KANSAS CITY, Kan. (Oct. 14, 2016) - Chase Briscoe ended the season with an exclamation point, winning the Kansas 150 Friday night at Kansas Speedway and the 2016 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards national championship, all in his rookie year on the job.
"It's so cool to finally reward Cunningham Motorsports with their first championship," said Briscoe. "They've been in this sport for so long. The guys on this team work so hard...a lot of sweat and tears. They earned every bit of this championship. Really great to get Big Tine their first ever championship in racing."
Briscoe, in the No. 77 Big Tine Ford, capitalized on the misfortunes of race leader Dalton Sargeant, who fell off the pace just 24 laps from the finish with ignition issues. With Sargeant out of the way, Briscoe sailed away to his sixth career ARCA Racing Series victory.
"The championship is obviously important, but we wanted the win tonight more than anything. We wanted to show everyone what this championship team is made of, going out on a win. Our car was really free tonight, and the further back in the pack we got, the freer the car got. But once we got out in clean air, the car tightened up. From there, it was just a matter of hitting our marks."
Austin Cindric, in the No. 99 Menards Ford, got within a few lengths of Briscoe late in the going, but fell back by a second-and-a-half in the end, finishing second.
"It was up and down and back again for us tonight," said Cindric. "We worked our way from the back and then we got a little tangled up on that restart. I had the choice of dumping my teammate or getting out of it. But, all's well that ends well. I had a ton of fun racing these guys. It was great to get Menards a good night. ARCA's a great place to learn and provided a great platform for me."
Cindric was referring to a six-car crash that he barely avoided after Myatt Snider found himself sideways in the middle of turn three.
"We got four-wide down there, and they just took the air off of us and the car came around," said Snider. "I'm fine, but I feel bad for all those guys that got tore up."
Snider and Kyle Weatherman got the worst of it when Weatherman, after contact with Bret Holmes, shot up the track and slammed into the left-front corner of Snider's car. Nick Higdon, Morgen Baird and Mike Basham were also involved. Snider and Higdon went to the infield care center, and were examined and released. Weatherman, who exited his car under his own power, was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation. The crash brought out the red flag for 20 minutes.
Michael Self, in the No. 28 Sinclair Oil Chevrolet, finished third in his first race in more than a year.
"It was a fun day," Self said. "It was also a little worrisome out there with so little practice. This is a new deal for me having never driven this body...trying to get the feel back on these mile-and-a-halves. A big thanks to Ranier Racing for the awesome race car. I've been talking to Sinclair for a year. ARCA's a great place for them to get the representation and exposure they deserve."
Brandon Jones, also in a Ranier Racing Chevrolet, finished fourth in the No. 8 Valvoline-Menards Chevy.
Eighteen-year-old rookie Noah Gragson finished fifth in his superspeedway debut in the No. 15 SpeedVegas-Alert ID Toyota.
"This has been a dream come true...to get the opportunity to race here," said Gragson. "I have a lot to learn that's for sure. I'm new to this mile-and-a-half stuff. Still getting the feel of dirty air and the changing attitude of the cars. I felt like I adopted pretty good, but I need to learn more on the aero deal. We fell back, worked on the race car on pit stops, and I stayed focused. Had a lot of fun out there."
With qualifying rained out and the field set by car owner points, Briscoe started from the pole and led the first 44 laps before a caution flag sent Briscoe and most of the leaders to pit road for new General Tires and service. However, Sargeant who changed tires on lap 15, took fuel only and beat Briscoe off pit road. Back under green, Sargeant got the jump on Briscoe and led the next 32 laps, keeping Briscoe at bay all the way before his car suddenly fell off the pace.
"It was disappointing," said Sargeant. "We were running second and first both times I had issues with the car. It didn't turn out like we wanted but still managed to win the General Tire Superspeedway championship for Venturini Motorsports and the SCOTT Rookie of the Year. So, all in all, a really good year. This has been, by far, the best learning year of my life. The ARCA Racing Series did a lot for me being able to improve as a driver. Feel like ARCA really prepares you for that next level."
Matt Kurzejewski, John Wes Townley, Shane Lee, Tom Hessert and Mason Mitchell completed the top-10 finishers respectively.
The next activity for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards will be the championship awards banquet in Indianapolis December 10.
Don Radebaugh firstname.lastname@example.org