This weekend’s ninth race of the 2011 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season marks the return to Winchester after spending three years without going there.
After success last year and an eighth place finish back in May at Toledo Speedway, Dakoda Armstrong will once again team up with Cunningham Motorsports for the Winchester 200 presented by Federated Auto Parts at Winchester Speedway in Indiana on Saturday.
Crew Chief Paul Andrew is expecting good things following a test last week at the half-mile, 37-degree banked track.
“We did have a good test,” said Andrews. “We started with our Salem setup and tuned on it from there. Winchester is very similar to Salem, just much smoother. Our times on the longer runs were very consistent and our mock qualifying lap was good. With the history of the track and all of the laps that Dakoda has on the track, we are hoping for good things.”
The Newcastle, Indiana native has had success in ARCA before as he was crowned the 2010 ARCA Racing Series Rookie of the Year with two wins – Talladega and Salem.
This marks the first race for the ARCA Series at Winchester Speedway since 2007.
“It’s important for the ARCA Racing Series to go back to Winchester Speedway,” ARCA president Ron Drager said. “It’s exactly the type of Midwestern facility where the ARCA brand is well-known and has the chance to be successful. Winchester is big enough and fast enough to play to the very nature of our cars.”
When Armstrong got the news, he jumped at the opportunity to run it.
“(I am) excited about racing again at Winchester,” Armstrong said. “I really like the track. After our test last week and the similarities Winchester has to Salem, where we run well, I am expecting a good run.”
Meanwhile, series veteran Frank Kimmel has a lot of experience at Winchester and leads the series in victories at Winchester with five.
“Winchester is exactly the kind of track we need to be racing at,” the Indiana,native said. “It’s perfect for these big heavy stock cars, and what a show. I think Winchester is one of the best half-miles in the country, bar none. When it was repaved, I thought it wasn’t going to be as good, but it actually got a lot better. It made a lane in the middle and made it a really racy race track.”
Racing began at Winchester in 1914 as it was originally a flat half-mile dirt oval, with the banking added in 1922. It would then become an asphalt oval in 1952, followed by a re-paving in 1995.
“Before they repaved it, it was a lot like Salem where you had really only one good lane to work with – through the middle in one and two and higher up in three and four,” Kimmel said. “But now, you can put the car about anywhere on the track. You can actually pass someone without running them over.”
The return to Winchester marks the first race at the track on the short track radial tire, which Hoosier introduced in 2008.
“The speeds will be up,” Kimmel, who sits second in points behind Ty Dillon, said. “The radial is just a better tire than the bias-ply so I’m curious to see how that could affect the outcome.”
The Winchester ARCA 200 presented by Federated Auto Parts is a one-day event, with a 90-minute practice session beginning Saturday at 1:45 p.m. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell will take place at 4:45, with a 45-minute autograph session at 6:45. The 200-lap, 100-mile event begins at 8. Live timing and scoring for all of the events will be featured at ARCARacing.com.