Concord, North Carolina (August 22, 2016) – Sunday’s entertaining dirt race at the Springfield Mile delivered another exciting show in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards. The Springfield dirt classic was the second consecutive ARCA race delivering late race drama with a first time series winner driving to victory Lane.
Former Venturini Motorsports driver, Justin Haley, earned his first career series victory after stealing the lead from Josh Williams after Williams, while leading, tangled with Ryan Unzicker in turn 3 during the final moments of the 100-mile race sending Williams into the outside wall ending his chances.
Haley, now seventeen years old, drove for VMS in 2014 becoming the youngest pole sitter (at 15 years old) in series history.
Venturini Motorsports, led by Tom Hessert driver of the No.25 Toyota, led laps in his second consecutive race ultimately finishing sixth in the 53rd running of ARCA’s Central Illinois SuperChevyStores.com 100 presented by Jive event at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
In their series’ debut, Jake Griffin and USAC standout Tanner Thorson, finished ninth and 12th respectively. Griffin, from nearby Quincy, Illinois, worked his way up to the second position before losing spots late after two separate spins.
Thorson, in his first series start, was impressive in his new ride despite challenges brought on by overheating which forced the team down pit road for several unscheduled pit stops throughout the afternoon.
The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards heads to the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds Mile Dirt next for the General Tire GRABBER 100 Sunday night, September 4, marking the first night race for the ARCA tour at DuQuoin.
Tom Hessert Finishes Sixth at Springfield; Moves up in Point Standings
Tom Hessert delivered another strong performance Sundayafternoon at the Springfield Mile collecting his tenth top-10 of the season after bringing home his No.25 Venturini Motorsports Toyota in the sixth position.
“We had a really good car today,” said Hessert. “Unfortunately we had some overheating issues, we had some duct work come out in the nose forcing use to pit multiple times to cool it down. The problems forced us to give up track position. We had some pretty tough track conditions which didn’t help. It was really hard to pass, the track was basically one groove all day long.”
Starting ninth, Hessert quickly moved inside the top-5 where he’d run until taking over the top spot on lap-40. Hessert’s lead was short lived as Chase Briscoe made the pass after the two drivers raced down the back stretch after a lap-43 restart.
Chasing the leader, Hessert came over the radio near the half way point reporting rising engine temperatures. Giving up track position, Hessert drove down pit road allowing his crew to cool off his machine. Despite making several unscheduled stops Hessert kept his car solidly inside the top-10 running order finishing sixth.
With five races remaining in the series schedule, Hessert picked up valuable points in Springfield. Finishing ahead Matt Kurzejewski, who entered Springfield occupying the third spot in the series driver point standings, Hessert was able to take the third spot after Sunday’s performance. Hessert also made gains on Josh Williams for the second spot in the series standings. Williams finished 16th after crashing on lap-98.
“Sixth place isn’t great but I know we made up some points on the No.6 and 52 cars which is important but I’d still like to win one of these dirt races so we’ll try and do it at DuQuoin.”
Jake Griffin Finishes Ninth in ARCA Debut
Seventeen year-old, Jake Griffin from nearby Quincy, Illinois, made his first career ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards start at Springfield’s Illinois State Fairgrounds mile dirt track delivering a ninth-place finish.
Setting the third quickest lap time during the morning practice, Griffin started from the position after Menards Pole qualifying was scrapped due to adverse track conditions early in the morning.
At the onset Griffin maintained a strong running position working his No.15 BACKLOT Auctions – Advance Trading Inc. Toyota towards the front challenging race leader Chase Briscoe for top spot. Riding second on a lap-65 restart, Griffin got pushed out of the grove and lost eight spots to the leaders. After pitting for tires and fuel the dirt track racer would regain his early race success catching and challenging the leaders once again during the later stages of the race. Unfortunately, Griffin, while negotiating lap traffic, would spin on lap-90 after making contact with several cars entering turn 3.
After pitting, with minimal damage to his car, Griffin was able to get back out for the final laps finishing ninth in his debut ARCA race.
“These boys at Venturini Motorsports are amazing, they gave me an incredible car today,” says Griffin.
“Early on I don’t know if we had much for the leaders we were fighting bite off and then throughout the race we really got going. We got up to second and kind of got moved out of the way on the restart, which shuffled us back a bunch of positions. But it ended up working out good because we got tires and charged our way back to the front and caught the leaders with about fifteen or twenty to go – I was going around a lap car and got into the dust a bit and just lost it.”
“That’s how Springfield is, you get out of the groove and you’re done. I’m disappointed we didn’t finish better but overall just really happy and thankful for the opportunity,” added Griffin.
Tanner Thorson Faces Overheating at Springfield; Finishes 12th in ARCA Debut
USAC Standout Tanner Thorson made his long awaited ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards debut with Venturini Motorsports on Sunday at the Illinois State Fairgrounds Springfield dirt mile.
Thorson, who finished 12th, was unfortunately unable to showcase his much noted talent as the 20-year old Toyota driver was challenged by overheating issues most of the day.
Behind the wheel of VMS’ No.55 Toyota Racing Development Camry, Thorson settled in comfortably in his first ever attempt, setting the fifth quickest lap time during the sole morning practice session. Starting the 100-mile dirt race from the same position, Thorson adapted nicely in his unfamiliar – heavier ARCA car, racing upfront during the first 20-laps of the race.
Running comfortably inside the top-10, Thorson communicated high water temperatures to his crew chief Billy Venturini on lap-22. Bringing his machine down pit road to address the overheating, Thorson relinquished his position on the track falling back to mid-pack.
Despite making a handful of unscheduled pit stops during the course of the race to keep the car cooled, Thorson was determined to continue to run a strong race despite the disadvantage. Overcoming what could have easily been an early exit, Thorson kept his composure running out the remainder of the race and ultimately finishing 12th in his first series attempt.
“We were good and I felt really comfortable in the car today,” said Thorson.
“From the start of practice I felt good and liked our chances. We had great track position at the beginning of the race and showed some speed. I thought it was going to go the right way but unfortunately we started overheating and it hurt our chances. After that we still had a fast car, the car was really hooked up. Billy (Venturini) and the guys gave me a great car and worked their butts off in the pits all day long trying to keep the car cooled down. Take away the overheating issues and there’s no doubt we’re competing at the end,” added Thorson.
“We gave it all we had. I can’t thank Toyota and TRD enough for giving me this opportunity to race with Venturini Motorsports. It was a lot of fun out there today, I hope we can come back soon.”
Credit: Venturini Motorsports