ARCA RE/MAX Set To Play On The Clay

One of the wishes of many NASCAR fans is to see that series return to the roots of racing and run on a dirt track. The next two ARCA RE/MAX series events bring stock cars back to the dirt starting with the 46th annual Allen Crowe 100. The one-mile dirt track at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, IL will host racers this weekend followed by the Southern Illinois 100 at DuQuoin, IL on September 1st.

Of the many story lines that will follow the ARCA stock cars to the clay oval at Springfield, one of the most interesting is Scott Speed. The most recent series winner will be attacking dirt for the first time. He has driven a Formula One car at Monoco and still is thrilled about tearing up the clay in America’s heartland.

“I don’t know that I have ever seen a dirt track, much less drove on one,” Speed said. “I am very excited about trying it, and I hope to get at least a top-10 finish out of both races.”

Speed has won four times in the series this year and currently is leading the standings with a 140 point cushion over Matt Carter.

Speaking of wins, one driver is surprisingly still looking for his first of 2008. The last time Frank Kimmel won was a year ago at Springfield. Looking at his past performance at this track, it’s a good bet that the fans could see him back in victory lane this weekend. Out of the last eight races at the ‘world’s fastest mile dirt track’, Kimmel has six victories. The two times that he didn’t win, he finished in the runner up spot. Before his victory lane reign, which began in 2000, Kimmel also finished second in 1998 and 1999. In his last 11 races at Springfield, Kimmel’s average finish is an incredible 1.6.

“Wow, really?” was Kimmel’s response. “I guess I didn’t realize our record there was quite that strong. That’s pretty amazing; I’m pretty proud of that. You know, when you think about all the great drivers that have raced there over the years, that’s really saying something.”

Another driver looking to end up in victory lane is Bob Strait. The veteran, who has not won at the track in seventeen attempts, will attempt to break that streak this weekend in the Hendren Motorsports no. 66 Ford Taurus. Strait will be hopping back in a racecar for the first time since a motorcycle accident in June of 2007 forced the Manteno, Illinois racer to miss the race last year at Springfield.

Even though he doesn’t have a win at the State Fairgrounds, Strait has had impressive runs at the track with finishes of second in ’87, ’89 and ’01, third in ’86, ’91, ’92 and ’02, and fourth in ’88, ’00 and ’06.

The 2006 run should fuel the fire to drive Strait towards the front. After leading 42 laps, Strait was less than a lap from victory before hometown favorite Justin Allgaier passed him on the inside heading into turn three on the final lap. Strait, beside himself that he let it happen at all, gassed it so hard off turn four coming to the checkers that his car broke loose and two more machines slipped past.

The 16-time ARCA RE/MAX Series winner would love nothing more than to caputure vicotry number 17 on August 17th.

“Springfield’s a special place,” said the 59-year-old driver. “It’s close to home and I have a lot of friends there. We hang out and make a weekend out of it. You ask a lot of people, and they’ll tell you they’d rather see that race (Springfield) than any others. We’ve had some good runs there, but never a win. I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather win. It’s kind of like Earnhardt wanting to win at Daytona. I feel the same way about Springfield.”

The history of the Allen Crowe 100 dates back to 1950 when Jay Frank won the inaugural stock car classic in an Oldsmobile. Since then, the accumulating winners are an amalgamation of some of the most biggest names in motorsports, including Curtis Turner (’63), Don White (’66, ’67, ’72), Al Unser (’72), Jack Bowsher (’73), Roger McCluskey (’74), Ramo Stott (’76, ’77, ’80), AJ Foyt (’79), Joe Ruttman (’80), Dean Roper (’81, ’81, ’82, ’83, ’83, ’85, ’86), Bob Keselowski (’87, ’88, ’89, ’93), Bobby Bowsher (’91, ’92), Tim Steele (’96, ’97), Ken Schrader (’98) and Bill Baird (’99, ’04).

Practice for the Sunday, August 17th Allen Crowe 100 is scheduled from 9:00-10:00 AM local time with SIM Factory Pole Qualifying following at 11:00. The race is scheduled to roll off at 1:00.

Thanks to ARCA RE/MAX PR and Scott Speed Inc. for contributions to this article.

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