedway meant considering the history Richard Childress Racing has at the track, Ty Dillon started by simply calling the feeling “awesome.”

“I’ve always watched, and I’ve almost always gone to the superspeedways – Daytona and Talladega – as a kid, and I’ve always loved to see how they race in the big packs, and the big crashes and the wild finishes at the end,” said Dillon, who drove the No. 41 Xinergy/Richard Childress Racing Development Chevrolet. “To have my own wild finish and to win at Talladega is really cool.”

A winner of 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at the track since 1984, Childress responded in kind – reiterating his earlier reference to a racing legend.

American Muscle

“This was really special, when it’s your grandson,” Childress said. “You know, we’ve won quite a few races here. Somebody asked me, ‘What’d that move look like at the end?’ I said it looked like a classic Earnhardt move, to be able to win by a fender or so. It’s just cool, knowing how hard he works at it.”

Dillon’s win moved him to second place in the unofficial ARCA Racing Series point standings, 10 behind leader Bobby Gerhart (No. 5 Lucas Oil Chevrolet); official points will be released Tuesday. Chris Buescher (No. 17 ApplianceZone.com/David Ragan Ford/Jet Food Stores Ford) is third, 25 from the lead. Frank Kimmel (No. 44 Ansell/Menards Ford) is 45 behind Gerhart in fourth, and Matt Merrell (No. 32 Champion Brands Toyota) is 55 behind the lead in fifth.

Thirteen Years, Thirteen Winners: Since Tim Steele’s three consecutive wins at Talladega between 1996 and 1998, 13 different drivers have won the 13 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards events on the 2.66-mile oval since 1999. With his win, Dillon joined Bob Strait (1999), David Keith (2000), Bobby Gerhart (2001), Keith Segars (2002), Paul Menard (2003), Blake Feese (2004), Kraig Kinser (2005), Frank Kimmel (2006), Michael Annett (2007), Justin Allgaier (2008), Justin Lofton (2009), and Dakoda Armstrong (2010) as winners in that period.

Only Michigan International Speedway – host to the ARCA Racing Series on Friday, June 17 – has a longer current streak of different winners. 15 drivers have won in 15 races at the track since 1999.

Dillon the 100th with Three Wins: Ty Dillon’s win in the 3 Amigos 250 was his third in five ARCA Racing Series starts, making him the 100th driver in series history with three wins.

Active drivers now with two wins who are next in line to win a third include Dakoda Armstrong, Chris Buescher, Scott Lagasse Jr., and Chad McCumbee.

Superspeedway Pole Sweep the Sixth: Before 2011, five drivers had won the Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway in the same season. Ty Dillon became the sixth Thursday, edging Kyle Fowler (No. 15 Venturini Motorsports Chevrolet) for the top starting spot.

Past drivers to have won both poles in a single year include Ralph Jones (1986), Bill Venturini (1987), Bob Schacht (1995), Kirk Shelmerdine (2000), and Bobby Gerhart (2006). Only Gerhart won from the pole at Daytona, and none of the previous drivers won from the pole at Talladega that season.

Before Dillon and Fowler repeated as the front row starters this season, only Shelmerdine and Bob Strait had shared the first and second positions, respectively, at both tracks in the same year (2000).

Hudson Matches Career High: Brett Hudson (No. 94 Hudson Performance Drivelines Dodge) finished fourth, matching a career-best result earned at Salem in 2007.

Brian Rose (No. 19 Battomi/Lawton Insurance/Reynolds Pump Toyota) finished seventh, his first top-10 in two ARCA Racing Series starts.

Making his first ARCA start since 2006, Will Vaught (No. 51 CureDuchenne.com Chevrolet) ended the race in ninth, a career high.

Maryeve Dufault (No. 12 VR-12 Dodge) scored the first top-15 finish of her ARCA career, finishing 12th and improving upon her 28th-place result in her debut at Daytona. Milka Duno (No. 63 Citgo Supergard Lubricants Toyota) finished in the top 20 for the first time in her three starts, ending the day 19th.

“A Glove Away” for Kimmel After Improvement: Frank Kimmel started 22nd and finished second to win the CGS Imaging Hard Charger of the Race Award for most positions gained. (Maryeve Dufault, who improved 27 positions, was ineligible for the award after making a provisional start.)

Kimmel’s 20 positions gained were his third-most at Talladega in 19 starts. He improved 32 places, from 35th to third, in 2002, and 27, from 33rd to sixth, in 2008.

The nine-time ARCA champion led three times for 32 laps and looked poised to end a winless streak which stretches back to late 2008 before being passed by Ty Dillon just yards from the start/finish line.

“So close,” Kimmel said. “It’s so tough to explain being happy but disappointed at the same time. Knowing that I was literally a glove away from pulling the Ansell/Menards Ford into Victory Lane is hard to swallow, but running that strong and leading a bunch of laps makes me pleased as well.

“I knew that going into that last lap that those behind me would be gunning for me. All I could do is stick to the bottom and try to hold them off but the No. 41 drove to my outside right at the end. Overall, it was a great points day for Kimmel Racing, plus it was really nice to be out front for Ansell and Menards.”

Gerhart Speaks to Superspeedway Excitement: Bobby Gerhart nearly finished a sweep of the season’s two restrictor plate events, but finished third when an end-of-race charge to the front fell just short.

“Well, so much for these races not being exciting,” Gerhart said. “When we came down to it, it was two or three lanes wide. I just didn’t have a lot of help. As it was a couple of years ago here, it came down the point where it’s every man racing for himself. Then, it isn’t about friends; it’s about being in the right spot at the right time. I thought I had it covered.

“It was just a real exciting race; I was happy to be a part of it.”

Through two of seven races in the Hoosier Tire Superspeedway Challenge, Gerhart leads with 390 points. Chris Buescher is second at 375, followed by Frank Kimmel and Ty Dillon, tied at 350.

Dillon Adds Special Awards: Ty Dillon led Lap 47, marking the race’s halfway point, and won the $500 Messina Halfway Leader Award for the race. His 50 laps led were far more than any other driver, giving him the $500 Aaron’s Lap Leader of the Race Award as well. In all, Dillon has led 109 laps and amassed an average finish of 3.2 in five starts in ARCA Racing Series competition.

The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards returns to action at Salem (Ind.) Speedway on Sunday, May 1, for the series’ 89th race at the track since 1955.

The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards has crowned an ARCA national champion each year since its inaugural season in 1953, and has toured over 200 race tracks in 28 states since its inception. The series tests the abilities of drivers and race teams over the most diverse schedule of stock car racing events in the world, annually visiting tracks ranging from 0.4 mile to 2.66 miles in length, on both paved and dirt surfaces as well as a left- and right-turn road course.

Founded by John Marcum in 1953 in Toledo, Ohio, the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) is recognized among the leading sanctioning bodies in the country. Closing in on completing its sixth decade after hundreds of thousands of miles of racing, ARCA administers over 100 race events each season in two professional touring series and local weekly events.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here