Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 ARCA Series Race At Daytona International Speedway

The ARCA racing series kicked off the 2012 season with one of the most prestigious races on the ARCA Series schedule on February 18th: The Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona International Speedway. Before the race started the ARCA racing series drivers had to practice and qualify for the race.
The first practice session for the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 ARCA race at Daytona took place on February 16th. Steve Blackburn was the fastest in the first practice session. His lap time was 47.712 (188.632mph). The final practice session took place on February 18th before the race started. Bobby Gerhart was the fastest in final practice. His lap time was 48.886 (184.102 mph).
Qualifying for the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 ARCA race at Daytona took place on February 17th. Bobby Gerhart thought he won the pole position for the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona but Bobby saw his qualifying time taken off the board because the engine in his car failed inspection after qualifying. Bobby started the race in the forty-second position. Sean Corr was awarded the Menards Pole Award. Sean’s qualifying lap time was 49.271 ( 182.663 mph). Ryan Reed started in the second position. Ryan’s qualifying lap time was 49.362 (182.326 mph). Steve Blackburn started in the third position. His qualifying lap time was 49.416 ( 182.127 mph). Tom Hessert started in the fourth position. Tom’s qualifying lap time was 49.449 (182.006 mph).Chris Windom started in the fifth position. His qualifying lap time was 49.475 ( 181.910 mph).
One of the biggest stories going into the race weekend was that the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) is celebrating its 60th season this year. Another story that I thought was interesting is that twenty four rookies were in the field at Daytona. Milka Duno, Sloan Henderson and Leilani Munter were the three females in the field at Daytona. A sad story that was shared before the race was that Mildred Marcum, matriarch and co-founder of ARCA, passed away in January at St. Vincent Hospital in Toledo, Ohio. Mildred had just celebrated her 98th birthday on January 6, 2012.
On February 18th at about 4:30pm ET the ARCA drivers heard those famous words in racing, "drivers start your engines!" The ARCA cars rolled off pit road and onto the track to start some pace laps after everyone had their engines fired up. Right before the green flag waved in the air the pace car made its way onto pit road and the field was now in the hands of pole sitter Sean Corr. As the ARCA cars got closer to the start/finish line the green flag waved in the air for the start of the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona! As they crossed the start/finish line to complete the first lap it was pole sitter Sean Corr who lead the first lap at Daytona!
On lap two Bobby Gerhart came onto pit road to top off his fuel tank. After Bobby came off pit road and back onto the track he went one lap down. He was running about six cars back behind the leader on lap five.
Unfortunately rookie Sloan Henderson was having problems with her car and she coasted off the race track on lap seven. Sloan’s car had a problem with the ignition. As Sloan was trying to coast to pit road, the first caution came out for Milka Duno. Will Kimmel and Milka Duno made contact and that sent Milka spinning at a very high speed. Duno handled the spin with great skill and she brought the car into the pits. While they were still under the first caution the majority of the field came down pit road for pit stops. Sloan Henderson was on pit road during the caution and her crew had the hood up on the car. As the first caution was still out, Milka Duno’s car was brought into the garage area by a tow truck. The Aarons lucky dog went to Bobby Gerhart. Pole sitter Sean Corr lead the field to the restart.
Unfortunately Leilani Munter spun coming off of turn two and that brought out the second caution on lap fourteen. Her left rear tire went down and completely flew off. Leilani was able to drive her car to pit road. The lucky dog went to Sloan Henderson. Sloan did not get back on the lead lap. she was five laps down because of the issue that happened on lap seven with her ignition. During the second caution a couple of cars went down pit road for pit stops.
The green flag waved in the air for the restart and Cale Gale was the leader. It didn’t take Brandon Mcreynolds long to make his way around Cale Gale and snatch the lead from him on lap nineteen.
Coming out of turn four Bill Coffey’s right front tire went down and he slammed into the wall and that brought out the third caution on lap twenty.
The pace car turned onto pit road and the field was in the hands of Brandon Mcreynolds. The green flag waved in the air for the restart and Brandon got an excelled restart. After 29 out of 80 laps Brandon Mcreynolds lead the field with Ryan Reed running second.
When the race reached half away unfortunately the pole winner Shawn corr had problems with his engine. The pole winner was not going to be the race winner because he had to take his car to the garage.
With twenty two laps to go Brandon Mcreynolds was still leading the field. He had a strong car all day but Brandon’s team had one thing on their mind: Do they have enough fuel to make it to the end?
A lot of drivers needed a caution to come out so they could get some fuel and they got their wish with eleven lap to go. Rick Clifton, Sloan Henderson and James Hylton were involved in a wreck. James moved up the hill right in front of Sloan Henderson. Sloan had no where to go and Rick Clifton got collected in the wreck. While the fourth caution was still out only a couple cars came in for pit stops.
As the ARCA cars came to the start/finish line the green flag waved in the air for the restart with five laps to go! Mcreynolds strongly raced away trying to pull away from the field. Brandon knew he had to be conservative because he was very low on fuel. With four laps to go Paulie Harraka spun off the track but the race stayed green and Paulie got back on the track!
Unfortunately the fifth caution came out for Chris Buescher with two laps to go. Chris got spun by Nelson Canache and he went off the track. Chris did a good job keeping the car under the yellow line so he did not get hit by another car.
As the pace car rolled off the track and onto pit road the field was in the hands of race leader Brandon Mcreynolds with two laps to go. As the white flag waved in the air Brandon was only two and a half miles away from his first ARCA racing series victory! Coming out of turn four for the final time Brandon unfortunately ran out of gas and Bobby Gerhart flew past Brandon and Bobby crossed the start/finish line the winner of the season opener at Daytona! As the field crossed the start/finish line multiple cars ran out of gas and some cars ran into each other and wrecked. Drew Charlson finished second, Will Kimmel finished third, Steve Blackburn finished fourth and Mark Thompson finished fifth. Bobby Gehart is now an eight time winner at Daytona!
After the race ended some race fans talked about their reactions of the race via social networking.
ARCA races are always exciting to watch. I have been a Frankie Kimmel fan for years. I met him in the early 90's and he is a really nice guy and fan friendly. - Nina Leshley
One really good race! - Jimmy Thompson
It was a great race. ARCA is so under-rated.- Stephen Marling
A lot of race fans truly did enjoy the ARCA series season opener at Daytona. Bobby Gerhart is a talented driver and he is a threat to win every time he is in a race. The ARCA racing series truly has some of the best racing you will see. If you have not watched an ARCA race I truly encourage you to sit down and watch an ARCA race or attend a race if you can. The ARCA racing series is back in action and they started the 2012 season with a fantastic season opener at Daytona International Speedway.
To Bobby Gerhart: Congratulations on winning the 2012 ARCA series season opener at Daytona!
Race fans: Do you want to see more exciting ARCA races? Don’t miss the Mobile ARCA 200 at Mobile International Speedway on March 10th. The Mobile ARCA 200 will not be televised. The next televised ARCA race will be the Talladega ARCA 250 at Talladega Super speedway on May 4th.


Friday, February 17, 2012

January Race Fan Of The Month Winner: Len Riojas

39 year old Len Riojas has been a race fan since he was a kid playing AFX Slot cars on his living room floor with his older brother and cousins. Len is about the only person outside of his immediate family that has a true passion for racing. In the early 90’s Len was working as an EMT ( Emergency Medical Technician) and he asked to volunteer as a corner worker/medical staff at both Sears Point Raceway ( now Infineon Raceway) and Laguna Seca during the AMA Super bike events. “ I live in Portland, Oregon where we’ve hosted the C.A.R.T/Champ car series for nearly 30 years. This is where I learned about racing and for many years I didn’t miss fathers day at P.I.R," said Len. Len has since become a huge fan of open wheel and sports car racing. He is a fan of Formula one, ALMS, Grand AM and Indy Car.
When I asked Len what does he like about racing he said,“ I don’t have the ability to describe the moment when a grid comes to life other than to say it cannot be ignored. The first time I watched a pack of cars roll off the start/finish line and rumble by me I was hooked.“
When I asked Len what is his favorite race car driver in every racing series that he watches Len said; “ It’s hard to say. In Indy Car it would have to be Will Power. I’ve met him on a few occasions; he’s very friendly, always willing to take a minute to chat with the fans, and of course he’s a great driver. In ALMS, I am a huge fan of Allan McNish. I got a chance to meet Jonathan Bomaritom in his days in the Atlantics and have followed his career since; now he’s driving GT cars in the Grand - Am Series. I’ve met a lot of drivers, too many to mention however I will mention this, a couple years ago while visiting the Unser Racing Museum in Albuquerque I got to meet Al Unser SR."
Len tries to go to a race every year but now that his home race is off the schedule it has become a little more difficult to go to a race every year. He has traveled a lot in recent years which has allowed him to go to Indy Car races in other parts of the country.
I would classify Len as an extreme race fan because he plans vacation time around the IZOD Indy Car Series schedule, he has strong opinions on the sport, its evolution and the direction he sees it taking and he took unpaid time off work to drive 1600 miles to attend a race. For Len, attending a race isn’t just a few hours on a Sunday afternoon, it’s a week long event.
To Len Riojas: Thank you very much for taking the time to answer some questions so this article could happen. Congratulations on being Up To Speed With Amanda Reisinger’s January "race fan of the month" winner! You definitely are an extreme race fan with a true passion for racing. I hope you enjoy the 2012 racing season!

( Katherine Legge and Len Riojas.
Credit goes to Len Riojas.)