(NEWTON, Iowa) – Some races are won by a hair, some are controlled steadily throughout the duration, and others are truly dominated. Ty Dillon’s victory in the Prairie Meadows 200 at Iowa Speedway easily fits the third and most impressive category.
Dillon (No. 41 Richard Childress Racing Development Chevrolet) led 193 of 200 laps, including the final 82, to win from the pole – in his first return trip to an ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards track – and take his fifth victory of 2011.
The win on a very hot afternoon in central Iowa was the seventh of Dillon’s career, and came in just in his 14th ARCA start. It’s also a triumph Dillon said he could see coming.
“I was just excited to get to the race all weekend because I knew we were going to be really good,” he said. “The track was hot and real slick tonight, so it was a little tough to manage the tires off the corner but our car was good enough that I could beat ’em through the center. My car was phenomenal in the center of the corner and it just allowed me to go wherever I needed to, like around lapped cars. That’s one of the things you have to deal with in these long races, and just being able to roll the center is so much better.
“Winning five races; who would have thought? This is awesome. Hopefully, we just keep digging and keep getting wins.”
Dillon’s 193 laps led marked an ARCA record in six races at Iowa, topping the 177 led by Steve Wallace in ARCA’s first visit to Newton in 2006.
Cale Gale (No. 33 Rheem Chevrolet) finished second in just his second start of 2011 for Kevin Harvick, Inc.
Chris Buescher (No. 17 Reliance Tool/David Ragan Ford Ford) was third and Grant Enfinger (No. 36 Hoosier Tires Midwest/RaceTires.com) finished fourth. Dillon’s teammate Tim George Jr. (No. 31 Applebee’s/Potomac Family Dining Group) completed the top five.
Dillon proved that he had the fastest car earlier in the afternoon, winning the Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell with a qualifying lap of 23.459 seconds (134.277 mph). The pole was Dillon’s second at Iowa Speedway, following a similar effort in his ARCA debut last July. In that race, though, Dillon could only muster a second-place finish, making him determined to find Victory Lane.
Trouble struck the field soon after the start of the race, as Milka Duno – making her first start since May 22 at New Jersey Motorsports Park – spun the No. 63 Citgo Supergard Lubricants Toyota in Turn 3 of the first lap after qualifying 15th. Brennan Poole (No. 25 Karl Chevrolet/Lauren Briant Chevrolet) made contact with Duno, causing damage that would plague him throughout the afternoon.
The field started again at Lap 7, and though Dillon’s Chevrolet wiggled in Turn 4 on the laps soon after the green flag, he built a half-second lead on Gale by Lap 14. Meanwhile, Chad McCumbee (No. 1 ModSpace Ford) had charged from sixth into third, gaining the last position by fighting his way past full-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Clay Rogers (No. 42 Beard Oil/ConocoPhillips Chevrolet).
Rogers, driving a car previously tested by NASCAR veteran Jack Sprague, made just his second ARCA start of 2011 and first since June 17 at Michigan International Speedway.
With McCumbee trailing them, Dillon and Gale started to pull away. Gale challenged for the lead as the two encountered lapped cars on Lap 21, but Dillon kept the advantage. Poole’s car became a roadblock of sorts for the two just laps later; Dillon made a better pass than Gale, moving to a 1.075-second lead at Lap 27.
Dillon’s lead was twice that three laps later, and he had opened up over five seconds on McCumbee in third. Behind them, Rogers ran fourth, and Buescher passed Chad Hackenbracht (No. 58 Fast Fixin’/On the Go PBJamwich Chevrolet) for fifth on Lap 33. Dillon built his lead on Gale to five seconds by Lap 42, and then lapped Tom Hessert (No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet) to leave just 11 cars on the lead lap.
Simultaneously, McCumbee and Matt Lofton (No. 16 Strutmasters.com Chevrolet) both experienced flat front right tires on Lap 50, bringing the field to the second caution flag of the day. Dillon won the race off of pit road two laps later, with Gale, Rogers, Buescher, and Frank Kimmel (No. 44 Ansell/Menards Ford) filling out the top five. Hessert earned the Aaron’s Lucky Dog to move into ninth, and Kimmel returned to pit road just before the green flag.
The green flag flew on Lap 60. Right away, Matt Merrell (No. 32 Champion Hi-Tech Lubricants Dodge) found the wall in Turns 1 and 2, another victim of a flat front right tire. Dillon eased away to another sizable lead over Gale and Rogers after the Lap 65 restart, and he led by 1.263 seconds when Buescher passed Rogers for third 11 laps later. At Lap 89, Dillon’s lead on Gale grew to nearly four seconds, with Buescher over seven seconds behind in third.
Tom Berte (No. 15 CGS Premier/StayTuned Customs Chevrolet) hit the wall in Turn 2 on Lap 92 to bring another caution flag, and most of the leaders – except for Dillon – traveled to pit road. The green flag at Lap 99 helped Dillon pull away again, and he led Gale by 1.389 seconds at Lap 109.
Brandon Kidd (No. 7 Brioschi Chevrolet) spun between Turns 3 and 4 on Lap 110, but saved his car so as to not create any damage. The ensuing caution period gave Dillon the chance to go to pit road, having led each of the race’s 111 laps to that point.
Buescher stayed on the track to lead Lap 112, and Gale barely edged Dillon off of pit road, leaving Dillon third. Dillon passed Gale on Lap 117 and closed to within 0.061 second of Buescher on the next lap. He moved inside Buescher in Turn 2 on Lap 119 to take the lead for the second time.
Gale passed Buescher for second on Lap 123, just before Maryeve Dufault (No. 12 Mad Croc Energy Drink Dodge) crashed to bring out another caution flag. Dillon pulled away yet again after the Lap 128 green flag, with Gale continuing to trail. Buescher, who had fallen to fifth by pitting, rose back into fourth and then passed Kimmel for third by the end of Lap 139.
Dillon’s lead grew again to two seconds by Lap 147 and three seconds by Lap 154. George, who had fallen soon after starting the race third, climbed back to fourth, just ahead of Kimmel and Enfinger.
Following a Lap 159 caution, Dillon pulled away after the Lap 165 green flag, and did the same thing on Lap 191 after another driver spun on Lap 186. Having made yet another clean start, Dillon built his lead to 1.634 seconds by the finish, with Gale and Buescher trailing him as they had done for much of the race. Enfinger passed George late for fourth.
Gale’s second-place finish was his fifth top-five in eight career ARCA Racing Series starts, and Buescher’s third-place result was his 14th top-five in 26 career starts and eighth top-five this year. Buescher moved past Kimmel for second in the series standings.
Kimmel finished the race sixth, with Rogers, Hessert, Sean Corr (No. 82 Empire Racing Ford), and Hackenbracht completing the top 10.
Jared Marks (No. 8 Mad Croc Energy Drink Dodge) was the final driver on the lead lap, finishing 11th. The race finished in exactly one hour and 50 minutes, at an average speed of 95.455 mph. Eight caution flags slowed the race for 37 laps.
The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards returns to action in 12 days, on Thursday, July 28, at Lucas Oil Raceway (formerly Indianapolis Raceway Park) in Clermont, Ind. The Ansell Protective Gloves 200 will air live on SPEED at 7 p.m., and the race will open the first of three nights of Kroger SpeedFest.
Practice takes place earlier in the day, from 1:30-3, and Menards Pole Qualifying is scheduled for 4:30. The USAC Midget Series and USAC Silver Crown Series will join ARCA at the historic short track. The race will be the 12th of 19 in the 2011 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season, and the first at Lucas Oil Raceway since 1985.
ARCARacing.com will feature live timing and scoring coverage of all on-track events.
The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards features 19 events at 16 tracks on its 2011 schedule. The series 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.