Friday, April 23, 2010

Dakoda Armstrong Wins ARCA Race at Talladega

The first event for a triple-header of stock car action at the superfast Talladega Superspeedway, the ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards races for supremacy for a 250 mile event on mid-afternoon Friday.

Some years ago, the ARCA Series stock car races on restrictor plate races were untamed affairs with no-fault novice drivers committing themselves to the tight, fast characteristics of 190 mile per hour racing.However, the quality of the ARCA Racing Series field has improved with major NASCAR race teams increasingly relying on the stock car sanctioning body as a farm team to developing new driving talent. Grant Enfinger and Tim George Jr are two of these development drivers eagerly auditioning for a bigger role in their auto racing future. Reflective of the increased talent in the ARCA Racing Series, winner of the last two event of this 2010 season, Steve Arpin, has been granted with his first ride in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this weekend.

Claiming pole with an average speed of 186.499 miles per hour around the 2.66 mile oval, Penske Racing development driver Dakoda Armstrong in the #22 Cunningham Motorsports Dodge led the field through the first 32 of 94 laps with Venturini Motorsport cars of Mikey Kile and Canadian Steve Arpin riding behind. Impacted by two cautions for single-car wrecks through the event's early stage, the Talladega ARCA 250 would be shaken on lap 50 by an massive crash on the front stretch involving at least 9 cars.

With drivers James Buescher, Ricky Carmichael and the winner of ARCA's Daytona winner Bobby Gerhart ending up with vehicles damaged beyond repair, the #60 Dodge of Patrick Sheltra suffered substantial impact onto the left portion of the front end. Patched by the #60 team, Sheltra's car continued to race. Through the final race rundown, nine cars overall would reported out of the event due to accidents. A hefty toll, there were actually 10 other cars reported out due to mechanical problems from engine, overheating or transmission issues. As 250 miles continues to remain a test of maturing drivers running on limited resources, almost half of the field did not make it the checkered flag.

Since lap 52, Roush Fenway Racing development driver Grant Enfinger in the #09 Ford was leading with the Steve Aprin's #55 Toyota pushing. Into the final 10 laps, Enfinger held first spot but the #22 Dodge of Dakoda Armstrong headed a three-car draft freight train. Closing on the #09 Ford, Armstrong received a spirited push from the embattled #60 Dodge of Patrick Sheltra. In the last lap, Grant Enfinger was overwhelmed by Armstrong and Aprin down the Talladega backstretch. Armstrong, receiving a final nudge from Sheltra, was able to pass Enfinger into turn 3 to take the race lead once and for all. As a scramble occurred for the top-5, the #55 car of Steve Arpin inadvertently cut off the #16 of Joey Coulter.Spinning through turn 4, both cars avoided noticeable damage with Arpin finishing 15th and Coulter trailing in 16th place.

Gaining a first victory in his 12th ARCA Racing Series start in the Talladega ARCA 250, Dakoda Armstrong had the experience of championship caliber NASCAR Cup Series crew chief Paul Andrews wrenching the #22 Dodge.

Persevering through the lap 50 accident, Patrick Sheltra finished 2nd in an aerodynamically-challenged #60 Dodge. The #31 Chevrolet of Tim George Jr, the #81 Toyota of Craig Goess and Mikey Kile's #25 Toyota rounded out the top-5 finishing positions.

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