TOLEDO, OH - Five of the top 10 finishers in Friday's RainEater Wiper Blades 200 at
Michigan International Speedway achieved career-best results, led by fourth-place finisher Brennan Newberry in his ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards debut.
Newberry (No. 92 NTS Motorsports Chevrolet), who led open testing at Michigan in May, drove a backup car after crashing in practice Thursday. Friday morning, he qualified 17th.
"The NTS Motorsports team had to overcome a lot of adversity," said Newberry, a Californian who also races in NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series and K&N Pro Series West. "I have to thank my dad, Bob Newberry, and my mom, Monica. They created the team and they've just been really pushing me to do well. They've dedicated so much. (Crew chief) Dan Deeringhoff really made a good call keeping us out there and we got a late-race caution, which helped us come in and grab some tires and keep up with these guys. I can't say enough about my team. It was a really great, fun day."
Newberry has no confirmed plans to return to the ARCA Racing Series, but hopes to race at Iowa or Chicagoland Speedways in July, or Kansas Speedway in the October season finale.
One position behind him was Brandon Davis (No. 99 Roulo Brothers Racing Ford), who started 20th but earned his first top-five in just his sixth ARCA start. He earned the CGS Imaging Hard Charger Award for improving 15 positions from start to finish, more than any other driver starting without a provisional.
"After Pocono and running in the top five, I think we had some pretty high expectations," he said after the race. "We had some issues in qualifying, but we've been getting better at every race we've been to. This is my first year driving this kind of car, so it's been a learning experience. The funny thing is we were fifth, but quicker than a couple of cars that finished in front of us. The way we're looking at it is we're improving every race. Fifth is a really good finish."
Davis credited Gary Roulo after conserving tires in a race where such management was very important.
"Gary does a really good job of being conservative on the tires," Davis said. "Obviously, it's nice sometimes to go out and rip off a fast lap but if you blow a tire and have those issues, it doesn't really matter. I think that's always the goal, how you finish. (The Roulos) do a great job of it. The emphasis is on the race."
Venturini Motorsports driver John Blankenship (No. 66 Coal America's Energy Toyota) finished sixth, his best, in his fifth series start.
"I've got to thank Bill and Billy (Venturini)," he said. "I'm still trying to get a feel for these cars. I run dirt cars, and I get fortunate enough to come out every two months or so and run one of these races. I'm always playing catch-up. We never got the car perfect, but the best it was all day was in the long green and I finally started running some cars back down. I had a lot of fun with it."
Blankenship plans to race at Pocono Raceway in August.
In eighth, Spencer Gallagher (No. 23 Allegiant Air Chevrolet) earned his first top-10 in 11 ARCA starts. Buster Graham (No. 88 Buffalo Wild Wings/Batter's Dream Ford) finished 10th, his first top-10 in 10 career races.
"I'm very pleased with the crew from Team BCR on the excellent car; they worked real hard throughout the day through the mechanical problem that we had," said Graham, who lost his motor in Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell earlier Friday and had to start 33rd. "I want to thank my spotter, Keith Barnwell. There's no way I could have gotten through the race at MIS without him and I can't thank him enough."
Buescher Trims Poole's Points Lead: Brennan Poole (No. 25 Venturini Motorsports Toyota) entered the RainEater Wiper Blades 200 with a 55-point lead over Chris Buescher (No. 17 BeavEx/Reliance Tool Ford) in the series standings, and even extended that advantage by qualifying second to earn 10 points and leading the race's first 59 laps for another 10. However, tire issues for Poole and Buescher's win flipped the script, as Buescher cut Poole's advantage to just 20 points through eight races.
Poole leads, 1855-1835. He and Buescher are ahead of Frank Kimmel (No. 44 Ansell/Menards Toyota), who finished seventh Friday and rose from fifth to third in the standings. He sits 95 points from the lead.
Race runner-up Alex Bowman (No. 22 Cunningham Motorsports Dodge) improved from sixth to fourth, 130 points out of first.
Chad Hackenbracht (No. 58 CGH Motorsports Chevrolet) fell from third to fifth after a practice crash and a 21st-place finish in a backup car. Third-place finisher Matt Lofton (No. 16 Strutmasters.com Chevrolet) is now in sixth, up one position after his third consecutive and fourth top-five in five races.
An early crash dropped Tom Hessert (No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet) to seventh overall. Ryan Reed (No. 15 JDRF Ford) and Jared Marks (No. 12 Premium Energy VIP Dodge) stayed eighth and ninth, respectively, while Spencer Gallagher moved into the top 10 for the first time in his young career.
The official ARCA Racing Series point standings will be released Tuesday.
FR9 Helps Buescher to Win: Chris Buescher made sure to thank Gary and Russell Roulo for turning a former Roush Fenway Racing car into a winning ARCA car at Michigan in Friday's RainEater Wiper Blades 200. He also had praise for Nick Ramey of Roush Yates Engines. Friday's race was just the second in which Buescher used Ford's purpose-built FR9 motor, which debuted in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series three seasons ago.
Asked to describe the way he conserved his tires while others struggled to do so, Buescher gave credit to several people.
"(I used) a lot of coaching from the spotter and from Gary Roulo down there," he said. "We knew we had tires that were coming apart after 20 or 30 laps so we were just trying to ride when we had enough room. Once we got out there and got to the point where we could ride in second or third place at the midpoint of the race, we really just tried to save stuff so we had something in the end. It really worked out in our favor."
Runner-up Alex Bowman made slight contact with Buescher in the closing laps and threatened to steal the victory, but Buescher had other ideas.
"I didn't lift," he said. "That's pretty much the way it went there. We came up on a slower car there and it looked like he was going high. Right there coming up to him, we were pretty much committed. I knew if I lifted, he would get by us. Alex got a really good run going into (Turns) 3 and 4, and made it one heck of a finish."
Bittersweet Run for Bowman: Alex Bowman's second-place finish was his fourth top-three result this season, but that may be not all the Tucson, Ariz. native needs to race at Winchester Speedway this weekend. Bowman said his relationship with Cunningham Motorsports might be "done," depending on funding.
"Man, Cunningham Motorsports brought an awesome race car," he said. "We were the fastest car on the race track at the end of the race but just can't seem to seal the deal. I've got to thank Paul Andrews, Kerry Scherer, Briggs Cunningham, everybody at the Penske engine shop. It was really cool to have ABC 12 and 13 on board and St. Jude's, as well. We finished third last week, and second this week; hopefully, we'll win next week if we can find some funding."
Bowman, who won at Salem in April, says Cunningham has the same car ready for the similar short track at Winchester. Proper funding, however, is another step.
Lofton Strong Again: After three finishes outside the top 10 to open 2012, Matt Lofton has improved sharply, finishing in the top five four times in five races. Lofton finished third after taking the lead from Brennan Poole on Lap 60 and holding it for 15 laps.
"It was another great race for us at Coulter Motorsports," Lofton said. "I'm glad to get another top-three for the guys, who have worked really hard in the shop the last couple of weeks with all the races we have bouncing back and forth from short tracks to big tracks. I think I can speak for all of us, though, when I say we're tired of leading these things without winning one. We'd sure like to come home with the trophy. I'm really happy with the performance of everybody today."
Lofton's teammate, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Joey Coulter (No. 61 Rip It Energy Drink/Darrell Gwynn Foundation Chevrolet), finished ninth after setting Michigan International Speedway's ARCA qualifying record at 192.149 mph.
Larson 13th in Debut: Rising standout Kyle Larson, who made his ARCA debut just a week after earning his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series victory, finished 13th in Eddie Sharp Racing's No. 6 Chevrolet. The 19-year-old Earnhardt Ganassi Racing development driver started seventh but brushed the wall on Lap 18, just after passing Frank Kimmel. He was able to drive to pit road and prevent what could have been the race's third yellow flag.
Following Larson, drivers with career-best finishes in the top 20 were Juan Carlos Blum (No. 97 VMP Nutrition Dodge) in 15th and Rick Clifton (No. 10 BASF Chevrolet) in 18th.
Poole Takes, Keeps Special Award Leads: Despite finishing three laps off the pace in 11th, Brennan Poole made his mark in several special award categories.
Poole won the Aaron's Lap Leader Award for the race, leading the first 59 laps on the two-mile Michigan oval. He now leads Alex Bowman for the year-long award, 284-271. Bowman, who led 12 laps, had led the competition coming into the week.
Racing for Venturini Motorsports' No. 25 entry, Poole doubled his lead in the Hoosier Tire Superspeedway Challenge. He now leads Venturini's No. 66 entry - driven by John Blankenship at Michigan - by 30 points, up from a 15-point advantage on Chad Hackenbracht and the No. 58 at CGH Motorsports. Hackenbracht is third, ahead of the Nos. 16, 17, and 44 entries.
Alex Bowman won the Team Messina Rookie Challenge for the race, edging Matt Lofton. Poole continues to lead the year-long standings over Bowman in second and Lofton in third.
"Survivor" Champion Attends Race: Richard Hatch, who in 2000 was crowned champion on the first season of the CBS reality hit "Survivor," attended the RainEater Wiper Blades 200 as a guest of Roger Carter and Carter-2 Motorsports.
While one of Carter's cars finished in the top 20 (Juan Carlos Blum in 15th), two others were not as fortunate. Carter himself retired after one lap, and Larry Barford Jr. ran into Nelson Canache as the latter slid down the track following a Lap 2 spin. Barford finished 33rd and Carter 34th.
"I did everything I could to keep from hitting Nelson but we ran out of room before I could get under him," Barford said. "Thank God he is okay."
ARCA Tripleheader at Winchester: An ARCA tripleheader is on the schedule this weekend at Indiana's half-mile Winchester Speedway, as the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards headlines a weekend that also features the ARCA CRA Super Series and ARCA Truck Series. The ARCA Racing Series will hold two 45-minute practices on Saturday, at 12:05 and 2:05 p.m. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell will follow at 4:30, just before the Truck Series race at 5:30 and the Super Series event at 6:30.
The 200-lap, 100-mile Herr's Chase the Taste 200 will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday, with live timing and scoring and live audio coverage presented by the ARCA Racing Network available at ARCARacing.com.
Chris Buescher finished second to Dakoda Armstrong last season at Winchester, and figures to be a pre-race favorite.
"It's kind of similar to Salem, and a little smoother from what I remember," Buescher said in his post-race press conference at Michigan. "It's a place where we ran really well last year and finished second. We had a really good race last year with the 22 car, Dakoda Armstrong. It's a lot of fun, with a real narrow groove, another real nice place to race."
2012 is the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards' 60th Anniversary Season, featuring 20 races at 18 tracks. The complete 2012 event schedule is available at www.ARCARacing.com.
The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards has crowned an ARCA national champion each year since its inaugural season in 1953, and has toured over 200 race tracks in 26 states since its inception. The series has tested the abilities of drivers and race teams over the most diverse schedule of stock car racing events in the world, visiting tracks ranging from 0.375 mile to 2.66 miles in length, on both paved and dirt surfaces as well as a left- and right-turn road course in its most recent season. This year, the series visited Alabama's Mobile International Speedway and Minnesota's Elko Speedway for the first time.
Founded by John and Mildred 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 three professional touring series and local weekly events.
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