TOLEDO, Ohio (July 25, 2016) - Once Chase Briscoe finally found his way to victory lane at Winchester Speedway in late June, the Mitchell, Indiana rookie has apparently decided he likes it there. Briscoe's win Friday at Lucas Oil Raceway marks his third consecutive victory on the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards tour, adding Iowa Speedway in between.
For a guy who thought he "blew" it, Briscoe's got it going on now. Briscoe made his ARCA debut at Lucas Oil one year ago.
"It’s definitely special. You know it’s cool to come back here…this is where Cunningham gave me my first start," Briscoe said. "And like I was telling everybody else last year, when I ran this race I honestly felt like I blew my one shot. I was fortunate enough and blessed enough that Briggs (Cunningham) and Kerry (Scherer) gave me another opportunity…I just can’t thank them guys enough. It’s definitely cool to go three in a row and hopefully we can continue this roll…it’s pretty good."
It's more than "pretty good"...yet Briscoe still finds himself processing his good fortune.
“I am so incredibly blessed. To think how this all began…..after the race last year here...and here I am, this year, in their No. 77…leading the points with three victories and five poles. Let’s head on to Pocono and see if we can make it four-in-a-row.”
If Briscoe does win the ModSpace 150 at Pocono, he would become the first driver to win four consecutive races since Parker Kligerman in 2009. Kligerman won four straight at Michigan, Mansfield, Iowa and Kentucky. Kligerman was also driving the 77 car for Cunningham Motorsports in '09. The last driver prior to Kligerman to win four in a row was Frank Kimmel in 2002 (Nashville Superspeedway, Springfield, Winchester and DuQuoin). Kimmel also won four straight in 2001 at Salem, Gateway, Kentucky and Charlotte. It's been 20 years since a driver has won five consecutive...going back to 1997 when Tim Steele won at Salem, Winchester, Charlotte, Talladega and Springfield.
Briscoe increases championship lead over runner-up Williams
Briscoe also padded his point lead over runner-up championship driver Josh Williams, leading by 265 points with eight races remaining in ARCA's 64th season. Despite Briscoe's dominating win at Lucas Oil, leading 131 laps overall, Williams came away with a solid fourth-place finish Friday.
Briscoe is still searching for his first superspeedway win, however. His best speedway finish is second at Michigan. Briscoe also finished third at Talladega and fourth at Daytona. No doubt, the leading SCOTT Rookie Challenge contender will be looking to improve his 10th-place finish in the first Pocono race back in early June when the series returns to the "Tricky Triangle" this Friday.
Briscoe's Cunningham Motorsports teammate Myatt Snider finished third in the No. 22 Original Louisiana Hot Sauce Ford at Lucas Oil. It was Snider's third top-five finish (Toledo win, fifth at Iowa, third at Lucas Oil) in five starts. Snider also finished ninth at Pocono after leading 33 laps. Briscoe and Snider will again be teammates this Friday in the ModSpace 150 at Pocono.
Dean ninth at LOR; onto Pocono
Rookie Gus Dean also had a decent night, finishing ninth in the No. 78 GREE Cooling Products-Mason Mitchell Motorsports (MMM) Chevrolet.
“We really had to work on our car all day long,” Dean said after the race. “We were just too tight all day. These MMM guys worked so hard to make it better all race long. I had a lot of fun my first time at Lucas Oil. It’s definitely a unique track. I can’t thank GREE enough for their support. They’ve played a huge role in my season and I am proud to represent them. I am looking forward to being back in the car next week at Pocono.”
Dean got GREE's attention in a big way when, in only his second series start, drove to victory lane at Talladega Superspeedway in late April. Dean will be returning to the controls of the GREE-sponsored MMM Chevy for his Pocono debut this Friday.
Kurzejewski climbs to third in points
Despite a disappointing night for Matt Kurzejewski at Lucas Oil, the Mansfield, Pennsylvania driver climbed to third in national championship standings. His Ansell-Menards team had high hopes going into Lucas Oil, but experienced battery issues during race, relegating Kurzejewski to 16th in the final running order.
“We worked a lot on getting our Ansell-Menards Toyota to rotate the center of the corner a little better in both practice sessions,” Kurzejewski said. “The car was really loose for qualifying...that’s typically not a bad thing but I didn’t want to take any chances...but qualifying 13th wasn’t what we were hoping for.”
When the Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200 took the green flag, Kurzejewski quickly made his way inside the top-10. The team took advantage of a lap-66 caution to pit for two fresh General Tires and adjustments.
“The car was a little loose on the first run there...I struggled to get the car down to the bottom to run where everyone else was running,” continued Kurzejewski.
As the race continued, Kurzejewski battled for the 10th position while he tried to get back on the lead lap. However, with just under 20 laps to go, the Ansell-Menards Toyota began having battery issues causing a significant loss in power. The team pitted under a green flag to replace the battery and got Kurzejewski back out to finish 16th.
“Once I got the car on the bottom of the race track we had a good handling car. Got us behind the eight ball early in the race and just never got the opportunity to make that up. This team has no quit in them and we will continue to work and bring better racecars to the track each week.”
Top-10 for Hessert...to fourth in points
With a little help from Kyle Weatherman, Tom Hessert climbed to fourth in championship standings following his 10th-place finish in the No. 25 Venturini Motorsports Toyota. Weatherman, who did not enter and compete at Lucas Oil, fell to fifth in overall standings as a result. However, the Wentzville, Missouri driver has filed an entry for this Friday's race at Pocono in the No. 10 St. Charles Glass-Fast Track Ford.
Praytor solid at LOR; on track for best season Thomas Praytor continues to have his best season on tour, finishing 15th Friday night at Lucas Oil Raceway in one of the most competitive short track fields of the 2016 season. Praytor is sixth in series standings, 155 points away from Weatherman in fifth. Praytor will be further aided by the upcoming 250-point bonus for competing in each five-race segment, consecutively. Having now missed a race, Weatherman will not receive the bonus.
“Our shop work and the effort we are putting in to our cars before we go to the track are really paying off when we unload," Praytor said. "Our Project Semicolon Ford was close and we were able to tweak on it all during practice looking for more speed.”
The tweaks paid off and the Moose picked up another half second in qualifying. Despite getting out of sequence on pit stops during the race, Praytor gave several top competitors a run for their money.
“We were a little out of sequence and the four new General Tires we put on were a lot of fun. We passed a lot of cars after we pitted. I think some of the Ilmors were surprised to see us slide by them.
“Our short track cars have really moved up a notch or two this year and our Fords have been really good allowing us to make them better. One of these days we will have a new Ilmor and we will be able to give these guys a run for their money all the way to the finish. Congratulations to Chase Briscoe and the guys at Cunningham...that’s three in a row. They are making us all look bad. Proud to have Project Semicolon on our car again...Amy and her Project Semicolon team are doing a great job.”
The ModSpace 150 this Friday at Pocono marks the 63rd ARCA race on the Pocono triangle since 1983. The list of winners over the years is impressive. In addition to Bob Schacht, who won the inaugural event and five more thereafter, Pocono ARCA winners include Tim Steele, Mike Wallace, Blaise Alexander, Kerry Earnhardt, Ryan Newman, Casey Atwood, Casey Mears, Scott Riggs, Frank Kimmel, Travis Kvapil, Justin Allgaier, Joey Logano, Ty Dillon, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Trevor Bayne, and most recently Grant Enfinger, who won the Pocono ARCA 200 back in early June.
Practice for the ModSpace 150 is from 9:30 to 10:55 Friday morning July 29, with Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell following at 2:00 p.m. The Friday late afternoon ModSpace 150 is live on FS1 at 5:30 p.m. Eastern. All on-track activity will be featured in live Timing & Scoring and live Chat at arcaracing.com.
The ModSpace 150 is also part of a triple-header race card at Pocono, featuring the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Pocono Mountains 150 Saturday and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pennsylvania 400 grand finale Sunday afternoon.
Tickets are on sale now at PoconoRaceway.com.
Don Radebaugh email@example.com